Vietnam's Transport Minister Bans Officials From Playing Golf

December 16, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
1. pressing (adj.)  [pres-ing] – urgent; requiring immediate attention
Example: Pollution is a pressing matter that needs to be solved by the government.

2. bottleneck (n.) [bot-l-nek] – something that slows down a process
Example: Language barrier is one of the bottlenecks I encounter at work.

3. cripple (v.)  [krip-uhl] – to cause great damage or to make something unable to work normally
Example: The union strike crippled the company’s operation.

4. rapid (adj.) [rap-id] – done or occurring in a short period of time
Example: The strong economy brought rapid changes to transportation.

5. pastime (n.) [pas-tahym, pahs-] – an activity that you enjoy during your free time
Example: My brother's pastime is trying out different kinds of food. 

Read the text below.

Vietnam's new transport minister, Dinh La Thang, has banned officials from playing golf to encourage them to focus more with their work.

Thang has been known for controversial initiatives.  When he took over as transport minister in August, he required senior staff to use the bus at least once a week to solve the pressing traffic problem. He also removed the official in charge of building a new international airport terminal in Danang, Central Vietnam, because of slow construction.

He thinks that banning officials from playing golf will give them more time to solve problems like traffic jams, road accidents, and infrastructure bottlenecks that cripple the country’s economy.

Meanwhile, Pham Tang Loc, head of the Transport Ministry’s Personnel Department added that in a very crucial time for Vietnam, senior officials should concentrate on completing important projects instead of wasting time and money on golf.

Golf has been popular to senior officials and businessmen in Vietnam since the late 1980s.  This has resulted to a rapid conversion of agricultural land to golf courses, which only benefit a few investors and golfers.

While officials may be banned from playing golf, they are not prohibited to engage in other pastimes such as drinking, visiting karaoke parlors or playing tennis.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
Discussion A

·         Do you think that engaging in sports (e.g., golf) makes officials lose focus on their work?
·         Must government officials be banned from other activities besides golf? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What can motivate officials to work more seriously?
·         Are the citizens of your country contented with the kind of government service that they get?

December 16, 2011