Last update 11/9/2010 5:14:13 PM (GMT+7)

Businessmen, please support culture development, but don’t interfere

VietNamNet Bridge – Nowadays, more and more Vietnamese businessmen show their corporate social responsibility (CSR) by funding cultural works or financing constructions of pagodas. However, in many cases, their crude interference ruins the cultural value.

In the interview given to VietNamNet’s Vietnam Economic Forum (VEF), Associate Professor Dr Nguyen Van Huy, Member of the National Council for Cultural Heritage, stressed that businessmen can fund the cultural development, but they should not make thoughtlessly interfere inthe wider context of cultural matters

Could you please tell us what other countries in the world think about the corporate social responsibility in culture development?

In developed countries, businesses and businessmen always pay closeattention to the development of cultural heritages. They believe that culture is the foundation which helps them develop and prosper. Therefore, when they succeed, they think they have to express their gratitude towards customers and the society. At the same time, funding cultural activities is also an effective way of doing marketing for businesses.

Starting business as a railway transport company, nowadays Meitetsu has become a prosperous economic group, operating in many fields. The owners of Meitetsu, who are now millionaires and billionaires, believe that they need to express their gratefulness to the people, who use their railway services, by spending money to build a miniature museum of the world. This is a huge project covering an area of hundreds of hectares.

There are many investment funds and the culture supporters named after famous businessmen, such as Rockerfeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, or Toyota Foundation. The funds reserve big budgets for developing and preserving culture

You have talked about developed countries. What would you say about Vietnamese businessmen and their stories on funding culture development?

Vietnamese businesses have been playing a very important role in the development of the country. They have been accumulating big capital, while many businessmen have become very rich, somethingthey could not imagine just 10 or 15 years ago.

However, it seems that Vietnamese businessmen still do not think that they need to make contribution to the culture development.

In fact, many businesses implemented their corporate social responsibility by funding the repairing pagodas. In some cases, as they did, they made thoughtlessly interfered with the integral part of the work and thus ruined it altogether

For example, a businessman agreed to spend money to recover Tam Van citadel in Dien Bien. The citadel was made of soil, but the businessman then asked to build the citadel in bricks. As the result, the citadel ended up resembling Great Wall. I have to say that this is a kind of rude interference in the work of culturists.

In other countries, businessmen fund cultural projects, but they never intervene in the works of culturists.

Besides, businessmen also spend money to help flood-stricken people, fund art performances or sports events (football tournament, tennis or golf tournaments). But they rarely fund cultural activities, which is understandable: businessmen cannot see their benefit in funding cultural activities. They still do not understand that funding cultural activities is a good way to polish their images.

Some people say that Vietnamese cultural products are very poor and unattractive. Do you agree with the comment?

Making and trading cultural products is the weak point of Vietnamese businesses. Most businesses still hesitate to make investment in the field, partially because they do not have good ideas to develop their business.

Meanwhile, other countries have been very good at this. In China, for example, there are many enterprises specializing in making specimens of antiques which appeared in different dynasties in the country. The products have high quality and they have been selling very well, bringing large profits to the enterprises.

What should we do to settle the problem?

If you go to museums and heritage sites in Vietnam, you will see that there are only generic souvenirs available, the kind of products that you can find everywhere else. Museums and heritage sites do not have specific products of their own. Therefore, the products are uninspiring and unattractive to tourists.

What needs to be done now is for businesses to spend money to create new designs with high quality. However, then a new problem will arise with new designs being copied by other producers. Therefore, producers have no motivation to create anything new or innovative.

Tam Anh