Vietnam. According to Countryaah, the capital of Vietnam is Hanoi. Asia’s financial crisis, tropical hurricanes and severe summer drought slowed Vietnam’s exports and tourism and drove up unemployment. After an economic growth of about 9% for several years, the government was forced to reduce its annual forecast to 6%. The World Bank said growth of no more than 4-5%. Prime Minister Phan Văn Khai described the fall as the worst in more than a decade.
Within the ruling Communist Party there were signs of a tug of war between traditional closure and demands for more open debate. One of several who criticized the power monopoly and demanded more democracy was General Trân Đô, considered the veteran of the revolution. Both former party leader Đô Mu迂o迂i and his successor Lễ Kha Phiễu admitted that corruption threatens the communist regime, but they blamed local leaders in the provinces. In October, Prime Minister Khai ruled that political stability is paramount and that state-owned companies must remain leaders in the economy. If the in-depth reforms that economists are calling for, nothing was heard at the Central Committee’s plenary the same month or at Parliament’s spring and autumn sessions.
On National Day September 2, President Trân Đu迂c Lu迂o迂ng pardoned over 5,200 prisoners, including the famous dissidents Đoan Viễt Hoat and Nguyễn Đan Quễ. The journalist Hoat was jailed without a sentence for a total of 15 years before being sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1993 (shortened to 15) for calling for democracy and the dissolution of the Communist Party. After his release, he traveled to his family in the United States, while Quễ stayed in Vietnam. The two leading Buddhist monks were also released.
Land grief was announced in April since Nguyễn Văn Linh, Secretary-General of the Communist Party 1986-91 and the man behind the reform policy (Đôi Mo迂i), passed away 85 years old. Two weeks earlier, Vietnam’s Foreign Minister 1980-91, 75-year-old Nguyễn Co Thach, had died.
Corruption and human rights
The constitution formally guarantees a number of fundamental human rights, but in practice several of these are not respected. Although the regular Vietnamese has far greater personal freedom and right to rule than just a decade ago, numerous improvements remain under civil rights. A delegation from the Norwegian Rafto Foundation was arrested by Vietnamese police when the Foundation Award for 2006 should be handed over to one of the country’s leading dissidents, Buddhist monk Thich Quang Do. Do is the deputy leader of a banned Buddhist community competing with the officially endorsed Buddhist community in Vietnam. He has been held under house arrest since 1998 and was unable to travel to Norway to receive the Rafto Prize.
At all party congresses since 1991, corruption is condemned as one of the nation’s main problems. In 2006, partisan leader Nong said the corruption has taken to such an extent that it threatens the very existence of the socialist regime. The topic got new news after the revealing of the so-called tipping scandal: Officials in the Ministry of Transport must have spent close to NOK 100 million which should really go to road construction. Instead, the money went to private homes, cars and luxury consumption. Most noteworthy was that a departmental tipping team had lost tens of millions of NOK of the state’s funds as input money to foreign tipping companies. Vietnam was also ranked 112 out of 168 countries on Transparency International’s corruption index for 2015.
A number of corruption cases have ended with death sentences. While the government has been lauded for the economy, it has been criticized for alleged human rights violations, primarily abuses against Christians and Buddhists outside the officially endorsed faith communities. Vietnam follows China’s example of monitoring and controlling the internet. A number of convictions have attracted international attention and protests. Pham Hong Son, a physician by profession, was sentenced in 2003 to 13 years in prison and three years in house arrest for translating and distributing two articles on democracy on the Internet. The sentence was later overturned by the Supreme Court to five years in prison and three years in house arrest. Catholic priest Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly was sentenced in 2007 to eight years in prison for using the Internet to disseminate information “aimed at undermining the state”. As a democracy activist, he had previously spent 14 years in prison since 1982.