The Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV)’s leadership arrangements for the next term are “all decided by a small group” and the one-party institution “hardly guarantees that selected personnel will not be corrupted,” one local political observer told VOA.
The CPV is in the process of preparing for the 13th National Congress early next year to introduce a new generation of leaders when the current key leadership will largely retire.
Against this backdrop, there have been a number of moves in the Party’s personnel positions to prepare for new roles, including Party Secretary Kien Giang Nguyen Thanh Nghi, the oldest son of former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, returning to the position of deputy minister of construction and Mr. Nguyen Van Nen, Chief of the Office of the Party Central Committee, being introduced as Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee.
With this move, it is almost certain that Mr. Nen will have a seat in the Politburo for the 13th tenure, the supreme leading body of the party while the future of Mr. Nghi, already member of the Central Committee remains unclear.
Up or down?
Dr. Nguyen Quang A, a dissident and political observer in Hanoi, said that the move of Mr. Nghi could have two scenarios: promotion or demotion.
“One is that he is no longer the secretary of Kien Giang, so it is difficult to remain a member of the Central Committee, and the return of Mr. Nghi to his previous position at the Ministry of Construction can be seen as demoted,” said Dr. A.
“The second possibility is that Mr. Nghi will be promoted to lead the Ministry of Construction. In this case, Mr. Nghi can be considered ‘promotion.’”
“Promotion or demotion depends on the outcome of the struggle between the factions, between the factions of Mr. Trong and Mr. Dung,” the observer explained.
The removal of Mr. Nghi from Kien Giang, which is considered the “base” of Mr. Nguyen Tan Dung’s family, Mr. A said, “If he does not be re-elected to the Central Committee, it is uprooting Nguyen Tan Dung’s clan.”
The 11th term as well as the 12th National Congress of the party in 2016 have seen stiff competition between Nguyen Phu Trong and Nguyen Tan Dung.
As a result, Mr. Trong continued to work as General Secretary for another term and Mr. Dung had to retire.
Since the retirement of Mr. Dung, many figures that were seen as the faction of Mr. Dung, such as former Ho Chi Minh City Party Secretary Dinh La Thang, have been removed. Mr. Thang was jailed for his previous mistakes.
Regarding the transfer of Mr. Nguyen Van Nen, who has no background in the largest city in the country, to become the highest leader in this city, Mr. A said that if they appoint a native person to be the leader of HCM City, it would have many benefits because “the selected person has wife, children, family, relatives, and friends.”
Former Ho Chi Minh City secretaries or chairmen were mostly people who come from or go through the process of working in this city and were promoted later, while Mr. Nen comes from Tay Ninh province. Then he became the head of the Office of the Government and then changed to the chief of the Office of the Party Central Committee.
Dr. A said that the promotion of Mr. Nen to lead Ho Chi Minh City was the right of the Politburo without taking opinions from the local Party Committee and its members there while it should be their right to vote for their leader.
“Democracy in the communist-style, even within the Party there is no democracy,” commented the activist.
“The personnel issues of the Party are all decided by a group of people,” so if the Party chooses the less corrupt and capable, the people can rely on, otherwise, the people have to suffer,” said Dr. Nguyen Quang A.
“For decades, they have always been doing very tightly and carefully about personnel, not only under Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong but have they been able to do it?” Mr. A raised the question.
Therefore, Mr. A thinks that the corruption issue is an institutional issue and not about choosing people.
“The Vietnamese people have no interest, no matter which side wins the confrontation between Mr. Trong and Mr. Dung,” said activist Nguyen Quang A. “They are just groups of people who strive for their own interests, not the interests of the country.”
According to lawyer Tran Quoc Thuan, public opinion and interested parties also raised the issue of another aspect in the occasion of the CPV’s preparation of this 13-th National Congress, which he emphasized that there is still a problem of fractions based on locality in the important organs of the party’s power apparatus.
“Now, if you look at the personnel issues of the party, as I said to submit and conclude that there is a crime, there is a mistake, there are shortcomings or not, it is clear here there is or is accidentally or intentionally but all see numerous senior officials coming from the two provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh.”
“Specifically, as the chairman of the Central Inspection Commission, who has proposed disciplines, is from Ha Tinh.”
“Then it was found that the head of Internal Affairs Commission is from Nghe An, and the State Auditor General is also from Nghe An, not to mention the personnel from these two localities in many agencies, committees and ministries, and central agencies, including in some important provinces and cities.
“Recently there is information that Mr. Ho Duc Phoc, now the State Auditor General, can now be promoted as the chairman of Ho Chi Minh City. If this news is valid and true, then he is a person from Nghe An.”
“So those who submit plans, make proposals to condemn, discipline, handle cadres and personnel, find that the key positions are mostly Nghe An and Ha Tinh, these are a fact that the public sees and based on that, people say, should the party need to consider and do it in time?”
According to ae representative of the CPV’s Secretariat, the 13th Plenum that took place in Hanoi on October 5-10 only considered cases in the age frame.
And the personnel under special circumstances, over 60 years old for the Central Committee; over 65 years old for members of the Politburo, the Secretariat; special cases whether joining for the first time, re-election or not, such as some provincial party secretaries reaching the age limit, the first participation is not more than 55, until now 56 are not considered in the first entry. This is, which the Central Committee will consider in 14th and possibly 15th plenums.
Explaining more about the above-mentioned content, lawyer Tran Quoc Thuan, former standing vice chairman of the National Assembly Office living in Ho Chi Minh City, told RFA on the evening of October 14 as follows:
“When considering the cases where the Politburo’s documents are issued, there are issues related to the party’s charter that need to be passed by the National Congress.
If someone too old to stay, there are some people who are too old but plan to stay, such as the Prime Minister. There is an internal rule that those who are currently the Politburo and want to be re-elected are entitled to re-election for the next term under 65 (age 65), if they are over 65 they cannot be elected. Or those who reach the retirement age of 60 (age) and go to the Congress is 60, they cannot be elected. Now, if it is regulated that people over 65 (years old) continue to stand for election, those cases are also special.
According to the Party’s charter, the person who works as the General Secretary is not allowed to have 2 consecutive terms, ie at most 2 terms, but also someone who has passed the 3rd term, if he wants to stay, his/her case must be approved by the new Central Committee.”
Before that, the 12th Communist Party Congress held in early 2016 had 5 people introduced as “special cases.”
At the same age and party age as the current head of the Communist Party of Vietnam, attorney Tran Quoc Thuan suggested a few leaders who may be on the special case list for the upcoming National Congress:
“Also heard that there are a few special cases of the Secretary-General, the Prime Minister and the President. If talking about overage, Mr. Tran Quoc Vuong is over 2 years old, Mr. Phuc is over 1 year old, Mrs. Kim Ngan is over 1 year old, Mrs. Trong is too many years, including 2 terms, this is the third term. So the National Congress will decide.”