Personnel issues of 13th National Congress: Concerns on transparency

The 13th National Congress of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) is scheduled to be held in Hanoi from January 25

The 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) is about to open on January 25, 2021 and last one week. On this occasion, a number of observers of Vietnam’s politics from abroad and at home share some of their comments on congress preparation and the party senior personnel issues.

From Leiden University in the Netherlands, Associate Professor Jonathan London said that the CPV’s senior personnel issue is like a “black box” and hopes that people will soon know and have their role:

The problem in Vietnam is that every five years we have to try to look at a black box and the human resource issue in Vietnam is unpredictable.

This time there are many comments, for example no southerner is on the Four Pillars but all of them from Nghe An, Thanh Hoa, Hanoi etc …, it is also interesting for an observer like me.

There are also people who specialize in issues that they are close to such as economics, I see, for example, that the prime minister is often said to understand much economics.

Perhaps for the person who was recommended to be appointed as Prime Minister to replace Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Pham Minh Chinh, this helped.

Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong is not a charismatic person like Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin etc., so the question of the risk of having a cult of personality is not high, I think.

The problem is whether his activities are effective or not. Apparently, he is working hard to reinforce his priorities for the near future of Vietnam, so as everyone I can see there is no surprise, and the policies of Vietnam will continue.

I, like everyone else, ask that when Vietnam will have a more open and transparent mechanism for the Vietnamese people to express their opinions, or to have a certain role.

Because choosing the country’s leadership by this way, although it can be seen as having strengths, the consequence is that the Vietnamese people find that they have not yet participated in their country’s politics. So I hope that gradually Vietnam will have a better mechanism.

No surprises?

General Secretary, State President Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan wishing the old people to revolution, leaders and former leaders of the Party and State

From the Institute of Policy and Development of Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment, Associate Professor Pham Quy Tho said that there was speculation in the public about the senior personnel plan and this proposed plan seems to be “No surprise” if passed at the 13th Congress and he further explained why:

According to the leaked information everywhere, now the “Four Pillars” personnel plan of the Congress have been determined, of course this information is not official but even if anyone knows it, it is only a proposal and the final results will be determined after the delegates vote.

But it is rumored that General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong will continue to stay next term as General Secretary while incumbent Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is expected to be State President and Mr. Pham Minh Chinh – the current head of the Party Central Commission on Organization is expected to be next PM, and Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue, the current secretary of Hanoi Party Committee, would take the role of the chairman of the National Assembly of the National Assembly in the 15th tenure which will be formed in June after the general election in May.

There are also a lot of opinions around this, but I think when the Politburo and the Central Committee of the 12th term have made a decision, then in the official Congress, there are two points to say like this: One is that there will be no surprises, because according to the decision on the election regulations in the party in 2014, the nomination and candidacy once decided, must be obeyed.

And today (January 21), the current Deputy Head of the Central Commission on Organization Nguyen Thanh Binh said that now who introduce in this Congress that differs from the opinion of the Central Committee, they must be responsible for those who to be introduced next.

I think people want to reiterate how that decision 224 also works on regulating the party’s current party’s electoral and nomination regulations.

Lack of woman’s shadow?

Every five years, the CPV holds a national congress to adopt high-level personnel, lines and strategies.

From Leeds, UK, former television director and freelance journalist Song Chi raised her perspective and questioned the party’s democracy in the selection of personnel preparing for the election at the Congress, next to Criteria such as region and the role of women in the Four pillars structure:

Not only the 13th Congress, but all the party congresses up to now are closed and party members make their own choices and decisions together, and the people outside are only allowed to guess.

But it is worth mentioning recently that the party’s personnel issues have become classified as top secret, so the people talk about it, sometimes even being punished for holding discussion, so it is a very undemocratic process.

And if the “leaked” information from the outside just now, as mentioned by Associate Professor Pham Quy Tho, such external speculation shows a lot of problems. The first is that this time there are two individuals over 65 years old, Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong and Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who are retained as special cases.

In the case of Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong, he has been General Secretary for the last two consecutive terms and if he will remain for the 3rd tenure, it will break the party’s charter. And we see that China, for example, the Chinese parliament has also amended the country’s Constitution so that Xi Jinping can become the President for life, and on the Russian side, the parliament has also amended the Constitution to let Vladimir Putin to remain in power until 2036, after his term ends in 2024, but it is fixed first, but in Vietnam it is possible to go even further, that is to complete and then repair. …

Secondly, according to the regional structure, it is clear that there are three regions of Central, South, and North always divided in the Pillar, but in this period there does not seem to be a Southern character in those four positions, At the same time there is another thing that in the four nominations, there seems to be no female presence.

The old way of risk?

There have been many changes in the high-ranking personnel of the CPV since the 12th Congress until now

Also on this occasion, some other observers and commentators on Vietnamese news and politics from within the country shared with the BBC their comments and feelings about the upcoming Congress.

From Hanoi National University, historian Le Van Sinh commented to BBC:

I think that the way of selecting the high-ranking personnel of the Communist Party of Vietnam up to now is still in the traditional way, similar to the styles of the former Soviet Union or China today.

Choosing whom is the prerogative of the leadership group, not of the people. So health and what belongs to the individual leader becomes top secret, top secret is not strange, must be.

This recruitment method is more advanced than the authoritarian monarchy, but backward and out of tune compared to today’s civilized democratic countries.

Appointing a social administrator from the bottom to the top of the Party, as we can see, has removed the people’s right to choose their leader. Consequently, in my opinion, the party can only choose someone who suits it, not necessarily by the people to believe and love.

Secondly, the country’s talent for social governance is wasted, officials use money to lobby for higher positions, regional leaders appoint their relatives in key positions of their areas, is closely linked with this method of recruiting staff like a shadow.

And finally, thirdly there is great risk, as evidenced by many high-ranking cadres from Politburo members, Party Central Commissioners, ministers, vice ministers, military generals and police selected, promoted at the 12th  Congress were disciplined by the Party and the government.

From the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, Dr. Mai Thanh Son said:

I find the workforce planning for the 13th Congress seems to be more difficult than the previous congresses. The proof is that more plenums were needed for this than in the previous congresses.

And if the information floating on the social network is correct, the leaders of the CPV need to review the security work, and also the loyalty of those who know the content of the plenums.

If everyone were truly loyal to the Party and followed the Party’s discipline, the information would never be leaked out so quickly. Since then, it is not difficult to predict and discuss the possibility of existence of the informants in the Party.

Regarding the story of “four pillars,” I find something a little funny. The selection of General Secretary is of course the story of the Party’s internal affairs, of each Congress. But the positions of the President of the National Assembly, State President, and Prime Minister are the people’s affairs, through their representatives who are the National Assembly members.

The arrangement of such positions before the new National Assembly is elected will inevitably make many people skeptical about the real role of the people and the nature of socialist democracy in Vietnam. (Translated)


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