August 2010
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Road Rage in Vietnam

Knife Victim in Saigon

Last Friday there was a road rage incident on Cong Quynh street in Saigon.  Three friends (on 2 motorbikes) were  returning home from a night of drinking when they got into a close call with a couple of other guys on another motorbike…..an argument ensued and one of the 3 friends thought it was a good idea to take off his belt and start whipping the guys on the offending motorbike.  Needless to say this wasn’t too smart.

One of the guys being whipped didn’t take too kindly to the abuse and pulled out a couple knives .  Hmmm…2 knives vs. a belt….I think I would have started running the other way if I were the guy with the belt.  Maybe he was too drunk to comprehend that he was at a severe disadvantage.  Amazingly the guy with the belt survived albeit with severe injuries from 3 stab wounds….unfortunately his 2 friends who probably came to his aid weren’t so lucky…..both died.  Apparently there were plenty of witnesses to the murders, but they were too afraid to interfere in the fight….hopefully someone at least wrote down the license plate and the cops will catch the killer.

I drive down Cong Quynh all the time….and now I will always think of these dummies when I’m driving down that street.  I admit getting pretty pissed off at the crazy drivers in Saigon every now and then….but you never know what some people are capable of…so next time I’ll think harder before I start throwing out “du ma mays” around.   There is a popular quote from the movie “The Untouchables” in which the Sean Connery character says “never bring a knife to a gun fight”….if he were in Vietnam it might be changed to “never bring a belt to a knife fight”.

Read the original story from Thanh Nien HERE.

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17 comments to Road Rage in Vietnam

  • Minh

    Fyi, Vietnamese police can’t track individuals thru their license plates, so this case my be pretty hard to solve.

  • Yeah, I read about that in the paper on Friday. Hardcore. Why can’t they track them Minh?

  • There’s just no registry for people buying motorbikes. The pink slip that you get when you buy a bike is the only evidence that you’re an owner and that information doesn’t go into a database so the police have no way of tracking who bought which bike.

    • odgnut

      But is there not something equivalent to the DMV in Vietnam? Why have license plates if you can’t find out who the plates belong to? If someone just takes off during an attempted traffic stop the police have no recourse even if they know the perp’s plates?

    • odgnut

      I’m going to answer my own question and say that your statement “Vietnamese police can’t track individuals thru their license plates” is definitely incorrect. There is an update to the story HERE.

      According to the report, many witnesses were able to get the first 4 digits of the license plate and 1 additional number. The police were also able to get a description of the bike from witnesses and the surviving victim. Based on that information they were able to track down the owner of the bike….the murderer’s nephew and got him divulge the whereabouts of his uncle & the uncle’s friend. Good job Cong An!

      Before I had even read about the apprehension of the murderer, I had asked my Xe Om guy about the ability of the police to track down people from their license plates. He said it happens all the time. People have to register their name and address when they buy a bike. Even if you buy a used bike you either have to transfer the title to the new owner or the previous owner writes out a sales slip to prove that he has sold the vehicle. The Xe Om guy says that a bunch of people he knows have gotten traffic tickets brought to their homes even though they’ve managed to elude the police at the time of the traffic violation. He also says that there are police officers often standing in disguise at some busy intersections with a hidden traffic cam. Just like in The States, they take pics of your license plates and send them to the address the bike is registered at.

  • RT

    Last I heard, the Cong An managed to grab one of the suspects.

  • banh

    Would they get the death penalty if found guilty?

  • I don’t think so. There’s no premeditation with “cruel and sadistic” elements. Plus there were witnesses that stated it’s basically self defense.

  • Anh Dang

    Yikes! This post makes me a bit apprehensive about relocating to Saigon in October for my job. My uncle, who left VN after ’75 says “Don’t go, you’ll hate it…there are now laws over there…its JUNGLE LAW!” hahahaha. Your posts are amusing and super-informative as I prepare for my move. Keep up the awesomeness!!!!

    • odgnut

      Don’t stress out too much about this one incident Anh Dang. I think it was even shocking for the locals that something so minor as a traffic incident could turn into murder. Violence against foreigners is still pretty rare in Vietnam. I would just be more careful about petty crime, ie. thefts and burglary. I’ve been in VN for almost 9 months now and I haven’t had any incidents with the locals even though I’ve been in 3 traffic accidents.

  • Craig N

    Anh Dang, what is your work?

    • Anh Dang

      Craig N, I’ll be taking a position as creative director with Ringier – a Swiss media publishing firm. We do magazines Thoi Trang Tre, Bep Gia Dinh, and Elle…..more international titles to come.

      Odgnut Craig N, what do you do in VN? I’m always wanting to add to my network and meet new friends everywhere.

  • Craig N

    Sadly, I do not live in Vietnam. I only visit every few years. My wife is from Saigon, and my mother-in-law and her family live in QTB. I wish I could live there, but alas, I only speak English, and we have lots of roots here in the United States. If you know anyone who wants to pay an English speaking Windows Server Engineer lots and lots of money to come to Vietnam, let me know!

  • Oh wow, haven’t been back to this site since my first two comments. Great research guys! Didn’t realize that was possible here in Vietnam. I guess they can access that information when the crime is as serious as murder. From what I know, when my cousin gets stopped by a cop, he usually carries two keys. So when the cops take his license and key, he can still grab the motorbike, and it’s okay.

    Although, I was talking to a taxi driver yesterday that the government has revamped their ticketing system for taxi drivers especially. Wherein they’ve got lots of cameras and undercover cops on the streets now and they can track (on certain streets) if taxis are weaving. If they do, then the government will send a ticket to the taxi company. That’s pretty advanced, I’m glad that kind of thing is occurring. On the other hand, the fines for the Canh Sat Giao Thong is much higher now too. I got stopped the other day and had to pay 400,000, that’s double the price from last year…

  • KC

    This is truly tragic. Sounds like both parties is at fault. If anything, the suspects are guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter.

  • Tom

    In Vietnam fights break out all the time over girls, after heavy drinking, and after accidents–and, yes, sometimes they even involve knives, belts, sticks, hammers, rocks, you name it–but it’s rare that someone actually dies from a fight. In my two years living in the bad part of SG (Binh Tan district where the outlaws used to hide out) I’ve seen so many street fights that I’ve become a bit desensitized to them. In fact, shortly before I returned to the US there was a full-out melee involving belts and hammers right in my own condo unit; I didn’t even bother to go watch (probably a good thing).

    Once one of my students was in the exact same situation (near accident), and after he merely badmouthed the other driver the next thing he remembered was waking up in the hospital with a head injury. Good thing that other guy didn’t have a knife! It’s even more ghetto in the countryside, where having a knife would be a disadvantage when you’re up against people with machetes and such. Many of my students came to SG from the countryside and they have battle scars (e.g., knife wounds) on their arms to show for it.

    With all this said, Vietnam is a GREAT place to be and I will never forget my two years there. Just mind your own business and keep your tongue in check and you’ll be fine.

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