Vietnamese official fined US$275 for knocking out golf caddy during heated argument

Amid public outrage, Nguyen Viet Dung says he plans to resign from the provincial council
By RFA Vietnamese
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Vietnamese official fined US$275 for knocking out golf caddy during heated argument Nguyen Viet Dung, a member of the Quang Nang Provincial People's Council, and the now-broken golf club he allegedly used to hit a caddy at BRG Da Nang golf course on Dec. 6, 2022.

UPDATED at 5:12 p.m. EST on 01-10-2023 

A Vietnamese provincial council member says he plans to resign after he was fined 6.5 million dong (U.S.$275) for knocking out his caddy with a golf club over a scoring disagreement during a round of golf, state media reported.

Nguyen Viet Dung, 45, a member of the People’s Council in the central province of Quang Nam, allegedly struck the 32-year-old woman during an argument over the number of strokes she counted while he and four others were playing a round at the BRG golf course in the coastal city of Da Nang on Dec. 6. 

The woman, identified only by her initials, N. A. L., lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

News about the incident has sparked public outrage.

Nguyen Hoa, chairman of Da Nang’s Ngu Hanh Son district, where the incident occurred, revealed the details of the fine, but also said that police were not charging Dung with a crime as the injured woman did not file a complaint against him or conduct an official injury assessment.

Hanoi lawyer Minh Long, a pseudonym, said this decision was not wrong from a legal perspective, because N. A. L. was injureed on less than 11 percent of her body, the threshold that would put an attacker in violation of Vietnamese laws regarding inury to others.

But Long said the minimal fine was problematic.

“It’s unacceptable if you look at the case in terms of the code of conduct [for government officials]," said Long. "He is an elected representative of a People’s Council who should be trusted by the people, and he did not show his ethics or respect towards ordinary people."

Long recommended that Dung be dismissed from his position for showing he is unqualified to represent the people.

Government officials using violence towards citizens is common in Vietnam, a woman identified by the pseudonym Dao told RFA.

“He obviously broke the law as he did physically abuse another person," Dao said. "An ordinary person would have been punished."

"Violators who are commoners are often given harsh punishment while officials are always protected and covered, even tolerated. It creates injustice and discontent among the people," she said.

The incident shows how powerless the people are compared to officials, a Hanoi resident identified by the pseudonym Phan Van Bach said.

"In cases involving powerful government officials, ordinary people are often the losers," he said.

State media reported earlier that Dung had submitted a letter on Dec. 7, one day after the incident, saying he intended to quit for health reasons.

However, the council has yet to receive the letter, said Nguyen Cong Thanh, the vice chairman of Quang Nam’s People’s Council.

Dung has publicly acknowledged the incident, admitting to state media that he was at fault. During an interview shortly after the incident, he said he became frustrated while arguing with the caddy over the score, threw his club to the ground, it grazed her hat and snapped in half, then bounced back and struck her in the face.

He said that his relatives were the ones who took her to the hospital and that he paid for her medical expenses.

On Dec. 9, the BRG Da Nang golf course’s parent company sent an open letter to other Da Nang area golf courses calling for an area-wide ban for Dung, and asked that the other clubs inform their members about the incident.

The letter also disclosed that Dung sent his staff to the BRG Da Nang golf club to forbid the club’s staff members, security guards and other caddies from making public statements about the incident. 

Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Eugene Whong. Edited by Malcolm Foster.

Update adds reactions from the public.


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