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Cablegate: Vietnam: National Assembly Chairman Sets Out

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

080025Z Nov 01

2001HANOI02914 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ0531

PAGE 01 HANOI 02914 01 OF 02 080046Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 A-00 ACQ-00 CEA-01 CIAE-00
COME-00 CTME-00 DODE-00 ITCE-00 DOTE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00
EB-00 EXME-00 E-00 FAAE-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00
FRB-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 ITC-01 LAB-01 L-00
VCE-00 MOFM-05 MOF-03 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OMB-01
OPIC-01 PA-00 PC-01 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00
SP-00 SSO-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 R-00
EPAE-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00
SWCI-00 /018W
------------------3B6D4C 080046Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4611
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 002914

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON VM DPOL
SUBJECT: VIETNAM: NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CHAIRMAN SETS OUT
LEGISLATIVE AGENDA FOR 2002.


1. SUMMARY: AT A RECENT BRIEFING FOR THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS, MR.
VU MAO, CHAIRMAN, OFFICE OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, SET OUT THE
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY'S LEGISLATIVE AGENDA FOR 2002. THE THREE MAJOR
TASKS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY WILL BE: REVIEW OF THE ECONOMY AND
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 02914 01 OF 02 080046Z
APPROVAL OF THE FIVE YEAR PLAN; APPROVAL OF THE BUDGET; AND
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION. THE NATIONAL ASSEMBY IS SET TO
CONVENE ON NOVEMBER 20 FOR THE NEXT SESSION. SOME OF MAO'S
COMMENTS WERE CLEARLY DESIGNED FOR HIS "WESTERN" AND DONOR-
COUNTRY AUDIENCE, BUT HE DID SHED SOME LIGHT ON CURRENT
VIETNAMESE PRIORITIES. END SUMMARY.

ECONOMY, BUDGET & CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM

2. BY THE END OF 2001, THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY WILL NEED TO REVIEW
THE ECONOMY AND SET TASKS FOR 2002, INCLUDING APPROVAL OF THE
BUDGET AND TARGETS FOR GROWTH RATE, INFLATION, ETC. THE
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY WILL ALSO NEED TO LOOK AT THE CONSTITUTION IN
TERMS OF NECESSARY REVISIONS TO MAKE CLEAR THAT THE GOVERNMENT
ENCOURAGES "ALL ECONOMIC PLAYERS", ACCORDING TO MAO.

3. MAO CITED DIFFICULTIES THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS HAVING IN
MOVING FROM A CENTRAL PLANNED SYSTEM TO MORE MARKET BASED AND
NOTED THAT THE PROBLEMS WILL ONLY GET WORSE IF NOT ADDRESSED.
THERE CONTINUES TO BE SERIOUS CONFUSION BETWEEN "GOVERNMENT
MANAGEMENT" AND "BUSINESS MANAGEMENT." THE MINISTRIES ARE OFTEN
SO BUSY WORKING ON MANAGING THEIR STATE-OWNED ENTERPRISES THAT
THEY NEGLECT THEIR "GOVERNANCE DUTIES" HE CHARGED.

4. THE WORK OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY REGARDING CONSTITUTIONAL
REVISIONS WILL FOCUS ON: ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM ISSUES;
ADMINISTRATION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY; AND ELECTIONS.
ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM WILL INCLUDE ISSUES RELATED TO COURTS AND
PROSECUTORY PROCESS (BY END 2002), LOCAL GOVERNMENT RULES, AND
RULES REGARDING THE PEOPLE'S COUNCILS (BY END 2004).

UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 02914 01 OF 02 080046Z
5. MAO DETAILED THE NEED TO REVISE THE CONSTITUTION (SEPTEL),
NOTING THAT ALTHOUGH THE PROCESS OF REFORM HAS BEEN ONGOING FOR
15 YEARS, PROBLEMS AND CHALLENGES REMAIN. THE GOVERNMENT
ADMINISTRATION CANNOT MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE NATION. IN
PARTICULAR, THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY NEEDS ADDITIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE
SUPPORT, ESPECIALLY SINCE IT STARTED TO TELEVISE DEBATES. FOR
THE FIRST TIME, THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HAS TO RESPOND TO QUESTIONS
FROM THE PEOPLE, AND THE GOVERNMENT MUST RESPOND TO QUESTIONS
FROM THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.

6. ACCORDING TO MAO, THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CURRENTLY DOES NOT
HAVE THE DEPTH OR BREADTH OF TALENT TO DRAFT OR APPROVE
SUFFICIENT LAWS TO MEET THE NEEDS OF A "RULES-BASED" GOVERNMENT.
STAFF LEVELS FOR THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ARE LOW - ONLY 300
STAFFERS COMPARED WITH 3000 FOR THE JAPANESE DIET - AND NOW THE
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IS FACING DOWNSIZING DEMANDS MADE OF ALL
GOVERNMENT OFFICES. MOST MEMBERS SERVE ONLY ON A PART-TIME BASIS
AND THE "QUALITY" OF MEMBERS IS HIGHLY UNEVEN ACCORDING TO MAO.
HE WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY RANKS INCREASE TO 500
FROM 450 MEMBERS AND TO "BETTER REPRESENT THE 60 PROVINCES,
MINORITIES, AND WOMEN."

