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Vietnam considers changes to controversial alcohol sale bill

Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 15:29 GMT+7

As a result of public pressure, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health has considered making changes to a controversial draft law that prohibits beer and liquor sales between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am the following morning.

>> Proposed ban on late liquor sale sparks controversy among expats in Vietnam

“After having listened to public opinions over the last few days, we are thinking about more flexible solutions,” said Nguyen Huy Quang, head of the Legislation Department under the health ministry.

According to Quang, the proposed solutions include: 1. The ban on beer and liquor sales between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am should be only applicable to several specified areas. 2. Authorities in provinces and cities across the country should seek their own solutions to preventing the negative effects of alcohol abuse. 3. Tightly controlling beer and liquor supply and implementing other measures.

The official said that about 87 countries around the world have curfews for the sale of alcoholic drinks.

When asked if the draft resolution affects the local tourism industry, Quang said Vietnam will not develop tourism at all costs since some nations like Singapore and Thailand, which have stronger tourism growth than Vietnam, have such laws in place to prevent the negative effects of alcohol abuse.  

Specifically, the sale of alcohol at markets and shops in Thailand is banned between 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm and again between midnight and 11:00 am seven days a week, according to the Thailand Law Forum.

The Election Commission of Thailand also bans alcohol on Election Days for the offices of Prime Minister and Senator, including advanced voting days.

In November last year, the Singaporean government asked the public to consider ending alcohol sales as early as 10:00 pm, midnight or 2:00 am, for instance in a bid to curb public nuisance caused by drinking in public areas, according to the Straits Times.Skeptical

“Will the Vietnamese police forces have time to add this to their already busy schedule fighting dangerous crimes? This proposed law is petty in terms of solving a health problem, and will cause  black market (organized crime) alcohol sales and bars to increase at the expense of legitimate stores and bars,” an expat nicknamed Em Oi said in an email sent to Tuoi Tre News. Meanwhile, Bert Dinkel, another expat, was much surprised by the draft law. “Living in this lovely country for a mere 21 years, I have witnessed many new draft law proposals but this new proposal on alcohol consumption and sale could make it to the Guinness Book of World records,” he commented. Dinkel said that the negative impact of this proposal would be much higher than the gains by passing such law as well as encouraging unlawful and potentially dangerous behavior to blossom even more. “It will never materialize if passed by government because there is too much at stake for the patron of bars, clubs and restaurants as well as the whole economy,” the foreigner judged. Under the draft law released last Friday by the Ministry of Health, no stores, bars, restaurants or eateries would be allowed to sell alcoholic drinks between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am the following day.

Sellers would only be permitted to sell a can of beer per hour, and no more than three cans a day to each male customer, while the limit for female customers is one can for every two hours and no more than two cans a day.

Sellers are also prohibited to sell alcoholic beverages to people who are under 18, pregnant women, or those who have reached the drinking limit.

The proposed ban on alcohol sale sparked controversy shortly after it was made public, with many people protesting that it would not be feasible to enact such a ban.

The question is how law enforcement officers could frequently check all of the alcohol-selling facilities to determine whether they have breached the law or not, and how they could know if an individual has passed their drinking limit.

* Do you agree with the draft law on the ban of liquor sales between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am the following morning in Vietnam? Please share your ideas or comments with us by sending them to: ttn@tuoitre.com.vn.

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