The administration of the northern Vietnamese city of Hai Phong have requested that a dragon-shaped decorative installation that ‘broke the Internet’ be removed, while at the same time denying that the ugly ‘work of art’ cost more than US$2.6 million.
Various photos showing a ‘dragon’ wrapped in yellow plastic flowers began surfacing on Facebook last weekend, causing a stir among local netizens.
A dragon or?
The ‘dragon’ provoked a groundswell of mockery, with people likening it to a worm, a cartoon caterpillar or even a Pikachu, thanks to its yellow ‘skin’.
The installation is located on Le Hong Phong Street in the city’s downtown area, the same street that had a VND14.65 billion ($654,018) artistic LED lighting system removed less than two years after its inauguration.
With the wastefulness of that lighting system still fresh in the public’s minds, the ugly dragon design fueled their anger, particularly after it was alleged to have cost as much as VND60 billion ($2.68 million) to build.
An illustration work to mock the Hai Phong dragon by Thang Fly
On Sunday, the city’s administration officially addressed all of these complaints.
Nguyen Xuan Binh, the city’s deputy chairman, said the municipal green company had carried out the work on the dragon-shaped installation without the permission of the administration.
“I have asked them to remove their work immediately as it is unacceptable to have such a silly-looking symbol in the heart of the city,” he said.
Binh said the controversial installation is in fact a dragon-shaped plant that has lived on Le Hong Phong Street for years.
It only began to look ugly after the green company covered it with yellow plastic flowers, the deputy chairman asserted.
“The company broke the aesthetic harmony between the installation and the street with that fake flower covering,” he said.
The official also denied allegations that the ‘dragon’ had cost the city VND60 billion.
He explained that VND60 billion is the total sum the city has earmarked for beautifying downtown streets in the lead up to Tet, or the Lunar New Year, falling late this month.
One of the decorative projects was meant to replace the controversial LED system on Le Hong Phong, which was removed in mid-November last year.
That project boasted LED-lit conical hats and seagull-shaped lights, which were said to be offensive as they looked more like underwear than birds.
These are seagulls or...? Photo: Dan Tri