A Hanoi resident who proposed building a gigantic golden turtle as an ‘identity icon’ for the Vietnamese capital has been promptly reminded by the municipal culture department that the city already has a legally-recognized symbol.
The idea of erecting the turtle sculpture from bronze and gold that would weigh up to ten metric tons sparked a wave of criticism shortly after Ta Hong Quan made the proposal public earlier this week.
Quan believes the statue would provide the capital, and Vietnam, with an ‘identity symbol’ similar to the Merlion in Singapore or the Statue of Liberty in the U.S.
The suggestion was countered by Truong Minh Tien, deputy director of the Hanoi culture department, who asserted that the golden turtle has never been the symbol of the Vietnamese capital.
Speaking to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Wednesday, Tien said his department appreciates all suggestions by individuals or organizations meant to make the capital more beautiful, but every proposal should be carefully vetted.
In regard to the golden turtle statue suggestion, Tien said his office never received any official proposition, and was only alerted to the idea after it gained attention from the media.
“If the municipal administration decides to take the idea into consideration, we will have to form a panel to carefully study the proposition and seek feedback from local experts and members of the public,” Tien said.
Quan suggested placing the proposed statue near the iconic Hoan Kiem (Returning Sword) Lake, or the flower garden overlooking the Ly Thai To Statue and City Hall.
“Hoan Kiem is not only a special natural relic site but also a unique culture and heritage space of Hanoi, so any construction proposed for the area must follow laws on cultural heritage and would require intensive examination,” the tourism department official underlined.
While Quan tries to sell his plan as the creation of an identity symbol for both Hanoi and Vietnam, Tien said the official symbol of the capital is Khue Van Cac (Pavilion of The Constellation of Literature) in Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature).
“The symbol is stipulated in the Capital Law by the lawmaking National Assembly and we cannot say Hanoi currently lacks an identity symbol,” Tien said.
In November 2012, the National Assembly approved the Capital Law, a collection of regulations for Hanoi, with a 77.31 percent approval vote to select Khue Van Cac as the symbol of the city, honoring its reflection of Vietnam’s traditional eagerness for learning.
Historians, experts, and architects interviewed by Tuoi Tre on Wednesday seemed to agree that the turtle, despite playing an important role in Vietnamese legends, is not and should never be a symbol to represent Hanoi and Vietnam.
Their opinion seem to align with public thinking, illustrated by 500 Tuoi Tre readers who commented that the statue project would only ruin the landscape of the area surrounding Hoan Kiem Lake and that the money and effort should instead be spent on maintaining the cleanliness and beauty around the lake.