Party expels health minister, Hanoi chairman

By Viet Tuan   June 6, 2022 | 04:09 am PT
Hanoi chairman Chu Ngoc Anh and health minister Nguyen Thanh Long were expelled from the Communist Party Monday for their culpability in a Covid-19 test kit scandal.

At an extraordinary meeting Monday, the Party Central Committee also asked relevant agencies to handle further administrative punishments against the two "in accordance with regulations for individuals who have been disciplined by the Party."

There are four levels of disciplinary actions for Party members: reprimand, warning, demotion and expulsion.

Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long attends a National Assembly meeting in Hanoi, May 26, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Phong

Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long at a National Assembly meeting in Hanoi, May 26, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Phong

Also on Monday, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh signed an order to dismiss Pham Cong Tac from his position as Deputy Minister of Science and Technology for having committed "very serious violations on duty."

The Party Secretariat, which manages personnel matters, had expelled Tac for his involvement in the test kit scandal on Saturday.

The Party's Central Inspection Committee last month had proposed that the Politburo considers disciplinary action against the Party Committee of the Ministry of Science and Technology during the 2016-2021 period, the Party Committee of the Ministry of Health during the 2016-2021 period, Hanoi chairman Anh who served as the science minister during the period, and health minister Long.

The Politburo and the Secretariat concluded that Long, Anh and Tac had violated the Party and the State's regulations, "causing severe consequences, losses to the money and assets of the State, undermining the Covid-19 fight, causing social unrest and affecting the reputation of the Party, the health ministry and science ministry."

Chu Ngoc Anh, Chairman of Hanoi Peoples Committee. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

Chu Ngoc Anh, Chairman of the Hanoi People's Committee. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

The Central Inspection Committee had said in March that the Party Committee and officials of the health and science ministries in the 2016-2021 term had been negligent in their management, allowing violations at the ministries and their units regarding the approval, management and sale of Covid-19 test kits.

Phan Quoc Viet, general director of Viet A, admitted in January that he had inflated the price of a Covid-19 test kit by 45 percent and sent around VND800 billion ($35.2 million) as "bonuses" to company partners. Viet said he had bribed certain individuals in this regard.

Several officials including high-ranking military generals and directors of provincial branches of the Center for Diseases Control have been arrested or placed under criminal investigation for their involvement in the case.

Chu Ngoc Anh, 57, is a Hanoi native. From April 2016 to September 2020, he served as Minister of Science and Technology. In September 2020, he was elected as Hanoi chairman, replacing Nguyen Duc Chung who was facing a criminal investigation. He was tasked with leading Hanoi as the capital city struggled with the Covid-19 pandemic. During his 1.5-year tenure as Hanoi chairman, Anh completed the final pieces of capital planning by approving the Red River and Duong River subdivision plans, as well as Hanoi's underground space. The city recorded nearly 3 percent economic growth in 2021.

Nguyen Thanh Long, 56, is from Nam Dinh Province in northern Vietnam. He took the Health Minister position in November 2020. He spent this time directing Vietnam's fight against the Covid-19 epidemic while also serving as the Head of the Central Committee for Health Care.

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