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Retired police general demolishes illegal villa to public’s surprise in Vietnam

A former police chief has finally started leveling a villa he had illegally built on forest land in the central city of Da Nang four years ago, following an order from local authorities.

A former police chief has finally started leveling a villa he had illegally built on forest land in the central city of Da Nang four years ago, following an order from local authorities.
A former police chief has finally started leveling a villa he had illegally built on forest land in the central city of Da Nang four years ago, following an order from local authorities.

Major General Phan Nhu Thach hired a few dozen locals to help with the destruction of the property on Hai Van Mountain in Lien Chieu District on Wednesday afternoon, nearly a week ahead of the deadline he was given by the district’s administration.

His decision was a surprise to locals, who had had little belief authorities would be tough enough to enforce the order.

Local officials had reportedly said they were unable to prevent the construction in 2011 due to several ‘hard-to-say’ reasons.

The illegal construction of the imposing villa, located on an area of about 4,000 square meters of forest land surrounded by three-meter-high walls at the foot of Hai Van Mountain, was first covered by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in December last year.

The Da Nang administration and Lien Chieu authorities then organized a number of meetings on the issue and eventually requested on February 4 that the villa owner demolish the property.

Thach was given 35 days to follow the order.

Besides Thach, Ngo Van Quang, director of Phuoc Minh Gold Co., also illegally built a villa on Hai Van Mountain and had been asked to dismantle his building by the same deadline.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the brick roof of Thach’s house was completely removed, whereas the two-story concrete house inside Quang’s villa was demolished.

“The family of Thach has strictly followed the request to demolish their building,” said Truong Viet, chairman of the Hoa Hiep Bac Ward, where the villas are located.

Viet said both Thach and Quang were allowed by authorities to complete the demolition on their own so they can keep any materials that can be re-used.

Locals said the people hired to take down the buildings were actively working.

 A man who lives next to Thach’s villa said local residents are pleased with the way authorities have been handling the issue.

“We feel that everyone is really treated equally by the law,” he said.

Major General Phan Nhu Thach used to be director of the Police Department of the central province of Quang Nam. He retired in September 2014.

The neighbor added, however, that it is wasteful to destroy such a huge building.

“If only the illegal construction had been stopped earlier,” he said.

On February 4, the Lien Chieu administration imposed a VND22.5 million (US$1,050) fine each on Thach and Quang for the act of illegal construction.

Quang was subject to another fine of VND15 million ($700) for misusing the land plot zoned for forest development.

Representatives of the men’s families told Vnexpress  they had paid the fine.

Both families lodged an appeal to keep the villas to authorities but were rejected. They thus had no choice but to obey the demolition order.