Former Vietnamese PM Phan Van Khai dies aged 85

By Hoang Thuy, Huu Nguyen   March 16, 2018 | 04:36 pm PT
Former Vietnamese PM Phan Van Khai dies aged 85
Vietnam's former Prime Minister Phan Van Khai attends a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on March 17, 2015. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Nguyen
He was prime minister from 1997 to 2006, and was praised for boosting the country’s economic development.

Vietnam’s former Prime Minister Phan Van Khai died of old age on Saturday at his home in Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City.

He was born on December 25, 1933 in Cu Chi and joined the country’s revolutionary movement at the young age of 14 before becoming a member of the Communist Party aged 26.

Before he was elected prime minister in 1997, Khai was deputy secretary of the HCMC Party Committee, the city’s chairman, head of the State Planning Commission (now the Ministry of Planning and Investment), vice chairman of the Council of Ministers and deputy PM.

In 2002, PM Khai was reelected, but resigned in 2006 one year before his term ended.

In his resignation speech, he said: "What worries me is that we have already been made well-aware of several weaknesses in socio-economic development and public administration, but we have not been able to do much to fix these problems and allowed some to worsen.”

He believed that the slow pace of reform among officials was “the root cause” of his administration's mistakes.

The country has no shortage of talented people, but the administrative system, which lacks professionalism, has made many mistakes in choosing the right candidates, he claimed.

"I am very bothered by the bureaucracy, the waste, the corruption and the theft of public assets. As seen in recent cases of public asset theft, a part of the responsibility lies with the investors, but the government and I should also be blamed.”

“I have not fulfilled the responsibilities assigned to me and I have to acknowledge my mistakes in front of the people, the Party and the National Assembly. I hope that my successor will learn from my weaknesses,” he said.

The former PM was regarded by many economists as a leader and reformist with a strong determination to integrate with the world market.

Khai was responsible for submitting the Corporate Law in 1999 to the legislative National Assembly (NA), and defended the law before the Politburo and the NA.

The law stopped city and provincal chairman from having the power to green-light the establishment of new companies.

Before that, a company had to seek the signature of a city or provincial chairman to start operating.

He then set up a working group to implement the law and started by reducing sublicenses, cutting half of them to make things easier for businesses and contributing a significant part in helping the growth of the private sector.

Khai also presented the bill on the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA), which was signed in 2001, and became the first Vietnamese leader to visit the U.S. at the invitation of former President George W. Bush in 2005, opening opportunities for cooperation between the two nations.

In 2014, he was awared the Gold Star Order, the highest decoration given by Vietnam government for a military or civil personnel who completed exceptional service for the revolutionary cause of the Party and the nation.

go to top