The election day of the National Assembly and People’s Council (May 23, 2021) is taking place nationwide, awakening interest in responsible citizens who are eager to exercise their rights of voters. One such citizen, Captain Hoang Anh Tuan, has been collecting ballot papers for years and now is owning over 500 ballots and some electoral banners and posters.

Evidence of the people’s ownership 

The valuable collection of ballot papers has been collected by Hoang Anh Tuan for nine years. Photo: Hien Huyen

President Ho Chi Minh once said: “A ballot paper has a very important value. It is evidence to affirm that people are the masters of the country”. Being aware of its role, Tuan has collected ballot papers cast during75 years since the first election in 1946, creating a valuable historical source showing the right to be the masters of the Vietnamese people.

Accordingly, more than 500 ballot papers were collected from many administrative units, from the North to the South in different periods, from 1946 to 1976 during wartime and since its end until now.  

In addition, there are other ballot papers in 1976 for the first election after the country was reunified with the end of the war. 

Captain Hoang Anh Tuan showed a part of his large collection of ballot papers. Photo: Hien Huyen 

“I face certain challenges during the process of collecting ballots because not many people and organizations still keep them. Sometimes they come from second-hand bookstores or scrap collectors. In particular, it is more difficult to find them in mountainous or remote areas,” Tuan shared his experience in the process of collecting.

Thanks to his passion, Tuan has built a network that helps him find what he needs. “One day, one of them called me to say that he found a ballot paper that I might be interested in. It was the oldest ballot of the first national election 75 years old ago, in which it has full information of a 38-year-old man who was a farmer voting for the first National Assembly’s deputies. It is the only one missing from my collection. I was very happy,” he said.

Valuable papers

The oldest ballot papers are 75 years old. Photo: Hien Huyen

Besides ballots, Tuan also collects other historical artifacts such as stamps, coupons in the subsidized economy period, Vietnamese banknotes, Tet (Lunar New Year’s Festival) paintings, newspapers about important historical events, and so on.

Now his collection has about 7,000 – 10,000 artifacts of different periods. Particularly among them, there are more than 2,000 coupons of the subsidized economy time, including those for the purchase of petroleum, rice, meat, salt, among other basic necessities. It took him a lot of time and work to classify them into categories. The collection has helped him get to know more about a period that he and others of his generation were too young to remember. At that time, everything was sold by coupons with a limited quantity for each person so that these coupons were very important to each family and even people had money, they could not buy more. 

Tuan is also interested in collecting the portraits of President Ho Chi Minh on banknotes from different periods. “In each period, the facial features of Uncle Ho undergo certain changes after years, creating the uniqueness of the banknote. If you do research on it, you will find it very interesting,” he passionately said about his collection of thousands of banknotes.

The cover of the Liberation Newspaper – Sunday version that was issued on April 30 & May 1, 1976, is one among valuable items in Tuan’s collection. Photo: Hien Huyen 

Not letting his collection be stored in the drawers, Tuan donated a part of it to museums. It is currently displayed at the exhibition themed “75 years of the National Assembly of Vietnam – Impression, Beliefs and Hopes” at Bac Ninh Museum in Bac Ninh province.

Nguyen Thi Trong, Director of the Bac Ninh Provincial Museum, said that she was very impressed with the diversity of the ballot papers in Tuan’s collection. The ballots belong to voters from everywhere in the country, from the cities, provinces to the mountainous and remote areas. They reflect the history of Vietnam’s National Assembly, the highest representative body of Vietnamese people.

In the coming time, Tuan plans to expand the storage space at home, and at the same time coordinate with exhibition organizers to hold events for a wider public to learn about Vietnam’s history.