Before the 13th National Congress of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), leaked information says that Minister of Defense Ngo Xuan Lich who no longer stays in the Politburo will retire and his position will be given to someone else’s hand.
Before the 13th National Congress quite far, on January 29, 2019, at that time, Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong conferred the title of general to Mr. To Lam, Minister of Public Security, and Mr. Luong Cuong, director of the General Political Department of the People’s Army of Vietnam. Luong Cuong is a name that is considered to be a promising figure. Everyone knows that To Lam is an effective arm for Nguyen Phu Trong in many difficult cases like Trinh Xuan Thanh. It can be said that Mr. To Lam was a god under Nguyen Phu Trong. However, Luong Cuong was an army general, but he was a general specialized in propaganda, so he was not known by the people as much as Tô Lâm. Standing in line with To Lam to receive the rank of general given by Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong is also seen, the importance of Luong Cuong to Nguyen Phu Trong is not simple.
Although Mr. Luong Cuong works as a propaganda officer in the army, speaking about his ideology, Mr. Luong Cuong is the one who takes the responsibility of imparting the thoughts of the party leader to all officers in the army. From the position of work, Mr. Luong Cuong is clearly a person close to Mr. Trong, not a stranger. Mr. Cuong is not as popular as Tô Lâm because Mr. Cuong did not arrest big cases like Tô Lâm.
According to Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper, “the Party and State’s promotion of the rank of General to Mr. To Lam and Mr. Luong Cuong shows the deep trust and concern of the Party, State and people in the armed forces; It is a recognition and appreciation of the important contributions made by each person to the cause of building and developing the army and the police as well as in the national construction and defense.” At that time, it was difficult to distinguish who had a more important role to Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong.
Luong Cuong is losing his advantage, why?
For individuals who can be replaced are very difficult to keep their advantages, and for individuals who play irreplaceable roles are very difficult to lose their advantages. Mr. To Lam is a very important figure to Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong, so it is appreciated that To Lam will retain the position of Minister of Public Security. So is Luong Cuong as important to Nguyen Phu Trong as To Lam?
Propaganda in the army is a very necessary job, but that does not mean that Mr. Luong Cuong cannot be replaced but that there are many other options. Recently, Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong appointed Lieutenant General Nguyen Trong Nghia, deputy director of the General Department of Politics of the Vietnam People’s Army as head of the Central Commission for Propaganda and Education. Mr. Nghia and Mr. Luong Cuong are members of the same propaganda branch in the Army, so through this reminder, Nguyen Phu Trong has more affection for Nguyen Trong Nghia than Luong Cuong. According to observers, in the middle of the 13th term, Mr. Trong will bring Mr. Nguyen Trong Nghia to the Politburo to prepare for a higher structure. What about Mr. Luong Cuong? He already has the rank of general, and as a member of the Politburo, what position he will get?
Initially, when Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong granted the rank of general to Mr. Luong Cuong, according to that, Ngo Xuan Lich’s age by 2021 was over 65 years old, it seemed that there was no chance to hold the position of defense minister. At that time, public opinion stirred that, Mr. Luong Cuong is the person that Nguyen Phu Trong will structure to hold the position of Minister of Defense instead of Mr. Ngo Xuan Lich. However, at the 14th Plenum held in mid-December 2020, the leaked news showed that a new character emerged in the Ministry of National Defense, Phan Van Giang. When the 13th Congress took place, both Mr. Phan Van Giang and Mr. Luong Cuong and Mr. Luong Cuong were elected to the Politburo and at that time the Ministry of Defense appeared two tigers. So fighting for the title of Minister is inevitable. However, according to the recent press release, the activities of Chief of Staff Phan Van Giang are very popular, most of which he replaced the role of Minister Ngo Xuan Lich. According to knowledgeable people, Phan Van Giang now has an advantage over Luong Cuong.
Where is the possibility of Mr. Luong Cuong being transferred?
Currently, it is likely that Mr. Luong Cuong will sit in one of the following three positions: First is the seat of Minister of Defense; second is to sit back as head of the General Political Department of the Vietnam People’s Army; third is the Standing Vice Chairman of the National Assembly. It is necessary to fully analyze 3 possibilities to know where Mr. Luong Cuong will go, and the transfer of Luong Cuong, of course, people also understand the intention of Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong today.
Regarding the seat of Defense Minister, although Mr. Luong Cuong still has a chance, that chance is getting narrower because he stumbles on a too strong opponent, Mr. Phan Van Giang. The press has recently indicated that Mr. Phan Van Giang will replace Mr. Ngo Xuan Lich, the incumbent Minister General.
