Three punished for saying Vietnamese official ‘cocky’ on Facebook

Three people were penalized on Saturday for commenting on the manners of a provincial official on Facebook

A smartphone user shows the Facebook application on his phone in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, in this photo illustration, May 2, 2013.

Le Thi Thuy Trang, a literature teacher from a high school in An Giang Province in the Mekong Delta, shared an article in October, in which the Government Inspectorate proposed that the chairman of the An Giang People’s Committee be disciplined, commenting that the chair is “cocky” on her Facebook page.

The post received likes and comments showing agreement of several people, including Huynh Nguyen Huy Phuc, an employee of An Giang Power Company.

As a result, Trang and Phuc were fined VND5 million (US$223) each for publicly humiliating the chairman, Vuong Binh Thanh, on the social media site, said Truong Minh Thuan, head of the An Giang Department of Information and Communications.

Phan Thi Kim Nga, the vice chief of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade office, was also punished in the form of a warning by the department for being involved in the so-called “verbal offense,” Thuan added.

Nga was found using the Facebook account of her husband, Phuc, to support Trang’s comment.

Under the decree on the sanctioning of administrative violations in post, telecommunication and radio frequencies issued on November, 2013, the penalties are reasonable and will act as deterrence against similar offences in the future, according to the department’s head.

In addition to the financial penalties, Trang also received a written reprimand from the management of the high school where she teaches, according to Ly Thanh Tu, deputy director of the provincial Department of Education and Training.

Nga was given a written warning and transferred to another job, said Mai Thi Anh Tuyet, head of the An Giang Department of Industry and Trade.

Phuc was also openly criticized in front of the entire staff members of An Giang Power Company.

Talking to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Vo Duc Toan, a lawyer from a law firm under the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, considered the punishment, especially Nga’s, to be overly severe as the violation was not serious and did not cause any particular consequence.

The penalties might create unwanted concern among the public as any individual has the right to express their feelings, including love or hatred, toward another by different means, he said.

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