COVID-19 in Vietnam: inequality in handling violations

In the morning of August 23, soldiers were present at most of the checkpoints.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak re-emerged in April 2021, the Vietnamese government has stepped up handling and even prosecuting those who are believed to have violated anti-epidemic regulations, spreading COVID-19 to the community. This treatment is considered to be a deterrent and to help control the disease quickly.

It was noticeable when the Go Vap District Police Investigation Agency issued a decision on May 29 to prosecute a criminal case for the crime of “spreading dangerous infectious diseases to people” related to Renaissance Missionary Church. Authorities accused this church of failing to comply with health regulations on COVID-19 prevention and control, causing the disease to spread to the community.

However, many people on social media at that time said that at the time of the incident, the city did not have regulations on social distancing, church members did not know they were infected and where they got it from…

Or at the beginning of August, 12 Facebook account holders were sanctioned by the Vietnamese government for allegedly providing, sharing and posting false information, causing confusion among people about epidemic prevention in. Ho Chi Minh City and Vinh City.

The 12 people mentioned above are accused of violating Decree 15, but this Decree has been criticized by human rights organizations for being a tool to suppress the voice of the people, threatening freedom of expression on the social networks.

State-controlled newspapers, when reporting on sanctions for spreading false information, mostly do not say what content has violated anti-epidemic regulations that social network users have posted.

Ngoc Bich, living in Binh Tan district, Ho Chi Minh City, said that so far, people have always suffered from many grievances:

In my opinion, it is not only the fight against the epidemic this time, but so far, whenever there is a problem between the regime officials and the people, the people will always be the one to suffer and be dealt with first. And when it comes to state officials, ones blames others.

And if you touch someone’s politics, interests, money, they will find someone to stand out like a sacrificial peg.

A leader of Ho Chi Minh City was also successful in that after the fight against the epidemic was unsuccessful according to the government’s initial commitments, he was dismissed and pushed away. Absolutely nothing to say about anti-epidemic shortcomings, failures or anything.”

For officials who violate the epidemic control, even if it is serious, many cases are only temporarily suspended from work. Typically, a group of officials in Binh Dinh went to play golf, while the province has suspended all sports and cultural activities under Directive 15 to fight the epidemic.

Or at the beginning of August 2021, the Department of Health of Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in the country, in just one day issued three documents, withdrew two… All three of these documents were said to have serious errors. but there is still no information on who to handle or discipline.

Lawyer Dang Dinh Manh from Saigon said:

Clearly there is inequality between the government sector and the private sector. People are immediately sanctioned and fined when they are found to have committed violations, but in the public sector, the government has jobs that later are found to be not good and were revoked which means that there are mistakes but any state officials were punished.”

However, attorney Manh also pointed out a positive point to be noted in the government’s correction of errors. Even so, the wrong policies still cause certain disturbances:

The regulations and policies that are to be applied are often changed and corrected. That in itself also causes skepticism of the people towards the work of the government. It seems that they are very confused with having the right policies. Because of the confusion, it leads to the situation of closing, opening and closing again.”

Delegate of the National Assembly (NA) Le Thanh Van – Standing Committee of Finance and Budget Committee, on August 9, 2021, said that the inspection and issuance of travel permits of people in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and some others provinces have many disadvantages. The review of documents at some checkpoints makes these places become crowded gathering places, contradicting the regulations on social distancing under Directive 16. In which ‘people isolating from people’ is an important content. Especially, at the checkpoints, there is a traffic jam.

Not only that, the issuance of papers also endangers people when too many people focus on applying for papers. Not to mention the cumbersome procedure that makes many people wait for more than four hours and still have no papers.

So the disease spreads among thousands of people waiting for the papers, who will be punished and prosecuted? Journalist Nguyen Vu Binh when answering RFA on August 31 said:

For communist countries in general and the Vietnamese government in particular, their policy is to never admit to being wrong. Although going into practice is very inadequate, and clearly wrong a lot. Now social networks are developed and people can also express many opinions, which are reasonable and close to reality.

While the wrong policies of the state, they do not admit but only replace them with other policies, but when people violate their policies, they handle them very harshly, that is their ancient tradition.

So when fighting against the epidemic, the reality is very harsh for people. As for the authorities and cadres, if they make mistakes, they only learn from experience, they have been like that ever since.”

As for journalist Vo Van Tao, when answering RFA from Nha Trang on August 31, he said that because people are used to accepting government control:

Under the political system of the communist state, there is always iron discipline, the people are afraid, the government does not respect human rights, the people are resigned to being used to it… so they only resort to action. social distancing to prevent the spread of the disease.

In the last year, this measure was considered good in the context of Vietnam… but this year it is not effective or very effective. Scientists and people all know that gathering in large numbers is easy to spread the disease…. On the occasion of April 30, the government encouraged the organization of ceremonies and outings without warning or preventing action. ”

According to journalist Vo Van Tao, serious mistakes are improper decisions such as mass testing, vaccination also crowded, then blocking the road to cause congestion, or blocking people from returning to the province and then releasing them. to make it difficult for the people… He continued:

It is true that such clumsy decisions are not strictly handled, but they are not completely light even if the state does not say it.

For example, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Phong was transferred, but everyone understands that this is a dismissal. Or the director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health was dismissed and his deputy took over.

There is such a handling, but it is clearly not strict, the punishment is very gentle compared to the consequences that caused thousands of people in Ho Chi Minh City to die from the disease.”

On August 20, Vietnam’s state-controlled media simultaneously published information that the Politburo of the Communist Party of Vietnam decided to let Mr. Nguyen Thanh Phong resign from the position of Deputy Secretary of the City Party Committee for the 2020-2025 term and Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee for the 2021-2026 term.

After that, the state press also announced that Mr. Nguyen Tan Binh – Director of the Health Department of Ho Chi Minh City would retire, and his deputy, Mr. Tang Chi Thuong, would take over.

However, the Vietnamese government did not disclose the reason for the transfer of these two officials. Public opinion said that these two leaders lost their positions because they could not control the epidemic in Ho Chi Minh City.

Minister Mai Tien Dung, Chairman of the Government Office, when talking about the Dong Tam case at the Government’s regular press conference on May 4, 2017, surprised many people with the statement: “If I am wrong, I will apologize to the people. If the people make mistakes, the people must be held accountable before the law.”

This can be considered the position of the State of Vietnam that the law only applies to the people.

The actual situation also proves this statement from time immemorial. Therefore, with the observations from the people to the government, especially during the recent anti-epidemic period, the cause is attributed to people actively searching for information online to ensure the health of their families. , as well as monitoring the leadership’s anti-epidemic approach, many think that this will be the first step to promote the Hanoi government to be more complete.

Sharing the same view, Lawyer Manh commented:

This is a good opportunity and hopefully people’s attention will stay as soon as the epidemic passes because if people pay close attention to all activities of the government, it will certainly have a more positive government impact.”

In addition to the above optimistic opinions, many people are still concerned that whether the people are monitoring or not, the country’s leaders will always have a way to cope, because in reality the people do not have the right to own any what happened,” as Ngoc Bich told RFA. (Translated)


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