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Controversy erupts over proposed immigration ban on rule-breaking Vietnamese models, beauties

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Members of the public, lawyers, and showbiz celebs in Vietnam have frowned on the national performing department’s proposal to ban models and beauties who have competed in other countries without seeking prior permission from going abroad.

Nguyen Dang Chuong, head of the Performing Arts Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism recently said in an interview with a local newspaper that his department will recommend the Ministry of Public Security to bar models and beauties who defy local performing regulations from leaving Vietnam.

The proposal came as a drastic, preventive measure to cope with local beauties’ unauthorized competition in overseas pageants in recent years, Chuong added.

Six beauties and models were found competing in international pageants abroad without permission last year.

The latest example is Dieu Linh, a model in Ho Chi Minh City.

On January 9, Linh was fined VND22.5 million (US$1,049) by the chief inspector of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Culture and Sports for contending at Miss Tourism International 2014 in Malaysia in December without the department’s prior consent.

The model was also suspended from performing nationwide.

Linh took home the titles of “Miss South East Asia” and “Best in National Costume” at the pageant.

She claimed she was in a rush and did not have time to obtain the Performing Arts Department’s permission.

In September and October 2014, the city’s culture department also penalized three other models, Huynh Thi Thuy Anh, Cao Thuy Linh, and Le Tuong Vy for similar violations.

Anh claimed the crown at a Vietnamese community beauty pageant organized last year in the U.S., while Linh earned the best national costume title at Miss Grand International 2014, which took place in Thailand in October last year.

Meanwhile, Vy was crowned at Miss Vietnam Continents 2014, which ran in the U.S. in August 2014.

Three of them all got suspended from local performing activity for some while.

Vietnamese models Le Tuong Vy (left) and Huynh Thi Thuy Anh, as seen in this Tuoi Tre file photo, have been fined by the Performing Arts Department for competing in international beauty pageants without seeking its prior consent.

Similarly, Phan Hoang Thu, a model who was named “Miss South East Asia” at the Miss Tourism International 2013 in Malaysia, was fined VND15 million ($699) for competing in the contest without authorization.

Vietnamese models have expressed their frowns at a regulation which stipulates that beauties can only compete in international pageants after landing in the top three of official national contests.

In addition, those landing in the top three of modeling contests are only eligible for international modeling competitions, not beauty pageants.

The rule also applies to the winners of local beauty pageants: they will only be allowed to partake in international beauty contests, but not in modeling competitions.

“The regulation is quite rigid, as noted models in other countries often claim high prizes in international beauty pageants. The countries’ relevant agencies shouldn’t make such a clear distinction between models and beauties,” Hoang Thu said.

Former model Thuy Hanh, director of BB Plus, a local modeling company, suggested the Performing Arts Department relax the regulation.

“As only one or two national beauty pageants are organized each year, local companies have few options when it comes to selecting contestants for international pageants. Those who are not fortunate enough to land in these pageants’ top three can still shine and improve themselves in other contests and thus deserve a second chance,” Hanh said.

Nguyen The Thanh, vice chair of the Vietnam Model Association, agreed with Hanh, adding that the regulation may deprive the beauties of an opportunity to shine abroad.

He urged that beauties who are to compete in international pageants on their own should be allowed immigration if they can submit the pageant organizers’ invites to competent agencies at least one month prior to showing up for the pageants.  

The competent agencies should reply to them in writing five days at the latest from receiving the invitations, Thanh advised.

Vietnamese model Dieu Linh, the latest example of local beauties and models being fined for competing in international beauty pageants without seeking prior permission from the Performing Arts Department

Proposal not legally backed

Truong Thi Hoa, a veteran lawyer, suggested that the Performing Arts Department should consider the legality and viability of their proposal.

Citizens who do not break the law are free to go abroad, she noted.

Lawyer Nguyen Van Hau, vice chair of the Ho Chi Minh City Lawyers Association, pointed out that according to the Vietnamese law system, violators in areas of culture, sports, tourism and advertising are fined VND15-30 million ($699-1,398) and are not subject to any other punishment.          

“The proposed immigration ban on the models and beauties would serve as a breach on citizens’ right,” he stressed.

The culture ministry is in the position to only suspend violators’ immigration if they have yet to pay the fines, and drop the ban as soon as they are paid, according to Do Hao, of the Vietnam Immigration Office.

Cannot be changed

Dao Dang Hoan, vice head of the Performing Arts Department, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that his deparment will review the legality of the proposal.

He added the department is working to complete the issuance of permits to local artists and models.

“Those who go to other countries have to pledge that they won’t compete in international pageants without seeking our consent in advance, otherwise their permit will be revoked and they will be suspended from nationwide performing activity,” Hoan said.

He undescored that they are considering making certain changes to Decree 79, but maintained that no adjustments will be made to its 22th Article, which stipulates that only those landing in the top three in national beauty and modeling contests are eligible for international competitions.



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