Saturday, February 28, 2015


I am sorry if I am frustrating you one more time with monotonous stories about my country only. However, this is a very interesting story that can be applied in what we are discussing in our classes about Social media in Emergency and Crisis.
The story is about the publicly showed anger and rude behavior of a Vietnamese public official, who is the Executive Vice Chairman of Vietnam National Traffic Safety Committee and General Director of Transportation Department, Ministry of Transport. He was invited to a talk of the National Radio Agency to discuss about the deteriorating transport safety context of the country. However, when he came to the studio, he realized that the television talk came out to be a radio talk due to his assistant’s misinformation! Dressing up and prepared to be live broadcasted on TV, he got so furious with the assistant (and with the radio team also, even though they didn’t do anything wrong) that he immediately took his tie off and throw it to the assistant’s face, together with a tirade of invectives.
The rude demonstration shocked the whole studio and the radio team. Being professional in communication and social media, without hesitation, the team wrote a critical column to be published on the National Radio Agency’s website and on some staff’s private Facebook pages. Although the well-known public official and his impolite attitude were mentioned anonymously, it was not difficult to the public to figure out who the official was. And immediately, the posts and article were flooded with comments, most of which criticized the official’s patronizing attitudes he used to have towards young, inexperienced reporters. The event made a scandal on Vietnamese Facebook pages and online newspapers about how bad a public official could treat media in just several hours afterwards.
About the official, several hours was enough for him to calm down his anger and consider appropriate response to the uprising crisis. He posted his official apology on his personal Facebook page to the public in general and to the radio team in particular, in which he linked to the original article for the readers to have an overview about the event. The apology conceded the inappropriate behavior, unreasonable anger; and expressed his gratitude to the criticized articles and comments, which “opened his eyes and mind” about how skillful a public official should be in self-controlling and what should be included in his daily self-education. The apology attracted thousands of views, likes and praising comments. The public no longer talks about how bad his behavior was, but how sincere and self-conscious he was in claiming his fault.
To me, it was interesting to witness this crisis escalated and de-escalated just in less one day. From the public scope, Vietnamese citizens, whose disagreements and criticisms about public sectors used to be not welcomed, has had a new channel of communication to express their ideas, criticisms about the public sector, including public policies, administration and public officials. Vietnamese public has handled social media so well that they set up constructive social conflicts professionally to engage others in to raise voices and give public’s message to the officials. On the other hand, they are opened enough to hold criticisms back as long as the official sincerely conceded his fault or failure. From the public sector scope, the time of monopoly and authoritarian in Vietnam has been over due to technological development. A public official’s figure can easily be either create or damage through social media platforms. Therefore, they should be more self-aware of handling their post professionally and ethically.

--- Trang DANG ---

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