Ever notice when a new group of Expats arrive in a particular country, in my case Vietnam, they tend to think they are ‘Above the law’? Even some longtimers, those who have been here more than 4 years, have this notion they can anything they want in Vietnam.
Some examples off above the law attitudes include having your ‘Vietnamese’ girlfriend stay overnight in your home, apartment or room. Not obeying the traffic rules on the streets. Refusing to pay since you that you were cheated, ie not paying for the week’s worth of motorbike rental. There are many, many examples.
Yesterday my students were presenting about motorbike safety. They kept mentioning about the consiousness of the Vietnamese people need to change in efforts to decrease motorbike and car accidents. I found this amusing since if you check around Saigon, the person most likely NOT to wear a helmet is, yes you guessed it, a Western Expat. Just drive past the Pham Ngu Lao Backpacker area. If you ask them why they are not wearing a helmet, the response normally wil’ be, “The Vietnamese Police can’t speak English so they will not stop us.” Hence, he is saying he is above the law.
Many Expat guys want their Vietnamese girlfriends to stay overnight in their homes, apartments or room even though legally this cannot be done in Vietnam. Some Expats accept this. Others do not but they feel the police will not do anything since they are a foreigner. So wrong, the police will just contact your landlord. When my landlord talked to me to complain about my roommate and his girlfriend, it was after his visit to the Ward police. You can guess what happened but in the end, the above the law attitude prevailed.
Refusing to pay the Vietnamese is more of a problem with Backpackers and English teachers. One complaint you hear from Vietnamese is that they get to know, lets say, an English teacher. He/she has no money one day so the restaurant, hotel, etc., gives them a tab. The teachers pays it off in the beginning but starts to pay later and later. Eventually the English teacher bails believing, many times, that they do not need to pay their ‘bills’ since the Vietnamese are most likely cheating them. They also get away with it. What can the Vietnamese do to someone who feels they are above the law?
It goes on and on but are Expats really above the law? Makes you ponder. Comments are definitely welcome here.