[Marxism] Is this what Ho Chi Minh died for?
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Oct 23 11:16:07 MDT 2009
NY Times, October 20, 2009
Phan Thiet Journal
A Harvest of Golf Courses From Vietnam’s Farmland
By SETH MYDANS
PHAN THIET, Vietnam — It may be the most capitalist enterprise in
Communist Vietnam — by the rich and for the rich: a proliferation
of golf courses that is displacing thousands of farmers and
devouring the rice fields the country depends on.
Until last year, according to experts who have done the
calculations, licenses for new courses were being issued at an
average of one a week, for a total of more than 140 projects
around the country.
Promoters created the idea of a “Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail,” a series
of eight courses whose label is as good a sign as any of where
Vietnam seems to be headed — its heroic wartime past redefined as
a sales pitch.
If all those projects were completed, the number of courses would
approach that of golf-mad South Korea, where there are close to
200. It would still fall well short of China, which has more than
300, and would be nowhere near the number in the United States,
which has about 16,000 courses, or even Florida, with 1,260.
For a country that had only two courses at the end of the war in
1975 and that according to some estimates has only 5,000 golfers
today, however, the increase in projects over the past four years
has been explosive.
But a backlash emerged within the news media and among academics
and government officials over the social and environmental costs.
In summer 2008, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung ordered a halt to
new construction pending a review, and last June the government
ordered the cancellation of 50 of the projects. But most of the
others are well under way, to add to the country’s 13 established
“Developers and foreign investors are saying they want to make the
country a tourist destination, and to do that you need to offer
more amenities like golf,” said Kurt Greve, the American general
manager of the Ocean Dunes Golf Club and the Dalat Palace Golf
Club. Most of those tourists would come from elsewhere in Asia,
especially South Korea and Japan, where golf courses are hugely
“They’re all wanting to grow golf,” he said, referring to the
developers and investors, “but the government is saying, ‘Whoa,
whoa, whoa, wait a minute!’”
In its drive to industrialize, Vietnam has already lost large
amounts of farmland to factories and other developments. According
to the Agriculture Ministry, land devoted to rice, the national
staple and a leading source of export revenue, shrank to 10.1
million acres from 11.1 million acres, just from 2000 to 2006.
Many of the new projects seem to have to do more with capitalism
than with sport. Taxes on golf courses are lower than those on
other forms of development, and many of the projects appear to be
disguised real estate ventures.
Only 65 percent of the land involved in the current projects has
been set aside for golf courses, Ton Gia Huyen, an official with
the Vietnam Land Science Association, said at a conference on golf
courses in May. The rest of the land is reserved for hotels,
resorts, villas, eco-tourism areas, parks and recreational projects.
One solution is to change the tax structure, said Nguyen Dang
Vang, vice chairman of the National Assembly’s Committee for
Science, Technology and Environment.
“Golf courses are for rich people, account for vast areas of land,
cause pollution and affect food security, so taxes should be
appropriately high,” he told the newspaper Tuoi Tre in July.
And when rich people play, it appears that farmers and villagers
pay the price.
Development of a single course can cost the land of hundreds of
farms, displacing as many as 3,000 people, sometimes devouring an
entire commune, Nguyen Duc Truyen, an official of the Vietnamese
Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Sociology, said at the
recent conference. Only a small number of them find jobs on the
new golf courses.
For example, the Dai Lai golf course in Vinh Phuc Province drove
thousands of people from their land but provided jobs for only 30
local residents, according to a report in July on the Vietnam News
Service. Farmers are typically compensated at a rate of $2 to $3 a
square meter, the news service said, about the cost of a sack of rice.
Along with land, golf courses also put a strain on water
resources, said Le Anh Tuan from the Can Tho University
Environmental Technology Center. In a widely quoted estimate, he
said an 18-hole course could consume 177,000 cubic feet of water a
day, enough for 20,000 households.
“The dry season is critical,” said Kiet Tuan Le, the chief
groundskeeper here at Ocean Dunes, 125 miles northeast of Ho Chi
Minh City. “I’ve got to continually ask the water department,
almost fight them, because there’s not enough water for the city
Mr. Greve said that the resort was working to minimize its
environmental impact, with a new strain of grass that was more
salt-tolerant and would require less fresh water.
The nearby Sea Links Golf and Country Club, which is built on sand
dunes, pipes in water from a source nearly two miles away, said
one of the resort’s directors, Tran Quang Trung. Automatic
sprinklers switch on every 15 minutes and individual hoses provide
a continuing drip at the base of each tree.
The sumptuous, rolling 18-hole course is only one part of the
ambitious, 420-acre development, he said.
Rows of villas, 315 of them, stand behind the course like soldiers
on parade, with many sold before they were built. A five-star
hotel overlooking the course has almost been completed.
Just beyond the development area, the red earth is already being
turned for the construction of six ocean-view apartment buildings
with 550 units.
In the future, Mr. Trung said, it will all be known as “Sea Links
More information about the Marxism