A car hit nine motobikes and injured 12 people in Hanoi on January 3, 2014. The driver was found to be severely drunk. Photo: Ha An
A local government official launched an ambitious lobbying campaign for local beer at a time when an estimated 11 percent of Vietnam's fatal traffic accidents involve alcohol.
“The heads of [government] offices, branches, units and communes have to prioritize the use of domestic products like Saigon made at the [local Saigon Alcohol-Beverage Joint Stock Company (SABECO) brewery]… at seminars, conferences and official guest receptions,” according to an instruction issued by the People's Committee of Ky Anh District in the north-central Ha Tinh Province.
Accordingly, the owners of restaurants, hotels and karaoke parlors must “introduce and encourage the use of” SABECO products and Son Kim bottled water.
“We ask the involved agencies to strictly follow [the instruction],” the document read.
The order was signed by Nguyen Van Bong, chairman of Ky Anh District People’s Committee, and posted on the district’s website on August 25, 2014.
Nguyen Tien Hung, deputy chairman of the Ky Anh District People’s Committee, said that the directive did not represent an act of advertising.
“It’s an encouragement for Vietnamese people to use domestic products and a plea for local enterprises to operate more effectively,” he was quoted by VnExpress as saying.
The controversial document was issued as traffic safety authorities struggle to tackle drinking and driving -- a major cause of the roughly 25 traffic fatalities the country sees every day.
According to the National Traffic Safety Committee, there were 14,737 traffic accidents nationwide from January-July resulting in 5,388 deaths and 13,760 injuries.
About 40 percent of traffic accidents involved drinking, according to a Transport Ministry report released in May.
A recent report found that almost all Vietnamese drinkers finish their nights out by driving home on their motorbikes, the country's primary means of transportation.
The Health Ministry reported that Vietnam ranked third in Asia, after Japan and China, in beer consumption; about three billion liters of beer were consumed here in 2013.
Traffic police in major cities have recently stepped up drunk driving checkpoints and patrols. The Health Ministry is drafting a law on preventing alcohol abuse that includes a controversial proposal that would ban the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m.