News / Asia

Vietnam Vote Reaffirms Party Role in Constitution

Vietnam's chairman of the National Assembly Nguyen Sinh Hung, left, Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong, second from left, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, third from left, and President Truong Tan Sang, Hanoi, May 20, 2013.
Vietnam's chairman of the National Assembly Nguyen Sinh Hung, left, Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong, second from left, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, third from left, and President Truong Tan Sang, Hanoi, May 20, 2013.
Marianne Brown
Ninety-eight percent of Vietnam’s National Assembly voted in favor of revisions to the Southeast Asian country's 1992 constitution on Thursday, but critics say the changes are a step backward for the country.
 
Nguyen Sinh Hung, chairman of both the National Assembly and the drafting committee, said the final document was the result of lengthy discussions and based on input from many different groups of people.
 
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, says the revisions represent a missed opportunity for more substantial reforms that could have brought the nation's governance into closer alignment with international human rights standards, and that critical issues such as judiciary independence were not touched.
 
New revisions also require armed forces be loyal to the party, and he calls Article 4, which reaffirms the central role of the Communist Party, one of the biggest sticking points.
 
“Article 4 is important because it goes against the international covenant on civil and political rights which sets out that people have the right to participate in their governance and elect governance through period exercise of free elections,” he said.
 
New amendments also expand one tenet of the 1992 constitution that approved private land confiscation for “national interests,” stating that land can now be confiscated for economic or development purposes.
 
This issue of land reform was raised earlier this year by a group of intellectuals that signed a petition calling for constitutional changes that include free and fair elections and private ownership of land. The petition was posted on several popular blogs after the government launched a public consultation on a proposed draft.
 
“That sort of grant of authority for the state to essentially seize land for projects again raises some significant questions of what limitations will be placed there," said Robertson. "To what extent will people have the right to appeal? To what extent will people be able to contest land seizures by government when in fact it’s not for the larger public interest... [but] actually some crony who wants the land and has friends in the party to help him out.”
 
Local media outlets have said the amendments would provide a sustainable legal framework for Vietnam’s continued development and integration of public and private sectors. But some critics say the amendments only reaffirm the state's central role in the economy.
 
Riddled by mismanagement and corruption, the state-run sector has racked up billions of dollars of debts and is considered by many to be the root cause of Vietnam’s current economic problems.
 
Adam Sitkoff, director of the American Chamber of Commerce, says the American business community is disappointed with the final draft.
 
“Corruption and conflict of interest issues are embedded in the fabric of how SOE's [state owned enterprises] work in Vietnam," he said. "Without addressing fundamental governance issues, the problem of reform is going to remain challenging because investors that come in are wondering which overextended SOE conglomerate is going to be the next one to fail or... be forced to take bad assets onto their balance sheets.”
 
Inclusion of the wording on state-enterprises could also impede negotiations on the U.S.-led trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Sitkoff says.
 
“One of the things in TPP is the state-owned enterprise chapter that seeks to level the playing field, and so the fact that in the final text that that somehow snuck back in is almost seen as a step backwards.”
 
Sitkoff says while many other countries in the region face similar problems, Vietnam has to introduce reforms in order to be competitive.
 
Although the country has attracted substantial foreign investment, Sitkoff says it is limited to certain sectors , and the government cannot afford to take anything for granted.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sai from: USA
November 28, 2013 1:18 PM
The title of this article is misleading: "Vietnam Vote Reaffirms Party Role in Constitution". It is the Vietnamese communist party members created and voted for this Constitution in order to hold on to their power to continue to enrich themselves through corruptions; the average Vietnamese people didn't have a voice in this process.

In Response

by: Free Patriot from: U.S.A
November 29, 2013 12:33 AM
I feel bad for the Vietnamese people. They never had the freedom to elect their government and determine the democratic destiny of their country.


by: Cả Thộn from: Hà Nội
November 28, 2013 12:28 PM
Make it simple. Communist Vietnam is now clearly not qualified for TPP membership,period.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid