Wednesday, 24 Jul 2019
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Vietnam lawmakers query whether state officials build pagodas for profits

Updated at Friday, 07 Jun 2019, 11:52
The Hanoitimes - A pagoda-contained charming landscape ecotourism becomes a favorite choice of many people.
A number of Vietnamese lawmakers have questioned a controversial issue in which state officials are said to invest in worship facilities for profits as a number of large-scale pagadas have been built by private investors. 
 
Lawmaker Nguyen Mai Bo. Photo: VietNamNet
Lawmaker Nguyen Mai Bo. Photo: DDDN
At the National Assembly’s question and answer (Q&A) session on June 5, lawmaker Nguyen Mai Bo asked Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien to verify information that some officials invest in pagodas for profits.

The minister said he had no information of the issue and asked the lawmaker to provide more information for the ministry. 

 
Minister of Home Affairs Le Vinh Tan. Photo: Zing
Minister of Home Affairs Le Vinh Tan. Photo: Zing
In answering the question, Minister of Home Affairs Le Vinh Tan said that Vietnamese laws and the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS)’s charter have no regulations on the building of pagodas for commercial purposes. 

He asserted that the ministry has so far found no state officials investing in pagodas and no worship facilities are profiteering at the cost of believers.

But he admitted that some individuals have benefited from spiritual practices, causing public indignation. 

 
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien. Photo: VTC
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien. Photo: VTC
To support for Tan, lawmaker and monk Thich Bao Nghiem affirmed that all pagodas across Vietnam were built and managed by the VBS and local people. 

On asking Minister of Construction Pham Hong Ha, lawmaker Pham Van Hoa warned of the investment in worship-cum-ecotourism facilities has eaten up thousands of hectares of land. Worse, regulations on land for worship facilities and commercial land remain vague, possibly causing some transformation of land use purposes in the future. 

Minister Pham Hong Ha said that regulations on classifying land use purposes have been set out in Law on Land, Law on Belief and Religion, Law on Construction, Law on Environment Protection, among others. 

 
Minister of Construction Pham Hong Ha. Photo: VNA
Minister of Construction Pham Hong Ha. Photo: VNA
He said the ministry would amend regulations on transformation of land use purposes to ensure a clear classification between land for worship facilities and land for other purposes. 

At the Q&A sessions, the lawmakers became indignant when raising questions on the investment of sumptuous worship facilities for tourism amid lack of land for arable purposes for locals. 

Development of religious tourism 

While Vietnamese authorities refused the concept of “spiritual tourism”, more well-invested worship-cum-ecotourism facilities have arisen across the country, resulting in a social trend of enjoying this kind of tourism. 

Over the past years, building a pagoda usually takes on a vast area of charming landscape which is supported by well-paved roads leading to the site, forming an ideal ecotourism destination.

Such tourist attractions become favorite choices for a large number of people especially in spring and summer. 

In some cases, superstition has been reported at some newly-built pagodas in which the so-called monks and nuns deliver trivial preaching as reported by local media. 
Linh Pham
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