No soft landing
The Saigon Times Daily
It has been exactly one year since large numbers of dead fish were washed ashore in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue provinces. The Vietnam unit of Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics admitted responsibility for discharging toxic industrial waste into the sea that led to the April 2016 mass fish deaths and marine life pollution along the central coast.
The company eventually paid over US$500 million in compensation for economic damage but then no actions against officials responsible for the country’s most severe environmental pollution incident were taken by authorities. And some wondered why no one at both local and central levels had been held accountable for what happened at the Formosa steel complex in the Vung Ang economic zone in Ha Tinh Province.
But late last week the Central Inspection Commission of the Communist Party of Vietnam, after a long inquiry into what went wrong in the incident, announced disciplinary measures against many officials, including those having retired, for their responsibility for the massively destructive marine pollution whose impact is still felt at present.
In the past, Party and State officials were mostly immune from responsibility for wrongdoing committed while they were in office. However, things have changed as senior officials who already retired could still be held liable for what they did in the past. For example, Vu Huy Hoang was retrospectively stripped of the title of former Minister of Industry and Trade in the 2011-2016 tenure early this year and late last year the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat dismissed him from the post of Party secretary at the ministry during that tenure.
The discipline against Hoang came after he was found to be accountable for the appointments of his son Vu Quang Hai as inspector of State-owned tobacco firm Vinataba, member of the Board of the State-run Saigon Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Company (Sabeco), and deputy general director of Sabeco.
Back to the Formosa case, Nguyen Minh Quang, former Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, and Bui Cach Tuyen, former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and former director general of the Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA), are held responsible though they retired.
Others found responsible include Nguyen Thai Lai, former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Luong Duy Hanh, director general of the ministry’s environmental protection and control department, Mai Thanh Dung, former director of the department of environmental impact appraisal and assessment at the ministry, Vo Kim Cu, former secretary of the Party Committee of Ha Tinh Province, former Party secretary of the Ha Tinh People’s Committee, and former chairman of the Ha Tinh People’s Committee, and Ho Anh Tuan, former member of the Ha Tinh Party Committee, former Party secretary of the Ha Tinh Economic Zone Authority, and former head of the Ha Tinh Economic Zone Authority.
This is a dear price all these former officials have to pay for what they did while in office in the past, and also a warning for incumbent officials.
The Saigon Times Daily