Construction halted on Viet Kieu comedian’s Vietnamese theatrical fathers’ shrine

The construction of a Ho Chi Minh City shrine dedicated to the fathers of Vietnamese theatrical arts financed by a popular Vietnamese-American entertainer, or Viet Kieu, has been suspended over regulatory violations

The gate of the shrine in District 9, Ho Chi Minh City, February 2016

The construction of a Ho Chi Minh City shrine dedicated to the fathers of Vietnamese theatrical arts financed by a popular Vietnamese-American entertainer, or Viet Kieu, has been suspended over regulatory violations, a local official said on Thursday.

The shrine project was initially launched by Hoai Linh, a Vietnamese-born artist returning from the U.S., who is considered by fans as the best contemporary comedian in Vietnam.

Linh rose to fame during the mid-1990s after moving to the U.S. with his family, and has since held much acclaim in the comedic sector.

On Thursday, local authorities blew a whistle on the project for illicit construction on agricultural land and lack of a proper permit.

Hoang Minh Tuan Anh, vice chairman of the People’s Committee of District 9, where the shrine is located, said that Linh’s agent had fully paid the VND6.2 million (US$275) fine for the violation.

Apart from the fine, construction of the shrine has been discontinued until sufficient papers are submitted.

The location of the shrine, Anh said, is within a zone planned for farming, which means only 10 percent of the land in that area is allowed for construction.

Hoai Linh at an event in January 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The shrine conforms to this rule, stretching 500m² in a 7,000m² area.  Recent Internet rumors that authorities plan to demolish the building due to the violation are inaccurate, he added.

The owner of the building has 60 days from the imposition of the suspension to acquire and submit the relevant papers necessary to continue construction, according to regulations.

“Linh wished to build a shrine for our fathers for so long,” said Tran Ngoc Giau, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Stage Artists Association.

“He wanted it to be a rendezvous for fellow performers to gather, worship our fathers, and get to know one another better,” Giau said.

To fund this project, Hoai Linh has been appearing on numerous TV shows, soaps, and movies in Vietnam for the past year, confessing on TV that he could “even die for this cause.”

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