Vietnam: Musician fined for publishing CD with “depraved contents”

Ngọc Đại, a prominent experimental musician, has been fined 30 million dong (app. US$ 1,500) for publishing and distributing his latest album without permission to do so. 1,000 copies of the album were printed and almost sold out before authorities reacted. It features lyrics by poets, Bui Chat and Nguyen Dinh Chinh, who allegedly are banned in Vietnam.


In a dispatch, the Performing Arts Agency asked the Departments of Culture, Sports and Tourism of all provinces in Vietnam on 10 May 2013 to coordinate with the authorities to inspect, withdraw and destroy all copies of the CD-album ‘Thang Mo 1’ by Ngoc Dai.

This was reported VietNamNet, Soha News, Vietnam Times, and other Vietnamese news channels.

According to the dispatch of the Performing Arts Agency, the music album ‘Thang Mo 1’ “has content that goes against the policies and the laws of the Party and the State, speaking ill of the regime. The language used in the songs is very vulgar, inconsistent with traditions, habits and customs of the nation. Based on the contents of the CD, the Performing Arts Agency saw this as a recording with objectionable and depraved contents.”

The agency concluded that Ngoc Dai simultaneously violated Section 1 Article 6 of Decree 79 of the Government on Performing Arts, Circulation and Business of Music and Dance Records, and Section 4 Article 13 of Decree 75 on the sanctioning of administrative violations in the field of culture.

Ngoc Dai told the press that he did not intend to challenge the authorities.

VietnamNet – 14 May 2013:
Ngoc Dai’s album to be withdrawn and destroyed
‘Thang Mo 1’ is said to have vulgar and reactionary content. The authorities wanted to see Ngoc Dai but the musician said he was sick.

Soha News – 10 May 2013:
CD ‘Thằng Mõ’ của nhạc sĩ Ngọc Đại là “không thể chấp nhận được”
CD ‘Thằng Mõ’ of musician Ngoc Dai is deemed “not acceptable”

The Vietnam Times – 9 May 2013:
Senior songwriter release sensitive album without license
Songwriter Ngoc Dai, a pioneer in contemporary, experimental music in Vietnam, has released his new CD that contains sexual language entitled ‘Thang Mo 1’ (Village herald 1) without a license from the authorities.