Police in Vietnam have summoned a noodle seller who recorded himself imitating Nusret Gökçe, or “Salt Bae”, days after a Vietnamese official was filmed eating gold-encrusted steak at the Turkish chef’s London restaurant.
Mr Gökçe became an internet sensation in 2017 after a video of him exuberantly seasoning meat went viral.
Bui Tuan Lam, the 38-year-old beef noodle seller from Danang, said he did not intend to mock anyone with his video.
The video reportedly showed him slicing boiled beef and flamboyantly sprinkling green onions into a bowl of noodle soup. He described himself as “Green Onion Bae” in a Facebook post.
“The video I made was for fun and for advertising my beef noodle shop. More customers have been coming since I posted it,” Mr Lam told Reuters. He said it was not clear whether the police summons was because of his video.
The summons came days after Vietnam’s minister of public security, To Lam, was caught on camera eating gold-encrusted steak, worth around £1,450, at Mr Gökçe’s restaurant in London.
The video of the Vietnamese minister provoked outrage, as people on social media accused him of feasting with taxpayers’ money amid a state crackdown on corruption in the Southeast Asian nation.
Bộ trưởng Bộ Công an Việt Nam Tô Lâm được Salt Bae chế biến và đút cho ăn món bò dát vàng trị giá lên đến 45 triệu đồng/phần trong một nhà hàng của ông này ở Luân Đôn. Cùng bàn với ông Tô Lâm là Chánh văn phòng Bộ Công an Tô Ân Xô. pic.twitter.com/hGZZqGbJZr
— Duy Bình (@DuyBnh61157516) November 5, 2021
Mr Lam said that the police had earlier summoned him in April, without mentioning the reason. At that time, he had publicly criticised the authorities on Facebook and had said that he was “raising his voice for a better society”.
The Vietnamese police are known to routinely summon activists and critics of the ruling Communist Party for questioning. The government has escalated its clampdown on dissent by arresting activists, journalists and critics with large followings on Facebook.
According to reports, the government adopted a more hardline approach in throttling dissent after Nguyen Phu Trong was re-elected as the Communist Party chief earlier this year.
Five citizen journalists working on an online news page were sentenced to prison in October for “abusing democratic rights”. The verdict was criticised by the United States, which accused the Vietnamese government of suppressing freedom of expression.
Additional reporting by agencies