Anger at threat to ban
Published 28/10/2008 | 02:00
Vietnam may ban small-chested drivers from its roads - a proposal that has caused outraged in the nation of slightly-built people.
Officials are considering the measure to improve road safety among the country's 20 million motorcyclists.
The Ministry of Health recommended that people whose chests measure fewer than 28 inches would be banned as would those who are too short or too thin.
"It's ridiculous," said Tran Thi Phuong, 38, a Hanoi insurance agent. "It's absurd."
"The new proposals are very funny, but many Vietnamese people could become the victim of this joke," said Le Quang Minh, 31, a Hanoi stockbroker. "Many Vietnamese women have small chests. I have many friends who won't meet these criteria."
It was unclear how the ministry established its size guidelines.
The average Vietnamese man is 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 121 pounds. The average Vietnamese woman is 5 feet, 1 inch and weighs 103 pounds.
The proposal, which must be approved by the central government to become law, would also prohibit people from riding motorbikes if they suffer from array of health conditions like enlarged livers or sinusitis. The rules would not apply to drivers of cars or trucks.
Motorbikes account for more than 90% of the vehicles on Vietnam's roads, and many workers in the nation of 85 million need them to do their jobs.
When Nguyen Van Tai, a motorbike taxi driver, heard about the proposal, he immediately had his chest measured. Much to his relief, Tai beat the chest limit by 3 inches.
"A lot of people in my home village are small," said Tai, 46. "Many in my generation were poor and suffered from malnutrition. And now the Ministry of Health wants to stop us from driving to work."