Authorities of the central province of Ha Tinh have suspended the illegal construction of an 18-square-meter temple by the Taiwan-invested Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation in the Vung Ang economic zone.
The firm requested a license to build the temple in July but was rejected. Nonetheless, it began work on the building, which will be 3.6 x 5.1m and 4.5m height.
Authorities in the dark
Relevant agencies of Ha Tinh Province said yesterday they were surprised to learn that work on the temple had begun.
Le Van Thong, vice director of the construction department of Ha Tinh, admitted that he had not been informed of the work by local authorities.
“I learned about the case through the media,” he added. “The management board of the Vung Ang economic zone must take responsibility for this.”
Nguyen Minh Hoan, vice chairman of the People’s Committee of Ky Anh District, said he did not know about the construction of a temple by Formosa in the zone.
Nguyen Canh Thuy, vice director of the Ha Tinh Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, revealed that he knew Formosa had asked to build a temple in July, but it had been rejected.
Actually, the People’s Committee of Ha Tinh had approved in written documents the construction of a temple at the request of Formosa, but later the Party’s Committee of Ha Tinh demanded that the project be suspended because “the public disagrees with the existence of a temple built by Formosa Ha Tinh.”
Formosa Ha Tinh sent two documents for the approval for the construction of the temple, but they were vague, according to Thuy.
In a document, Formosa Ha Tinh said the temple would be used to worship the God of Wealth and the God of Land. But in another document, it said the temple is for worshipping the souls of dead people in the area.
Thuy added that Formosa must be consistent in its information, and submit documents for the architectural design and construction materials.
It’s unacceptable to have a temple with a non-native design in the area, he confirmed.
In addition, Ha Tinh authorities built a temple and a pagoda to worship the dead in Ky Phuong District after clearing land for the construction of the Vung Ang zone, Thuy noted.
Thuy told Tuoi Tre that he believed the management board of Vung Ang ignored Formosa’s work on the temple, so they must bear responsibility.
Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation has leased the land at Vung Ang for 70 years, but a temple, which may feature architecture and design typical to China, would have long-term influence.
Vietnam considers Taiwan to be a part of China.
Duong Trung Quoc, deputy of the law-making National Assembly, argued that it is unacceptable to let a non-native temple be built in Vietnam without approval from local authorities.
Ho Anh Tuan, head of the management board of the Vung Ang economic zone, said he complied with instructions from the provincial authorities to suspend the construction of the temple.
“They did it by themselves and when we learned about it we asked them to stop,” he added.