Cablegate: Politburo Member Welcomes Cg: Government Workings And

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. (SBU) SUMMARY: In an initial courtesy call Consul General
Winnick asked Secretary Triet about the relationship between the
Communist Party and the legislative assemblies; the role of the
Politburo in Vietnamese government, and preparations and
expectations for the Tenth Party Congress. On the latter, Triet
said preparatory work for the Congress in early 2006 were
underway. He expected the Party Congress to provide for policy
continuity and continuation of broad directives of the 1991
Congress. (Comment: The Party's internal review process over the
next 18 months will likely set Vietnam's course for the next five
to ten years, a factor we should keep in mind as we orient our
bilateral interactions. End Comment.)
End Summary.

2. (SBU) Newly-arrived CG Winnick met August 12 with Ho Chi Minh
City Party Secretary Nguyen Minh Triet, the fourth-ranking member
of the Politburo. Triet also leads the HCMC delegation in the
National Assembly and CG asked him to explain the role of the
National Assembly. According to Triet, the National Assembly
operates like legislatures of other nations; issues discussed and
resolved in the committees of the ruling party are brought up for
debate and passage in the National Assembly. (Comment: Triet's
multiple roles as Secretary of the HCMC Communist Party, leading
member of the Politburo and leader in the National Assembly blur
the distinction somewhat. End Comment)

3. (SBU) This relationship between the Central Communist Party
and National Assembly plays out in similar fashion on the
municipal level in HCMC. Triet drew a parallel between the
national level interplay and his own relationship, as Secretary of
the HCMC Communist Party, with the People's Committee of HCMC and
the People's Council of HCMC. As secretary of the HCMC Communist
Party, he mobilizes Party morale and establishes broad precepts
for the local Party. The Party's role is not to run the city's
daily affairs, a task left to the People's Committee. Rather the
Party's mandate is to promote morale, educate members about their
party and ensure that the Party is a positive force in the city.
The Party drafts proposals for the broad orientation of policy for
the next five years (the Five Year Plan) and submits these
proposals to the People's Council for a vote. Within the People's
Committee and the People's Council, Party members are expected to
apply Party precepts and advocate Party interests. Accountability
and reporting from the municipal level to the national level also
separates the Communist Party from other Vietnamese political
institutions. Whereas the Chairman of the People's Council of
HCMC is directly accountable to the Chairman of the National
Assembly and the Chairman of the People's Committee reports to the
Prime Minister, Triet reports directly to the General Secretary of
the Central Communist Party.

4. (SBU) Triet also discussed the role of the HCMC delegation to
the National Assembly. The responsibility of the delegation is to
represent the people of HCMC and express their concerns and
proposals. Triet heads the delegation, which has 26 members, of
whom 18 are elected by the people of HCMC and 8 are allocated by
the central government. The delegates receive direct petitions
from HCMC constituents and listen to their concerns. They then
discuss the different ideas of their constituents and determine
which proposals should be brought to the attention of the standing
committees of the National Assembly. There is normally a month
between receiving petitions from constituents and the general
session of the National Assembly, during which the HCMC delegation
has ample time to debate the issues and proposals brought to their
attention. After the session at the National Assembly, the city
delegation briefs its constituents to ensure that their concerns
have been addressed.

5. (SBU) CG asked Triet to comment on the relationship between
the Politburo and the National Assembly, specifically, if the
Politburo directly advises Prime Minister Khai. Triet explained
that the Politburo only addresses general questions of policy and
brings these issues to the attention of the Executive Committee of
the Communist Party. It is then the responsibility of the Party
committees to ensure that Party members who serve at the National
Assembly accurately reflect the Politburo directives at
legislative sessions. Therefore, the relationship between the
Politburo and the National Assembly is an indirect one. Of the 14
Politburo members, 12 are from the Communist Party Central
Committee, and the other two are the secretaries of the Hanoi and
HCMC Communist Parties. CG asked Triet if his tripartite role as
a member of the Politburo, Secretary of the HCMC Communist Party
and head of the HCMC delegation to the National Assembly provided
an advantage to HCMC in the National Assembly in the formulation
of policy. Triet did not answer directly, but pointed out that it
seemed logical in light of the dynamics of Vietnam for the heads
of the local parties for the two most important municipalities in
Vietnam to sit on the Politburo.

6. (SBU) CG asked Triet about the upcoming Tenth Party Congress to
be held early in 2006. Triet indicated that preparations are
underway. In July 2004, the Central Party convened subcommittees
to prepare for the Congress. Thus far, four subcommittees have
been formed. The first subcommittee-the Documentation
Subcommittee- will analyze the accomplishments of the past five
years. The second subcommittee, the Social-Economic Subcommittee
will set the next Five Year Plan. A third subcommittee-the Party
Construction Subcommittee- will both reflect on the past Five Year
Plan and look forward to the new Five Year Plan; it will review
and criticize the Party over the past five years while mobilizing
Party cadres and promoting party spirit and loyalty. A fourth
subcommittee will handle logistics, such as travel and scheduling.
Triet did not provide a timeline for the work to be done in the
subcommittees but indicated that at least two years of preparation
was expected. When their work is complete, the subcommittees
will forward their recommendations to the Party's Central
Committee and the Politburo. Ultimately, the Central Committee
will act by majority vote. Triet indicated that the Tenth Party
Congress would be open to new ideas in a way that will encourage
"building socialism" in Vietnam and was careful to not give any
indications that the Party Congress would usher in a new
orientation. He explicitly noted that the principles of the 1991
Party Congress would remain the guiding force. CG pointed out
that the world had greatly changed since 1991. Triet responded
that these long-term guiding principles -- peace and stability and
building socialism in Vietnam - have not changed.

7. (SBU) CG asked about foreign observers at Party Congresses.
Triet said that past Congresses have invited political figures
from other Communist or Socialist Parties from abroad to attend.
CG suggested that the Tenth Party Congress consider inviting
foreign observers, including Americans. Triet seemed surprised,
commenting that it certainly would be a novel idea. He added
that, because some invitees had failed to attend in the past, the
Party would need assurances in advance that invitees would accept
their invitations.

8. (SBU) Bio Note: A southerner and long-time resident of HCMC,
Nguyen Minh Triet, 62, has been Secretary of the HCMC Communist
Party for four years. Triet is ranked fourth in the Politburo,
after the Party Chairman, the President, and the PM. He is
considered a candidate to succeed PM Phan Van Khai. Triet also is
a contender for the Chairman of the Fatherland Front Committee,
when this position becomes vacant in 2006. A progressive force
with the VNCP, Triet was the first provincial leader to promote
special "red carpet" incentive programs to attract foreign
investment and streamline bureaucracy when he was the CP Secretary
of Binh Duong Province. Triet is an engaging interlocutor, and
appears to relish debate on more controversial topics. He became
leader of the HCMC delegation in the National Assembly in late
2002. Triet has good English comprehension.


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