No forbidden zones: Vietnam’s Communist Party continues corruption crackdown

The country’s president and 2 deputy prime ministers were recently removed in connection with bribery scandals.
By RFA Vietnamese
No forbidden zones: Vietnam’s Communist Party continues corruption crackdown Deputy Head of the Central Commission for Internal Affairs Nguyen Thai Hoc (standing) .
Central Commission for Internal Affairs

The Communist Party of Vietnam marked the start of the Lunar New Year with a pledge to continue its crackdown on corruption under the slogan “no forbidden zones.”

On Wednesday, Deputy Head of the Central Committee for Internal Affairs Nguyen Thai Hoc told the Tuoi Tre Newspaper the party had met its goals in 2022 and would tackle more long-standing cases in 2023.

Last year, the party’s Central Committee, the Politburo and the Secretariat disciplined 47 officials under the supervision of the Politburo and Management Secretariat, 15 more than the previous year.

The Central Committee also dismissed two deputy prime ministers, three ministers and many other senior officials in connection with COVD-19 scandals such as Viet A and the ‘rescue flights’ affair.

Hoc did not talk about the Central Committee’s decision to ask President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to resign on Jan. 17 “after realizing his responsibility before the party and the people,” for the bribery scandals that took place during his time in office.

The ‘rescue flights’ case involved officials taking bribes for allowing airlines to jack up the price of tickets in order to repatriate nationals stranded abroad during the COVID pandemic

The Viet A scandal involved the company’s chief executive officer bribing officials the equivalent of U.S.$34 million to win contracts to sell substandard kits to hospitals at a 45% markup, earning his company U.S.$172 million in profits.

Some Vietnam watchers interviewed by RFA said that the Party was not transparent in forcing Phuc’s hasty resignation without disclosing the specifics of his violations. 

In a recent commentary for RFA, Zachary Abuza, a professor at the National War College in Washington called the move a “power play” saying the days of collective leadership in Vietnam are over.

He said, with Nguyen Phu Trong likely to resign this year, the party General Secretary wanted Phuc to step down to pave the way for his favored candidate National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue to take his job.

Another reason for Phuc’s resignation could be the social media rumors that his family and friends were involved in the Viet A scandal. RFA has not been able to independently verify these claims.

Talking to the Tuoi Tre newspaper, Nguyen Thai Hoc said that the new thrust of the “blazing furnace” crackdown on corrupt cadres is to encourage them to quit if they are disciplined and see their reputation decline.

Hoc said this year there needs to be a more coordinated and determined effort from central to the local level to find corrupt officials and deal with them promptly, no matter how small the violations.

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn.


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