A breakthrough in personnel affairs at Vietnam’s highest leadership

Wednesday, 2018-10-24 16:54:17
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General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong delivers a speech after being elected President. (Photo: Duy Linh)
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NDO - At the 6th plenary session of the 14th National Assembly, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong was elected President of Vietnam. On the occasion, a Nhan Dan correspondent had an interview with Le Minh Thong, former deputy head of the National Assembly’s legal committee.

Q: General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong is highly regarded as having all the necessary qualities of a State leader. What do you think when domestic and international observers consider this as a breakthrough in personnel affairs at the highest leadership of Vietnam?

A: Today in the world, the leader of a ruling party is usually the head of state. In Vietnam, the General Secretary’s election to the presidential post also comes in line with the political practice in many countries around the world. That a person is both a General Secretary and President is a not a consolidation of the two posts. These are two different posts: a Party post and a State post. The General Secretary has the responsibilities and powers of a Party leader over Party affairs, as well as the organisation and functioning of the ruling party. While the President is head of state, representing the State in domestic and external affairs as stipulated by the constitution and laws. These two posts have very clear powers and tasks. One is regulated by the Party charter and the other by the constitution and laws.

The National Assembly’s election of the General Secretary as President is in fact not something new in Vietnam. Previously President Ho Chi Minh also held these two important posts (Party Chairman and President). But through many terms, the posts of General Secretary and President have been held by two persons. Therefore, the election of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong can be considered as a breakthrough in personnel affairs.

Q: When a person holds two posts, his powers and tasks will be greater. Could you please analyse the mechanism to control power at the highest leadership post in the current situation?

A: In Vietnam, there is only a party that leads the State and society as enshrined in the constitution. In the past, the two posts of General Secretary and President were held by two persons but both of them were subject to the collective leadership of the Politburo. All of the country’s important issues were discussed and decided by this critically important body. Now when a person holds these two posts, although the powers are greater, there is little likelihood of autocracy or power abuse. Our mechanism is collective leadership and democratic centralism is the central principle of the Party and State. Anyone in the supreme position must abide by the principle of democratic centralism.

Under the constitution and laws, the President is subject to control by the National Assembly and people through votes of confidence. The National Assembly will oversee the activities of the President and other power bodies in accordance with the constitution and laws. In addition, the State leader is subject to oversight by the Fatherland Front, political-social organisations and the entire society.

Within the Party, when accountability and questioning activities in the Politburo, Secretariat and Central Committee plenums are strengthened, the task of power control will also be conducted in a superior fashion.

As the ruling the party, power control in the organisation and operation of the Communist Party of Vietnam, is highly significant. The principle of collective leadership in the Politburo, Secretariat and Central Committee is one of the important factors to control the power of the leader.

Q: It is widely believed that the election of the President will facilitate the Party in proposing important issues under its authority to the National Assembly. What do you think about this as a legal expert?

A: When the General Secretary is also the President, there will be many favourable conditions for exercising the Party leadership over the State and better managing the relationship between the power structures of a law-governed state and the ruling party during the process of carrying out the people’s power in accordance with the constitution and laws.
That the General Secretary of a ruling party is also the President of a law-governed state will create favourable conditions to promptly translate the ruling party’s policies into laws through coordination between the legislative, executive and judicial bodies within the state.

In the current situation of Vietnam, when the General Secretary is the head of the Steering Committee for corruption prevention and the President is the head of the Steering Committee for judicial reform, the General Secretary’s election as President will further step up the fight against corruption and enhance the quality of judicial agencies. In this way, not only anti-corruption targets will be met but social order and law observance will also be guaranteed.

The President is the head of state representing the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in domestic and external affairs as enshrined in the constitution. Therefore that the General Secretary is also the President is conducive to both domestic and external affairs.

As scheduled, the National Assembly is expected to rectify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This agreement has been assessed as highly significant with impacts on almost areas, from politics and socio-economics to diplomacy, especially the agricultural sector and labour rights. The ratification of this agreement is significant to Vietnam’s international integration and the election of a new president will have a positive impact on this process.

Thank you very much.