Vietnam's election official 'suprised' at lawmaker's illegal dual citizenship

By Vo Van Thanh   July 18, 2016 | 02:02 am PT
The National Assembly's election council was caught off guard by the fact a legislator has dual citizenship.

A representative of the electoral commission has confirmed that newly-elected legislator Nguyen Thi Nguyet Huong who holds dual citizenship has violated the country’s Nationality Law.

Nguyen Hanh Phuc, chief of staff of the National Electoral Council, spoke to the press on Monday following the dismissal of two members of parliament in just three days.

Question (Q): All delegates are nominated after a strict vetting process. Why did these two cases slip through the net?

Answer (A): Because they weren’t honest on their profiles. Maybe they lied or withheld information. Let me give an example. Nobody is supposed to know when a person applies for foreign citizenship. The whole legal process, from paying the fee to completing the paperwork, it’s not public. It's impossible to know if a person has foreign citizenship. This is a total surprise.

Q: In the case of Nguyen Thi Nguyet Huong, is it true that she provided false information in her documents?

A: On the [nomination] application form, there isn't a space for nationality. [Even if there was] it would be wrong to write “Vietnamese” in the space if you have dual nationality. Here is the problem. The National Electoral Council found out that Nguyen Thi Nguyet Huong has violated Article 4 of Vietnamese Law on Nationality.

Q: How did the National Electoral Council find out about her dual citizenship?

A: We did not. A government body did. Nguyet Huong was one among 31 [centrally-nominated] candidates that the Fatherland Front (Vietnam’s mass political organization) recommended to the National Electoral Council. According to the allotted target, the Fatherland Front nominated two business people, including Nguyet Huong.

Q: When did the National Electoral Council find out?

A: The authorities informed us after a meeting last Saturday. The council then held a meeting on Sunday afternoon to discuss her resignation letter.

Q: Did she commit any other violations?

A: For now that is the only reason she has been dismissed from the National Assembly. We can’t tell whether or not there are other reasons. We have to wait for relevant authorities to conduct further investigations.

Q: Huong was elected as a legislator to the National Assembly for the two previous terms, so she must understand the law. Why do you think she still violated the law?

A: I am not certain Nguyet Huong knew that her dual citizenship was a violation of the law. I don’t rule out the possibility that some people think it is legal for a Vietnamese citizen to have a second nationality. However, Vietnam’s Law on Nationality states two clear different cases. The first case is that a Vietnamese [natural-born] citizen must renounce his/her citizenship before he/she can apply for a second one. The second case is for Vietnamese citizens who migrate overseas, and the country where they have migrated to allows multiple citizenship. Then of course they can hold more than two citizenships [including Vietnamese].

We will continue to look into similar violations from now until the end of this term.

Q: Trinh Xuan Thanh (former vice chairman of the People’s Committee of Hau Giang Province) was also ousted from the National Assembly. How will the provincial institution that nomionated him be held accountable?

A: Trinh Xuan Thanh was nominated by the Fatherland Front of Hau Giang Province. He was selected through several meetings organized by the local Fatherland Front and meetings to seek support from co-workers and neighbors before he reached the final list of candidates. The problem here was dishonesty and ambiguity. The people lacked information. Because he had held top positions in the past, they thought he must be extremely capable.

Q: What do relevant bodies do to verify information on the candidates’ profiles?

A: We cannot verify the profiles of all the candidates at once. That’s why we have procedures to address complaints [against National Assembly candidates]. Even after the announcement of the list of successful candidates, we still have to wait 35 more days to detect cases like Trinh Xuan Thanh.

go to top