News / Asia

Corruption Trials Reveal Political Rift in Vietnam

FILE - Anti-corruption activist in Hanoi.
FILE - Anti-corruption activist in Hanoi.
TEXT SIZE - +
Marianne Brown
— In the last few months Vietnam has held several high profile corruption trials as part of a crackdown on graft. The government says it is using severe punishments, including death, to deter corrupt practices. However, critics say the trials are also part of an ongoing power struggle in the top leadership.
 
Last week the former chairman of Vietnam’s state-owned shipping giant Vinalines, Dương Chí Dũng, made a shocking allegation. Speaking at the trial of his brother, who is accused of helping him flee the country, Dung said he paid the Deputy Minister of Public Security $500,000 in a bid to avoid prosecution.

Exposing such payoffs is a priority for the government’s intensified anti-corruption campaign.
 
Recent investigations have resulted in jail terms for tens of public officials and some death sentences, including the former Vinalines boss, who fled to Cambodia after the company’s near-collapse under some $3 billion of debt.

Vietnam’s economic woes have put the spotlight on mismanagement and bribery at state-run firms, and the ruling Communist Party recognizes the public’s anger, said Alexander Vuving from the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.  “They [the Party] really want to do something to show the population to restore the regime’s legitimacy and rescue the regime from corruption. They are using the graft trials to deter against further corruption but also as a propaganda device to restore trust for the population,” he said.
 
However, some critics say the anti-corruption purge has more to do with an internal power struggle between Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Chairman of the Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong.
 
Vuving said the prime minister is part of the “rent-seekers” faction - a group that uses their position to enrich themselves without benefiting society. Opposed to them is the “anti-corruption” faction under Trong, who is leading the crackdown.
 
“I believe that at the very top of the Vietnam Communist Party there are people who are relatively untainted by corruption, there are also people who are deeply, deeply involved in corruption," Vuving noted. "So you have both ice and fire in the same politburo.”
 
The anti-corruption campaign has already prosecuted several high-profile officials and businessmen who are closely linked with the prime minister.
 
This shows the campaign is more about political rivalry than good governance, said Professor Carl Thayer from the University of New South Wales in Australia. "Dismantling corruption is really aimed at the prime minister because he’s responsible," he stated. "And it’s his cronies and friends who have benefited from it.”

Although the corruption trials have received widespread media attention, there are few signs they are convincing the public that the government is truly tackling graft.

Jairo Acuña-Alfaro, Policy Adviser on public administration reform and anti-corruption at the United Nations Development Program in Vietnam, said to convince the public, authorities need to change the behavior of lower-level officials who interact with citizens on a daily basis.

“All these cases that are being discussed are very far away from the ordinary citizens. What the Vietnamese citizens want to have is a public administration that is free from corruption, that is free from abuse, that is free from a lack of respect," said Acuña-Alfaro. "In order to do that there has to be some work in addressing the incentives, for the public officials to address publicly and transparently what are those incentives, what are those rents they receive from the public sector and then put the house in order.”
 
Eighty-two-year-old Le Hien Duc is a veteran anti-corruption activist who receives tens of letters each week from people across the country seeking her help. She said she has been following the Vinalines case closely.
 
She said she does not know anything about the law but in such a big case she agreed with the death penalty.
 
However, she added that these cases should not eclipse the bigger picture which is to tackle corruption at its roots.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid