Football star David Beckham was in Vietnam in November to promote an alcoholic drink, but it was his Facebook photo which he posted three days after his visit that grabbed global attention. The photo shows a woman on a scooter snapping a photo of Beckham; she was not wearing a helmet and worse, there was a child sleeping between her legs.
Beckham wrote on Facebook:
I’m all for fans taking a picture but not sure this is the safest way to do it!
The photo got more than 686,000 likes, 7,000 shares, and 18,000 comments. It also sparked discussion in Vietnam about road safety and the enforcement of traffic laws. About 14,000 people die each year in Vietnam due to traffic accidents. The police said they will file charges against the woman for violating traffic laws in order to serve as an example for other motorists.
But Scott Duke Harris, an expat in Vietnam, noted that the photo was an accurate depiction of how many Vietnamese drivers and motorists are behaving in the streets:
Yes, the Beckham fan was flouting the law – but don’t very many Vietnamese do this on a daily basis? Helmet laws are often ignored, as are laws restricting the use of handheld devices. Small children are routinely carried on motorbikes without helmets or, it seems, other safety precautions. Only the blind don’t see this.
On Facebook, most Vietnamese netizens said they were embarrassed by the photo and criticized the woman for endangering the child riding with her. Meanwhile, Facebook user Truong Dang reminded Beckham that he could have done better than just simply taking a photograph of his fan:
You should give some signal to remind her of dangerous situation instead of shooting her back. If you care of her and the baby right then, for sure you will not act like this.
Another Facebook user Svein Berg parodied Beckham by telling him that he was in Vietnam to promote an alcoholic drink brand:
I am all for idols, but I am not sure promoting alcohol is the best way?
Hoang V Tan wrote the common sentiment of many Internet users in Vietnam:
This lady doesn't represent Vietnamese culture. However, accepting that so many people carelessly drive. Although most people love their kids, many don't know how to protect them in right manners. It's result from poor or ineffective education, public propaganda and laws enforcement.
Hopefully, Beckham’s viral photo will improve road safety in Vietnam by reminding authorities and educating the general public about the importance of strictly implementing traffic laws and regulations.