7. THERE IS ALSO AN INTERNAL DEBATE ON THE APPROACH NEW LAWS
SHOULD TAKE. THAT IS, SHOULD LAWS ALLOW ALL ACTIVITIES IN AN AREA
EXCEPT THOSE WHICH ARE SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITED? OR SHOULD LAWS
PROHIBIT ALL ACTIVITIES EXCEPT THOSE WHICH ARE SPECIFICALLY
ALLOWED? (N.B. THIS IS THE "NEGATIVE LIST" VS "POSITIVE LIST"
DEBATE.) MAO NOTED THAT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CAN ONLY PASS
ABOUT 10 LAWS A YEAR UNDER THE CURRENT RULES BECAUSE EACH
INDIVIDUAL ARTICLE OF EACH LAW MUST BE DISCUSSED. ADDITIONALLY,
THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY LACKS EXPERIENCED STAFF FOR DRAFTING LAWS
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 02914 01 OF 02 080046Z
SO THE QUALITY OF LEGISLATION IS OFTEN POOR, REQUIRING ADDITIONAL
DEBATE. (N.B. AT PRESENT, GOVERNMENT AGENCIES DRAFT LEGISLATION
WITH LITTLE TO NO CONSULTATION BETWEEN MINISTRIES.)

8. REGARDING REFORM OF THE COURTS AND PROSECUTORY PROCESS, THE
GOAL OF THE SYSTEM SHOULD BE TO IMPLEMENT JUSTICE, BUT MANY CASES
RESULT IN UNFAIR JUDGEMENTS, MAO SAID. THERE IS A NEED TO MAKE
COURTS MORE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR DECISIONS. A VIETNAM WHERE
THERE IS RULE OF LAW AND "DEMOCRACY" IS THE GOAL. HOWEVER, IN
CERTAIN CASES, THERE ARE PROBLEMS WITH VIOLATIONS OF CITIZENS'
RIGHTS. IN ADDITION, SOME PUBLIC EMPLOYEES EXPECT BRIBES TO DO
THEIR JOBS OR TAKE PAYMENT TO ISSUE WAIVERS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF
GAPS IN THE LAW. TO DEAL WITH THESE PROBLEMS, VIETNAM NEEDS TO
CHANGE THE LEGAL ENVIRONMENT AS WELL AS CHANGE ATTITUDES AMONG
PUBLIC SERVANTS.

9. MAO ALSO DISCUSSED THE NEED TO CLARIFY THE RESPONSIBILITIES
OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS VS CENTRAL GOVERNMENT AND TO LOOK AT GREATER
AUTONOMY FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS. HE NOTED THAT IN VIETNAM, THE
CENTRAL GOVERNMENT IS INVOLVED IN ALL AREAS - BUT THAT THERE
NEEDS TO BE GREATER DECENTRALIZATION IN AREAS LIKE EDUCATION AND
SOCIAL SERVICES. LOCAL GOVERNMENTS ARE COMPLAINING AND THE
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY NEEDS TO LOOK AT WAYS TO EMPOWER THEM AS WELL
AS WAYS TO IMPROVE THE "QUALITY" OF LOCAL OFFICIALS.

10. REGARDING GREATER AUTONOMY FOR HO CHI MINH CITY, MAO NOTED
THAT IN VIETNAM, GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION WORKS ON 4 LEVELS -
CENTRAL, PROVINCIAL, DISTRICT, AND COMMUNE. THE HCMC DEBATE IS
ABOUT THE DISTRICT LEVEL ADMINISTRATION - SHOULD IT CONTINUE TO
EXIST AND IF SO, IN WHAT AREAS? HCMC HAS PROPOSED REMOVING THE
PEOPLE'S COUNCIL AT THE DISTRICT LEVEL BECAUSE THE NUMEROUS
DIFFERENT COUNCILS PREVENT EFFECTIVE GOVERNANCE OF HCMC AS A
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 02914 02 OF 02 080046Z
SINGLE CITY. MAO ARGUED THAT THE DISTRICT LEVEL WAS STILL
REQUIRED IN RURAL AREAS AND THE PROPOSAL WAS CONTRARY TO THE
EXISTING CONSTITUTION. (N.B. HE DIDN'T ADDRESS WHETHER THE
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY WILL ADDRESS THIS ISSUE SPECIFICALLY WHEN
CONSIDERING AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION.)

11. MAO CONCLUDED HIS TALK WITH AN APPEAL TO DONORS FOR
INCREASED TRAINING AND TECHINICAL ASSISTANCE FOR NATIONAL
ASSEMBLY MEMBERS AND STAFF IN ORDER TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF
GOVERNANCE IN VIETNAM. HE NOTED THAT MOST ASSISTANCE GOES TO THE
CENTRAL GOVERNMENT - NOT TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OR THE
JUDICIARY BRANCH, WHICH ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR EFFECTING CHANGE IN
VIETNAM.

12. COMMENT: SOME OF MAO'S COMMENTS WERE CLEARLY DESIGNED FOR
HIS "WESTERN" AND DONOR-COUNTRY AUDIENCE - LIKE INCREASING THE
PARTICIPATION OF MINORITIES AND WOMEN IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY -
BUT HE DID SHED SOME LIGHT ON CURRENT VIETNAMESE PRIORITIES.
INTERESTINGLY, HE DID NOT ONCE MENTION THE RATIFICATION OF THE
BTA AS A PRIORITY FOR THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, WHEN IN FACT MANY
OTHERS, INCLUDING TOP PARTY LEADERS, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND THE
PRESS, HAVE EMPHASIZED IT AS A NUMBER ONE PRIORITY FOR THE
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY WHEN IT RECONVENES IN LATE NOVEMBER.
PORTER

UNCLASSIFIED

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