By Jaimie Bui.
I have interviewed a blogger/standup comedian from Vietnam. His name is Nguyễn Phúc Gia Huy. The 34-year-old blogger resides in Ho Chi Minh City which is the largest commercial city in Vietnam. Nguyen pursued his standup comedy career back since 2008 when he tried to imitate Pablo Francisco. He read books, researched, and wrote scripts by himself. After saving up to get adequate filming equipment and devices, Nguyen filmed himself doing standup comedy at home and posted on YouTube. Didn’t expect that he would get significant supports from people that watched his videos, Nguyen then got his first standup comedy show at a nightclub in downtown center in 2009. Becoming a celebrity, Nguyen still focused on making YouTube videos on his channel. However, he demonstrated many more aspects of local and global world issues and lifestyles. Receiving love and support from his audiences, Nguyen currently is one of the major bloggers/vloggers in Vietnam.
I was very honored when he accepted my request for this interview. Here are my questions and his answers about press coverage in Vietnam.
1) What are the major media outlets? Where do you get your news?
I got most of trending news about entertainments, social issues, celebrity scandals, and so on through Kenh 14, but that site is normally very bias and more likely voices out opinions. Truly, you don’t expect to find trust worthy news on that site, but it’s fun to stream through, because then you’d find out what Vietnamese young generation is caring and talking about. However, if I would like to get more credible and important news about politics, education, economy, or technology, I would go to Thanh Nien, Tuoi Tre, and VNEpress.
Also I got the news from my friends. We’re talkative people, we talk a lot about everything in the globe. Some of my friends are living in foreign countries, and they let me know how it’s going over those countries they are residing. Or I could even know my friends’ opinions about the world by just simply streaming through Facebook feeds. Like I said, we’re talkative people, we speak up our opinions on social media too, because we have that need to let others know what we think. What else? I also get the news from TV.
2) Is there a free press?
I don’t think there is a free press in Vietnam. Major national newspapers never mentions about what’s wrong about the government and how indignant the citizens get about how this country works. I could give you some examples. Recently, there was an issue about mass fish deaths in Vietnam. People in Nhan Trach were angry, and there were protests and demonstrations happening. Protesting people were arrested and beat up by the police. However, barely any national newspapers cover this, but you could find it on Facebook from sources that are not from Vietnam. Those Facebook pages from Vietnam that cover this would be blocked as well.
3) What are the most important issues trending in the news?
There are many hot and trending news currently. About education, I have covered on my YouTube channel about a young male teacher had raped his female students in Thai Nguyen province, and also a principal got arrested for stealing money for poor students in Gia Lai province. One of the issues in society currently that I like to talk about is social welfare in Vietnam. Vietnamese old people, after retiring, still have to work hard for living and to take care of their family, because Vietnamese social welfare system doesn’t pay them enough. I don’t want to discuss deeper about the consequences or outcomes of this issue, some people already called me “reactionaries.”
4) What is the media not covering?
Vietnamese government controls media and social media in general, so there are tons of things that are not covering. The media might be able to cover social issues; however, anything not great about the government system and how it works all get blocked. I gave you one example about the mass poisoned fish deaths. Demonstrations and protests from the citizens are not covered. Vietnamese citizens, who are not actively trying to look for news on foreign media outlets, would never know about that. Anyone or any media platform that mentions about the negative side of political system could be considered “reactionaries” and more likely to get arrested.
I got scared sometimes too that I would be arrested for exposing what’s not great about the government. However, I gave myself the limit what I should or should not cover. I usually cover something that is already popularly debated by public, I just gave my two scents with a bit of my sense of humor, I don’t think I would be arrested for that.
5) What do you want the world to know about your country?
The truth is the world already knows much more about Vietnam than Vietnamese people know about their own country. As I told you, the government controls what the national press should cover. Vietnamese citizens don’t get to know the shortcomings in the government system. I’ll give you one example about that from Vietnamese education. Textbooks only show how Vietnam has won wars, how flashy the country’s victories have gained. But they never unveiled the wars we failed, how many people have died from those wars. Indeed, Vietnamese people, who don’t try to find out the truth and facts about the world and their own country, only know one side of every story that national press delivers.
Thank you very much Mr. Nguyen for accepting to do this interview and answer thoroughly my questions.