Vietnamese citizens see corruption fight making real headway

By Hoang Phong   January 12, 2020 | 12:00 am PT
Vietnamese citizens see corruption fight making real headway
A police officer directs vehicles through traffic jam in Ho Chi Minh City, September 2019. Photo by VnExpress.
With many high profile scalps to its credit, Vietnam’s intensified anti-corruption drive is becoming more effective, many citizens believe.

In a Vietnam Corruption Barometer report released by Towards Transparency this week, one in two (49 percent) of survey respondents said that the Communist Party’s and government’s action against corruption was effective or very effective, more than twice the perception level in 2016 (21 percent).

Between July and August 2019, Towards Transparency, a Vietnamese non-profit consultancy company founded in 2008, surveyed 1,085 citizens in 19 provinces and cities across Vietnam on perceptions and experience of corruption, and their views on government's anti-corruption efforts and effectiveness of anti-corruption measures.

The survey found that a smaller number of citizens in Ho Chi Minh City (13 percent) believe that corruption has decreased in comparison to respondents in Hanoi (35 percent).

Unprecedented number

The report noted that in addition to improving the legal framework, the government has taken many other measures that have brought to light an unprecedented number of large-scale corruption cases.

Vietnam has engaged in a corruption crackdown in recent years, spearheaded by Party chief and President Nguyen Phu Trong. The crackdown has recently seen several high-profile government officials, top military officers and businessmen arrested and jailed for crimes from graft to money laundering.

According to official figures, 427 individual corruption cases were investigated and 200 taken to court in 2018. During the first nine months of 2019, 435 corruption cases were investigated, and 279 taken to court.

Nguyen Bac Son, former Minister of Information and Communications, was recently awarded a life sentence for accepting $3 million in bribes to push for the illegal acquisition of private pay TV firm Audio Visual Global by state-owned telecom giant MobiFone.

Truong Minh Tuan, then the deputy information minister, another main accused in the case, got a jail term of 14 years in an unprecedented case in Vietnam's legal history wherein two former Vietnamese ministers were punished for corruption.

Stringent punishments for corrupt high-ranking officials will act as a deterrent against similar behavior, Party chief Trong said in a meeting last month. The fight would maintain its momentum and spare no one, he reiterated.

The efforts seem to have improved the confidence of citizens in their government’s anti-corruption actions, the report found.

More citizens also expressed belief that they could make a difference in combating corruption, with 71 percent of respondents saying they have a role in the fight, up from 55 percent in 2016 and 60 percent in 2013.

36 percent of respondents felt there was room for improvement in the integrity of public and government officers, and 39 percent wanted strict punishments for corrupt public officials.

The survey found 43 percent of respondents saying corruption was their fourth biggest public concern in 2019, after poverty reduction (48 percent), food hygiene (46 percent), and crime/safety (45 percent).

Vietnam reported an impressive GDP growth of 7.02 percent in 2019, when 278,000 residents still lived in hunger.

The country recorded 63 cases of food poisoning involving 1,723 people last year. Nine people died.

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