Vietnam anti-corruption official moonlights as xe om to save for $133k villa

Nguyen Sy Ky claimed he had worked as a xe om at night when he was younger, saving enough to build a VND3 billion villa

The two-story villa of Nguyen Sy Ky is seen in Dak Lak Province, located in Vietnam's Central Highlands.

Though considered a difficult and low-paid job, xe om, or motorbike taxi driver, has emerged as dream work in Vietnam after one state official claimed to have saved enough money to build a luxury villa while doing it part-time.

Nguyen Sy Ky, deputy head of the Commission for Internal Affairs in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, made headlines last weekend after his property was found to be illegally built on land zoned for agricultural purposes only.

Ky defied an order to voluntarily demolish his two-story villa by late last month, requesting he be allowed to change the usage purpose for that plot of land.

His villa is built on land spanning hundreds of square meters in the Ea Tam Ward in Buon Ma Thuot, the provincial capital.

The land is zoned for agricultural purposes until 2020, according to the Ea Tam authorities.

A report by the Ea Tam administration reveals that Ky built a 200 square meter villa on the land, plus a 152 square meter swimming pool and a 91 square meter dining area.

The ward administration has booked the case and reported the illegal construction to the Buon Ma Thuot administration for further investigation, Ea Tam chairman Pham Tan told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Sunday.

Tan said Ky had previously been given a deadline to remove his property by March 25 but had not followed it.

Instead, the anti-corruption leader requested that he be allowed to keep the construction until he obtains permission to use the land in an alternative way.

Savings from part-time xe om job

Also on Sunday, Ky explained to Tuoi Tre that he and his wife were upset that his villa had made national headlines.

“We couldn’t sleep well after numerous criticisms from the public,” he moaned.

Ky said the property had been funded by money he had been saving his entire life and is intended as his retirement home.

The official said the villa had cost some VND3 billion (US$133,929), and was funded by “income from the farming work of my wife, contributions from my children and my own savings.”

His wife had been a teacher before taking up a farming job on the family’s coffee plantation, Ky said.

“I started my career with empty hands,” he told Tuoi Tre.

“In order to have enough money to construct this villa, I worked part-time as a xe om driver at night while I was an official at the provincial inspectorate.”

Ky also claimed that it was unfair for authorities to request the demolition of his villa only, given that there are numerous other homes built on agricultural land in Ea Tam Ward.

Tan, the ward chairman, responded by saying that Ky, a state servant and Party member, should set the example to local citizens by following the law, rather than compare himself to the public and complain.

The ward chairman said he would verify Ky’s allegation that there were multiple illegal constructions in the area.

Tan also admitted that the ward was at fault for only discovering Ky’s illegal villa after the construction was completed.

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