Monday,  Oct 22, 2018,21:49 (GMT+7) 0 0
Deaf ear
Son Nguyen
Friday,  Mar 9, 2018,21:34 (GMT+7)

Deaf ear

Son Nguyen

Loud complaints are still unheard, despite karaoke singing is spreading like an epidemic in the country, from megacities to out-of-the-way rural areas, wreaking havoc the normal life, affecting public health, and giving way to deadly conflicts.

Major newspapers these days are running extensive articles about karaoke, highlighting it as a huge social problem that needs State intervention. Public protests, as seen in feedback at such news outlets, are also overwhelming, but solutions, as admitted by law enforcement agencies, are not on the table. Karaoke thus will remain deafening.

The striking emergence of karaoke in mainstream media can be attributed to a fatal incident a week or so ago. It began as a simple exchange of words between a group of people playing karaoke music loudly and a man next door last Wednesday, in Ha Tinh Province’s Duc Tho District, according to Nguoi Lao Dong. The man demanded that the “full-throated singers” keep the volume down so that he could take a rest, only to see the quarrel erupting into a big fight. He returned to his house, and then went back to the neighbor, wielding three knives and stabbed one man in the group to death.

While disapproving the man’s impulsive reaction that led to a death, most readers in their feedback in newspapers agree that the man’s lack of self-control is understandable, as karaoke has posed a huge agony and grievance for many people these days.

Nguoi Lao Dong cites a reader’s feedback as saying she has been repeatedly tortured by karaoke. “Closing the door, and stuffing cotton into the ears, but the awfully deafening music still beats me badly,” says the reader.

Tuoi Tre says the Lunar New Year, or Tet, is a special opportunity for family reunion after a year of hard work far from home, but in the Mekong Delta since this Tet, karaoke has become a nightmare for many people, as precious moments with families are no longer available. Rural villages are no more peaceful, but turn chaotic due to the fast emergence of karaoke.

Many people, especially elderly ones or those with infants, cannot endure karaoke, and have to take shelter elsewhere to avoid the loud music that is on from dawn to dusk or midnight, according to Thanh Nien. In HCMC, there are few areas unaffected by karaoke.

Many residents say in the newspaper that their life has been turned upside down. Cao Thi Thoi in District 12 relates how her two kids, aged four years and 15 months, cannot sleep at night because of piercing music, and she has to take them to a cousin’s home 800 meters away to avoid the noise. Meanwhile, residents at a budget condo building in Thu Duc District say weekends are a bad time for them due to the bothering karaoke nearby, while another says she cannot maintain her private-tutor course at home due to the extreme karaoke noise.

On news site Vnexpress, a reader says his wife almost suffered miscarriage due to extremely noisy karaoke, while another recalls he had to sell his home in a karaoke-filled quarter lately as the music was so stressful and unbearable.

The big problem is that such amateur singers do not enjoy their karaoke in their sound-proof rooms, but stay outdoors instead. And many of such phony singers are very aggressive, always ready to pick a quarrel upon complaints by neighbors.

In fact, skirmishes occur regularly, and are poised to grow further due to the rampant spread of karaoke. Newspapers have also mentioned numerous quarrels and even fatal fights between poor-minded singers and other people, and in many cases, it is the absence of intervention from State agencies that lead to this consequence.

In the aforesaid fatal conflict in Ha Tinh, the key problem is that the hot-blooded man has taken justice into his own hand by killing his neighbor, but the main culprit is the inaction of police. Some people have even threateningly told grassroots officers that “if local authorities do not step in, they will handle karaoke singers by themselves,” according to Tuoi Tre.

On Vnexpress, a resident says he complained to police about bothersome karaoke next door, but a police officer answered that if he could not endure the music, he should sell his house and move elsewhere. “Seeing the grassroots incompetence, I made a complaint to Hanoi City government via a hotline, then village officers asked me not to do so as it would spoil the village’s image,” he is quoted by the news site as saying.

In fact, law enforcement agencies have failed to protect citizens and punish violators, although current regulations allow them to impose fines from VND1 million to VND140 million for those causing noise exceeding permissible levels.

Nguyen Tan Quoc, chief inspector of Long An Province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, admits in Tuoi Tre that it is difficult to slap fines on violators due to complicated procedures. “So most local authorities only rebuke violators, and the key aim is to improve their awareness,” Quoc is quoted in the newspaper.

Luong Van Phuong, a police officer in HCMC’s District 12, explains in Tuoi Tre that in order to take sanctions against violators, there must be coordination among relevant agencies to measure noise and other procedural steps, which are time-consuming.

Do Dinh Thien, vice chairman of the city’s Binh Tan District, echoes the assertion, saying police in the district only warn violators, and there are few penalties slapped despite the availability of relevant regulations. Meanwhile, a leader of the city’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment also says in Tuoi Tre that any complaints over karaoke will be referred to district authorities for handling.

In a poll this week, Thanh Nien surveyed 1,627 people between Tuesday noon and Wednesday morning, over 95% describe noisy karaoke in residential quarters as unacceptable, while only 4% defend the karaoke right.

As karaoke has become a source of big headache and annoyance for people, and as law enforcement agencies have virtually turned a deaf ear to such a problem, it is high time to have a more efficient legal corridor to fight violations in noise pollution, says Phap Luat Online. With their mandates and a machine at hand, State agencies cannot reject their responsibility simply by saying sanctions are beyond their capacity, says the online paper.

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