|Vietnam has something to teach the world about post-conflict management, says veteran war reporter Peter Arnett|
Back in the country where he won international acclaim for his war coverage, Peter Arnett finds it âgood for my own soulâ to see the country prosper.
Very much part of the generation that knew the nation only for the Vietnam War, former reporter Peter Arnett says Vietnam the country has something valuable to offer the world in times of peace.
âWhat I think Vietnam can teach the world is coming to terms with the former enemy by forgiveness,â he told Thanh Nien Daily shortly after his arrival in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday.
Vietnam was a model during the war years as a country engaged in a successful struggle against oppression, a victory for nationalism, and âit is now a post-war example how you can move on rapidly.â
Arnett, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the Vietnam War, will deliver the keynote address at the 50th anniversary of the Hotel Caravelle today. The hotel was the hub of international media personnel during the war.
Asked how he would distinguish himself if sent as a correspondent to Vietnam during peacetime, Arnett said tourism, finance and economics would be the main thrust of his reporting.
âFifty years ago you came to Vietnam to cover wars, conflicts, or people desperate for survival. Today, journalists come here to write about tourism, the economy,â he said.
âVietnam is a great source of pleasure for visitors. Vietnamâs reputation, internationally, is superb,â Arnett added.
Professionally, he would want to help journalists do better work; get involved with media companies or the Internet to provide news and information valuable for businesspeople; and to make life easier for tourism.
âMy reporting would be aimed at making the system work more efficiently,â Arnett said.
He cited the example of a professional guidebook for Chinaâs Shantou City he had made with his students within a year. Arnett has been teaching journalism at Shantou University, founded and supported by Hong Kong billionaire and philanthropist Li Ka Shing, in southern China.
Shantou had a lot of journalists but they didnât know how to do a professional guidebook on the city, Arnett said.
âSo thatâs Peter Arnett today: making a contribution to the society of Shantou,â he added.
Arnett said that in countries that are developing, the best role foreign reporters can play âis to bring out expertise.â
Regarding journalism in the era of globalization, Arnett said journalists were in a position where governments need them for accurate information, and that their role was clearer than it had been in the past.
âIn todayâs world we have to be honest with people through the media and journalism. This makes accurate reporting and professional journalism more significant today than ever.â
Then and now
Having returned to Vietnam in 2005 and 2007, Arnett said that he was struck again this time by the exploding economic development in the country, with new airports, hotels and restaurants.
He said that traffic was a big problem that âVietnam has to worry about.â He was aghast that young people are dying in accidents.
âThere is nowhere like it in the world. Nowhere in the world,â he said.
Arnett said failure to minimize the traffic problem could prevent people from visiting the country.
The former correspondent will stay in Vietnam until this Sunday to promote his book: âLive from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad, 35 Years in the Worldâs War Zones.â
Reported by Dang Yen Dang