Former president’s speech vanishes from Vietnam news sites

Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s comments at a handover ceremony were aimed at scotching rumors of family corruption.
By RFA Vietnamese
2023.02.07
Former president’s speech vanishes from Vietnam news sites Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his wife Tran Thi Nguyet Thu during their visit to India on Jan. 24, 2018.
Reuters

Vietnam’s state-controlled news sites have been removing comments by the former president, denying that his family were involved in a ‘bribes for contracts’ COVID scandal.

Nguyen Xuan Phuc was forced to step down last month and removed from the Politburo to take responsibility for corruption cases that happened during his term in office.

On Feb. 4, he spoke at a ceremony to pass the acting presidency to Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan. Phuc tried to scotch rumors his family were connected to disgraced healthcare company Viet A, whose chief executive officer admitted to bribing officials the equivalent of U.S.$34 million to win contracts to sell substandard kits to hospitals at a 45% markup.

“My family, wife, and children are not self-interested and corrupt in relation to Viet A, and have never met the Director of Viet A. This has been clearly concluded by the Central Inspection Commission," Phuc said.

At the time, most domestic online news sites quoted the former president's sentence verbatim, while some put the comments in their headlines.

Now the comments have vanished from the Tuoi Tre, Thanh Nien, Lao Dong, Zing and VTC News sites.

Only vietstock.vn, which republished an article from the Tien Phong newspaper, still had comments about Phuc’s family but the main article is no longer available.

The Feb. 4 statement ranked second on the Google search engine in Vietnam the following day with more than 100,000 searches.

In spite of his comments, social media is still full of unsubstantiated rumors that the former president’s wife, Tran Thi Nguyet Thu is “the last boss of Viet A,” and “behind Truong My Lan.”  

Lan is the former chairwoman of Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group, accused of illegally issuing bonds worth tens of millions of dollars in 2018 and 2019 to obtain prime real estate in Ho Chi Minh City.

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn.

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