Vietnam tells officials to avoid graft and live modestly

By Reuters, VnExpress   August 15, 2017 | 01:11 am PT
They must display 'no corruption or opportunism... and be determined to push back against the degeneration in political ideology.'

Vietnam's Communist Party has set out rules for top officials with an emphasis on fighting corruption, avoiding nepotism and living modestly, according to a directive issued on Monday.

Top officials must display "no corruption or opportunism... and be determined to push back against the degeneration in political ideology," said the directive, agreed by the Politburo, the decision-making body of the ruling Communist Party.

They must have "absolutely no ambition for power", "absolutely not let relatives and acquaintances benefit from their positions" and should lead "an honest, modest, sincere, transparent, simple and generous life", according to the directive.


Trinh Xuan Thanh, a former PetroVietnam executive accused of financial wrongdoings, first caught media attention in June 2016 for driving a $230,000 Lexus with a government license plate in a country where public officials are supposed to embrace austerity. File photo

In March, Transparency International ranked Vietnam as the second most corrupt country in Asia after India in terms of bribery. In its Corruption Perception Index 2016, the Berlin-based advocacy group also ranked Vietnam 113th out of 176 countries and territories. It is the first time the Politburo has issued an announcement that touches on such specific issues. It comes against the backdrop of a growing crackdown on corruption and waning public confidence in the push.

But what is of more grave concern is the growing public disenchantment with the political rhetoric on fighting corruption. In the March survey by Transparency International, over half of Vietnamese respondents reported their government was doing a poor job of fighting corruption.

“Massive corruption has been like rust eating away at the authority if not legitimacy of the Communist Party of Vietnam,” Carl Thayer, a veteran Australia-based expert, said. “This has been openly acknowledged by top Party officials for well over a decade,” Thayer said.

"Each major corruption case is judged not only on the financial loss to the state but also on its impact on political stability."

The crackdown on alleged corruption and mismanagement has focused on inefficient state-owned companies and has led to the rare dismissal of a Politburo member and calls for the sacking of a vice-minister for her role at an electricity firm.

Earlier this month, Trinh Xuan Thanh, a former executive accused of financial malfeasance at a subsidiary of national oil and gas giant PetroVietnam, was shown on state television saying that he had decided to turn himself in after a 10-month international manhunt.

Arrest warrants were also issued this month against 16 bankers in a fraud case that dates back to 2014.

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