Former HCMC Party chief loses position over urban planning violations

By Hoang Thuy   March 20, 2020 | 10:47 pm GMT+7
Former HCMC Party chief loses position over urban planning violations
Former Ho Chi Minh City's Party Secretary Le Thanh Hai. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
Le Thanh Hai, former HCMC Party Secretary, has retroactively lost his position for violations in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area project.

A decision to the effect was issued by the Politburo and the Secretariat of the Party at a Friday meeting following recommendations from the Central Inspection Committee, the Party's top watchdog.

During Hai's time as a member of the Politburo and HCMC's Party Secretary from 2010-2015, he was mainly responsible for violations committed by the city's Party unit in leading and directing implementation of the Thu Thiem New Urban Area project, inspectors said.

He was found to have violated the principle of democratic centralism, the Party unit's working regulations and to have made wrongful decisions under the jurisdiction of the Party unit's standing committee.

Additionally, during his time as Deputy Party Secretary, Secretary of the Party Affairs Committee and Chairman of HCMC from 2001-2006, Hai was mainly responsible for violations committed by the city's People's Committee, the inspectors said. They concluded that he had directly signed a number of documents that were in contravention of the policies of the municipal People's Council, the 2002 Law on State Budget and the 2003 Law on Construction.

At Friday's conference, the Politburo and the Secretariat also reprimanded Le Hoang Quan, former Deputy Party Secretary, former Secretary of the Party Affairs Committee and former Chairman of HCMC.

Quan was held responsible for violations committed by the standing committee of the city's Party unit for the term 2010-2015, as well as violations committed by the city's Party Affairs Committee and People's Committee for the term 2011-2016 in the deployment and implementation of the Thu Thiem New Urban Area project.

He was found to have made decisions and issued directions and policies as also signing a number of documents that were in contravention of regulations. Quan was lax in his management, inspection and monitoring tasks, allowing multiple violations to be committed by the People's Committee, the inspectors said.

The standing committee of HCMC's Party unit for the term 2010-2015 as a whole was also reprimanded for violating the democratic centralism principle and working regulations, being irresponsible and lax in its leadership, directing, management, inspection and monitoring tasks, allowing multiple violations to occur over a long period of time in the implementation of the Thu Thiem New Urban Area project.

These violations were concluded to have "negatively affected the reputation of the city's Party unit and administration, causing public distress."

Earlier this month, the Central Inspection Committee also reprimanded Nguyen Thi Hong, former member of the standing committee of HCMC's Party unit, former member of the municipal Party Affairs Committee and former Vice Chairwoman of HCMC. The committee had recommended punishments for Hai, Quan and the municipal Party unit's standing committee for the 2010-2015 term.

Two other former HCMC officials were also found to have committed violations in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area project that merited reprimands. However, they were not disciplined as their violations had been committed more than five years before the issue was investigated.

The Communist Party of Vietnam has four modes of punishment against members: reprimand, warning, demotion and expulsion.

Violations around compensation and resettlement in the Thu Thiem area have made headlines in the country since 2018. It reached its climax in May 2018 when residents lodged their complaints with tears and frustration at a meeting with the city's legislators, which went on late into the night.

The Thu Thiem New Urban Area is envisaged as one of the biggest international financial and commercial centers in Southeast Asia. To develop the megaproject, HCMC spent 10 years relocating 15,000 households, paying out nearly VND30 trillion ($1.3 billion) in compensation.

However, the project has been caught up in a relocation scandal as more than 100 affected families said their houses were not included in the demolition list according to the original planning map drawn up in 1996 and approved by the prime minister.

Government inspectors have since uncovered multiple violations committed by HCMC authorities, including: wrongfully reclaiming 4.3 hectares (10.6 acres) of land outside the project's area; giving lands designated for resettlement to 51 companies to do business; approving capital and advancing payments for build-transfer projects in contravention of regulations.

 
 
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