by Tao Jun, Bui Long
HANOI, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- As early as 2006, the Communist Party of Vietnam considered corruption as "one of the biggest threats to the existence of our party and regime."
Now Vietnam's anti-corruption campaign has expanded into once sensitive spheres, dealing with major cases and interest groups with an iron hand, said Vietnamese scholars.
Vietnam is swiftly taking vigorous measures similar to prevent and combat corruption in party organizations at the highest level as well as in the army, Vo Dai Luoc, former director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics under the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua.
Vietnam has sacked and detained a member of the Political Bureau (Politburo) under the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee (CPVCC), and is going to prosecute him.
Vietnam has also disciplined some leaders and former leaders of cities and provinces and corporate executives who were once police or army officers.
On Dec. 20, only 12 days after detaining ousted political bureau member Dinh La Thang, Vietnamese police proposed prosecuting him and six other defendants on two counts of intentionally violating state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences, and on abusing position and power to misappropriate assets at the state-owned National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam or PVN).
Earlier in May, Thang was removed from the Politburo and relieved of his post as secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee.
On Dec. 8, Thang, CPVCC member and deputy head of the CPVCC's Economic Commission and former chairman of the PVN board of members, was detained for his role in the losses of 800 billion Vietnamese dong (nearly 35.4 million U.S. dollars) related to PVN's investment in OceanBank.
Some other former PVN executives and Thang's younger brother, a businessman, were also detained for their involvement in serious legal violations that caused great economic losses and negatively affected the prestige of the party organization and related individuals.
In October, one month before the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Leaders' Week, Vietnam's biggest external relations event in 2017, took place in Da Nang, the country's third-largest city, Nguyen Xuan Anh was dismissed from the positions of secretary of the Da Nang Party Committee, and member of the CPVCC.
In December, the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security issued a wanted notice for Phan Van Anh Vu, better known as Vu "nhom" (aluminum) because of his metalwork job in the past, a realty tycoon in Da Nang, for deliberately disclosing state secrets. Vu, according to local media reports, previously served as a police senior lieutenant colonel with close ties to Anh.
Local media in December also reported that another business tycoon, Dinh Ngoc He, better known as "Ut troc", (bald Ut) has been disciplined by the army. He was an army senior lieutenant colonel, heading an infrastructure development affiliate of Thai Son Corporation under the Ministry of Defense.
Vietnam has disciplined officials in office, but also those who have already retired.
In mid-December, the CPVCC decided to dismiss Pham Van Vong, former secretary of northern Vinh Phuc province's Party Committee from 2010 to 2015, from the position for the 2010-2015 term.
Vong was found to have violated the principle of democratic centralism, the working regulations of the provincial Party Committee and other regulations of the party and the state when making decisions to appoint officials.
Also in mid-December, the CPVCC decided to relieve Ngo Van Tuan, former Secretary of central Thanh Hoa province's Party Committee, from all posts he held in the party. From 2010 to 2015, as secretary of the Thanh Hoa Party Committee and director of the provincial Construction Department, Tuan violated the principle of democratic centralism and the regulations of the party and the state on personnel work.
Earlier in January, Vu Huy Hoang was stripped of his title as former Minister of Industry and Trade in the 2011-2016 tenure due to his violations in personnel work. Later, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa was removed from office for her violations when she led a local company.
To prevent and fight against corruption, Vietnam is centering on improving party construction and patching loopholes in political and economic institutions.
Regarding party construction, in the past, Vietnam focused on only three fields, Luoc said. The first is party construction in terms of politics. The second is party construction in terms of ideology and thought. The third is party construction in terms of organization. In 2016, Vietnam added party construction in terms of virtue.
"This new addition is very important. If party members, who are often officials in state agencies, are virtuous, they will devote their whole life for the life of other people, they will not become corrupt," Luoc stated.
The Vietnamese scholar said there are three ways of minimize corruption -- making officials not want, dare not, and unable to be corrupt.
"I think the third way is the best way, making officials unable to engage in corruption," he said, proposing that the state should consider the private sector a fundamental economic force, reduce state ownership in most sectors, and let private firms invest and do business in these sectors.
Being allowed to be in charge of such sectors as rubber, steel and minerals, private firms will use land and capital much more effectively than state-owned enterprises, gradually eliminating the current "ask-give" mechanism which incubates corruption, Luoc stated.
"But I think it is very hard to take this measure because corrupt officials, and interest groups will protest it very strongly. But if we don't do this, we will never develop," he said.
Do Tien Sam, former director of the Institute of Chinese Studies under the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, recently told Xinhua that no matter how hard it is, more effective measures should be taken to prevent power from being abused, and party members as well as public servants from becoming corrupt and from forming interest groups.
Last month, Vietnam's Central Steering Committee on Anti-Corruption agreed on plans to finalize the investigation, prosecution and judgment regarding 23 corruption and economic cases in 2017 and in the first quarter of 2018.
Addressing a meeting of the steering committee's standing board in November, CPVCC General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, who is also the head of the steering committee, urged authorized agencies to smoothly coordinate to accelerate the investigation, prosecution and judgment of urgent corruption cases.
Like the CPVCC, which is combating corruption vigorously at all levels, the Vietnamese government is doing the same.
The government has recently issued a resolution on its action program on anti-corruption until 2020, defining eight main groups of tasks to be performed by then.