"Shooting the messenger," said the large front-page headline of Thanh Nien Weekly, the English-language edition of a Vietnamese daily newspaper.

"A draft decree on media management focuses on the wrong target," another headline said.

Like all media in Vietnam, Thanh Nien is linked to the state. It is published in southern HCM City by the Vietnam Youth Federation.

But the paper regularly publishes investigations and exposes health and environmental issues.

One of Thanh Nien's journalists was sentenced in 2008 to two years in prison for his role in revealing a graft case that centred on a transport ministry unit whose officials squandered foreign aid on gambling and high living.

In its report, Thanh Nien Weekly quoted lawyers, the chief editor of another newspaper, and an official from the HCM City department of information as finding fault with the draft decree.

Earlier this week the Vietnamese-language Thanh Nien quoted Nguyen Van Hau, of the HCM City Lawyers' Association, as saying the draft would allow police, customs and other agencies to issue fines against the press.

The government has not issued any public comments on the draft decree.

Thanh Nien reported it is unclear when the draft would be submitted to the central government for approval.

Agence France Presse - October 19, 2009