The Vietnamese ambassador in Kuala Lumpur sent a note to Malaysia's internal affairs ministry "protesting against any act of trading Vietnamese women, and seeking their help to identify the woman", Vietnam’s state-run Tien Phong newspaper said on Wednesday.
The woman offered herself for sale last week at a morning market in a village in Gombak, on the outskirts of the capital Kuala Lumpur, a Malaysian paper initially reported.
She went to the village with a 40-year-old peddler who made the offer on her behalf, the Chinese-language daily Guang Ming said.
Low on cash
The woman apparently volunteered to be sold because she had been in Malaysia for some time and had spent all her money.
The paper did not say what she had been doing while in Malaysia or for how much she was sold.
"It needs to be condemned ... Trafficked women in any form are victims and they need to be protected and helped"
Ha Thi Khiet, the chairwoman of the Vietnamese women's union
It said that she was bought by a 60-year-old Malaysian man. It was unclear whether he intended to make her his wife, surrogate daughter or maid.
Some of the villagers asked the peddler for his mobile number for future reference in case he had any more women to offer.
Le Dung, Vietnam's foreign ministry spokesman, protested on Tuesday.
Marriages between foreigners and Vietnamese women "must be on a voluntary basis and obey the laws", he said. "Any case of illegal marriage brokerage must be banned."
Ha Thi Khiet, the chairwoman of the Vietnamese women's union, wrote an open letter to her Malaysian counterpart to describe the case as "offensive towards women's honour and dignity".
"It needs to be condemned ... Trafficked women in any form are victims and they need to be protected and helped," she wrote.
Late last month, South Korea apologised to Vietnam after a Seoul daily published a photograph showing Vietnamese would-be brides lining up for a Korean suitor.