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Cablegate: Hanoi Flooded, Government Response Criticized

VZCZCXRO1435
RR RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #1230 3080928
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030928Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8683
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 5260

UNCLAS HANOI 001230

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL VM
SUBJECT: HANOI FLOODED, GOVERNMENT RESPONSE CRITICIZED

REF: Hanoi 1227

1. (SBU) Major dailies, online news services, and popular blog
sites criticized Hanoi city officials for what they described as an
inadequate response to the severe flooding that hit much of northern
Vietnam October 31 - November 3 (reftel). As the deluge became more
serious, news outlets criticized the government for not televising a
warning and for failing to update Hanoians on the status of flooded
streets. One particularly acerbic article on Saturday, November 2
claimed that city officials were missing in action, and concluded
with the line, "Where are all the city officials? They left before
the floods!" The online media service VietnamNet archly posted a
picture showing people fishing in what appeared to be the middle of
a flooded street. By contrast, the Communist Party's mouthpiece in
Hanoi, Hanoi Moi, only had one article on the flooding Saturday.

2. (SBU) As the government stepped up its public response to the
floods Sunday, authorities also sought to take control of the story
and instructed the dailies on the proper attitude to take. By
Monday, the angry tone had all but disappeared. Hanoi Moi newspaper
had at least 12 articles with extensive coverage on the first three
pages highlighting the city government's efforts to drain the
waterlogged city. For its part, VietnamNet was rebuked for poking
fun at what the government said should have been covered as a
serious story.

3. (SBU) COMMENT: Hanoi city officials are evidently feeling
defensive -- and embarrassed -- after a delayed initial response to
what turned out to be a significant weather event. With major parts
of the city still under water, the government is eager to be seen as
proactive and responsive.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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