It’s not clear when the speakers will be turned on, and officials haven’t given many reasons for the plan, so it’ll be interesting to see how this old-fashioned revival comes to life.

The government in Hanoi has unveiled plans to roll out loudspeakers for daily announcements starting this year. Described as archaic and redundant by the city’s residents, this old-fashioned method of propaganda harks back to the Cold War era. The use of loudspeakers was discontinued by the city’s mayor in 2017, but began to make a comeback in limited capacity during Covid-19.

Hanoi is known for its noise pollution, with the sound of horns, construction hammers, screaming street vendors and bars shouting karaoke, which is the daily norm for residents. But if the government is to have its way, there will be one more source fighting to be heard over the sound space — loudspeakers blaring daily state statements. The new plan is to cover the entire city with these speakers by 2025.

Vietnam is a conservative, communist country, where the excesses of Western culture are often not tolerated. This is a country that severe penalties for drug offencesa general ban on online casinos and frequent government monitoring of Internet activity. So to an outsider, you might not be surprised by the resurgence of loudspeakers. Residents are not happy though, some analysts say it is an attempt at social control by the city government.

Vietnam is not the only country open to using old-fashioned propaganda methods. Myanmar, on the other side of Southeast Asia, now relies on low-tech methods in conflict zones, where it has had internet restrictions in place for months. In regions associated with fierce opposition to the 2021 military coup, it has been reported that: propaganda pamphlets used to spread misinformation, intimidate and divide the population, have been flown in by military planes and helicopters.

While the Vietnamese government remains conservative in many areas, it is trying to focus on digital technology, so it seems at odds that they want to backtrack on such things. These loudspeakers were indispensable during wartime to warn people of incoming bombers and to provide updates on the front lines, but today technology allows people to independently monitor news and information sources, and many people appreciate this independence. Some residents suggest that the government could use a neighborhood smartphone app instead, which would be more in line with their forward-looking digital strategy.

Many Vietnamese are simply stunned by their government’s archaic decision, especially considering that they retired in 2017 for being outdated. supervising such a project. Others joked that the people advocating this policy may also have a loudspeaker company.

But what can the local people do? Many will support it simply because they support the Communist Party ruling, but those who oppose the idea don’t have much power, with the only platform they can complain about is social media. Of crackdown on social media not uncommon in all of Vietnam, even this may not help.

It’s not clear when the speakers will be turned on, and officials haven’t given many reasons for the plan, so it’ll be interesting to see how this old-fashioned revival comes to life.

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Source: Vietnam Insider

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