The Diplomat on April 15 had an article titled “Vietnam’s Great Debate over Democracy.” The content mentioned that the Vietnamese Government needs to carry out the second political reform so the country can resolve internal ideological conflicts and make a difference between the communist regimes of Vietnam and China.
At the beginning of the article, the author gives the effect of Vietnam’s economic reform since the late 1980s, which has created an economic opportunity to help millions of people out of poverty.
However, after three decades of economic growth, Vietnam is now facing consequences related to environmental degradation, inequality, and the loss of state resources due to corruption and other consequences which become more and more serious.
Therefore, many opinions suggest that Vietnam needs a second political reform.
Still according to the opinion stated in the article, if new political institutions and practices are allowed to emerge and lead to new ways of governance and new policy ideas, the economy may turn to activities that are more open and innovative based on science and technology.
Talking with RFA on the evening of April 15, Dr. Le Dang Doanh, former Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, commented as follows:
“I think that Vietnam is now at a much higher level than when it started its economic reform. Vietnam is also deeply integrated with the global economy, the industrial revolution 4.0, the digital economy with more opportunities but at the same time is also a great challenge for Vietnam to transition to a digital economy, digital society, and digital government.
I think Vietnam needs to take measures for a second reform. In which, apart from the things I mentioned above, other challenges must also be mentioned such as climate change, sea-level rise, saline intrusion in the Mekong Delta, and drought in the Central region, etc.
Therefore, there is a need for an efficient, compact, and innovative government that supports innovative ideas, which can create a certain degree of risk, but are important innovations that Vietnam needs to move forward in revolution 4.0 and integrate into the world.”
According to The Diplomat, institutional reforms that are underway in Vietnam but are usually only at the administrative level, promoted by simplifying regulations and laws to avoid overlap and duplication.
Concepts such as the power separation of three branches of civil society are still considered taboo by the Government. Although the concept of democracy has been formally mentioned as one of the country’s strategic priorities, along with justice and civilization, democratization remains a politically sensitive term because of the regime’s fear that it will lead to political pluralism, threatening the stability of the one-party system in Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the Government is recognized that it always believes with certainty that the current political unity institution is preeminent and cannot be changed.
The author of the article argues that a dynamic way of thinking about governance reform is to accept and create favorable conditions for people to participate in the affairs of the country, whether directly or indirectly. Governments should reflect the interests of the people to protect the right of any individual to participate in political and public life.
From Saigon, musician Le Thieu pointed out the current reality of Vietnamese society compared to the call in the article on The Diplomat:
“The myth, not possible, cannot be implemented now because the current Vietnamese regime is a one-party totalitarian one. Recently, there are a number of citizens who have gone to stand for election, are either arrested or disqualified from the first round, so it is completely impossible for people to participate in political politics. The leaders can say that but they never let that happen in the current Vietnamese regime.”
Recently, the Cham poet – Dong Chuong Tu, whose real name is Nguyen Quoc Huy, was detained on April 7 for questioning by the security agency after expressing his personal opinion about self-nomination for National Assembly to represent the Cham ethnic people in the parliament.
Before that, Mr. Le Trong Hung, a National Assembly campaigner, was also arrested by Hanoi Police on March 29 with charges of “Making, storing, distributing or propagating information, documents, and articles aimed at combating the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the 2015 Criminal Code.
Facebooker Tran Quoc Khanh, 61 years old, on March 10, was also arrested and detained by Ninh Binh Provincial Police, accused of being accused of posting and broadcasting live information that distorted and defamed the Vietnamese government. Mr. Khanh was arrested after he declared himself candidacy of the 15th tenure National Assembly.
Mr. Tran Quoc Khanh when making Livestream on the Rule of Law on Facebook on March 6, 2021 (Fb)
With decades of social observation experience, Ph.D. Nguyen Quang A, Director of IDS Institute for Development Studies (dissolved) from Hanoi, said:
“The Vietnamese people in Vietnam have discussed the second reform, ie political reform for a long time, not just recently. The Communist Party of Vietnam at times says that the reform is two-legged, economic and political.
That is the matter that people have raised the issue, it is very regrettable that such voice has faded, especially in the past 5-6 years, since the second term of Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong after he suppressed other voices in the party.”
Still, according to Ph.D. Nguyen Quang A, the contribution of the people and the voice of the people involved in the country’s major problems has been increasingly suppressed.
The author of the article published on The Diplomat said that the radical intellectuals speculate that the Vietnamese communist government has no model other than the one implemented by the Chinese Communist Party.
Accordingly, China’s stability depends on restricting people’s participation in political life and the government’s control over information, the people, and the political party’s legitimacy. The weakness comes from decades of economic growth and more recently through geopolitical attacks, especially in the South China Sea, Hongkong, and Taiwan.
The Chinese state is expected to continuously strengthen social and political control in the country to prevent any loss of power or perception of a threat to power.
However, Vietnam does not need to fall into the precarious and tense situation mentioned above, through the fact that Vietnam has opened up and accepted the path towards democracy, the intellectuals, the government, and the people can join together to accept the qualities of civic participation as a governing principle in which the power of the people is paramount.
At that time, Vietnamese intellectuals and the Government will regain their own advantages, from which the advantage of open and practical discussion, considering every possible opportunity. This will differentiate Vietnam from China.
Recognizing the issue just mentioned, Ph.D. Nguyen Quang A said that Vietnam does follow the Chinese communist model, but if you look closely at the current political situation of Vietnam, you will see some similarities, but not at all. However, the issue of how to make Vietnam more and more autonomous and developing needs more attention through:
“People should have their right to speak more, only constructively, point them out, let conservatives like Mr. Trong know how to do so is wrong for the country and encourage people inside the system to have away. See your progress, promote your voice. That we call the party campaign.”
Dr. Nguyen Quang A also affirmed that if people remain indifferent, it will make the party stay inactive and would not change.