Editor's note: A number of expats living and working in Vietnam have expressed their thoughts on the country’s developement during the past years, airing their opinion on the improvement the country has made.
The country’s fight against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has also left a deep impression on them.
The comments were made at the request of Tuoi Tre News on the occasion of Vietnam celebrating 45 years of Reunification Day (April 30).
The following comments have been edited by Tuoi Tre News for clarity, consistency, and coherence.
The spirit of a united front
How Vietnam handled COVID-19 in the country was incredible! I am forever going to be in awe at how quick the government took action to prevent what could have been a catastrophic disaster. I am also impressed at how cooperative the people of this beautiful country became. Expats and locals worked together (for the most part) to help one another, to support local businesses, and to respect the rules. I wish it was the case for other countries, too.
|Angeli Castillo is seen in a photo she provided Tuoi Tre News.|
I have only been here for four years, but I have seen how uplifting the spirit of a united front looks like, so it didn't come as a surprise when everyone worked together to cooperate and respect our host country. Of course, there were special cases where people showed a lack of respect, but thankfully the government took swift action.
I believe that the image of Vietnam has greatly improved especially in the eyes of the foreigners that live here and even the ones that used to live here. Many of us had an impression that it was just chaos in Vietnam. A simple example is the driving laws. If locals can disobey the traffic laws, of course, it will be easy for guests of the country to do the same. But seeing how Vietnam handled the COVID-19 so well gives me hope that one day Vietnam residents and guests won't need a pandemic-scale reason to cooperate and be as respectful as they can to keep the county clean and just as organized.
I'm not sure when or how this will end. I just know that now is the time to improve on roadworks and anything Vietnam (or anyone) needs to improve and develop because, when this is over, there will be a massive demand for travel, tourism, and creative solutions.
Angeli Castillo, founder and creative director of Karma Creatives, a Filipina who was born and raised in Abu Dhabi, the UAE
A new perspective of the country
The whole foreign community in Vietnam and myself admire a lot the way Vietnam has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. It's also something that's very surprising for people in the West when they hear about how well Vietnam is doing. A few days ago, there was a speaker, James O’Brien, on a quite famous radio show in the UK who was talking about Vietnam and how well the country has done. People were very surprised until he explained how early people in Vietnam, not just the government, started to react. Vietnam has dealt with COVID-19 as effectively as possible by using a big hammer very early.
|Rafael Masters is seen in a photo he provided Tuoi Tre News.|
How Vietnam has been dealing with COVID-19 certainly gives foreigners a new perspective of the country.
Personally, I’ve been here for 12 years and started a company in Vietnam because I love the place. I believe in the ability, skill and ambition of Vietnamese people. While how well Vietnam responded to the COVID-19 pandemic was something nice to see, it was also not a huge surprise to me. When it really, really matters, they will completely unite as a country and they will all do the right thing. That's something that I had never seen before, even though I knew that could be done by looking at the history of the country. To see this is something personal and it was very amazing.
Rafael Masters, cofounder and CEO of Vulcan Augmetics, from the UK
A rising star
Vietnam has done admirably containing the novel coronavirus. The healthcare system and efficiency of the government of Vietnam in controlling this pandemic have been very impressive. I am sure many people have taken notice and their initial apprehension will turn into admiration. Vietnam's star is rising in the world.
I have lived in Vietnam for four years so far but I have visited Vietnam at least once or twice a year since 2003. Other than Vietnam I have also visited several Asian countries during that time. Compared to all the places I have visited, Vietnam's economy has grown the fastest in the past 17 years and achieved the greatest progress in terms of improving the lives of ordinary people.
|Ong Kian Soon is seen in a photo he provided Tuoi Tre News.|
The first time I came to Vietnam in 2003, there were few international clinics and hospitals. Expats and wealthy locals tend to go to places like Singapore or Thailand for their healthcare needs. However, there are many international clinics and hospitals in big cities now, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, and people are spoilt for choice. The best private hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City now boast service levels and clinical quality rivaling Thailand/Singapore at prices they cannot hope to compete. Moreover, I feel that Vietnam is just getting started. Looking at the massive investments in health care in recent years, we will likely see even more progress.
Many things make me love to live in Vietnam, but the great optimism and hope for the future that is so palpable in the country attracts me the most.
Ong Kian Soon, family physician from Singapore
Vietnam has been fighting the disease since the beginning, at the same time as China even though there were almost still no cases in Vietnam. I think Vietnam has a reputation already of being a safe country that is developing well. I'm sure that the handling of this disease means that Vietnam will be taken even more seriously on a global scale because they handled this seriously and without impeding people's personal liberties, but by taking necessary precautions. I think the West has a lot to learn from this.
The solidarity shown by Vietnam has been very impressive to witness. Even though Vietnam is not as rich as France or the UK, they still show a lot of solidarity by sending masks to Europe. It's a global solidarity. Vietnam cares for its people but also people abroad.
|Camille Quignon is seen in a photo she provided Tuoi Tre News.|
So far during this epidemic, I feel like local governments have managed to take care of their people, for example with zero dong markets and rice distributors, and this is something that is extremely important for the future because a richer and prosperous society is only as healthy and happy as its people.
My impressions of Vietnam before I arrived were a mix of what I had learnt at school about the war and its consequences, and also of what I knew from various friends who went and visited the country. They usually all said it was a gorgeous and great country, and people are very friendly. After living here, I think that I agree with my friends, particularly because Vietnamese people are indeed very friendly, and interested in people.
I haven't been in Vietnam so long but I have already seen a lot of improvements and great changes. Setbacks come with every fast development, and I hope that Vietnam manages to control them, for example having too many modern supermarkets could damage the local markets. I hope Vietnam will always keep their spirit that the poorer people are not abandoned.
Camille Quignon, lecturer in French from France