Public outcry prompts HCMC post office to pause paint job

By Le Cong Son, Thanh Nien News

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A portion of the Saigon Central Post Office was draped in mesh while its management board consults the city on a proper hue. Locals and tourists have criticized the office's choice of bright golden yellow as too bold and flashy. Photo: Le Cong Son A portion of the Saigon Central Post Office was draped in mesh while its management board consults the city on a proper hue. Locals and tourists have criticized the office's choice of bright golden yellow as too bold and flashy. Photo: Le Cong Son

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The Saigon Central Post Office's managers have stopped work on a paint job that many deemed too gaudy while seeking help in selecting a proper color.
The office filed a written request on Monday with the HCMC Department of Culture and Sports and its Heritage Preservation Center about replacing the bright golden yellow, which has been panned by locals and tourists alike.
The post office managers asked the department to call a meeting with relevant experts and officials as soon as they can.
The post office's director, Dang Thi Nga, acknowledged on Monday that her office had fallen short in seeking approval from the city before beginning its painting.
Nga said they have paused their efforts -- after coating 200 square meters of the façade -- to try another color.
The Saigon Central Post Office was designed and built between 1886 and 1891 by the famous architect Gustave Eiffel, the namesake creator of the Eiffel Tower. The neoclassical building has come to be a key attraction in the city’s colonial core.
Managers of the building hired workers to start repainting the post office in September, since the building's paint had faded and its plaster had worn away in several spots.
Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Group spent around VND5 billion (US$234,250) on the effort, which included several repairs to a leaky roof.
The renovation effort was the first to be undertaken since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 and was nearly completed before wide public outcry halted the work.
Many discontented city residents have argued that the new color doesn't resemble the building's original hue at all.
Tour guides say their customers are shocked by its boldness. 

The Saigon Central Post Office was repainted a bright golden yellow during a renovation effort that began in September 2014. Photo: Le Cong Son
Le Kiem Hoa, the chief of investment at the HCMC Post Office, said they hired the Vietnamese paint group Kova to examine the building's original color.
During an interview with Thanh Nien on Monday, Hoa acknowledged that they did not consult a city official or expert since the building hasn't been designated a national historic relic.
As such, the decision was her's to make.
The city government really had left the post office to oversee their own restoration effort, until the public complained.
Truong Kim Quan, director of the heritage center at the municipal department of culture, told Tuoi Tre newspaper on January 9 that the building should have been treated as a heritage site by default because it is currently on a list of candidates for official preservation, along with with Ben Thanh Market and the former Cercle des Officiers.
“Every single change to these buildings has to go through the city government,” Quan said.
He said the painting of the post office represents a violation of the city's laws on its heritage sites.
 

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