At the 15th Plenum of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV)’s Central Committee, scheduled to take place on January 15, 2021, the Politburo will report on “special cases” for the Central to decide and introduce to the 13th National Congress of the Party.
That is the information Mr. Nguyen Duc Ha, an expert on Party Construction under the Central Organization Commission, said on December 28 at the propaganda training conference of the Party to the press agencies.
Will party personnel be decided at the 15th Plenum?
Responding to RFA on December 29, Dr. Ha Hoang Hop, a senior researcher at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies – Iseas, Singapore, said:
“Right from the 12th Plenum they have planned what they will do at the 13th, the 14th, and the 15th, so there is no surprise. On December 28, the information was reported by the state-controled media, but I think it was just coincidence, not on behalf of the Party Central Committee. This has been announced before, since the last day of the 14th Plenum, as they said they will decide at the 15th Plenum, and if still can’t handle it, they will conduct the 16th Plenum. But they believe that they will make final decision regarding special cases who will stay for the next tenure at the 15th Plenum.”
The 13th National Congress of the CPV will take place from January 25, 2021 to February 2, 2021, in Hanoi with 1,590 delegates, an increase of 80 people compared to the 12th Congress. Among these are 194 incumbent members of the Central Committee, 1,381 elected delegates and 15 appointed delegates. Those delegates being elected for the Central Committee of the 13th tenure will be the country’s leadership for the next five years.
However, only the members of the Politburo will be considered for the top 4 positions of the country, or “the four pillars.” According to Directive No. 35 of the Politburo, the age for participation at all levels under the central government is September 2020. As a result, current Politburo members who are 65 years old before September 2020 or olders will have to retire, except for those chosen to serve as general secretary for the next term. So how many overage leaders will be allowed to stay after the 13th Congress?
Dr. Ha Hoang Hop gave his speculation:
“There number of ‘special cases’ may rise from one in the 12th Congress to two and up to four this time. These cases would take the country’s four highest positions. They maybe incumbent Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Permanent Secretary Tran Quoc Vuong, even incumbent General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and National Assembly’s Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan.”
However, Dr. Ha Hoang Hop said that if Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong does stay, he may not stay for long but only for a short time. Therefore, he thinks that public opinion may be wrong, when talking about if Trong wants to stay, the Politburo must amend the Party Charter. He explained:
“They said that he did 2 terms before so he could not stay according to the Party’s charter, this is true… But Mr. Trong would not serve until the end of the 3rd term, for example a year and then hand over, the charter amendment is not required but still can let him stay. Because they may not have trusted the newcomer, they let Mr. Trong stay for a while and then hand over the position of General Secretary to another. There is another possibility that Trong does not stay a day, but still holds the position of Secretary of the Central Military Commission, does not have to amend the Party’s charter and the Law on the People’s Army of Vietnam. Those are my conjectures.”
In recent months, a lot of information has been published by the state-controlled media but the public thinks that Nguyen Phu Trong will remain. For example, on May 27, 2020, deputy head of the Central Commission for Education and Propaganda Nguyen Hong Dien, when speaking at a press conference to announce the results of the 12th Plenum said: “Some comrades are considered cases too old, has shown great excellence in their work, especially the head, comrade General Secretary cum President. It can be said that this special case is the happiness of the Party and the nation.”
Or on June 24, 2020, at the meeting with voters of the Hanoi Delegation, Ms. Nguyen Xuan Thang – a voter from Hoan Kiem district – was quoted by the domestic media as “wishing for the General Secretary cum State President Nguyen Phu Trong will continue to lead the country for another term.”
Journalist Le Trung Khoa, editor of Thoibao.de website in Germany, when replying to RFA regarding this issue in June 2020, said:
“This is the dogma, the front fence of Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong to other Central Committee members. Maybe he would stay for another term … as you know, the greed of the leaders of the communist party is very much, especially in power corruption, it’s worse than corruption. It takes almost 100 million people out of running the country, there’s only a small group of the party, they have this, they corrupt this. This is very bad because it will lead to a path of undemocracy, loss of freedom, and becoming increasingly authoritarian.”
According to Journalist Le Trung Khoa, Nguyen Phu Trong may also want to stay, but whether or not it is due to the factions of the Communist Party, whether they have a way to change Mr. Trong’s wishes or not have to wait a while longer.
Also at the propaganda training conference of the Party for the press agencies for the upcoming 13th National Conference, Mr. Nguyen Duc Ha said, on the workflow of preparing personnel for the 13th Congress, the agencies will prepare personnel. New lock with 3 age structure to ensure inheritance. Specifically, the personnel participating in the Central Committee for the first time must not exceed 55 years old; personnel participating in the Politburo and the Secretariat for the first time must not be over 60 years old; The people for re-elected to the Politburo and the Secretariat for the 13th term must not be over 65 years old; only “Special case” is a person over 65 years old.
Regarding this age regulation, Professor Nguyen Dinh Cong, who has left the party,told RFA on December 29 from Hanoi:
“Why is this party so strict about age, while in many countries around the world people are very comfortable, like the US, being old but the people still vote as usual … And Vietnam is like that due to historical problems, a few decades ago, when you went to the revolution, when you succeeded, you fought for each other for positions, no qualifications but kept sitting there and refused to retire. But they can’t push it out because they are veteran soldiers with achievements … so people have come up with a trick to use age to control, 60 years old must retire, only special cases allow to stay more.”
Professor Nguyen Dinh Cong thinks that is a bad thing, why do we have to use age to control each other without giving out capacity? He continued:
“Now that they use the priority game to prolong the age for certain, that’s just a trick against each other. In my opinion, the important thing is the ability, if people are good, even if they are young, they can use them, they are old but their health is still good, they are still fit for leader post.. Here there is an anti-democratic problem that, the old Central Committee and Politburo have right to decide the list of the new members for the next tenure. Because they fight for power. If the party’s election is democratic, all candidates are equal for running without age limitation.
Therefore, Professor Nguyen Dinh Cong said that using the age limitation for chosing leading positions is just a trick and not good at all.