Dealing with COVID-19: Challenges during leadership transition in Vietnam

Dealing with COVID-19 pandemic was emphasized by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong as the “immediate key task” of the Vietnamese leadership system.

The new wave of pandemics taking place in Vietnam during the Lunar New Year or Tet is posing one of the biggest challenges for the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), according to an analysis by a Vietnamese public policy expert, when it falls into the power transition period.

The 13th National Congress of the party basically shaped its top-level leadership structure for the next five years, with Nguyen Phu Trong being re-elected for a third term as the party’s leader. However, in order to get a complete executive apparatus, it is necessary to wait until the next session of the National Assembly, which is expected to take place on February 22.

Power transition

The gap is from the party congress to the meeting of the parliament to have new state and government. This gap often occurs in the twilight of the term, which means that the officials who were not re-elected for the next term but  still hold positions until the parliament meeting, so they can take advantage of the time for their personal interests,” said Assoc. Professor Pham Quy Tho, a public policy expert from Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment.

During the Tet meeting to congratulate the high-ranking leaders on February 9, Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong emphasized the “immediate central task” of the Vietnamese leadership system as “effective prevention of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

This task has also been repeated continuously by a number of other senior leaders since the 13th Congress, when the new wave of pandemics caused the number of COVID-19 infections in Vietnam to increase with the highest speed.

Despite the above prompts and urges, according to PhD Pham Quy Tho, the status of the impending official neglect of the responsibility to fight the epidemic is an unavoidable fact at the “twilight of term,” and this will contribute to increasing the risk of an outbreak in Vietnam next time.

People are afraid of such officials that when pandemics break out like this, their anti-epidemic responsibilities may be distracted, not really having the same work ethic as they did when they began a term,” PhD Pham Quy Tho said.


As of the evening of February 12, Vietnam reported 2,142 cases of COVID-19 infection, of which 520 new infections were reported in many provinces during the third wave that began on January 27.

This wave of danger has been fully alarmed, that is, the application of directives 15, 16 from the previous anti-epidemic phase, allowing the strongest measures to be applied, can block a whole city is like the second outbreak in Danang.”

According to this researcher, the subjectivity of many people in Vietnam, derived from the government’s reassurance in epidemic prevention in recent years, is a factor contributing to the high risk of outbreaks of the epidemic in this new wave, in addition to possible objective reasons for the viral strain variable.

Fire test gold

It may be a while before it can be controlled, but the spread like this makes the government seem confused because Vietnam is a poor country. Medical capacity is also limited,” PhD. Pham Quy Tho made a comment to VOA.

For example, Chi Linh city in Hai Duong province cannot afford to set up a field hospital like Danang. So when the pandemic broke out in Chi Linh, people had to dismantle the field hospital in Danang to move to Hai Duong, with a total of about 500 beds. Thus, local capacity is insufficient to deal with outbreak or the medical capacity to treat COVID patients.”

Not to mention the potential risks of security, politics, society, with only negative impacts that are visible above, according to PhD. Pham Quy Tho, the prevention of the COVID-19 epidemic, more than ever, has become one of the biggest challenges facing Vietnam’s new leadership during this term.

Whether people have more faith or less faith in this (leadership) apparatus or not, that is the most visible challenge“, PhD. Pham Quy Tho said.

Although propaganda can be very effective, success or not, it will be a challenge or a test of the pandemic to the current system’s ability to fight the epidemic at the same time promote or maintain the economic growth that people set for 2021 is about 6%. I am afraid that this target cannot be achieved, or if it is met it cannot be sustainable.

Last week, shortly after being awarded the decision to appoint the head of Central Economic Commission, Politburo member and Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh told the press that 2021 will be a year of “tough test for the leadership” due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the advantages from the Trade Agreements that Vietnam has signed over the past year.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, at the meeting with the Steering Committee for the prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic on February 8, asked officials to “mobilize all forces to thoroughly stamp out the epidemic, speed it up, tracing, and testing on a large scale” to quickly control the situation.

Celebrating the Lunar New Year in 2021 in the atmosphere of worrying about Covid-19

In the immediate future, in Asia, governments and people are cautiously celebrating Tet. Most activities to celebrate the Lunar New Year have been reduced in scale due to strict measures because disease outbreaks have resumed in the days near Tet.

In Vietnam, domestic media recorded a quiet New Year’s Eve atmosphere in two major cities, Hanoi and Saigon. Capital residents walking around on a bicycle to enjoy a rare peace of the street, as observed by VnExpress.

Mr. Dung, a resident of Hanoi, said the atmosphere was in place on the first day of the year.

In Saigon, Ms. Thanh Minh, said that the pace of life seems to be normal, but people are still cautious about restricting travel during Tet.

“New Year’s Eve is quieter than other years. People often go to the street less, only make rice cakes in the house. This year, people just stay at home and make phone calls to celebrate Tet.

Business activities are still normal. Only where people with F1, or F0, patients enter the restaurant, that shop will be closed.

People hesitate to go out or go back to the countryside. They are afraid of being the blockaded. In short, people are conscious, do not travel much and are limited, like my family too, are planning to go out but also have to review whether or not to go. (Translated)


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