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Cablegate: The Cpv Tries to Re-Vet Itself; Pr Stunt?

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HANOI 002996

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SOCI VM DPOL
SUBJECT: THE CPV TRIES TO RE-VET ITSELF; PR STUNT?

REF: A. HANOI 2365 B. HANOI 2175

- C. FBIS SEP20031028000088

1. (U) Summary. By Ho Chi Minh's 115th birthday
anniversary in 2005, the CPV will in principle have re-
certified the qualifications of each and every member to
ensure that all meet the CPV high standards for behavior.
Only then may they receive one of the new, more hi-tech
membership cards. The CPV will notably examine cases of
poor party discipline, as well as malfeasance and
participation in other "social evils." Its overall
reluctance in the past to expel non-performing members bodes
ill for success in this campaign, which seems primarily
another public relations campaign to try to convince the
public that the CPV does care about allegations of bad
behavior in its midst. The bottom line remains, however,
that the CPV's self-policing mechanisms remain weak. End
summary.

2. (U) The Secretariat of the Communist Party of Vietnam
(CPV) issued a formal directive on October 24 mandating that
all CPV members go through a new re-vetting process in order
to qualify for newly issued membership cards over the next
eighteen months. In a meeting with Pol/C on November 14,
head of the office of the CPV's central Organization
Department Dr. Nguyen Duy Hung described the program and its
goals. (The CPV's website -- www.cpv.org.vn -- carries the
full directive, which FBIS translated in ref c.)

Going hi-tech
-------------

3. (U) Dr. Hung highlighted that this was only the second
time that the CPV had undertaken such a comprehensive
membership renewal. The 1979 precedent was only an
"exchange" of cards, whereas the current campaign is a
"change" of cards and is meant to require more in-depth
scrutiny of the qualification of current CPV members. He
noted, however, that such self-scrutiny remained an
"ongoing" and "consistent" effort by CPV chapters and
offices. Since 1979, members had been issued a membership
"booklet," which Dr. Hung admitted was printed on "bad
quality paper," was bulky, and usually only carried for
events on the CPV's anniversary. Many members no longer
even knew where their membership booklets were, he admitted.

4. (U) The new computer-generated cards will include
photos, personal data about place/date of birth and entry
into the CPV, and an emblem of Ho Chi Minh. Like GVN-issued
national identity cards and driver's licenses, it will be
laminated and sized easily to fit into a billfold.

Reforming bad apples
--------------------

5. (U) Dr. Hung emphasized that the overall goal of the
campaign is to "raise the quality" of CPV members,
particularly on ideological grounds, while claiming that the
CPV was "continuously" trying to do this, not just during
this period of re-vetting. The CPV's goal is not/not to
expel bad members, he stressed, but rather to "improve"
their performance and character. Currently, the CPV expels
only about 0.01 to 0.02 pct of its 2.5 million members in
any given year, he said, predicting that the ratio would not
be any higher during the re-vetting process.

6. (U) Major problems that party cells will be looking for
in CPV members are violations related to:
-- CPV "organizational principles," which Dr. Hung
described as the single biggest issue. This includes CPV
members who decline to take part in party activities, who
"lack responsibility," who are "undemocratic," or who act in
an "overly bureaucratic behavior";
-- corruption, which Hung claimed was only a "small
problem" (note: contrary to other major party campaigns
against corruption in its midst, as described in refs a and
b. end note);
-- support for CPV policies;
-- humanitarian practices and "character." Hung cited 19
major CPV precepts for behavior, including "lacking culture"
and prohibitions on gambling, use of narcotics, frequenting
prostitutes, or regular public drunkenness. Hung admitted
that inebriation itself was not frowned upon per se, as this
was seen as a somewhat regular occurrence in official
Vietnamese society. He noted that these "social problems"
had increased among CPV members in the more free-wheeling
society of the doi moi era, with more opportunities for bad
behavior and more cash. He claimed that CPV "discipline"
was not so much less nowadays as that it had simply been
"enforced less seriously."

7. (U) The CPV directive also specified (although Dr. Hung
did not) that CPV members with "mental problems," who are
subject to complaints and denunciations, or who have an
"unclear personal political history" will not receive new
cards, unless local party committee certify that these
problems have been rectified.

The process
-----------

8. (U) Party cells at all levels will be responsible for
verifying that existing party members remain eligible for
membership in this re-vetting process. Party cells overseas
(which the directive clarified are appointed by the
Politburo itself) will also conduct such reviews. Dr. Hung
admitted at least three CPV cells in the U.S. -- at the SRV
Embassy in Washington, its Consulate General in San
Francisco, and its Mission to the UN in New York -- but
claimed not to know whether or not there are additional
cells in the U.S.

9. (U) In addition to the formal reviews by party cells,
CPV members are also expected to "inspect themselves," as
well as to offer frank criticisms of fellow members whose
conduct does not meet expected standards. Those found
failing to meet standards will nonetheless have six months
to "rectify errors and improve shortcomings." An additional
grace period of no more than six months may be possible in
some cases. If the members still are judged sub-standard,
they will have a chance to resign voluntarily before facing
mandatory expulsion. Dr. Hung reiterated that the CPV's
goal is not to expel members, but to make them better party
members.

10. (U) The issuance/vetting process will begin with the
easy cases -- "outstanding" members and those who have been
awarded the Party Emblem -- who will be issued their new
cards on Ho Chi Minh's birthday May 19, 2004. Subsequent
rounds will take place in 2004 on September 2 and November
7, as well as in 2005 on February 3 and May 19 (the 115th
anniversary of Ho's birth). Despite the options for six
months improvement grace periods, Dr. Hung confirmed that
the process would be entirely completed by that final date.

The face of the CPV today
-------------------------

11. (U) Dr. Hung confirmed that at least 70 pct of today's
CPV members still work for state or party organs, although
he claimed that the CPV was "trying to reach out" to private
sector employees (note: but still not notably to
entrepreneurs in most cases, unlike in China. end note).
He said he did not have exact statistics but guessed that
entries into the CPV were on the upswing, although most new
entrants continued to come from rural areas, not urban
centers. (Note: Young Army draftees remain an important
source of new members, judging from media reports. end
note) The CPV is actively recruiting outstanding students
even in their final year in high school, he added. CPV
regulations require members be at least 18 years old and
literate. Two current CPV members must either endorse or
nominate a candidate, whose application will be inspected by
the CPV cell in the workplace and/or neighborhood. Dr. Hung
confirmed that CPV members may be practicing members of any
recognized religion, although he admitted that Protestant
members were very few due to their low numbers in society as
a whole. He claimed that there had never been any bar
against accepting religious believers into the CPV.

Comment: low chances of success
--------------------------------

12. (U) Despite Dr. Hung's confident prediction that the
results of this re-vetting process would be "wonderfully
successful," the chances of genuinely reforming the behavior
of virtually all of current CPV members are slim at best, as
the CPV has discovered in its mostly ineffective fight
against corruption. The limitations of self-inspection, or
inspection primarily by cronies and friends in local party
chapters, are self-evident, despite the opportunities for
maligning professional competitors or personal enemies.
With the CPV clearly loathe to admit the extent of decay in
standards within its midst through expulsions -- public or
private -- or to engage in meaningful punishment or
sanctions against bad behaving members, the card swapping
project sounds mostly like another public relations gesture
designed to reassure the public that it takes domestic
concerns about malfeasance and misuse of Party positions
seriously, without really doing much to solve the problem.
BURGHARDT

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