Vietnam/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies

On 19 January 1993, the Prime Minister issued the ordinance of 25/TTg on the policies of building and renovating cultural and art works, which defined that the development of culture and arts with Vietnamese identity was the responsibility and obligation of all people. The state creates favourable conditions, builds infrastructure as well as equipment to develop cultural and arts activities with Vietnamese imprint. The decision also pointed out some detailed investment policies, aiming at preservation, correction, edition, long-term maintenance of folk literature, dance, music of ethnic groups; preservation of traditional handicraft; traditional arts on stage such as Cheo, Dan Ca (folk music), Cai Luong and puppetry as well as the policies on commending and rewarding people who help to collect and preserve national cultural values.

In the document 4739/KG-TW dated 26 August 1994, the Prime Minister had officially authorised the Ministry of Culture and Information (now Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) to carry out the state programme on culture. This is a valuable investment on the basis of the right policy orientation of the Party and state toward the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage.

To implement the fifth resolution in the area of cultural heritage, the Ministry of Culture and Information has issued the following documents:

-          Official letter 4432/VHTT-BTBT dated 20 October 1998 to guide how to reinforce the management of antiquities.

-          Official letter 4882/VHTT-BTBT dated 18 November 1998 to guide how to register, catalogue and protect historical and cultural sites, and beautiful landscapes.

-          Directive 60/CT-BVHTT dated 6 May 1999 from the Ministry of Culture and Information to reinforce the management and protection of heritage sites.

The law of cultural heritage was adopted by the national assembly (term X), ninth session on 14 June 2001, and has been effective since 1 January 2002. It is a fundamental legal basis to protect and promote cultural heritage in Vietnam. The law includes the following issues: concept and content of cultural heritage; legal domain, and regulated objects; State’s important policies and solutions to protect heritage; the responsibilities of government institutions, organisations and individuals as well as the whole society to protect national cultural heritage; the explanation of key words about cultural heritage and the protection and promotion of cultural heritage; defining all people’s ownership and state management as well as other ownership toward cultural heritage; the purposes of the use and promotion of the values of cultural heritage; some prohibitions to protect cultural heritage. In parallel with that there are some chapters mentioning the rights and duties of institutions and individuals toward cultural heritage; the protections and promotions of tangible and intangible heritage; the state management of cultural heritage; commendations, rewards and punishment; and execution provisions.

Another important document that influenced the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage is the Overall Plan to preserve and to promote cultural and historical heritage sites and beautiful landscapes up to the year of 2020. It was signed by the Ministry of Culture and Information in the Decision 1706/QĐ-BVHTT dated 24 July 2001 enlisting thirty two priority heritage sites that were in need of protection from being degraded and to be restored by 2020. This project plays a key role in specific endeavours that preserve and promote the values of cultural and historical heritage sites and beautiful landscapes in Vietnam.

In terms of recent issues on heritage policies, they are as follows:

The first issue is about the cooperation mechanism amongst institutions, departments and branches within policy making. It focusses on the need to cooperate for the common aim of protecting and promoting cultural heritage values. Though law, policymaking and other government decisions are the foundation for cooperation amongst institutions and branches, the policy implementation on cultural heritage is not run well due to different regulations. As shown in this report, there is cooperation between institutions in charge of cultural management and local government in many projects, especially in making master plans for each province on cultural heritage. However, in central institutions, departments and branches, this cooperation is sometimes not synchronous, especially among those involved in finance and planning.

The second issue emerges from financial resources support to the work of protecting and promoting cultural heritage values. In recent years, State budget has never spent beyond two percent of the total State budget for the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism activities. At the same time the Ministry’s activities do not focus only on protecting and promoting cultural heritage values. This means that financial investment to protect and promote heritage values is limited and small. Not all intangible or tangible heritage can be protected as soon as its demanded, but has to wait for its financial priority turn.

When state budget is small and limited, the mobilisations of other financial resources do not run well either. The important thing in financial mobilisation is specific policies and regulations such as regulation on efficiently monitoring financial investments, benefits for institutions or individuals that sponsor to protect and promote cultural heritage, etc.

The third issue comes from human resources to protect and promote cultural heritage. The real situation has shown that badly implemented projects resulted not only from the lack of budget for protection and promotion of cultural heritage but also from the lack of knowledge and human resources in these projects. Having training policy and encouraging talented staff to join the work of protecting and promoting cultural heritage is a sustainable solution to deal with this challenge.

The last issue seen from the policy viewpoint is the lack of guidance decrees, policies to concretise articles from law on cultural heritage. The government has issued the law on cultural heritage and they have brought into force, guidance documents to apply this law. However, it is essential to have some more legal regulations to make them clearer:

  • Regulation on the organisation and activity of museums (including state owned museum and privately owned one)
  • Regulation on the organisation and activity of antique shops.
  • Governmental ordinance on management and protection of under water heritage.
  • Regulation on antique exploration and excavations.
  • Estimating financial cost of restoring heritage, scientific preparation and entitling and building museum's display.
  • Planning museum network in Vietnam.

Chapter published: 30-11-2013