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Cablegate: Rape -- Or Corruption? -- Takes Down Senior Official

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





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) According to media reports, Prime Minister Phan Van
Khai on February 25 suspended Vice Chairman of the National
Committee for Sports Luong Quoc Dung following his arrest
February 19 on charges of child abuse. Dung reportedly has
already confessed to having sex with a 13 year old girl in
Hanoi on December 30, 2003. Media reports indicated that
Dung has also already been suspended from the Communist
Party of Vietnam (CPV), although one source indicated that
the CPV's Control Commission had so far only recommended
suspension to the CPV Secretariat, which had yet to announce
a decision. Dung is not/not a member of the CPV's Central

2. (SBU) According to one Vietnamese journalist, the CPV's
Commission on Ideology and Culture had on February 20
requested in writing that the media not to cover the case
absent official guidance. However, the Ministry of Public
Security released details of the case on February 21, and an
MPS-controlled newspaper broke the news. Other national
newspapers then quickly picked up the sensational story,
which has become a hot topic of conversation in Hanoi.

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3. (U) There are, however, widespread suspicions that
there is much more to this case than meets the eye. One
popular opinion is that the case has more to do with
corruption than with the rape charges. Dung -- the
equivalent of a vice minister -- was apparently the senior
official responsible for the nationwide construction program
of new sports facilities used in the December 2003 SEA Games
competitions, a multi-million dollar undertaking. Rumors
suggest that he has been targeted -- perhaps even framed --
by those who feel they did not receive a fair share of
kickbacks. (Separately, Prime Minister Khai has requested
inspections of all buildings erected for the SEA Games, with
the inspectors commanded to "identify the individuals
responsible for . . . deficiencies.") Others have suggested
that Dung is the victim of political in-fighting of another,
unspecified kind. Most agree that there must have been a
fairly high-level green light to publish stories on the case
at all.

4. (U) Comment: If the case is true, the GVN actions to
move vigorously on a legal case, and to reveal information
about Dung's wrongdoing in the local media, are welcome
signs of a determination to act against even fairly senior
wrongdoers. What must be disturbing to GVN and CPV
officials, however, is the cynicism -- at least among the
Hanoi public -- that the coverage has already provoked,
another sign of the CPV's diminishing credibility despite
its campaign to clean house against what General Secretary
Nong Duc Manh and other leaders have publicly warned were
"degenerate lifestyles" among its members and officials.

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