Police arrest former chief editors of Ho Chi Minh City newspaper

The two men are accused of ‘causing losses’ to the government for their role in a high-rise land deal.
By RFA Vietnamese
2024.01.16
Police arrest former chief editors of Ho Chi Minh City newspaper A police officer in Ho Chi Minh City reads the arrest warrant for Nguyen Cong Khe [second from left], former editor in chief of the Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper, Jan. 16, 2024.
(Vietnam Ministry of Public Security)

Police in Vietnam’s largest city searched the homes and offices of two former top editors of a major newspaper on Tuesday and placed them under arrest on charges related to the construction of a high-rise building, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

Ho Chi Minh City police have detained Nguyen Cong Khe and Nguyen Quang Thong while they investigate accusations they violated “regulations on management and use of State assets, causing losses and waste,” the ministry said. 

The two men, both former editors-in-chief for The Young People (Thanh Nien) Newspaper, were connected to the sale of a plot of land in Ho Chi Minh City where a complex of offices, luxury apartments and a commercial center was eventually built.

The Government’s Information Portal reported that in 2008, the newspaper planned to purchase a land lot in Ho Chi Minh City from Sai Gon Tobacco Factory to build the newspaper’s headquarters. 

But later, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Nguyen Cong Khe, signed a cooperation agreement between the Thanh Nien Media Corporation Joint Stock Co. and Vinpearl Tourism and Services Joint Stock Co. to build the high-rise complex.

Thanh Nien, one of the largest newspapers in Vietnam, holds 51% registered capital in the Thanh Nien Media Corporation Joint Stock Co. The land use right was the newspaper’s contribution to the high-rise project.

The two sides eventually agreed to terminate the contract, and the land lot was transferred to a private owner, which caused losses to the State, the ministry said on Tuesday. It was unclear when the agreement was terminated.

After Vietnam’s reunification in 1975, Nguyen Cong Khe worked at Ho Chi Minh City’s Youth Union and later worked at the Vietnam Women’s Newspaper before joining Thanh Nien. 

He was co-founder of the Thanh Nien newspaper and its editor-in-chief from 1988 to 2008, and is now the chairman of the Thanh Nien Media Corporation Joint Stock Co.’s board of directors. 

Nguyen Quang Thong was editor-in-chief of Thanh Nien from 2009 to 2021. 

The newspaper is managed by the Vietnam Youth Federation, which falls under the leadership of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam.

In 2022, Vietnam Communist Party Secretary General’s Nguyen Phu Trong initiated his “blazing furnace” anti-corruption drive, which has proved popular with Vietnamese people tired of bribery and favoritism.

Translated by Anna Vu. Edited by Matt Reed and Malcolm Foster.

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