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Vietnamese anchor apologizes after calling hawkers ‘parasites’ on national TV

Tuesday, August 18, 2020, 14:23 GMT+7
Vietnamese anchor apologizes after calling hawkers ‘parasites’ on national TV
This screenshot captures Vietnam Television anchorman Anh Quang as he presents a finance and business broadcast on VTV1 Channel at 7:00 am August 17, 2020.

A news presenter of national broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV) has apologized for saying that street hawkers are living like “parasites” on Ho Chi Minh City streets during live coverage.

The controversial comparison happened during the Finance – Business broadcast at 7:00 am Monday on VTV1 Channel, when anchorman Anh Quang was introducing a story on the economic impacts of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made the tourist streets or those mainly serving foreign visitors in Ho Chi Minh City desolate,” Quang said.

“And when the streets are lifeless, how will the peddlers, who are living [as] parasites on these streets, survive?”

The way Quang compared the street hawkers to the organisms stirred a furore from viewers.

“In terms of word choice, the word ‘parasite’ in this news story is used metaphorically by the anchorman. But unfortunately they chose an inappropriate word,” said Prof. Dr. Nguyen Van Hiep, director of the Vietnam Institute of Linguistics.

“The word ‘parasite’ has a negative connotation. Describing a person as living parasitically on another means disapproving of that person’s ‘all play and no work’ lifestyle,” he explained.

According to Hiep, saying so is both an insult to street vendors, who “have to work very hard to make a living,” and incorrect when it comes to “the government’s views on economic sectors and types.”

Nguyen Ha Nam, chief of VTV’s Editorial Secretary Board, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that news presenter Anh Quang had posted an official apology on his personal Facebook account on Monday.

The national broadcaster will also come up with a disciplinary action for Quang’s error, Nam said.

“First of all, I would like to apologize to viewers who watched the Finance – Business broadcast on August 17, 2020 on VTV1 Channel and to street vendors in Ho Chi Minh City,” Quang’s Facebook post reads.

“While presenting this morning’s news about the livelihoods of street vendors in Ho Chi Minh City during the COVID-19 pandemic, I read a sentence incorrectly, causing misunderstanding of the news content and unnecessary negative impacts."

“This is completely my personal error in conveying information to the audience, while the original content of the report was meant to offer a perspective of sharing and showing sympathy for the street vendors who struggle to make a living, without any condescending tone.

"I have written a report on the issue and am waiting to receive a disciplinary measure from my agency.

“Once again, I hope to receive forgiveness from the audience.”

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