As millions of people already changed their paper driving licenses into plastic as regulated, the Ministry of Transport has suddenly had a change of heart at the last minute.
The Ministry of Transport's Circular 58, issued in 2015, ordered all old car driving licences made from paper to be changed to plastic material before December 31. Those who fail to exchange their licences will have to retake a written test to get their licence reissued.
According to the Ministry of Transport, by August 31, nearly 5.3 million driving licences had been changed and it is estimated that there are some 300,000 paper licences left.
Thousands of people in Di An Commune, Binh Duong Province
going to the communal post office to change licences
People are worried and it's troublesome to have to retake a written test. But they also believed in the ministry and that it is necessary to change the licenses. They quickly shelled out the money to complete the procedures to obey the circular.
Then on November 30, the ministry said only expired driving licences made from paper are required to change after the Ministry of Justice said there was no legal grounds to carry out the circular and that it affected people’s rights.
Maybe many people will feel the same: surprised, glad and upset. Especially those who already went through all procedures to change their licences.
The ministry's leaders said they wanted to change all paper licences into plastic for better management. However they had realised the circular's shortcomings after a year.
The ministry gave a deadline and if drivers couldn’t meet it, they'd have to retake written test and this was the trouble.
Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Hong Truong said, "We thought of helping people change the licences for free but it was too costly. The move aims to prevent fake licences and provide higher quality licenses."
It sounds like the ministry understands and wants to share the burdens with the drivers. They changed the circular at the last minute so that tens of thousands of people don't have to take time to go through procedures or worry about written tests.
But it's actually their excuse after being forced to make the change when there is only one month before the deadline and not many paper licences left. Many people expressed doubts at their 'good-will' statements.
It's hard to feel sympathy for the ministry since they suddenly changed their mind while statistics show that most drivers have obeyed the rules. It shows how unorganised and inconsistent the government agencies are. If they continue working like this, they will find it hard for the public to buy in to their next round of policies.
Other agencies have been issuing unreasonable regulations. Only after opposition from the public or re-checking what they decided, have they revised the regulations without any compensation or even an apology. Consultants and leaders that approved the regulations aren't punished.