The approval of scandal-prone actress Ly Nha Ky as the country's first ever tourism ambassador by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has raised eybrows and attracted considerable public criticism.
The ministry has responded by saying that Ky's appointment to the position for a year was based on several rational factors including her foreign language skills.
In a meeting with the local media on Sep 29, Nguyen Van Tinh, director of the Department of International Cooperation at the ministry, explained why Ky, whose real name is Tran Thi Thanh Nhan, was selected from among seven candidates.
Tinh said Ky was chosen for her language skills, fame, and unconditional devotion to local tourism.
"She was the ambassador for Mercedes, Avon and Operation Smile in Vietnam. She has expressed her commitment to promoting Vietnam's image. In addition, she is experienced in fundraising, a good communicator, fluent in foreign languages, and has good relationships with Asian countries," said Tinh.
She was also the only self-nominated for for the position, said the director.
Tinh also explained that Vietnam needed to have its tourism envoy to represent the country in big campaigns, most especially when there was just one month left before voting deadline for having Ha Long Bay included as one of new seven wonders of the world.
The director conceded that this was the first time the ministry had selected a tourism ambassador, and that they did not have enough time to choose carefully. "We planned to solicit public opinion on the candidates but failed since most candidates were not interested in the position as they don't see any profit," Tinh said.
The new ambassador, however, will be dismissed if she makes mistakes during the work, according to the director.
A high-ranking official of the ministry was quoted by the Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper as saying: "The appointment is quite hasty. The ministry will learn from it to ask for public opinion for next selections."
Ly Nha Ky, 29, is both Vice chairwoman of the Sheen Hok Charitable Organization in Hong Kong, and the Chairwoman of Sheen Hok Charitable Organization in Vietnam.
She is known for her many roles in TV serials, including Kieu nu va dai gia (Beautiful women and rich men), Tinh yeu con mai (Being in love forever), Gia mua mot thuong de (how much for a God), and Em muon lam nguoi noi tieng (I want to be a famous person).
She was criticized recently for exposing her breasts in a play broadcast live to commenmorate General Vo Nguyen Giap and Dien Bien Phu battle, and for exaggerating her "quite important role" in the Hollywood movie Shanghai when all she had was a few seconds.