BANGKOK—Sweden's ambassador to Vietnam has called on Hanoi to loosen curbs on news media and the Internet, which he said could help eliminate corruption.
"We underline, among other things, that public access to information should now become a reality, and in connection we expressed our concern, as other countries also did at this meeting, about reports that access to Facebook is being restricted. We urge the government to lift all restrictions on the Internet," Swedish Ambassador in Hanoi Rolf Bergman said in an interview.
"We have at all occasions where we have discussed corruption--and that is mainly on the biannual anti-corruption dialogue--mentioned it again and again. Whatever we discuss, we always repeat our conviction that mass media should play an important role when it comes to the fight against corruption," he added.
"Of course Vietnam is regarded as a very successful developing country when it comes to economic growth and development. There is a lot of significant progress made when it comes to delivering development to the poor people of Vietnam," Bergman said.
While Hanoi now says it sees the value in mass media, he said, "we have not seen in the last year, I would say, any progress. So we are a little bit discouraged with what we see. A lot of talking from all concerned parties, but not enough actions in reality."
Donors critical of Restrictions
Vietnam provoked international criticism this year by arresting bloggers and a prominent human rights lawyer.
"Economic growth and development requires an open and transparent environment for all stakeholders, Vietnamese and international," U.S. Ambassador Michael Michalak told the opening session of talks between Vietnam and its aid-givers, known as the Consultative Group.
There has been a "shrinking of the space for honest, reliable information" recently, Michalak told the two-day meeting where pledges of aid are announced.
An Internet provider said last month that Vietnam's public security ministry had ordered blockage of the site which, like other online platforms, offers room for expression not permitted in traditional media which are all linked to the communist state.
The Minister of Information and Communication, Le Doan Hop, last month indicated to legislators that he wanted to reinforce control of the Internet, saying "toxic and bad-intentioned information" has sometimes circulated in cyberspace.
Original reporting by Mac Lam for RFA's Vietnamese service. Vietnamese service director: Khanh Nguyen. Written for the Web in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.