Regarding the seat of the General Political Department, Mr. Luong Cuong has a rather high chance to stay when the brightest face can replace him as the head of the General Political Department, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Trong Nghia, was transferred by Nguyen Phu Trong to be the head of the Central Commission on Propaganda and Education. A little bit tricky is, the longstanding Defense Ministry rule is that there is only one Politburo member for the minister. As a member of the Politburo, it is difficult for Mr. Luong Cuong to be approved by the Politburo to stay in his current post.
The position of the Standing Vice Chairman of the National Assembly remains, the post that Mrs. Tong Thi Phong previously sat in. The standard of this chair is a member of the Politburo, but in real power, this seat is the worst, inferior to the position of Minister of Defense and even less than the head of the Political General Department of the People’s Army of Vietnam. If pushed to the seat of the Standing Vice Chairman of the National Assembly, Mr. Luong Cuong is considered as an eagle with his wings cut off, unable to fly far and hunting anymore.
Nguyen Phu Trong both punches and rubs Luong Cuong, the game is quite aggressive.
On October 5, 2015, before the 12th National Congress, then-President Truong Tan Sang promoted to the rank of general to two men, Do Ba Ty and Ngo Xuan Lich. At that time, Do Ba Ty held the position of chief of staff of the Vietnam People’s Army while Ngo Xuan Lich was the director of the General Political Department of the Vietnam People’s Army.
Public opinion bet on Do Ba Ty rather than Ngo Xuan Lich because Ty is a true army general, and Ngo Xuan Lich is a propaganda general and not very suitable for the position of minister. However, the opinion of the public is not necessarily correct, because inside the Communist Party there are competing interest groups, whichever group is strong, the people of that group will rise, not judging by the management capacity.
At the 12th Congress of 2016, Mr. Ngo Xuan Lich was elected as a member of the Politburo and Mr. Do Ba Ty did not, that result was considered a fall. Mr. Ngo Xuan Lich kicked Mr. Do Ba Ty out of his post as Minister of National Defense. To comfort, Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong pushed Mr. Do Ba Ty to be the deputy to Ms. Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, an unrealistic title. The act of not letting Mr. Do Ba Ty sit back in the position of the Chief of Staff was a very strong punch from Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong to Mr. Ty. The act of changing Mr. Ty to the vice-chairman of the National Assembly was the act of alleviating the pain of losing the power of the defeated General Do Ba Ty. Mr. Trong is very smart, knows how to beat and rub so that the loser does not have to be mad and make a counterattack.
The current case of Mr. Luong Cuong is quite similar to that of Mr. Do Ba Ty before. The door to the minister’s seat was too narrow because it stumbled on a strong opponent like Phan Van Giang. And as judged by the knowledgeable, Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong is supporting Phan Van Giang and abandoning Luong Cuong. However, if he supports Luong Cuong in the Politburo, he must arrange a suitable post for him? The position of chief of staff is only for members of the Central Committee, that is why Luong Cuong must be chosen for the appropriate post. That position is the Standing Vice Chairman of the National Assembly left by Ms. Tong Thi Phong. A position is also innocuous. If this is the correct scenario, once again Mr. Trong hit and rubbed. For Mr. Luong Cuong, not being placed for the minister post is painful, and arranged for the position of Standing Vice Chairman of the National Assembly to be rubbed.
What is the future of Mr. Luong Cuong?
When the power is lost, it is considered that the opportunity for advancement has ended. In the case of Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Trong Nghia, he went from the army to the Secretariat and then Head of the Central Commission for Propaganda and Education, it is going up. I stay in the Ministry of Defense, you have to get the position of Minister to hopefully go up. In the case of Mr. Luong Cuong, winning the position of minister, although the results are still not over, his ability to win against Phan Van Giang is quite difficult.
Most of those who were pushed through the National Assembly considered power had gone down because there was no real power here. The tallest person who is the chairman of the National Assembly is still the person with the lowest power of the four pillars. The National Assembly of this state is actually only symbolic because it only knows how to vote according to the party’s policy, which folk often scoff at as “the rubber parliament.” Therefore, if Mr. Luong Cuong is pushed to the seat of the standing vice-chairman of the National Assembly, his future will be considered to end.
Currently, the war between Luong Cuong and Phan Van Giang is not over yet, it will be clear until the 2nd Plenum of the Vietnamese Communist Party which will take place in late May or early June. Now, all problems are just analysis, not 100% accurate, but it is only highly likely that it will happen in such a direction. If you want to be exact, wait 3 months and it will be clear.