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Hanoi probes website behind fake ‘ban’ rumor on Japanese gas station

Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 15:10 GMT+7

Hanoi police have opened an investigation into the website behind a recent rumor that the city had banned its civil servants from refilling at the newly opened, Japanese-run, Idemitsu Q8 gas station.

The rumor, which went viral on social media, has been denied by the city as a complete fabrication.

Hanoi police have said that the website’s claim of being a licensed press agency under the management of the capital city's Department of Justice is also untrue.

Last Wednesday, phapluat.news published an article named ‘Hanoi’s civil servants barred from Japanese gas station under proposed ban’, which was shared across multiple social media platforms in Vietnam.

According to the article, the People’s Committee of Hanoi received a letter from the local petroleum association calling for a ban on civil servants refilling at an Idemitsu Q8 gas station.

The station, opened earlier this month at the Thang Long Industrial Park in Hanoi’s Dong Anh District, is the first Vietnamese retail outlet of a Japan-Kuwait joint venture.

Idemitsu Q8 is the first wholly foreign-owned firm to enter Vietnam’s highly conservative retail fuel sector.

In the alleged letter, Hanoi’s petroleum association cites the need to avoid using foreign providers for fear of hurting local business.

The homepage of phapluat.news.
The homepage of phapluat.news.

In interviews with local news agencies however, Phan The Rue, chairman of the Vietnam Petroleum Association, dismissed the article as a fabrication and warned the public of similarly groundless rumors promulgated by dubious sites.

According to Hanoi police, phapluat.news is not a licensed press agency in Vietnam, and the contact address available on the site’s homepage belongs to another media house.

The Ministry of Justice has also denied a claim that it owns the site.

According to investigations, the website was founded on July 7, and its domain and IP address are registered in the U.S. city of Phoenix.

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