Vietnamese lawmaker resigns after dual nationality exposure

By Huu Cong   September 1, 2020 | 06:11 am PT
Vietnamese lawmaker resigns after dual nationality exposure
Pham Phu Quoc speaks at a National Assembly meeting. Photo courtesy of the National Assembly.
Pham Phu Quoc has resigned as a National Assembly (NA) delegate from HCMC after he was found to have obtained Cypriot nationality.

In an August 25 letter submitted to the Ho Chi Minh City administration, Quoc, 52, said he also wants to resign as general director of the state-owned Tan Thuan Industrial Promotion Company (IPC) in District 7. The submission of his resignation letter was disclosed by the city's Department of Information and Communications at a press briefing Tuesday.

The city’s NA delegates will hold a meeting within a week and submit a report to the parliament for considering the dismissal of Quoc as a lawmaker, said Ha Phuoc Thang, chief of office and spokesman of the city People’s Committee.

Regarding Quoc's Communist Party status, the city’s Party Committee will work directly with him this month, Thang said.

The municipal Home Affairs Department and the People’s Committee will discuss this week the modalities for discharging the lawmaker as general director of the IPC, a position he was appointed to last December.

However, before accepting his resignations, they will verify his responsibilities at the IPC and also at the HCMC State-Owned Finance and Investment Company (HFIC), where he had previously worked as general director.

Thang said that when HCMC recommended Quoc as a NA delegate back in 2016, he had met all eligible criteria for the position.

But in February 2018, Quoc obtained another nationality in Cyprus without reporting it to the city in an act that "is deplorable, dishonest and disobeys the Party's regulations," he said.

Phan Nguyen Nhu Khue, head of the propaganda department of the city Party’s Committee and deputy head of the city's NA delegation, said this is a disappointment for the delegation.

When reporters asked if the city has been tardy in handling Quoc’s issue, Khue said it’s not that the city administration was trying to get away from the problem, it was just being cautious because the information related to Quoc’s dual nationality appeared on a news site at first.

Authorities at different levels have to verify the information so that they can take the next step to handle the situation, Khue said.

Asked if appointing Quoc general director of IPC was correct and appropriate, given that disciplinary action was being considered against him by the Party for mistakes at HFIC, Khue said the Home Affairs Department was looking into details of that process to see if it has been done correctly or not.

Quoc, a native of the central province of Quang Tri, admitted last Tuesday to the press that he had acquired Cypriot citizenship in 2018, but it was due to "his family's petition, not him 'buying' the nationality as reported by Al Jazeera." He confirmed the information again in his resignation letter.

Al Jazeera had reported Monday last week that Cyprus's passport scheme allows people who have invested at least $2.5 million in the country to possess its passport, making individuals 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 possessed a Cypriot passport.

Khue also told the press: "We should respect Quoc’s confession that the Cypriot nationality was acquired because of his family’s petition, instead of inferring and taking an unnecessary long step to find out where that money had come from."

He went on to say that the dual nationality should not be a reason to negate all efforts and contributions that Quoc has made so far as a national legislator and in previous positions he has held.

According to Vietnam Law on Nationality, Vietnam government recognizes that Vietnamese citizens have only one nationality, the Vietnamese nationality.

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