VietNamNet’s Hoang Huong talks with Mr. Do Dinh Tien, Director of Tam Dao National Park, Vietnam’s representative at the Tam Dao Bear Rescue Center.

Inside the bear rescue center in Tam Dao
No decision made on relocation of Vietnam Bear Rescue Center
Tam Dao bear rescue center and “national security”
Who deprives the bears’ home?

What do you think about the AAF’s accusation against you, as the representative of the Vietnamese side at the Tao Dao Bear Rescue Center, for being irresponsible and self-motivated in creating pressure to force the center to relocate?

Director of Tam Dao National Park Do Dinh Tien.

These allegations are completely inaccurate. I would like to say clearly about the reasons. Firstly, the AAF appointed the representatives who are poor at the law of Vietnam to implement this project. With personal responsibility, I have the responsibility to protect and enforce the laws of Vietnam.

Secondly, I have to avoid waste and complication that may occur in the management. Why can’t I fulfill my responsibility? Why some procedures for the bear conservation project are not finalized is because we do not have specific land use planning approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development or the local government yet. We also do not have the environmental impact assessment report yet.

I have urged them many times and Mr. Tuan Bendixsen said he had hired an organization to do the environmental impact assessment at the cost of VND500 million ($25,000), but so far the report has not been completed yet.

But the project has been approved by the Prime Minister?

There is no official decision at all. It is only agreement in principle. Everything is not specific.

You said that AAF’s representatives are all weak. How are they weak, specifically? As the Vietnam’s representative of the project, why did you not help them, as well as promote the procedures before the project is implemented?

Procedures implementation needs funding. Mr. Bendixsen is in charge of it and he directly manages the entire capital. We are not involved in the management and use of funds, and he did not report anything although we have urged him many times.

With personal responsibility, I’ve told them everything that must be done, so it is no possible to say I'm irresponsible.

How about the AAF’s accusation that you allowed the Truong Giang Tam Dao company to take measurement and hire the Bear Rescue Center’s area to build an eco-tourism site?

It's unsubstantiated allegations. I confirm there is no basis to prove this.

It is true that with the location of the Tam Dao National Park, which is convenient for transportation, climate, and there are many industrial zones around the park, the need of a resort here is real. Building a resort is needed. Many companies come to Tam Dao to make surveys in order to build a resort here, including the Truong Giang Tam Dao.

The AAF said your daughter has a 10 percent stake in Truong Giang Tam Dao and in fact this firm made land survey in the center. Is that true?

The Tam Dao National Park covers an area of 36,883 ha. The vegetation here features five types of forest. The flora system has 904 species belonging to 478 genera and 213 families of vascular plants, including 64 rare plant species listed in the Vietnam Red Book. The fauna system consists of 307 species, with 56 endangered species listed in the Red Book of Vietnam (22 species of mammals, 9 species of birds, 17 species of reptiles, 7 species of amphibians and one insect species).
Director of Tam Dao National Park, Do Dinh Tien said that the park “is calling on companies to make business surveys" here. 

We have called for many organizations to make surveys, not only Truong Giang Tam Dao.

It is no matter for me that who established this company. I asked my daughter about her share in the Truong Giang Tam Dao company and she said she and her friends set up the company, each of them has 10 percent of shares.

Her capital contribution to that company is one thing but it is a different thing whether the project is approved or not. Since the AAF made its allegations, Truong Giang Tam Dao has had no idea and did not want to lease land anymore.

Caption: When VietNamNet contacted the AAF to clarify the procedures. The AAF claimed to fulfill all necessary administrative procedures and finish the environmental impact assessment report.

Inviting one (or a few) companies to survey the land of an operating organization, which was licensed by the central government, is right, in your opinion?

I see no problem, that (land measurement) does not affect anyone. Furthermore, we are calling for companies to make business survey here. The State also allows the use of forest to develop tourism and to earn extra revenue. This is a major policy that is supported by many departments.

Why, when the AAF is using that land?

As I said, there is no official decision on land allocation.

But the Bear Rescue Center has been licensed and it is operating?

The center will be closed.

As an important component of the project, as the center is facing the risk of relocation, what has you been doing to solve the problem?

I am looking for a suitable location to remove the center to. I’ve visited some places, talked to some agencies but I’ve not found a suitable location yet.

The scandal related to the Tam Dao Bear Rescue Center has become “well known” to such a degree that the ambassadors of many countries and representatives of international organizations in Vietnam have voiced.

The case is no longer involving to bears but to a broader concept, like national prestige or human culture and civilization.
On December 3, actress Ali MacGraw, starring in “Love Story” 40 years ago came to Vietnam to quietly continue a “love story” with the bears in Tam Dao.

"No one can be satisfied when looking at the pictures of the poor animals being abused and exploited so cruelly. It is destroying the good values that man has been giving efforts to create and to direct towards," she said.

Dr Jill Robinson MBE, the founder and executive director of the Animals Asia, said: "In both China and Vietnam, there are more than 10,000 bears that are being reared for bile. The bile of these bears is taken in many ways that are all cruel and frightening."

Hoang Huong