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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora