Sight-Impaired Vietnamese Woman Put ‘On Report’ For Failure to Vote

Do Le Na, wife of a jailed 'unapproved' candidate for election to the National Assembly, said that election workers came to her home, urging her to vote.
2021-05-24
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Sight-Impaired Vietnamese Woman Put ‘On Report’ For Failure to Vote A voting station is shown in Vietnam's capital Hanoi, May 23, 2021.
Reuters

Election workers in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi have put a sight-impaired woman on report for failing to vote in this weekend’s election for members of the country’s National Assembly and local People’s Councils, with all candidates pre-approved by the country’s ruling Communist Party.

Do Le Na, wife of independent candidate Le Trong Hung who was arrested March 27 when he put himself forward for election, was told by a visiting team on Sunday evening that she would either have to go to the polls to vote or be put “on report,” though voting is not compulsory in the one-party communist state.

Na’s local election council had previously sent messages every day reminding her and other members of the public to cast “informed votes” on May 23, Na told RFA’s Vietnamese Service in a phone interview on Monday.

“But I was only given a voter card, so how could I vote in an informed way?” she asked, adding that she had only been provided with a list of candidates at 10:00 a.m. on election day.

“The candidates should have met with voters ahead of time to introduce their action plans and explain what they would do if they were elected,” Na said.

In their written record of their visit, Election Team No. 4 said that Na had been provided with materials explaining the election for National Assembly and People’s Council members at all levels of authority to serve during the 2021-2026 term of government.

However, being visually impaired, Na was unable to read these, she said.

“They agreed with what I said—that there should be this and that. However, I was never invited to any meetings and had no opportunity to see any of the candidates,” she said.

Reached for comment, a staff member of the People’s Committee of Hanoi’s Thanh Luong Ward said that she could not answer questions over the phone, telling the reporter to come to the Committee’s offices with a letter of referral.

Others also decline

Reports were also issued in other cases documenting voters’ refusals to participate in Sunday’s election, in which an estimated 95.65 percent of Vietnam’s eligible voters cast ballots, according to National Election Council figures.

Dinh Van Hau, a resident of Ninh Hoa hamlet in Lam Dong province’s Duc Trong district, posted a photo of a document which said that he had refused to cast a vote even when the ballot box was brought to his home.

Political dissident Phan Van Bach, who had nominated himself as a candidate for the previous 2016-2021 term of government, also refused to cast a vote, barring election workers from his home on the excuse that he was afraid of the spread of COVID-19.

Though Vietnam’s government has shown greater openness amid its shift from central planning to a market economy in recent decades, the ruling Communist Party still retains a tight grip on the country’s rubber-stamp parliament and media, and tolerates little opposition to its policies.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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