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Senior cop under fire for "defaming journalism'

A senior Ministry of Public Security official has been panned by the public and media for his disparaging comments about the way some of the media reported about a recent decree on fines for traffic violations.

"What should we call those reporters? Cognitively impaired, ignorant, or something else since they do not know what a bad quality or fake helmet is?" Dinh Manh Toan, deputy chief of the administration of social order and safety's general police office, has been quoted as asking.

He was speaking at a conference Monday to discuss proposed fines for wearing low-quality helmets.

Toan is also one of the authors of the draft decree.

Nguyen Quang A, former head of the Vietnam Association for Information Processing, said Toan's words can be considered to be "defaming journalism and defaming the right to freedom of speech and expression."

Pham Quoc Toan, vice chairman of the Vietnam Journalists Association, told Thanh Nien that it is "essential" for journalists to write about the government's policies since it helps lawmakers adjust them and the public to understand them.

"I think in general the police support journalists since it is of mutual benefit.

"The statement by a Ministry of Public Security official who called [some] journalists "˜cognitively impaired,' I think, is just an isolated phenomenon."

Toan told Thanh Nien: "I'm not justifying [what I said] but I did not mean to imply so.

"I meant when [someone] sees two helmets, fake and real, next to each other but cannot recognize [which is real], [they] must be cognitively impaired."

Tuoi Tre newspaper Tuesday quoted a top ministry official without naming him as saying that the ministry would investigate.

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