Six months ago, a chemical spill caused by a Taiwanese company caused an angry response which continues to this day. In the most recent demonstrations of public upset, a protest was held outside of Formosa, a steel company owned by Taiwan. This reaction was due to a combination of deeper issues.
Although this spill occurred 6 months ago, it took the Vietnamese government months to admit that it was that company who had caused the spill. That struck me as odd… why would the government hide who caused the spill? The people obviously already knew the spill had happened, what does it protect if they kept that information to themselves? The answer to that question came as I looked further into the environmental effect of this spill on the Vietnamese economy. The government admitted that phenol, cyanide and iron hydroxide had been leaked into the water. None of these are necessarily toxic in the LONG TERM to the fish. However, if any heavy metals were leaked into the environment (which they most likely were due to the lengthy delay of response by the government) those will stay in the environment for a long time, and the economy will be even more damaged than it already is.
Currently, due to the problem of the initial chemical spill, tens of thousands of jobs were lost in the affected provinces, whose economics are driven by the fishing industry. For those coastal villages, this has completely changed their incomes, and their lives. Generally in Vietnam, they avoid the subject of politics, but this issue isn’t just about dead fish. It has uprooted a lot of distrust in the government, as well as other conflicts with neighboring countries.
This article reveals one tendency of this government to protect themselves from criticism by hiding information that could cause public upset. It is interesting to me how little emphasis they had placed on this environmental concern, even though it makes up a large part of their economy. What would you do in this situation? How do you stand up against a government to have information released to you?
This article was taken from the New York Times Tuesday October 4, 2016
Ives, Mike. “Outrage Over Fish Killed By Chemicals in Vietnam Simmers 6 Months Later.” The New York Times 4 Oct. 2016, VOL. CLXVI ed., No. 57,375 sec.: A12. Print.