Vietnam lacks money to build memorial statue: gov't

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The central government currently doesn't have enough money to build a huge statue commemorating women whose children and husbands sacrificed in wars in the central province of Quang Nam, the VnExpress news website said.

Quang Nam's authorities last week announced that they need the investment of over VND410 billion (US$19.7 million) for the project.

The provincial People's Committee planned to continue with project, which was launched in July, 2007, while waiting for the government's approval of supports, VnExpress said.

However, the website quoted Vu Duc Dam, head of the Government Office, as saying that although it is important to build works of educational and historical significance, the current economic difficulties means public investment is being tightened.

The government will mainly spend on projects that are really urgent or in final stages.

According to VnExpress, the project was first approved in 2007 with the total investment of VND81 billion ($3.9 million), more than 61 percent of which would be come from the state budget.

Under the plan, the statue will cover over 15 hectares, including a memorial house with the names of nearly 50,000 Vietnamese women whose children died in Vietnam revolutions against the dominance of France and the US.

The statue reprises Nguyen Thi Thu, known as one of Vietnam greatest mothers, who had nine sons, one son-in-law, and two grandchildren who died fighting foreign occupation. Thu died last December at 106 years old.

Quang Nam authorities' new investment plan for the statue has provoked controversies. Some said the project is significant in terms of history and culture, while others criticized its huge investment, saying it is a waste, considering Vietnam current economy.

Pham Trung, head of Vietnam Academy of Fine Arts' contemporary arts department, criticized the work's aesthetics after seeing its model, saying that the design wasn't "refined" and "lacked sculptural factors," VnExpress reported.

He warned that the statue will look "rough and dry," given the central region's critical heat and sunshine.

Trung also stressed that building such a huge memorial statue, Vietnam is going against the world's trend where many other countries are switching to other kinds of memorial. The US, for example, built two square pools as the memorial of victims of the September 11 attacks, he said.

"I can guarantee that it'd be a failure of the Vietnamese art to have memorial statues with increasing scales, but conservative designs and techniques. The statue of Vietnamese heroic mothers is an example," the expert said.

According to Trung, with the country's current economy, building huge memorial statues is too costly. Meanwhile, their influences on the community aren't much.

He suggested that the province cut down the project's investment and spend it building other necessary works like hospitals, schools, and houses for the poor instead.

On the other hand, Luong Xuan Doan, deputy chief of the culture department under the Central Committee of Propaganda and Training, said the public is paying too much attention to the project's investment, without having a thorough look at other factors.

As a member of the council estimating the project's aesthetics, Doan was quoted by VnExpress as saying that it is necessary to build the project in Quang Nam, which is a sacred land, representing Vietnamese heroic mothers. Moreover, the province is poor and doesn't' have any location for the local community's political and cultural activities, he added.

"Quang Nam deserves to have the cultural and historical work. It deserves to have a new beautiful face in the new century," Doan was quoted as saying. "If we keep sticking with the old face, it will be a disadvantage for next generations. We should think about the future Vietnamese citizens."

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