Unregulated Signage Proliferates in the Capital


The problem of foreign language signboards erected by businesses in Vientiane is now too difficult, an official has revealed, because there are simply so many signs and the authorities can no longer manage the workload.

The public is confused about the advertising hoardings written in foreign languages, especially the Chinese language. Some advertising signs are written in both Lao and Chinese languages but the Lao language grammar is poor.

A relevant authority in Vientiane told Vientiane Times on Tuesday that many business advertisements have not received the required permits from the relevant sectors at the ministries and from the Vientiane and district officials.

“Unregulated business advertisements have been ordered to be taken down but often they are just erected again when the authorities depart,” he said.

On the other hand, almost all Chinese shops owners don’t speak Lao language so the authorities have difficulty when the authorities go to tell them their advertising hoardings are unregulated.

However the situation is often different as soon as Lao people come to ask about purchasing goods with them, as the Chinese traders are then suddenly more than willing to assist them without difficulty.

Government decrees on advertisements have been issued in order to make sure all signs will contain Lao and foreign languages according to the correct format but many signboards are still using exclusively foreign languages.

The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and Ministry of Public Works and Transport are trying to work in collaboration with other relevant sectors to address the matter but it doesn’t seem to be very effective.

A Vientiane official also said that the relevant authorities are working each day and right now Vientiane Administration Office has set up a sub-committee to solve the problem of inappropriate business signage in Vientiane.

However this sub-committee and the relevant authorities still don’t seem to have been able to eliminate the inappropriate signage.

In response, they plan to tighten the management of business signboards that remain unregulated in January next year.

Based on Article 20 of this decree, all signboards are legally required to feature Lao language predominantly, on top and in the most prominent position, with any foreign language displayed underneath in a smaller size.

Currently, signs can be found which feature Lao language underneath the foreign language and you almost can’t see the Lao writing as the letters are very small. This is wrong.

Vientiane is one of many areas in the country where foreign languages are prominently featured. Unfortunately, signboards that do carry some Lao language often show the words misspelt.

Another official also said that people could register their business signboards at the department or at the district Department of Industry and Commerce.

After registration, they then need to bring their advertisement designs to the Vientiane Information, Culture and Tourism Department to check for compliance with the regulations.

Advertisers also need to go to the Vientiane Public Works and Transport Department before the signs can be erected at shops, restaurants, hotels, clinics and other businesses.

Source: Vientiane Times