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City in Vietnam’s Kien Giang asked to make report on ancient tombs’ desecration

City in Vietnam’s Kien Giang asked to make report on ancient tombs’ desecration

Monday, October 30, 2023, 14:33 GMT+7
City in Vietnam’s Kien Giang asked to make report on ancient tombs’ desecration
The entrance to the temple worshiping the Mac family in Ha Tien City, Kien Giang Province, southern Vietnam. Photo: Supplied

The People’s Committee of Kien Giang Province in southern Vietnam requested that the Ha Tien City administration provide a report regarding the disappearance of the ancient family tombs of Mac Cuu, a Chinese exile who founded the principality of Ha Tien and served as its first monarch.

The Mac Cuu family tomb area includes 60 ancient tombs, where Mac Cuu’s grandparents, family members, descendants, and loyal staff rest in peace amidst the picturesque landscape of Binh San Mountain in Ha Tien City.

Five of the tombs, numbered 26, 31, 39, 48, and 49, either disappeared or were relocated to a different location about a year ago, sparking significant public discontent.

Among them, three tombs retain their stone steles leaning against a cliff of the mountain, while two others are completely unaccounted for.

Vinh Phuc, deputy head of the Binh San Mountain protection board, suspected that the ongoing construction of a nursing home at the foot of the mountain resulted in the inadvertent encroachment and leveling of land, which led to the destruction of some of the Mac Cuu ancient tombs.

The scene on Binh San Mountain, where a construction project desecrated the land, resulting in the loss of five ancient tombs in Ha Tien City, Kien Giang Province, southern Vietnam. Photo: Supplied

The scene on Binh San Mountain, where a construction project desecrated the land, resulting in the loss of five ancient tombs in Ha Tien City, Kien Giang Province, southern Vietnam. Photo: Supplied

A representative from the Ha Tien People’s Committee reported that no concrete results have been obtained thus far despite continual police investigations into the loss of the ancient tombs.

“Local authorities documented the individuals responsible for bulldozing and leveling the land, resulting in the destruction of the graves,” the representative said. 

“However, a satisfactory resolution to this incident is pending, generating public outrage.”

Legitimizing violations

Following public complaints, Ha Tien City’s urban management authorities carried out an inspection and discovered that the nursing home project spans a land area of 1,654.2 square meters, exceeding the construction permit area by approximately 284 square meters. 

Additionally, a total of 1,756 cubic meters of excavated soil has been relocated from the Mac Cuu family tomb area to different sites.

The urban management authorities have thus halted the construction of the nursing home, pending the completion of necessary legal procedures.

In response to this approach, the representative from the Ha Tien People’s Committee expressed disapproval.

He emphasized the importance of clarifying the circumstances surrounding the land acquisition at the nursing home project and the individuals responsible rather than merely accepting the fact that the land was taken and then requiring compensation.

“Why do [we] simply resolve it by permitting them, who acquired land beyond the permitted boundaries, to amend documents and paperwork in compliance with existing regulations in order to legitimize their violations?” the official questioned.

“This is not an appropriate solution.

“In my view, we shouldn’t allow them to amend the documents and instead insist that they adhere to the terms of their [construction] permit.”

The nursing home project at the base of Binh San Mountain in Ha Tien City, Kien Giang Province, southern Vietnam. Photo: Buu Dau / Tuoi Tre

The nursing home project at the foot of Binh San Mountain in Ha Tien City, Kien Giang Province, southern Vietnam. Photo: Buu Dau / Tuoi Tre

While Nguyen Van Sau, director of the Kien Giang Department of Culture and Sports, holds that the Ha Tien City administration bears the responsibility for resolving the incident, Nguyen Luu Trung, deputy chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, insists that it is the culture department’s obligation.

“I will task relevant departments with inspecting the nursing home project at the base of Binh San Mountain to ascertain who granted the project’s permit and oversaw its progress thus far,” Trung stated.

A Chinese exile, Mac Cuu left his country during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) to do business in Southeast Asian countries. 

He settled down in Ha Tien in 1680 and greatly contributed to making the region a prosperous land, according to the Vietnam National Authority of Tourism.

He founded the principality of Ha Tien and served as its first monarch in the 18th century.

Mac Cuu died in 1735.

Binh San Mountain, which houses a temple worshiping the Mac family and the tombs of Mac Cuu and his relatives and loyal staff, was recognized as a national scenic relic site in 1989.

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Bao Anh - Buu Dau / Tuoi Tre News

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