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A Look At The Vietnamese Province Obsessed With Sai Gon Beer

If there's one thing Ha Tinh loves, it's beer.

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But the north-central province may have gone a little overboard lately, as provincial authorities are hell-bent on getting everyone in Ha Tinh to drink Saigon Beer and nothing but Saigon Beer.

Two weeks ago, education officials were reprimanded for failing to drink the locally-produced beverage. The government employees were reportedly drinking other beer brands at a local restaurant, prompting provincial authorities to require self-criticism reports from those officials.

A few weeks before, government officials were also required to attend the September 1 “I Love Saigon Beer” festival in order to help support the Saigon-Ha Tinh Brewery, which pays VND380 billion in taxes to the province.

But, as it turns out, the fun doesn't stop there. According to Tuoi Tre, some communes in the province are now blasting reminders over the local loudspeaker system twice a week at the request of provincial and district authorities. Ho Do commune is also organizing music shows and other performances to encourage the consumption of Saigon Beer.

For their part, the Ha Tinh government is unapologetic; their aim, it seems, is to increase beer sales in order to raise taxes on the company. Authorities also report that local businesses, restaurants and shops have signed written commitments to encourage the sale of Saigon Beer.

Nguyen Cong Truong Lam, from Loc Ha District's economics bureau, explains the situation best: “We have asked beverage sellers to promise to persuade clients to use Saigon Beer and sent forces to oversee their commitment fulfillment.” 

Shortly after national media reported on the province's regular loudspeaker reminders, Ha Tinh officials also announced that all tourist restaurants in the province would be required to sell Saigon Beer exclusively, according to Tuoi Tre. Any shop found selling other brands, they said, would be penalized.

Sounds like Ha Tinh officials could stand to lighten up...perhaps with an ice cold Saigon Beer.