Vietnam’s state president is a nominal position without real power. Minister of Public Security To Lam was said to reject to seat on. Because of having no real power, President Tran Dai Quang died mysteriously while his successor Nguyen Xuan Phuc was forced to regign.
Mr. Vo Van Thuong was an assistant to General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, everyone knows that. When Thuong became State President, his power was no better than that of his predecessor Nguyen Xuan Phuc before. The difference is that Thuong is supported by Trong while Phuc is considered by the party chief as “a thorn in the eye.”
Before being deposed, there was a period when Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc went to work anywhere and was followed by Phan Dinh Trac as a supervisor. Phan Dinh Trac followed in the name of Standing Deputy of the Steering Central Committee for Judicial Reform in which Phuc was its head. When Phuc visited Japan to attend late Prime Minister Abe’s funeral, he was forced to travel with commercial flight. Phuc was attacked but he was unable to defend himself.
Perhaps the case of Thuong is different from Phuc because Mr. Thuong does not have a big enemy like Phuc, but on the contrary, Mr. Thuong has a too strong sponsor. Thuong will not be despised by others like Phuc was.
After 10 days of sitting on the president position, Thuong marched into Saigon on the occasion of the review of 10 years of implementation of the National Defense Strategy in Ho Chi Minh City. He was followed by senior officials such as: Le Khanh Hai – Member of the Party Central Committee, Chairman of the President’s Office; Pham Hoai Nam – Senior Lieutenant General, Member of the Party Central Committee, Deputy Minister of National Defense; Tran Viet Khoa- Senior Lieutenant General, Member of the Party Central Committee, Director of the National Defense Academy; Lieutenant General Nguyen Hai Hung – Lieutenant General, Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly’s Committee on Defense and Security.
Thus, accompanying Mr. Vo Van Thuong were both representatives of the Defense Ministry and the National Assembly. Receiving Mr. Vo Van Thuong must also be commensurate. On the side of Military Zone 7 was Nguyen Truong Thang – Lieutenant General, Member of the Party Central Committee, Commander of Military Zone 7. On the side of Ho Chi Minh City, there was Mr. Nguyen Van Nen, Secretary of the City Party Committee, Phan Van Mai – Standing Deputy Secretary of the City Party Committee and Chairman of the City People’s Committee, Nguyen Thi Le – Deputy Secretary of the City Party Committee, Chairwoman of the City People’s Council, and Nguyen Ho Hai – Deputy Secretary of the City Party Committee.
Unlike his predecessor who was monitored everywhere he went, Thuong pulled his troops into the South, showing that he was being followed by many people who want to make close relations with him.
Then why is there such a big difference between Thuong and Phuc? That is the prestige of Nguyen Phu Trong. As the person who was cleared by the party chief, everyone wants to be friend with Thuong. Maybe Thuong is not powerful enough to grant titles and benefits, but his opinion with Nguyen Phu Trong has no small weight.
HCM City’s party chief Nguyen Van Nen is Trong’s extended arm, it’s obvious, but what about Phan Van Mai? He also needs connection to the General Secretary to be safer, or have a greater chance. But contacting the General Secretary is not easy. Thuong is a young Southerner anyway, and it is easier for him to support Southerners.
It seems that Vo Van Thuong is not weak even though his position is only formal one. If he confronts PM Chinh, he can cause great difficulties for the government leader.