Vietnamese authorities investigate gaming streamer who made disparaging comments

The well-known streamer said heads of state were bald because they watched too many adult movies.
By RFA Vietnamese
2022.08.26
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Vietnam's President Nguyen Xuan Phuc speaks during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council at the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Sept. 23, 2021.
Reuters

Vietnamese government authorities are looking for an online gaming streamer who made disparaging comments about unnamed heads of state, calling them bald-headed pornography viewers, state media reported.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Loan, also known as Milona, made the comments as she livestreamed herself playing League of Legends on Facebook’s gaming platform. The Ministry of Public Services is investigating whether she was referring to Vietnam’s leaders. 

“People who often watch 18+ [adult] movies tend to be a little bald,” Milona said during the live stream. 

“Perhaps as they don’t do a damned thing but watch 18+ movies at home all day, state presidents all go bald,” she said. “Their f***king heads only have a few hairs left, right? Because they don’t do any f***king things but stay at home to watch 18+ movies.” 

Milona, who has more than 200,000 followers on Facebook and is a well-known streamer, did not mention specific heads of state or specific countries, many Vietnamese Facebook users and state media suggested that she should be punished if she had referred to one of the country’s four top leaders.

Dominated for decades by the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam, the Southeast Asian nation has little tolerance for dissent or statements that insult the country’s leaders. 

Vietnam’s Inspection Division is investigating the female streamer, whose video clip with inappropriate statements went viral on social media, according to a report by state-run Labor newspaper on Friday that quoted a top official at the Hanoi Department of Information and Communications. 

A Hanoi-based human rights lawyer, who declined to be identified so as to speak freely, said authorities are overreacting to the streamer’s statements, which appear to have been made in jest. 

“I find it funny and ridiculous when the responsible authorities threaten to verify and investigate the case, and when the public — mostly young people — ask that she be fined,” he said. “They do not understand what freedom of speech is.

“The handling of the government agencies and the behavior of the majority of young people remind me of the feudal time when someone who spoke blasphemously about the king would be punished,” he said. “However, we are living in modern society, not in feudal times.

“This mindset is extremely dangerous as the fear and worries about offending high-level leaders are deeply ingrained in people’s minds,” the attorney added. “That mindset gradually makes people become obedient and not dare to fight against high-level leaders’ wrongdoings.”

Freedom House, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization, ranked Vietnam as “not free” in its 2022 “Freedom in the World” report.

“Freedom of expression, religious freedom and civil society activism are tightly restricted,” the organization said in the report. “The authorities have increasingly cracked down on citizens’ use of social media and the internet to voice dissent and share uncensored information.”

A spokesman at Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs disagreed with the assessment, saying that Freedom House had given “biased assessment and prejudice, which are drawn on false information about Vietnam.”

Translated by Anna Vu for RFA Vietnamese. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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