Former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has just suddenly reappeared on television when he gave an interview to VTV, in which he praised the contribution of the Central Economic Commission, which he said as “the strategic advisory body of the Party,” for the socio-economic development of Vietnam.
According to some domestic political experts and observers, the re-appearance of Mr. Dung, who used to be the head of the Central Economic Commission, on the 70th anniversary of its founding is “normal” but also “credit something about balance” power ahead of the 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) scheduled for January 2021.
Mr. Dung, who served as the PM from 2006 to 2016, after “losing position” at the 12th National Congress, appeared on Vietnam Television on September 18 when he was interviewed about the contributions of the Central Economic Commission in the international integration process.
“Under the leadership of the Party, implementing comprehensive reforms, we have consistently implemented the foreign policy of independence, autonomy, peace, friendship, cooperation, and development,” Dung said in an interview with VTV on the celebration of the traditional day of the Central Economic Commission, which was published in full text on the website of the Government e-newspaper.
“As the Party’s strategic advisory body on socio-economic issues, the Central Economic Commission has made an important contribution to the planning and properly and creatively implementing the major guidelines and policies of our Party on rapid and sustainable socio-economic development of the country,” said Dung in his first televised appearance since he asked to “end his mission” in 2016. The last time he spoke and was recorded by the media at his last meeting as prime minister in March 2016, in which he advised retired members of the government, including himself, “try to be a good person, live a good life.”
Nhat Dinh about the sudden return of Mr. Dung, economist Le Dang Doanh said that the person who led the Central Commission during the 1996-1997 period on television talked about “an important advisory body of the Party on its anniversary occasion is “normal.”
“It is normal for the former PM and former Politburo member to have his opinion,” said Dr. Doanh, a former member of the economic advisory group for Dung’s predecessors. “Because in Vietnam they still have a high political position and Nguyen Tan Dung has made a lot of economic efforts, his speech is relatively normal in Vietnamese society.”
Sharing the same viewpoint with Mr. Doanh, Dr. Nguyen Quang A, also a senior economist, thinks that it is not uncommon for a former head of the Central Economic Commission to “appear at its anniversary.”
Dr. Quang A added “But perhaps it is strange because before the 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam and it is really something everyone knows that he (Dung), Mr. Trong and this side had some tough problems in the past. And in such a context, Mr. (Dung) seldom appears, and only attended funerals or commemorative events but did not speak. But this time he said that I think it might be some signal of the equilibrium of the different (power) groups in the Communist Party of Vietnam.”
At the 12th National Congress 2016, Mr. Dung “withdrew” to “retire from policy” after speculation that he would run for the position of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam with Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong.
The current Head of the Central Economic Commission is Mr. Nguyen Van Binh, who was the governor of the State Bank of Vietnam in the government led by Dung.
The anti-corruption campaign led by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, called “burning the furnace” by the domestic media, gained more power in his hands when he held the position of the state president in October 2018 after then-President Tran Dai Quang passed away. Trong was said to target Dung through a series of “big crimes” involving many government officials, bank leaders, and the police generals, leading to the arrest and prosecution of former Minister of Transportation Dinh La Thang, and former oil and gas industry official Trinh Xuan Thanh. Both are in prison to serve their lengthy sentences.
At the end of August, Mr. Dung’s son, Nguyen Thanh Nghi- the party secretary of the Kien Giang Provincial Party Committee, and dozens of officials of this province were disciplined due to land violations in the 2011-2017 period. According to some political observers, this incident was an internal purge of the Party before the 13th National Congress.
After two terms of leadership, according to domestic media, Mr. Dung has left “imprints,” such as opening up the market and bringing Vietnam deeper into the world economy, and the post-economic results are “serious” as many experts assess because of the failure of the state economic model.
However, Mr. Dung’s economic reforms, in which he pushed Vietnam to become a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), were criticized by conservative members of the party, led by General Secretary Nguyen Phuc Trong, according to Deutsche Welle. They were concerned that his economic openness is too early and far-reaching, for fear that Vietnam might soon deviate from the path of socialism.