The Ministry of Public Security announced that it has fined an actor for writing a fake letter purportedly written by a school girl to her father describing how a local policeman was taking care of her and her mother while he was stationed on a remote island.
The ministry identified the author only as Pham Thanh H., 31, a resident of Quy Nhon -- the capital town of the central province of Binh Dinh.
The Ministry of Information and Communications in August fined three news websites Dat Viet, Kien Thuc and Tien Phong VND60 million (US$2,833) each for failing to confirm the authenticity of the essay before publishing it and tarnishing the image of the police, military, Communist Party and State.
The ministry also asked the police to track down the author of the essay, who wrote it from the perspective of a primary school student letter in Quy Nhon tasked with writing a letter to her father for a school assignment.
Written in child’s hand on a test sheet with teacher’s comment, the essay was widely believed to be real.
Investigators say H. admitted to having thought of the content of the essay and asked his daughter to write it on a test form before he himself commented on it.
Then H. took a picture of the apocryphal essay and posted it on Facebook.
In the letter, the "daughter" encourages her father’s good work on an island and tells him not to worry about her and her mother because a local police officer named Thanh had been visiting them, sharing meals with them and generally taking care of them.
The letter said Thanh “tells me stories before I go to bed every night” and “carries me to school in the early morning.”
“I love uncle Thanh so much,” the girl in the letter wrote. “And so does mom.”
The box for teacher’s comment reads “Parents’ opinions please.”
H. said the main purpose of the post was to attract Facebook "likes" and draw attention to himself.
The story began to go viral after a student identified only as Ngo Duc T., of Hung Yen Education University came across the essay on August 4 while browsing a Facebook page that H. maintained called the “Group of Joke and Fun Lovers.”
The essay was later quoted and republished by the media between August 6 and 8.
Investigators say the act could have been treated as a criminal offense due to its bad affect on public opinion, but H.’s sincerity during the investigation and the fact that it was his first such offense caused them to spare him any significant punishment.