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Where money does not talk
Thursday,  7/5/2018, 20:24 

Where money does not talk

By Son Nguyen

Businesswise, the prospects are irresistible when the potential investor puts forth a huge project worth VND2,100 billion, or roughly US$91 million, to develop a cable car system linking Duy Xuyen District and Hoi An City in Quang Nam Province. The ancient town’s authorities, however, have brushed aside the project in a straightforward manner, saying the investment scheme is not aligned with the city’s cultural merits. In a sense, traditional values prevail in the competition with economic benefits.

As widely covered in local media, Hoi An City’s leadership today, July 5, bluntly rejected the cable car project suggested by Quang Nam-based NVN Joint-Stock Company, following a meeting between the company and the ancient town’s leaders early this week. Earlier, the provincial government of Quang Nam had sent a correspondence to Hoi An City and relevant agencies, instructing that these bodies have a working session with the investor over the project.

“NVN seeks to build a cable car system stretching seven kilometers across the Thu Bon River, from Hoi An City to Duy Xuyen District, at a cost of VND2,100 billion. In return, Hoi An City government will hand over 100 hectares of land to the investor,” Nguyen Van Son, vice chairman of the city, says on Phap Luat Online.

“After studying the project, we’ve come to a decision that this project will not be implemented, and the city’s leadership will make a report (on our disapproval) to higher authorities,” Son is quoted by the online paper.

Such a stance mirrors the city’s brave choice when saying no to a huge project at a time when many localities across the country are rolling out the red carpet for capable investors.

Le Van Vinh, general director of NVN Joint Stock Company, says in Tien Phong newspaper that the cable car project is aimed to “open a tourism route in combination with traffic circulation from Hoi An City to Duy Xuyen District nearby.”

At a working session with Hoi An City authorities this Monday, the company said that the cable car system when operational will be able to transport between 1,300 and 1,600 tourists an hour, which will be a strong spur for the city’s tourism sector, according to Thanh Nien. From an altitude of 45 to 50 meters, passengers will be able to admire the beauty of the river, Thanh Ha Pottery Village, Hoi An Ancient Quarter, and the craft village of Kim Bong Cam Kim, said the company at the meeting.

Those inviting prospects are simply rejected.

“I and other leaders of Hoi An City have grossly rejected the project… Even if higher authorities (of Quang Nam Province) have otherwise made their own decision, we are determined to protest so that the cable-car project cannot be implemented in Hoi An,” the city’s Chairman Nguyen Van Dung is quoted as saying in Dan Viet.

In fact, voices of opposition to the project have been heard far and wide.

Nguyen Su, former secretary of Hoi An’s Party Committee, has vehemently opposed the project, saying it would spoil the landscape of Hoi An. “Right after learning of the project, I told leaders of the city that it is not acceptable,” Su is quoted by Phap Luat Online as saying.

In Tien Phong, the former leader of Hoi An also reveals how other high-profile people have opposed the project. Nguyen Thi Binh, former Vice State President, has phoned Nguyen Su, pleading that “leaders in Hoi An should disallow this project,” according to the newspaper.

An urbanization practitioner, in an article titled “Please do not strangle Hoi An” in Tuoi Tre, vehemently rejects the idea of developing modern structures including the cable car system in Hoi An, saying development in the ancient city has almost reached its threshold. Dr. Nguyen Minh Hoa, former dean of Urbanization Study at the HCMC-based University of Social Sciences and Humanities, argues that visitors flock to Hoi An not because of its magnificent and modern buildings, but rather its peace, tranquility and kindness from its deep-rooted cultural space.

According to Hoa, the natural environment, the water supply capacity, the clean air, the living space, waste treatment, and the ecological balance in Hoi An are becoming overstretched and cannot take in more people, so the cable car project is unwelcome.

“Adding a new cable car system to carry thousands of people to Hoi An each day will not enhance the prosperity of Hoi An, but will be an act of strangling the city, pushing it to a dying stage,” says Hoa in the article authored by himself.

In another article, Tuoi Tre refers to another construction project named Hoi An Impressive Cultural Park on Bap Islet in Cam Nam Commune, which the newspaper says has adversely impacted the peaceful atmosphere of the city. The project was originally licensed in 2004 under the name of Gami Hoi An Ecotourism Village, with numerous construction structures that menaced the merits treasured by Hoi An, and upon strong protests, it was rescinded in 2015. However, the project was revived by Quang Nam Province authorities in 2016 under the new name stated above, with high-rise structures that infringe on the preservation norms of Hoi An City.

Commenting on Hoi An Impressive Cultural Park project on Bap Islet, the well-known writer Nguyen Ngoc states on the news website nguoidothi.net that Hoi An is very small, and thus very vulnerable. “Hoi An is very beautiful, and the beauty is flimsy… Just a little rude intervention and stupidity will result in a catastrophe,” says the writer.

Nguyen Van Dung, chairman of Hoi An City, recalls how the investor wants land in Hoi An for the project, with a concealed intention of developing housing projects in the city.

“They ask for 22 hectares of land in Thanh Ha Ward and 25 hectares in Cam Kim Ward to build the project operation center. That sounds illogical when demanding such large plots of land for the project operating centers only. Hoi An City asserts that there will be no new urban center here,” Dung is quoted as saying in Tien Phong.

According to the city’s Vice Chairman Nguyen Van Son, money talks elsewhere, but not in Hoi An.

The cable car system as well as other tourism accommodation projects may bring about certain economic benefits for the ancient city, but Hoi An leaders have stressed that “there is no land” for such schemes, and leaders of the city would strive to preserve the city’s beauty, Son asserts in Tuoi Tre.

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