The Straits Times
Published on Dec 21, 2012

Vietnam imposes funeral wreath limit in austerity drive


HANOI (AFP) - Vietnam has imposed strict limits on the number of wreaths that can be laid at the funerals of officials and banned civil servants from burning 'ghost money' in a bid to assuage public anger over government waste.

Ghost money - fake banknotes or papier mache replicas of highly-prized consumer goods such as iPads and sports cars - are burnt during funerals and to venerate ancestors during public holidays or on special occasions.

The amount burnt often reflects a person's wealth or status, while senior officials are routinely honoured at their funerals with huge piles of ornate, expensive wreaths.

"Funerals must be solemn, civilised (and) thrifty, to match the country's socio-economic situation," stated a decree, signed on Monday by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung but made public on Thursday.