Vietnam officials suspended for drunken karaoke brawl

By Phuoc Hiep, Thanh Nien News

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Bui Quoc Khanh (R), deputy director of the Binh Phuoc Province Department of External Affairs, and Pham Thanh Chung, deputy director of the provincial Department of Interior, apologized to each other on August 20. Photo credit: Phap Luat TPHCM Bui Quoc Khanh (R), deputy director of the Binh Phuoc Province Department of External Affairs, and Pham Thanh Chung, deputy director of the provincial Department of Interior, apologized to each other on August 20. Photo credit: Phap Luat TPHCM

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The Communist Party unit of Binh Phuoc Province suspended Monday two senior local officials who were engaged in a drunken karaoke parlor brawl that left one hospitalized.
 
Nguyen Van Thanh, a spokesman of the provincial government, told Thanh Nien that Bui Quoc Khanh, 40, deputy director of the Department of External Affairs, and Pham Thanh Chung, 52, deputy director of the Department of Interior, will be suspended in one month while further probes into the brawl are underway.
Further punishment against the pair would be made based on the results of the investigations, he said.
 
According to initial investigation, a group of officials, including the pair, went to Bong Trang Restaurant in Dong Xoai Town at 2 p.m. on August 12 after attending a political training session in the morning.
 
The officials ate, drank and sang karaoke.
 
Khanh reportedly went around to invite other officials to clink glasses, but he forgot Chung, who reportedly said something to criticize Khanh.
 
Things quickly unraveled.
 
According to eyewitness accounts, Khanh threw beer into Chung’s face and repeatedly hit him on the head with his empty glass.
 
Chung was rushed out of the karaoke room bleeding profusely from his head and face, while Khanh was still yelling at him.
 
Chung was admitted to hospital and given several stitches for his wounds.
 
News of the brawl traveled by word of mouth, but it was until August 20 that the provincial People’s Committee called a meeting to demand the two officials' accounts for the incident.
 
During the meeting, the officials apologized to each other and said they were under the influence of alcohol at the time.

 In January 2013, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked all the 63 provinces in the country to enforce the ban on public officials drinking during working hours. Phuc had ordered a similar ban in March 2012, but it was not heeded, apparently.

A number of laws and regulations Vietnam has passed have not been strictly enforced because they lacked the implementation guidelines and personnel needed, officials say.

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