Is it possible to build Vietnam’s police force “respect people, be close to people, understand people, and learn from people?”

At the 75th anniversary of the traditional day of the Vietnam Police, which took place on the morning of August 16, the head of the Vietnamese government awarded the First Class Military Medal to the officials and leaders of the Ministry of Public Security.

Speaking at the ceremony, PM Phuc emphasized that the Police Forces should continue to “take the people as the root, respect the people, be close to the people, understand the people, learn from the people and be responsible to the people”  and “building the image of a police soldier who is close to the people, listens to the people’s opinion, the one people believes in and is a firm supporter of the people in times of danger.”

Talking with RFA, some people shared that for them, the speech of the head of the Government of Vietnam is just plain slogans, repeated every year for the police anniversaries. Some people believe that PM Phuc’s reminder to the police that “taking the people as the root” is also useful, in the sense that 90 million people are “fellow citizens” and not always a “criminal” or “reactionary” every time they exercise their constitutional rights.

A resident in Khanh Hoa, Mr. Tran Van Vu, spoke to RFA:

In general, his speech is useful but not relevant to people. His words are verbal and do not go with reality. Citizens sometimes do not believe much. Because in normal life, people contact (with the police) a lot, so they understand too much. It’s just that people don’t want to talk because even if they want to, they can’t speak. Outspoken can be labeled as reactionary so they prefer to be silent.”

Police are the force protecting the Party

Minister of Public Security-General To Lam, at the 75th anniversary of the traditional day of the Vietnam Police, declared that his forces under his command were “absolutely loyal to the Fatherland, to the Party, to the State and People; fight heroically, sacrifice for independence, freedom, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, for the security of the country.”

Earlier, on July 30, in a conference of the police forces, Minister Lam also declared that the police force deserves to be a vital, reliable, sharp “swords” of the Party and the regime.

Immediately after Mr. Lam made the announcement, former captain Vo Minh Duc of the Vietnam People’s Army, confirmed to RFA that the Police forces have received huge financial investment from the state budget for professional building.

Former captain Vo Minh Duc affirmed through the statement of the head of the Vietnam Police Forces that the police forces are powerful to ensure the communist party’s political monopoly in Vietnam.

Journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, on the evening of August 18, also affirmed PM Phuc’s speech with similar implications:

That is to orientation and encouragement of the PM for the police forces. Their duties are to protect the Party and its government, not to care for the people.”

Former prisoner of conscience-journalist Nguyen Vu Binh explained his assertion:

Communism or real socialism has been around for too long and it accumulates people’s conflicts and discontent. It can be seen that millions of unjust people gathered in Hanoi. This is one of the expressions of dissatisfaction with the police and the authorities. These contradictions accumulate long term and are not fully resolved. Then the more to the end, the more increases and the ability of the people to rise will increase accordingly. So they worry about those things.”

Binh, who is a former editor of the Communist Magazine,  mentioned the fact that tens of thousands of people in many provinces and cities across Vietnam simultaneously protested on June 10, 2018, is a clear evidence of the concerns of the communist government. So the police forces have become important forces used by the regime to deal with the people, to protect the regime’s survival and the Party’s leadership.

The government mobilized a large number of forces to stop and arrest protesters.

PM Phuc reminded the Vietnamese Police to “respect the people, be close to the people, understand the people, and learn from the people” when the press reports that more and more cases of people die in the police station, many people have been harassed, arrested and sentenced to prison for their voices about China’s aggression in the South China Sea (Vietnamese call it the East Sea). Recently, the Ministry of Public Security issued circular providing police equipment from communes, wards, and towns with more guns and military weapons.

Democracy activist Dinh Quang Tuyen told RFA that through the new regulations of the police service and through the statement of the Minister of Public Security, it showed:

In my opinion, Minister Lam has a large force of his power spread across the country. Vietnam is a police state and police are everywhere. The police forces are given too much power and their power abuse will increase for sure.”

Meanwhile, the police forces will not work to ensure safety for citizens but more and more corrupted. Former captain Vo Minh Duc said of his record regarding this:

In reality of life in Vietnam, anyone who wants to enter the police and security school will even have a passing score but still have to pay money to enter school. After graduating, they have to pay for being assigned to some police agency. They continue to pay for being promoted. So during their work, they try to get money from citizens to cover that they have spent. Traffic police are one of the most corrupted groups because they have to pay a large amount of bribery for their jobs.”

Some people told RFA Radio that in the near future, people in Vietnam will have more concerns when the police proposals to add chips in their citizenship cards and give the right to criminal investigation for communal police are enforced. (Translated)