Vietnam lawmakers begin month-long session in Hanoi

By Vo Hai   May 22, 2017 | 10:17 am GMT+7
Vietnam lawmakers begin month-long session in Hanoi
The National Assembly meeting will gather nearly 500 members for a month. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Nearly 500 legislators are expected to pass 13 laws as recent personnel changes cast clouds on the biannual meeting.

The National Assembly, Vietnam’s top legislative body, started its summer session on Monday and announced a month-long agenda that includes the passage of new legislations and question-and-answer session with cabinet members.

Nearly 500 members of the assembly will spend half of the time in Hanoi reviewing and passing 13 new and revised laws, notably the Law on Foreign Trade Management and the updated Penal Code. Amendmends to the Penal Code include potential tougher punishments for pollution and food safety violations.

The legislators will also discuss revising five other laws, including the Law on Public Debt Management, and the Law on Credit Institutions.

What is missing this time is the Law on Demonstration. Justice Minister Le Thanh Long said a meeting last month that the bill, which has been drafted and redrafted several times by the Ministry of Public Security, “does not meet requirements yet.” The bill was supposed to be submitted to the National Assembly for a review two years ago.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and some of his cabinet members are scheduled to take the parlimentary floor and answer questions.

The gathering came on the heels of major personnel changes.

Dinh La Thang, formerly a member of Ho Chi Minh City's delegation, was recently reassigned to Thanh Hoa Province in central Vietnam after he lost his position as the southern megacity's Party chief.

The 56-year-old was also removed from the Politburo, the Party's highest decision-making body, as punishment for bad business decisions made when he was at the helm of the state-owned oil and gas group PetroVietnam several years ago.

Last week the assembly's Standing Committee voted to remove Vo Kim Cu, former Party chief of Ha Tinh Province in central Vietnam as he was held accountable for a toxic spill caused by Taiwan’s Formosa steel plant a year ago.

Cu was among 11 government, provincial and industry officials, including former environment minister Nguyen Minh Quang, who were named and shamed in February for the disaster that polluted 125 miles of coastline in Ha Tinh and three nearby provinces.

He had handed in his resignation on health grounds.

At an earlier meeting with constituents in Hanoi in preparation for the assembly session, Vietnam's Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong also refered to Cu and Thang as he said more officials causing damage to the country will be punished.

"There will be many things that need to be done" in the fight against corruption, Trong has said.