Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh is heard conversing in informal language with other Vietnamese officials as he talks about his experience at the White House. PM Chinhtalked in this kind of language: “Clearly… fair. His mother… Scared of what!” He laughed loudly and danced his hands and feet. The video in the US State Department’s Livestream broadcast on YouTube on May 13 was recorded before Chinh’s meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. It appears to have been accidentally captured private moments of top Vietnamese officials chatting with each other while waiting for Secretary of State Blinken to arrive. The Vietnamese government leader and Minister of Public Security probably did not notice the US State Department camera recording the delegation and broadcasting it live.
There is an unwritten rule because Vietnamese leaders suffer from the disease of “stretching” (with a few exceptions), so when they come into contact outside the agency, they want to show themselves as a public person easy to get along with, so they often have a habit of speaking in a simple, everyday life. They don’t hesitate to use “street dialects.” The reason is that every day in offices, in meetings, they have to use a kind of “wooden language,” rigid, fake, cover up most of the truth… So every time, these officials need to “relieve stress.” The same is true of the Government delegation. Living “slowly” in Vietnam, when suddenly having to switch to a “fast” working environment, commuting schedules, stressful contacts, etc. During breaks like this, usually, the person with the highest position initiates starting “exploding” and others follow along to please their superiors. All… just “as natural as Hanoians.” Of course, the recent “acting” at the US State Department was an outrageous mistake (No excuse!)
FB Nga Pham, a well-known journalist who used to work for the BBC, tweeted: “In these days, everything is Livestream, YouTube, and TikTok, but no one advises Mr. Chinh and the rest of the crew? Should have Security and Reception staff (to serve the group) stand face down against the wall for two days (as a form of discipline)! Feel free to let the Vietnamese language boards make comments, but the West probably won’t understand anything. I agree, I don’t know how to translate some words they used into a foreign language?” However, there are many other opinions refuting the status of FB Nga Pham, saying that “the West” is everywhere and always has Vietnamese-speaking assistants to help. And if they don’t have an assistant in Vietnam, they should read Basam. vet.
However, currently, the video recording of an “unnecessary” conversation between PM Chinh and Vietnamese officials at the US State Department on May 13 is no longer found on the YouTube channel of the US Department of State for unknown reasons. The conversation between the PM and officials in the delegation, including Minister of Public Security To Lam, Deputy Defense Minister Pham Hoai Nam, and a number of other officials, took place before the meeting between the Vietnamese delegation and Secretary Antony Blinken and was recorded in its entirety by State Department employees, and streamed live on the Department’s YouTube channel. The remarkable point in the five-minute comment section at the State Department’s stateroom is the lack of a culture of Vietnamese officials. Minister of Public Security To Lam, when referring to former National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger under President Trump, called him “a guy” and added, “Nó/he” (ie Mr. Pottinger) whose wife is Vietnamese and praised this smart wife.
It is also surprising that people can hear from Chinh’s mouth: “Clearly… fair. His mother… Scared of what!” And yet, an official in the delegation also took advantage of “swirling” that “We speak out here, sitting in there, they listen to all …”. The video immediately went viral on social media sites and attracted many comments from the online community. A viewer of the video on RFA’s Facebook, named Kien Nguyen, wrote in a comment: “Being a guest at someone’s house and talking behind the host’s back (Actually speaking in front of the camera, not behind their back!) are uneducated behaviors!” Another person named Le Minh Hoang wrote: “These sayings….thought they were being heard at some drinking table….not at High-Level Diplomacy. This is how a politician represents Vietnam.” Another person named Hoa Nguyen wrote: “Words!!! From the Prime Minister’s mouth, it sounds like a bus station.” By the evening of May 14, US Eastern time, when viewers clicked on this video on the YouTube channel of the US Department of State, it was reported, “Video unavailable.”
On Twitter, former BBC journalist Bill Hayton wrote: “It was so embarrassing for the Vietnamese delegation that the US State Department seemed to have to take down the video.”
This is not the first time that Vietnamese government officials have caused notorious diplomatic scandals when working abroad. Last October, Minister of Public Security To Lam, when accompanying PM Chinh to attend the Climate Summit in the UK, came to eat gilded beef at the famous restaurant of Turkish chef Salt Bae. Meals are said to cost an average of about $1,975. It is worth noting that Mr. To Lam went to eat an expensive meal while in Vietnam at that time there was a COVID-19 pandemic and many people were locked down for months without income. This meal of Minister To Lam also caused the international press to “make waves” and call the beef that Mr. To Lam ate “Communist Beef.”
Look at me and think of people! Previously, Presidents Clinton and Obama made official visits to Vietnam, they also “acted” the daily life of the Presidents. Vietnamese people, both in Hanoi and Saigon, voluntarily line up from the airport to the hotel, just to be able to wave a special car carrying the head of the United States. Responding to the enthusiasm of the people of Vietnam, the Presidents, on their way to the airport to return home, stopped to eat a bowl of pho (Clinton) or buy green rice from Vong village (Obama). And American politicians have indeed won the hearts of Vietnamese people, although Vietnamese people know well that they are not sure how much they love Pho and Com in Vong village. Just acting! The “acts” are temporary, while the “classes of culture” are permanent. That’s the culture of Leadership, not the kind of Leaders without culture!