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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
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.
AppleAndroid