Foreign affairs minister reprimanded over pandemic flight scandal

By Staff reporters   December 27, 2022 | 05:46 am PT
Foreign affairs minister reprimanded over pandemic flight scandal
Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Phong
Vietnam's foreign affairs minister has been reprimanded by the Communist Party's Politburo over management negligence that led to violations in organizing Covid repatriation flights.

Bui Thanh Son, Minister of Foreign Affairs, was deemed responsible for violations made by the ministry's Party Committee in the 2016-2021 term, which violated democratic centralism principles and mismanaged leaders from the ministry and other organizations, allowing them to violate Party regulations and the law regarding the organization of Covid-19 repatriation flights, the Politburo and the Secretariat said at a meeting chaired by Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong Tuesday.

The violations of the foreign ministry's Party Committee of the 2016-2021 term have caused severe consequences, social discontent and diminished the reputation of the Party and Vietnam's diplomatic sector, they said.

Several officials had accepted bribes, they added.

Son was "severely reprimanded" and requested to reflect on his mistakes, correct the consequences of the violation, and report back to the Politburo.

Son, 60, took the foreign affairs minister position in April 2021.

Also at the meeting, the Secretariat announced to expell Vu Hong Nam, former Vietnamese ambassador in Japan, from the Party, and issued a warning to the foreign ministry’s Party Committee for the 2016-2021 term.

Nam had received bribes, violating Party regulations and the law, among other violations, it said.

Vietnam's Communist Party has four modes of punishment against members: reprimand, warning, demotion and expulsion. The government has a similar four-tier punishment structure, with the last one being dismissal from service.

A Covid-19 repatriation flight bribery scandal has come to light over the past year, resulting in over 30 people from multiple ministries being arrested, including high-ranking officials like former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs To Anh Dung.

The Ministry of Public Security said in June that each repatriation flight earned profits of several billion Vietnamese dong (VND1 billion = $43,600) after deducting costs.

Vietnam had operated around 400 repatriation flights to bring home residents stranded overseas during the global Covid outbreaks.

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