The Ministry of Information and Communications has ordered the reversal of a monetary penalty against a doctor and a local government agency to apologize to him, following public criticism of the agency penalizing him for allegedly slandering the health minister.
Dr. Hoang Cong Truyen, a practitioner at a medical center in Phong Dien District, Thua Thien-Hue Province, in July posted a status to his personal Facebook page asserting that Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien should resign due to her poor performance in advisory work and other matters relating to security at local hospitals.
Dr. Truyen’s Facebook post included an image of Minister Tien together with the call for her to step down.
A ‘verification’ process that followed found Truyen’s Facebook post to be of offensive nature and hurt the health minister’s reputation and dignity, giving grounds to a monetary penalty of VND5 million imposed by the provincial Department of Information and Communications.
The doctor was also required to write a report on his violation and reprimanded by the healthcare center in August.
The punishment of Cuong’s outspoken criticism of Minister Tien has been met with public and media backlash, forcing relevant parties to promise a revocation of the disciplinary action against the doctor last week.
Speaking with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Sunday, Dang Anh Tuan, chief inspector of the Ministry of Information and Communications, confirmed that Minister Truong Minh Tuan had ordered the revocation of the penalty against Dr. Truyen.
What Truyen posted on his Facebook account was not enough to constitute a slander, and until further evidence against him is found, the disciplinary action must be revoked and the doctor shall receive a formal apology from the department, the minister said.
“Slandering others on social media must be strictly handled, but nobody shall be unfairly penalized,” Minister Tuan underlined.
An urgent meeting was held by the Department of Information and Communications of Thua Thien-Hue on Sunday to implement the ministry’s order.