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Moral depravity
Phuong Thao
Friday,  Jul 7, 2017,10:29 (GMT+7)

Moral depravity

Phuong Thao

With a strong resolve to build an enabling government to serve the public and the corporate sector, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc does not tolerate corrupt and morally depraved officials, and interest groups. There is no forbidden territory in the fight against corruption to restore discipline and confidence in the political system, he says. The endeavor has begun paying off, with multiple corrupt officials brought to light, and this is evident in local media's extensive coverage of tough sanctions against high-ranking officials who violated Party rules and State regulations.

The Party Central Committee’s Inspection Commission during its 15th meeting late last month announced that it would consider taking a disciplinary measure against a couple of officials for wrongdoing. As reported by the Vietnam News Agency, the commission issued a warning against Phan Thi My Thanh, deputy secretary of the Party Committee and head of the delegation of National Assembly deputies of Dong Nai Province.

While serving as director of Dong Nai's Department of Industry and Trade and Party secretary of the province's Nhon Trach District, Thanh joined the management of Cuong Hung Co Ltd founded by her husband, which is an infringement of the Law on Anti-Corruption. And while she was vice chairwoman of the provincial People’s Committee, she signed decisions allowing Cuong Hung to invest in a residential project in Phuoc Tan Commune, thus violating the anti-corruption law and Party rules.
Thanh also abused her position as vice chair of the provincial government by signing decisions beyond her executive power allowing the company to trade in construction materials and lease properties. She approved financial support for land clearance in a build-operate-transfer (BOT) road project without going through the provincial People’s Committee or reporting to the provincial People’s Council. What she did amounted to serious violations of investment regulations.
Thanh was not the only official who committed wrongdoing. The commission at the meeting also said disciplinary action should be weighed against Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Ho Thi Kim Thoa. According to the commission, while holding the post of Party Committee secretary and director of Dien Quang Lamp Company from January 2004 to May 2010, Thoa broke the rules on SOE (State-owned enterprise) equitization and procedures, and mishandled VND6.7 billion (some US$298,000) in loan interest exemptions by banks.
She was found to violate the regulations on land management. Dien Quang Company signed a contract with Constrexim, a corporation under the Ministry of Construction, transfer a plot of land in HCMC without prior consent from the land administrator and relevant authorities. She failed to inform relevant authorities of how to use VND30 billion gained from the transfer of that land plot. Thoa also bought more shares than allowed and transferred shares in a way that broke Dien Quang Company’s own rules.

Tuoi Tre newspaper says it is a big shock to the public.

Phan Thi My Thanh repeatedly committed violations but she had been safe for years until the Party Central Committee's Inspection Commission detected her wrongdoing. Cuong Hung Company of her husband is a clear example of interest group. With strong support of corrupt and morally depraved senior officials, interest groups do not have to operate in the dark. The public knows the existence of companies relying on nepotism but they are cleverly disguised and protected by interest groups.

The list of officials who were found to cause colossal losses for the State and damage the credibility of the Party and the State is long.

Vu Dinh Duy, former general director at PVTex, a textile unit of State-owned oil group PVN, is still on the run. His company built a polyester synthetic fiber plant in the northern city of Haiphong, which racked up huge losses. The Government Inspectorate said in a report last year that it had detected violations in the process of constructing and operating the PVTex plant. Foreseeing the consequence of his actions, Duy asked the board of Vinachem, where he was then a board member, for a leave of absence for medical treatment overseas. His request was not approved. But he did not show up for days, leading Vinachem’s management to report to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. His whereabouts remain unknown at the moment. Recently the Ministry of Public Security issued a nationwide arrest warrant for him on charges of causing massive losses for the textile company.

This case is similar to that of Trinh Xuan Thanh, another former leader of a State-owned enterprise where he was accused of causing US$150 million losses. An international arrest warrant was issued for him in September last year.

The huge privileges and support accorded to the enterprises backed by morally depraved officials can easily lead to unfair competition, suppress startups and erode the public trust in the State and the Party. If these problems are not solved once and for all, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's grand plan to build an enabling government and a business environment where all compete on an equal footing could hardly translate into reality.

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