Police in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, have suspended the distribution of leaflets intended to give safety tips to foreigners in the downtown, including the ‘backpacker area,’ pending instructions from the municipal police department.
Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Van Phuoc, chief police of Pham Ngu Lao Ward, where the ‘backpacker area’ is located, said on Wednesday that the leaflet distribution has been halted following differing responses from the public, VnExpress newswire reported.
Many have expressed their approval of this move by police officers while others say it would demean the police force and create a culture of fear among foreign visitors.
Earlier on October 23, the ward police handed out leaflets giving pieces of advice to foreign visitors on six things they should do to protect themselves from snatches, fraud, and other problems during their stay in the city, Phuoc said.
Such leaflets, presented in both English and Vietnamese with picture illustrations, were also distributed to many hotels and restaurants in the ward, the lieutenant colonel said.
Issuing such leaflets to foreign visitors was aimed at reminding them to be more careful in protecting their property when they are in public places in the downtown area, he said.
“Many foreigners have lost their assets to snatchers when they were traveling in the city’s central area. With such leaflets, we hoped that foreigners would be aware of what they should do for their own safety,” Lieutenant Colonel Phuoc said.
Pham Ngu Lao Ward is the first locality in the district to hand out safety leaflets to foreign visitors, the official said.
Regarding taxi usage, the leaflet says, “Ripping off unsuspecting passengers is an art form for dishonest drivers. Stick to reliable companies such as Vinasun and Mai Linh Taxi.”
It also advises foreigners to “remember that negotiating is not rude, but expected. Never settle for the initial offers, especially in tourist areas.”
In order to avoid having their belongings snatched, foreign visitors should keep their bags close to their bodies, avoid wearing precious jewelry items, and try not to be too flashy with their camera and phone, the leaflet says.
Telephone hotlines to contact police in emergency cases are also provided in the distributed leaflets.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Phuoc, most foreigners who received the leaflets were very happy and showed appreciation for the effort by police to ensure safety for foreign travelers.