Fish or Factory?


It could not get more dramatic than this, people in my country, in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam have been given a closed ended question of getting to choose between objects: Fish and Factory?

Both are worth having of course, and while many of us still do not know what I’m talking about, then here are a few facts from Channel News Asia:

1) In recent weeks, tonnes of dead fish, including deep-sea species, have washed up on the shores of four provinces along Vietnam’s central coast – Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue – affecting the livelihoods of fishermen and businesses dependent on the region’s seafood industry.

2) Local media reports had pointed to toxic discharge from a multi-billion dollar steel plant in Ha Tinh belonging to Taiwanese conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group, riling public anger against the foreign investor. Local authorities have also been blamed for being slow to respond.

3) Vietnamese authorities say they have found no conclusive link between Taiwan’s Formosa steel plant and mass fish deaths along Vietnam’s central coast. “Until now, after our investigation and evidence gathering, we have not found any proof to conclude that there is a link between Formosa, other factories, and the mass fish deaths,” he said in Vietnamese.

Anyway, the given question of fish or factory was merely raised by internet users then eventually went viral on social media. It has nothing to do with legality nor to give Vietnamese citizens the right to decide anything. The scientists and investigators will do their jobs, and the victor will write history after all. Until then, we shall keep this social media campaign going just to see who saves the factory and who protects the fish.

I never wanted to have to think that our lives are in danger so let’s be a little bit more positive on this. At least right now we still have the options to scale and to decide whether to prioritise the fish, fishery, the tourism industry or the steel industry or whatsoever… Because once we still have options then it might still not be end of the world.

More than ever, I am thinking of Karen Reid, in case she might be reading this, who was my lecturer when I was at my third year of university. 4 years after graduation, I still remember the question once she asked in our Event Facilities class: “What do you think is the best way to stop immigrants to a city?”

Whatever you are thinking of right now, I was thinking the same… Whether it is about visa restrictions, safety, weapon, education or things to do with money… Everything is correct, but there is one element that not so many of us could think of. She said one word: “Water”. If we stop supplying water in that one single city, everyone will start to leave. No water, no life!

Similarily, while talking about killing, many of us think of wars or weapons or diseases… just like what I have seen in one of the most recent Korean dramas on air: “Descendants of the Sun”, which my sister had successfully ‘trapped’ me to watch. But no, if toxic water which could kill tons of fish at once, no matter what the causes were, that would be as dangerous as the wars with guns. I wish we had another option to make it more of a multiple choice one rather than a closed question, it would rather be: 1) Water – 2) Fish – 3) Factory.

I don’t believe in a life that have either Fish or Factories or both but without Water…

Photo Credit: Pascal Campion


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