Looking back to the Vietnamese recent history, it seems that post-war Vietnam does not enjoy the sentiments of safety as we often dreamt of, while fighting for “Peace” and “Independence”.
Peace does not bring a safer society to its people, even in the absence of the insecurity of war and conflicts. Why is it so?
In my view, when a country is at war, people are busy trying to preserve their lives or livelihood. The sentiment of fighting together against a common enemy make the citizens of a nation flock together. While male citizens are sent to the frontline, women and children stay behind to make the economy work.
In the Southern part of Vietnam, where I grew up, the enemies were perceived as the communist insurgents that were treated as “outlaws” by the government, although it was difficult to pinpoint who was the real enemy among the population. The “Enemy” of the Southern Vietnamese was associated to a *political regime” led by the communist leadership and supported by the Eastern Bloc. Growing up in the heart of the war until the “liberation of South Vietnam”, I did not really think of the “Enemy” with a face, but more of the escalating conflicts that threatened my safe haven, by coming nearer everyday to my doorsteps as the conflict changed into a more ideological fight than pure battles in the field.
For my parents, who lived in the haven of peace (under the protection of the South Vietnamese Army), their worries about security was more about our personal safety against terrorist attacks, which represent the utmost manifestation of crime, rather than on the general atmosphere that war brings to the whole population, with a predictable end that we would lose the war after the Americans left. Personnally, I did not recall any sentiment of insecurity when it came to my own safety when I was going out in the streets in my daily activities, except that in the evenings, we were not allowed to circulate during the curfew hours. But I later discovered that my compatriots, who were growing up in other parts of the country that were out of the control and the protection of the Southern Vietnamese Army until 1975, did not have the same privileges as me.
Curiously, as Peace was re-established after the war ended, and as we were moving more towards the “globalized” society, it seems that crime rates have drastically increased in my country, and the sentiments of insecurity has gained the majority of the population, in the whole country. The current conversation that I got from my countrymen are mostly on their concern about the status of criminality at all levels of society, in spite of the apparent efficiency of the police in keeping peace among the population.
Crime is by definition the opposite of Peace in my mind. But maybe, we tend to associate a feeling of peace as a result of the absence of conflicts, which are the source of insecurity. However, peace is not necessarily the absence of fear by ending the conflicts of war.
Crime is present in various forms in Vietnam. According to reports from the criminal police, victims of crime include foreign visitors who came as tourists or business people as victims of petty thefts or business scams, childen and women as victims of sex trafficking and prostitution, and other forms of criminal misconducts.
I found an article of Wikipedia on “Crime in Vietnam”, and wish to share some highlights here for your reading:
- History of Organized Crime
- Crimes against tourists
- Sex trafficking and prostitution
- Corruption and police misconduct
According to United States 2016 OSAC Crime report, Hanoi is rated as medium in Overall Crime and Safety Situation. I have yet to find out more on the situation in Southern Vietnam, after the conflicts ended in 1975.
Will post more on this,