An Giang Province authorities announced on Wednesday that they have withdrawn the fines against a teacher and a public utility employee for criticizing a provincial leader on Facebook.
Ho Viet Hiep, deputy chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, told Tuoi Tre newspaper the decision was made after local authorities found the fines were not legal.
The teacher and the public utility employee will only receive a warning instead, he said.
Recently, Le Thi Thuy Trang, a literature teacher at Long Xuyen High School and Huynh Nguyen Huy Phuc, an employee at the state-owned An Giang Electricity Company, were ordered to pay VND5 million (US$223) each.
The duo has insulted Vuong Binh Thanh, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, on Facebook, according to the Department of Information and Communications.
In October, Trang shared a news article about a central government’s proposal to have Thanh disciplined. According to previous media reports, she called the official "arrogant."
Officials now confirmed that she wrote “the local people may be pleased with this.”
Phuc then commented on Trang’s post that “Thanh is the most arrogant chairman ever in An Giang,” using the Facebook account of his wife, Phan Thi Kim Nga, deputy spokeswoman of An Giang Department of Industry and Trade.
After An Giang police reported the case to the provincial Party unit, the information department imposed the fines against Trang and Phuc. Both have also been reprimanded by their organizations.
The provincial authorities have received a strong public backlash for the fines.
Many said the fines were illegal as Trang and Phuc’s comments did not insult Thanh or violate any law.