The method of conducting personnel work of the Communist Party of Vietnam is currently the biggest challenge and difficulty for domestic and international observers to make forecasts about the 13th National Congress of the CPV, as well as on the election of the country’s leadership at this congress, according to a Vietnamese political researcher from Hanoi.
Speaking with BBC News Vietnamese on September 28, 2020 from Hanoi, Dr. Ha Hoang Hop, guest senior researcher at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Iseas-Singapore) said:
“Up to now, the way of doing personnel of the VCP has been internal, there is no transparency, the people do not know, people know only what they say.”
“So that can be seen as the difficult, the most difficult, so the forecasts are analyzed at a very limited level because the party’s works are not transparent.”
“So in the near future there will be a 13th Plenum of the Central Committee scheduled for around October 5, then if the Communist Party of Vietnam publishes more information, then we may know more.”
“That is the most difficult thing because the party’s personnel follow the internal style, although the principles are also stated by the party. But saying the principles like that, we see that the preparation is not very detailed.”
“For example, it is said that the Central Committee is about 200 people, the number of the Politburo’s members varies from 17 to 19 people, the number of alternate members is about 20-25 people, their age is also announced.”
“But through what they announced like Decision 35, the previous directive 90, then the standard in directive 214, also shows that there is a gradual opening, more specifically, it may be to wait for more information, so if you are not careful, do not understand the principles, your prediction may be wrong.”
When asked to comment on comments that have been made by researchers and observers inside and outside Vietnam in the past and up to now, Mr. Ha Hoang Hop said:
“I see that people have made an effort, but people do not rely on what is official, almost people do not rely on what everyone hears.”
“So if we do and continue to do so, it will not clarify, concretize the research results or predictions.
“If it is not based on something very specific, such as the official statements of the Communist Party of Vietnam in the last 12th Central Conference, or before that, those predictions will surely be skewed or deviated from reality.
“Of course predicting, analyzing or researching is everyone’s right, especially forecasts about the current Vietnamese party congress, because the VCP is the ruling party, so the people of Vietnam though like it or not, more or less, will and will be concerned.
“Observing all the forecasts from the outside or from the inside over the past time, we can see that there are some forecasts that look very scientific, but to confirm these predictions, they are consistent with reality, with things that people don’t want to say or not, it’s easy to see that they don’t match.
“Meanwhile, the people, including party members who cannot directly elect leaders, see that here the party uses centralized democracy and people also use other principles such as the collective leadership based on convention preparation practices, is quite complex.”
“The 13th National Congress’s preparation started in August 2018, two years before the congress, it can be seen that in the Communist Party of Vietnam people have been very focused. However, the experience of the previous and recent congresses shows that it takes a lot of time to see clearly what candidates for important positions in the party are. For example, the ‘four pillars’ or ‘the three pillars’, or who is the General Secretary, who holds which seat in there.
“But looking at a simple way, it can be seen who will be candidates for the next Central Committee because the party congresses in lower level have determined who will be included in the delegates for the National Congress. The party congresses of the provinces and cities will elect the local party leaders who will be candidates for the Central Committee’s election in the National Congress.
“One more detail is that it seems that the 13th Congress will not be held in January 2021, but maybe one month later.”
“Forecasts are needed”
Despite the difficulties and challenges, but according to Dr. Ha Hoang Hop, the forecasting work in the political research and analysis is still waiting and he gives the reason.
“Prediction and forecast are essential because people care because those leaders are elected that will have an impact on the nation. But we see a few things, for example, that it was very clear that the 13th Congress was not a party convention, but would amend the Party Charter.
“Without having to change the party’s charter, one thing led to no one being allowed to hold a position for more than two consecutive terms, thereby further inferring the age and age issues related to health as well.
“Then if people don’t change the rules, then where else will they come from the ‘four pillars’ to‘ three-pillars.’ So if it turns out that the next convention will be the ‘trio’, it will become a funny prediction and prediction.”
“Thereby, to continue to guess that this man, that man will stay for a third term, the more humorous it will be. I just take an example that recently I saw people saying that in the case of Mr. Pham Binh Minh, that would remain the Minister of Foreign Affairs, it was not true, because he had done two terms, so he will not do the third term of Foreign Minister anymore, but what he will do, it has been planned up to now, but the plans are not officially announced, then it will be clearer to wait.”
“As for health, if you do not have enough health, it simply cannot be done, but the health regulations are very strict and inside people can not hide that health.”
“Another point in terms of age that ‘breaking the age ceiling’, up to now, there is still no idea that the age ceiling is removed, which is the upper limit on age, so people over 65 stay in the four pillars (like sitting General Secretary chair, etc…) which is not seen in more than one case.”
“However, there is also new information suggesting that the 13 Plenum might discuss that the number of people staying over 65 will be more than 1, for example, 3. And it is possible to quickly revise the Charter to have people work to the third term.”
What’s different from the previous congress?
When asked whether at the next 13th Congress has any difference or not compared to the previous one, in term of interest of analysts and forecasts about Vietnam’s politics, Mr. Ha Hoang Hop said:
“I see them the same, they still consider who is in the ‘Four Pillars’, and who is in the Politburo, mainly like that, and the Central Committee of the Party can still change.”
“In terms of quantity, seeing someone say the hard rule is 15 people for the Politburo, I don’t think there is any such regulation.”
“Right from the 7th or 6th Congress, the number of members of the Politburo was up to 18, 19 or 17, there is no regulation as 15 or 13 people.”
“So based on this supposed ‘hard rule’, analyzing, forecasting, and speaking will become misleading, a vague and unwarranted.”
“As for taking care of the individuals is absolutely correct, because it is related to whether the individual is in a position to infer, predict whether that individual will be able to do the job, or how much he/she can do it, it is a perfectly reasonable concern.”
“But the basis of what one can do is actually difficult to know because ordinary people cannot know what capacity they really have.”
“Or people are also interested and see that nothing is accidental if there is a phenomenon of politicians from the same country, or coming from a region because one more principle is to be sure regional structure through which many people in the same places can hold positions in the Central Committee or at a higher level such as positions in major party committees or in the Politburo or Secretariat.
“Then people were also interested and saw an important thing about human relations and national foreign affairs, now that put someone who has no experience as in foreign affairs to work on the exception that no one does, unless one has a certain reason that he or she does not have to work in foreign affairs, but works in two areas that are directly related to foreign affairs.
“Because foreign affairs have two other things to do with defense and security, it is obvious that the defense, security, and foreign affairs group are an extremely important group, so if someone can be sent out as diplomacy for a country that is not, for example, a diplomat, it must be someone who has been involved in foreign affairs, but in the bloc, or the defense and security sector, that might be a big possibility, although there have been exceptions in the past,” Dr. Ha Hoang Hop said.