In the mood to enter the “new normal” situation when for more than 30 consecutive days the country did not record new cases in the community and now focuses on economic recovery and development, Vietnam solemnly celebrated the 130th birthday of late President Ho Chi Minh (May 19, 1890 – May 19, 2020). This is also an opportunity for us to look back on the results of the propaganda and deification of the character who is considered the genius leader of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and people, the great teacher of the Vietnam Revolution.
Whether defending or opposing Ho Chi Minh, no one can deny that Ho Chi Minh has been a figure with a great influence on Vietnamese history from the mid-20th century to the present.
In his article ‘Confidence to the Youth about Ho Chi Minh’ on the birthday of Ho Chi Minh in 2006, Bui Tin, a dissident figure, who was a deputy editor-in-chief of the Nhan Dan newspaper with Colonel rank army officer, has recorded two achievements of Mr. Ho Chi Minh. First, he was the leader of the August Revolution, which was responded by the people, ending the colonial and feudal period, opening a new era for the country. Second, as the President of the Resistance Government, he also led the resistance against the French colonialist, also known as the 9-year war, to victory, with Dien Bien Phu Victory and the Geneva Agreement which forced France to leave Vietnam.
In Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh is idolized to the point of deification. Since his death on September 2, 1969, although Mr. Ho’s willingness is to be cremated as he wrote in his will: “I ask that my body be burned, say the cremation, because that is the case for those who live well in terms of hygiene, and do not wasteland,” the Labor Party decided to build a mausoleum for him in Hanoi. The mausoleum, inaugurated on August 29, 1975, is located in the center of Hanoi, standing tall in front of the Presidential Palace (ie the old Governor General’s Palace). The costs for its maintenance are huge. Mr. Bui Tin described: “The most precious wood, full-color gravel from all over, was carefully selected to be brought to Hanoi. The temperature in the mausoleum is year-round kept at around 16°C to 18°C, with 2 spare power units. It is protected by an army unit of 2 battalions and commanded by 2 generals. The guards have been carefully selected both physically healthy and well trained. A technical team trained from the Soviet Union, with nearly 100 experts and technicians divided into several teams to take care of “each cell of the leader.” Someone added: every hair, every beard, every nail, toenail of “Mr. Ho” has their own records.”
Ho Chi Minh’s body is placed in the mausoleum for all to worship. Recently, Ho Chi Minh statues have been placed in the temple. Although the CPV does not officially take this step forward, it is undoubtedly the party has implicitly agreed so it has not be banned.
Most importantly, in the late 80s and early 90s of the last century, the communist regimes collapsed in Eastern European countries and rightly in the Soviet Union, the cradle of communism. Therefore, in order to strengthen ideology and especially to strengthen the belief in party’s members and the masses, the CPV has created “Ho Chi Minh thought” after the 7th National Congress which was held on June 24-27, 1991. Later, Ho Chi Minh’s thought was formally incorporated into Article 4, Chapter 1 of the 1992 Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
It is worth noting that, according to Mr. Bui Tin, who witnessed tremendous fluctuations in Vietnamese history of the 20th century from the August Revolution of 1945 until the country’s reunification in 1975 and the period of national reconstruction after that as a soldier and a journalist, “Mr. Ho always said that he did not have his own thoughts. All revolutionary ideas, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao have spoken out.” And in fact, in the world, people have never considered Ho Chi Minh as a thinker, in English, there is no word Hoism but only Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism, and Maoism.
Blogger Do Nga commented: “Before 1990, there was no such thing as ‘Ho Chi Minh Thought’ in Vietnam, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union and communist regimes in Eastern Europe, the CPV began to gather idle words of Ho Chinh Minh and then combined into a mess, without any connection in the theory at all, and then, the guys in the Central Theoretical Committee further deduced themselves to link those other things together and made a thick book and called it ‘Ho Chi Minh Thought.’ Everyone knows that Ho Chi Minh always copied the policies that Mao did (whether or not instructed to do it or not). Vietnam conducted land and cultural reforms similar to those in China. To be frank, Ho Chi Minh was the one who implemented Maoism in Vietnam, but he did not have his own. He was a stereotype, he was absolutely not a thinker. If so, those are the things of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao and the CPV labeled him, but he had nothing own.”
Not stopping there, in 2003, the Secretariat of the 9th tenure issued Directive 23 regarding learning Ho Chi Minh’s thought. In 2006, General Secretary Nong Duc Manh then signed Directive 06, organized the campaign “Study and follow Ho Chi Minh’s moral example“.
Commenting on the BBC about the results of the learning movement and following the moral example of late President Ho Chi Minh for nearly 20 years now, researcher Le Van Sinh said: “What are the results, Vietnamese people at home and abroad can draw their own perceptions. To me, if this movement were practical and effective, the corruption, authoritarianism, violation of the party’s discipline, criminal offense in the party members would not have been more and more serious as we are witnessing today.”
Writer Vo Thi Hao assessed two decades of advocacy and propaganda as follows: “The propaganda and advocacy to Ho Chi Minh in recent years is aimed at declaring to everyone that Vietnam is persistently determined to follow the path of totalitarian dictatorship, no hope for change to pluralistic democracy.
The image and the road called Ho Chi Minh Thought were given as a talisman to hide the fact that the Communist Party had turned into a class to dominate the group interests having full power to corruption and human rights violations.
For me, its effectiveness of the campaign is that most people do not believe, but do not dare to criticize it because of repression and fear of being persecuted.”
Observers argue that the most disastrous thing comes from Ho Chi Minh’s propaganda of ideas and moral example, is the formation of lies among party members and ordinary people.
Recently, on May 16, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attended the Opening Ceremony of the “Cooperative with Uncle Ho” Project at Kim Lien Special National Historic Site (Lang Sen 3, Kim Commune Lien, Nam Dan and Nghe An districts). The project is organized by the Vietnam Cooperative Union and the People’s Committee of Kim Lien commune, Nam Dan district, Nghe An province. On the same day, the PM also attended the Opening Ceremony of Chung Son Temple President Ho Chi Minh’s ancestral temple in Kim Lien commune, on the occasion of the 130th birthday of the communist regime’s founder.
Photo 5: Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and delegates cut the ribbon to inaugurate Chung Son temple on May16
Commenting on Chung Son Temple, Facebooker Nguyen Huu Vinh wrote on his personal Facebook as follows: “Approved since 2012 but have been quietly working for 8 years, without informing the people, how much it costs, that way to let the people contribute and to monitor if any of the corrupt from it.
Facebooker Duong Quoc Chinh commented: “This temple of President Ho Chi Minh’s family is a socialization project of Bac A (TH true milk). The project includes the surrounding forest community (Chung mountain) as an eco-park. Roughly we need to understand this is an ecotourism project taking the temple as a highlight to attract tourists.
The temple part probably doesn’t sell tickets but the park does. It means that the business uses Ho Chi Minh’s family to collect money only. It will work with the same mechanism as Bai Dinh and Tam Chuc pagodas which use Buddha to get money from people.
This is a fairly creative business direction, using leaders to make money. It is likely that if this is successful, businesses will open this type of temple chain in all provinces. Late army General Vo Nguyen Giap will be the second target after Uncle Ho.
I just wonder if this temple is dedicated to the Nguyen family or the Ho family?”
Since Ho Chi Minh’s death, the late leader’s crematorium has not been carried out by his comrades, or worse, they have used his exact body to continue taking advantage of him for their profits.
The CPV, headed by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, has always propagandized, the whole party and the people must learn from Ho Chi Minh’s example and advice, but the leaders of this party against his will, it was ironic for the communists, because they have to use deception for survival.