Vietnam introduces more ‘specific, quantified’ criteria for top officials

By Hoang Thuy   February 9, 2020 | 06:21 am PT
Vietnam introduces more ‘specific, quantified’ criteria for top officials
Delegates at the 9th Plenum of the 12th Party Central Committee. Photo courtesy of Vietnam News Agency.
A new regulation issued by the Party chief adds flexibility and specificity to the criteria for appointing top officials, experts say.

The criteria come into force via Regulation 214 that was recently issued by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, also State President.

Nguyen Duc Ha, former head of the Party affairs department under the Party's Central Organizing Commission, said the new regulation has made the criteria more specific and quantifiable compared to the previous set of criteria issued in Regulation 90 (2017), which many had said was too generic.

It also sets the premise for evaluating, planning, assigning, transferring and introducing candidates ahead of the 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

One of the key changes in the new regulation has to do with the transfer and rotation of officials, specifically the removal of an old provision requiring that key provincial leaders must have prior experience and fulfilled their duties well as key district leaders.

However, in reality, there have been many cases of ministers and deputy ministers being transferred to the positions of provincial Party secretary, deputy Party secretary or provincial chairperson despite their not having served in district-level positions.

Additionally, there have also been cases of officials in military or state-owned corporations being transferred to the positions of provincial leaders. This, however, would be difficult if the positions of provincial leaders require high levels of experience in state management, which many such officials might not meet.

"If the regulation remained rigid then it would be very difficult to mobilize and transfer central officials to localities, so it had to be changed," Ha said.

Regulation 214 therefore reflects the reality of special cases that have already been established in practice, he said. For instance, an official serving in position A, when transferred to position B at an equivalent level, would not necessarily have to meet all of the criteria for the new position.

Another key change in Regulation 214 is the addition of criteria for central leadership positions that were previously omitted in Regulation 90, namely deputy positions like deputy chief justice of the Supreme People's Court and deputy Party secretaries at the provincial and municipal levels.

The full list of positions therefore includes the General Secretary, President, Prime Minister, National Assembly Chairperson, Executive Secretary of the Secretariat, National Assembly Vice Chairperson, Deputy Prime Ministers, heads of Party Committees, Ministers, heads of the Central Judiciary as well as provincial and municipal leaders.

The evaluation criteria for these positions have also been adjusted to include details on political outlook, ideology, morality, lifestyle, working style, organizational skills and discipline, and the results of assigned tasks.

Another notable change introduced by Regulation 214 is one that requires central level officials to have "fulfilled their duties well" instead of "fulfilled their duties excellently."

Ha said this adjustment was made in order for the new regulation to be in line with one passed by the Politburo recently on yearly review, evaluation and classification of officials.

The Politburo regulation specified that the number of officials having fulfilled their duties "excellently" must not exceed 20 percent. This resulted in a decrease in the number of officials deemed to have fulfilled their duties excellently.

Ha noted that "many top leaders who’ve fulfilled their duties excellently are modest and exemplary; hence they only evaluate themselves to have fulfilled their duties well, reserving the "excellent" evaluation for lower-ranked officials."

The new adjustment would ensure that such officials are not disadvantaged for not making the mark despite having done excellently in fulfilling their duties, Ha said.

Minor adjustments

Meanwhile, adjustments to the criteria for top rung leaders are only minor and introduced to make the package clearer and more comprehensive rather than making significant changes to the previous regulation, according to Nguyen Van Giang, associate professor at the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics.

One such adjustment is the requirement for the general secretary to "have the capability to direct the preparation and development of a team of strategic officials, especially a successor, and key officials," with "key officials" being an addition, he said.

This addition only serves to better clarify the general secretary's responsibility in preparing and developing successors and key officials rather than making it different from the previous criteria, Giang said. He said key officials included the General Secretary, President, Prime Minister, National Assembly Chairperson and Executive Secretary of the Secretariat.

Compared to Regulation 90, Regulation 214 adds specific criteria for the position of Vice President, making its criteria equivalent to those for the positions of Deputy Prime Minister and National Assembly Vice Chairperson, he added.

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