Saturday, January 08, 2005

Culture ministry defends restrictions on wartime songs

An official with Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture denied that his ministry has banned songs composed by southern Vietnamese musicians before 1975. “The ministry does not ban any specific songs written by southern musicians in the pre-1975 era as claimed by singer Anh Tuyet, but requires singers to ask for official permit to perform unchecked songs,” said Le Nam, head of the ministry’s music management department. He said that more than 400 songs composed before 1975 have been approved for public use, including 67 songs approved in November. However, he admitted the government still does not allow the introduction of biographies and careers of musicians and song composers living in south Vietnam before 1975. Works by those living abroad whose political stance is not clear are also banned. Approximately 30,000 songs composed by hundreds of southern Vietnamese songwriters before 1975 mostly wait for government approval before they can be heard again in Vietnam. Anh Tuyet, a popular singer in Vietnam, criticized what she described as wartime prejudice by Vietnam’s cultural authorities and urged that these restrictions be lifted, in an interview with Lao Dong newspaper. (News Dec. 20, Culture Dec. 14-16, Vietnam News Briefs, Dec. 24).


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