Vietnam verifying lawmaker's dual nationality

By Trung Son, Hoang Thuy, Viet Tuan   August 26, 2020 | 06:13 am PT
Vietnam verifying lawmaker's dual nationality
National Assembly delegate Pham Phu Quoc. Photo courtesy of the National Assembly Press Center.
The National Assembly (NA) is verifying reports that one of its delegates holds two nationalities, following an Al Jazeera report on Cyprus's passport scheme.

Tran Van Tuy, head of the NA Delegate Affairs Committee, said there have been reports on the media and social media that Pham Phu Quoc, general director of the Tan Thuan Industrial Promotion Company and an NA delegate from Ho Chi Minh City, has acquired additional nationality of Cyprus.

However, the committee is yet to receive any official report on the matter, and is trying to verify information at this point, Tuy said Wednesday.

When there are changes to a delegate’s personal profile, he/she is required to report these to the committee, Tuy said. However, it has not received any report on a nationality change from Quoc, Tuy added.

Nguyen Hanh Phuc, head of the NA Office, said after determining if Quoc possesses two passports, and if so, when the foreign nationality was acquired, the committee will discuss the matter with the HCMC NA delegates and the HCMC Fatherland Front Committee before bringing it to the NA Standing Committee for further consideration.

It has been reported by local media that when Pham Phu Quoc applied to be an NA delegate in 2016, he had no foreign passport, said Pham Van Hoa, member of the NA Law Committee.

"But Quoc has told the press that he had two nationalities in 2018. At that time, the Law on the Organization of the National Assembly had not yet been amended and did not have specific regulations on delegates' nationalities. But in my opinion, a NA delegate should only have one nationality because he/she represents the will and desire of the people," Hoa said.

In June this year, the NA passed the amended Law on Organization of the National Assembly, which specifies that a delegate can "only have one nationality, which is Vietnamese." But this amended law will only take effect next year, Hoa added.

"The problem is that delegate Pham Phu Quoc has a responsibility to truthfully report any change in his personal status to the parliament. Anyone, as a government official and an NA delegate, must report changes to their personal profile, including acquiring a second passport," Hoa said.

Quoc admitted Tuesday that he had acquired Cypriot nationality in 2018, but it was due to "his family's petition, not him 'buying' the nationality as reported by Al Jazeera," the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

Al Jazeera reported on Monday that Cyprus's passport scheme allows people who have invested at least $2.5 million in the country to possess its passport, meaning those individuals are eligible to become EU citizens and travel and work freely in EU nations, as well as enter 174 countries without a visa. Quoc's name was mentioned among the list of foreigners who possesses a Cypriot passport.

Quoc, 52, had held several positions in HCMC, including the deputy head of the HCMC Institute for Development Studies, general director of the HCMC State-Owned Finance and Investment Company and the chairman of the board of members of the Benthanh Group. He was appointed the general director for the Tan Thuan Industrial Promotion Company in December last year.

This is not the first time a controversy has erupted about an NA deleage's nationality. In 2016, a woman was not recognized as an NA delegate because she had a second nationality, that of Malta.

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