A restaurant owner in the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau has threatened to set a local government office on fire, saying that some officials who often came to eat and drink at his place refused to pay their ever-growing tab.
Phong, the owner of Thanh Phong Restaurant, carried two cans of gasoline to the office of Khanh Thuan Commune People’s Committee last month, but did not burn them.
He said he was "purely threatening" in an attempt to reclaim his debt, adding that he himself was pressured by suppliers to pay his own bills.
Officials however took the threat seriously.
The commune's police chief Nguyen Tan Dat was quoted by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying that they summoned him several times but Phong never showed up.
“We are still looking for more witnesses and waiting for instruction from the district police even though the case happened quite a while ago,” he said.
On February 14, police seized the two cans of gasoline that Phong brought to the office. However, they have not started any legal procedures.
Nguyen Minh Lam, chairman of Khanh Thuan Commune People’s Committee, admitted that the office still owes Phong VND48 million (US$2,236) in total.
“We were unable to pay the debt due to financial difficulties. We owe money not only to Phong but many other restaurants in the commune,” he said.
Lam said he would review the debt to see how much will have to be paid off by his office and by individuals.