Feisty 88-Pounder is “Incredibly Brave”
July 5, 2007
HANOI, Vietnam — Most Vietnamese cower when a cop squeezes them for a bribe. Le Hien Duc, a 75-year-old grandmother, fights back.Four-foot-nine and weighing just 88 pounds, she’ll take on anyone, from lowly bureaucrats to high-level officials. She e-mails, phones, tracks them down at their offices, confronts them at their homes.
”Corruption is definitely an evil, and it is ruining my beloved country,” said Duc, a former school teacher.
Corruption is perhaps the most vulnerable spot in the country’s single-party Communist state — from the traffic cops who pull drivers over for $3 bribes to the officials accused of gambling $13 million in public money on British soccer matches.
In Vietnam, where people respect authority, few dare challenge the system. But many turn to Duc.
”Most of us tremble when we have to deal with police,” said Doan Van Hung, a delivery man. ”She is incredibly brave.”
Hung’s ordeal was typical — a policeman stopped him for speeding and threatened to seize his motorbike unless he paid a $3 bribe.
Duc tracked down the officer who harassed Hung and filed a complaint with the Hanoi chief of police. The officer was promptly demoted.