Vietnam lawyers say charge against ‘Underwear Queen’ holds no water

The lingerie model posted social media videos of herself performing risky motorcycle stunts.
By Diem Thi for RFA Vietnamese
2023.10.23
Vietnam lawyers say charge against ‘Underwear Queen’ holds no water Vietnamese authorities charged Tran Thi Ngoc Trinh with 'disturbing social order' after she posted photos of herself riding a motorcycle in an unsafe manner.
Screenshots from Viet Nam News

Legal experts said Vietnamese authorities are coming up with bogus charges against a famous lingerie model who was arrested after posting videos of herself performing risky motorcycle stunts.

Ho Chi Minh City police arrested Tran Thi Ngoc Trinh – also known as the “Underwear Queen” – on Oct. 19 after she posted video clips of herself lying down on a motorcycle, kneeling on the seat, driving hands-free and placing both legs on one side of the vehicle, Vietnamese media reported.

The posts went viral, and police charged Trinh with “disturbing public order.”

But according to Vietnam’s Penal Code, that charge must apply to behavior in a public, physical space, not on the internet, said lawyer Nguyen Van Mieg. 

“It [must] affect other people such as causing traffic jams or affect the activities of agencies and the state,” he said.

“Just posting a video online and being convicted of 'disturbing public order' is an ambiguous and unimaginable act of the Vietnamese government,” he said. “Legally, it contradicts the content of the law itself, not to mention the details.”

Police also began legal proceedings against Tran Xuan Dong, 36, who taught Trinh to drive a motorbike, for using counterfeit documents and causing social disorder, Vietnam’s Tuoi Tre News reported on Oct. 20. They have prohibited him from leaving his home.

As a one-party communist state, Vietnam tightly restricts freedom of expression, religious freedom, and civil society activism, and requires international social media platforms to comply with Vietnamese online content regulations, including the prohibitions on illegal content under the Cybersecurity Law.

Another lawyer, Dang Dinh Manh, told RFA, agreed that the charges were bogus – and that it reflected authorities’ desire to control information.

“The location considered to be where Ms. Ngoc Trinh committed the crime, was not on the street, where she drove a large motorbike and committed many dangerous acts, but in cyberspace,” he said.

Security agencies “will stretch their punitive hands farther and deeper to suppress all voices, especially voices that are attracting the attention of the masses,” Manh said.

If Trinh’s case is successfully prosecuted, “it will lead to the consequence that anyone who posts a clip online that does not target anyone, nor does it offend anyone, can still be labeled a ‘public order disrupter,’” he said.

“Now, they have begun to turn to the crime of 'disturbing public order' in cyberspace,” he said.

“It shows a shift by the police with the aim of stifling people’s voices on social networking sites.”

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.

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COMMENTS

TV
Oct 23, 2023 11:04 PM

This is very true. The article has intelligent analysis. This is a new shift of power to the Vietnamese Police Department in Viet Nam.
They can turn anything to crime and punishment!