Vietnam's Party chief says 'more will come' after high-profile punishment

By Hoang Thuy   May 13, 2017 | 05:37 pm GMT+7
Vietnam's Party chief says 'more will come' after high-profile punishment
Vietnam's Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong at a town hall meeting in Hanoi on Saturday. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Tough measures have been and will be taken against officials for mismanagement, says General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.

Vietnam’s Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong on Saturday said officials causing damage to the country will continue to be punished and that the recent dismissal of Ho Chi Minh City's top leader is part of this mission.

The Communist Party last week removed Dinh La Thang, the Party chief in Ho Chi Minh City, from the Politburo, its highest decision-making body.

Thang, 56, was punished for bad business decisions made when he was at the helm of the state-owned oil and gas group PetroVietnam several years ago.

His position as Ho Chi Minh City’s Party leader was soon later filled by Nguyen Thien Nhan, a Politburo member and former education minister.

Speaking at a town hall meeting in Hanoi's Ba Dinh District on Saturday, Trong said Thang has been censured by the Party and now relevant authorities are handling criminal proceedings.

He said there are also "other cases," without elaborating.

"More will come, you should wait," he said in response to a question.

Trong's town hall was covered at length by the media. It is not unusual for top officials in Vietnam to meet with their constituents before members of the National Assembly gather. The legislative body is set to start its summer session on May 22, where the recent personnel changes are likely to be discussed again.

'Many things that need to be done'

Last month, the Party also officially reprimanded former environment minister Nguyen Minh Quang, his two deputies Bui Cach Tuyen and Nguyen Thai Lai and former leader of Ha Tinh Province Vo Kim Cu. They were held responsible for the devastating toxic spill at Taiwan’s Formosa steel plant in Ha Tinh a year ago, a disaster officials said will set Vietnam’s economy back for many years to come.

Late last year the retired industry and trade minister Vu Huy Hoang faced punishment for making controversial appointments of his son and another senior official who has fled the country in the middle of an investigation into $150 million of losses. The latter, Trinh Xuan Thanh, is reportedly still at large.

On Saturday Trong also received questions concerning the whereabouts of the fugitive and whether there were accomplices who helped him escape.

Vietnam's leaders are determined to act tough on corruption, Trong said, noting that "there will be many things that need to be done" in the fight against corruption.

He also dismissed rumors that the recent high-profile censure was a political purge.

The Party will handle all violations “strictly, legally and ethically,” Trong said.

The country since the beginning of 2016 has brought 125 people to trial on corruption charges, with two sentenced to death and four to life imprisonment, according to official figures.