Home is not so sweet in noisy Sai Gon

Photo courtesy of www.manuelkim.com


From Wire Reports


Tom had never thought one day he would have to leave his apartment in Sai Gon and rent a hotel room.


But he had to do so recently, though just for a couple of hours, to escape the cacophony caused by large loudspeakers in front of a building across the street for a promotion.


“It was terrible,” said the American photographer, who has been living in Viet Nam for 15 years. “I had all the doors closed. I had to cover my ears with earphones and double-close it with headphones plugged into my TV.”


Tom moved into the apartment two years ago.


“I love this apartment, the view, and the neighbors. But we can’t stay and relax in our home anymore.”


The problem Tom faces is an all too common one in Sai Gon, where shops, malls and cafés use blaring loudspeakers to attract customers amid lax enforcement of relevant regulations.


While big stores hook up huge speakers, have singers and cheerleaders, and organize games to promote some brands, many fashion shops, electronics stores and cafés play loud music in front of their shops to draw the attention of passers-by.


Khai, a resident on District 5’s Tran Hung Dao Street, said his family’s life has been seriously disrupted since a mobile phone chain store opened near his house before Tet.


“We have to shout at each other when they play music to draw the attention of passers-by. We cannot hear other speaking normally.”


Many small cafés play dance music on giant loudspeakers placed both inside and in front. They are to be found everywhere on Vinh Vien and Su Van Hanh streets in District 10, Le Van Tho and Cay Tram streets in Go Vap, and Truong Sa Street in Phu Nhuan District.


The manager of a café on Truong Sa Street, who wished to remain unnamed, said it was the company’s tactic to compete with other cafés.


“We often replace speakers with more powerful ones and play loudly.”

A resident on Vinh Vien Street said she has been suffering from the racket created by several cafés on the street for the past decade.


“They have become louder and louder over years. I’ll surely die soon.”


She said she was taken to the hospital before Tet after many cafés played music from early morning until midnight. She said she was diagnosed as having an irregular heartbeat and a migraine suspected to be caused by noise.


“The doctor advised me to stay in a quiet place. But I can’t do so when living on a street with thundering music from cafés.”


Psychologist Nguyen Thi Ngoc Giau said the cacophony caused by businesses promoting themselves “played an important role in damaging the mental health of city residents who already suffer from noise pollution caused by the traffic.”


There has been an increase in mental problems such as depression, anxiety disorder and schizophrenia, Giau said.


“When a person is suffering from stress, noise pollution could worsen it.”


Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc of the National Otorhinolaryngology Hospital said noise pollution could lead to hearing impairment and even deafness.


“Several studies have found that noise of above 50 decibels at night could cause strokes. Regular exposure to loud noise could lead to underweight and defects among newborn children.”


After a mobile phone shop opened before Tet on District 8’s Pham Hung Street and played excessively loud music, many furious locals carried stones to the shop and threatened to smash the speakers if they did not stop playing.


Hung, a worker at a timber store next door, said the shop still plays dance music on its large speakers in front of the shop but reduced the volume after that incident.


Nguyen Minh Thuan, a lawyer, said residents could complain to the local people’s committee, police or environmental inspectors about such noise pollution.


“They can file a suit to demand compensation if there is damage caused by noise pollution,” he said, but pointed out that there must be evidence that the damage was caused by the noise.


A government decree issued in 2009 stipulates fines for causing excessive noise, he said. Violators could have their business license revoked or suspended until they follow the regulations, he added.


Selina, an expat living in Sai Gon, said she was “physically ill” and “losing her mind” from loud noise at a promotional event near her house recently.


“I could not hear my TV, talk on the phone, read a book, or concentrate on correcting my students’ essays,” she said, adding that she could see now why some countries used “precisely this technique to torture suspected terrorists.”


Selina said she did not call the police because she was advised by some locals that it would be useless.


“I pay 20 percent of my income in tax to the Vietnamese government. For this I should at least be able to enjoy a day of peace in my own home.”

Báo Người Việt hoan nghênh quý vị độc giả đóng góp và trao đổi ý kiến. Chúng tôi xin quý vị theo một số quy tắc sau đây:

Tôn trọng sự thật.
Tôn trọng các quan điểm bất đồng.
Dùng ngôn ngữ lễ độ, tương kính.
Không cổ võ độc tài phản dân chủ.
Không cổ động bạo lực và óc kỳ thị.
Không vi phạm đời tư, không mạ lỵ cá nhân cũng như tập thể.

Tòa soạn sẽ từ chối đăng tải các ý kiến không theo những quy tắc trên.

Xin quý vị dùng chữ Việt có đánh dấu đầy đủ. Những thư viết không dấu có thể bị từ chối vì dễ gây hiểu lầm cho người đọc. Tòa soạn có thể hiệu đính lời văn nhưng không thay đổi ý kiến của độc giả, và sẽ không đăng các bức thư chỉ lập lại ý kiến đã nhiều người viết. Việc đăng tải các bức thư không có nghĩa báo Người Việt đồng ý với tác giả.

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