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Vietnam tightens control over erasable ballpoint pens for ‘political security’ reasons

Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 10:09 GMT+7
Vietnam tightens control over erasable ballpoint pens for ‘political security’ reasons
Officers are pictured at the information center of the Saigon Port Zone III customs agency in Ho Chi Minh City May 29, 2013.

The Ministry of Finance has proposed many relevant state agencies – including the Ministries of Industry and Trade, Information and Communications, Defense, and Public Security – cooperate with each other in managing the importation and sale of erasable ballpoint pens, according to government website chinhphu.vn.

The proposal followed the Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department detecting and detaining a shipment of 200 erasable ballpoint pens earlier this month.

There is no difference in shapes and ink between these ballpoint pens and normal pens.

Text written with these pens can be easily erased with pencil erasers or conventional lighters, used to slightly heat the other side of a paper.

After talking to customs authorities and seeing the sensitive features of the ballpoint pens, the importer agreed to complete procedures for re-export.

According to the Ministry of Finance, if the pens are widely used, they can seriously affect political security and social order and safety as bad people can utilize them for fraudulent purposes.

Its proposition is meant to urge state management agencies to issue expeditious policies for such sensitive imports.

When waiting for the issuance of such policies, the Ministry of Finance and the Vietnam Customs have requested all customs departments at lower levels to stop clearing import procedures for the sensitive products and provide information on those registering to import them to local authorities.

This is not the first time the importation of such pens has been discovered. In September 2013, the Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department found a shipment of such pens by air with a value of 4,670 Japanese yen (US$40).

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