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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 October 2006, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
Vietnam censorship concern grows
By Bill Hayton
BBC News, Hanoi

Vietnam's communist authorities have banned two newspapers from publishing for a month because of their reporting about the country's new bank notes.

The ministry of culture said the two papers published inaccurate information about alleged mistakes in the notes.

It says the papers ignored government instructions to stop making the claims.

Vietnam is rapidly replacing its paper money with notes made from plastic polymers because it claims the move will save the country money.

Vietnam map

The Vietnamese press has run a series of stories about mistakes made in the printing of the notes and about some notes being the wrong size.

Others focus on so-far unproven allegations that the son of the central bank governor made money from the printing contract.

The ministry of culture has decided that it has all gone too far and ordered two papers to stop printing for a month from next Wednesday.

It is also considering further measures against the two newspapers, Thanh Nien and Tuoi Tre, which have become most vocal in criticising corruption and government failures.

Every publication in Vietnam has to be registered with an organisation controlled by the Communist Party - but journalists working on them are increasingly pushing at the boundaries of what is allowed to be printed.

State control

Earlier this year, in the run-up to the Communist Party Congress, the papers were given the green light to print stories about corruption and they have exposed a series of scandals at local and national levels.

However, some journalists fear that the party may now try to rein in the media to prevent the criticism getting out of hand.

One of the newspapers which is being suspended was registered with the Supreme Court (Cong Ly or Justice) and the other with the body which manages relations with foreign organisations (Thoi Dai or Times).

They are not particularly high profile publications but their suspension will be taken as a warning by many other newspapers and magazines.

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