The 13th Plenum of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV)’s Central Committee for the 12th tenure is taking place in Hanoi from October 5 and is scheduled to close on October 10.
At this plenum, the 200-member Central Committee is discussing and commenting on as well as reviewing the socio-economic situation in 2020, the socio-economic development plan for 2021 of Vietnam, as well as continued to improve the Draft documents submitted to the 13th National Congress of the party scheduled to meet early next year.
General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, in his opening speech to the conference widely disseminated by the Vietnamese media, urged the delegates to focus on research and insight into socio-economic and public development and personnel affairs, preparing for the National Congress which takes for every five years.
In particular, the personnel work of the Central Committee in the 13th term, identified at the plenum is an important content besides a number of other issues, however, some Vietnamese political observers questioned whether the personnel staff is strong but the party direction is still weak.
Three observers from Hanoi and Saigon shared with BBC News Vietnamese their initial overview of what questions citizens can expect from the plenum.
What are real expectations?
Dr. Mai Thanh Son (Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences in Hanoi) pointed out 4 contents that the plenum are working on:
Contents of the document submitted to the upcoming National Congress
Personnel work of Central Committee for the 13th tenure
Evaluation of the socio-economic situation in 2020;
Socio-economic development plan for 2021.
“According to Vietnamese practice, the document of each party national congress is a ‘guideline’ for the next 5-year socio-economic development plan. Therefore, this is always a popular content concerned by the people most.”
“And the question I am very anxious to know: in the next five years, what will ‘strategic breakthroughs’ be?“
And from Saigon, Associate Professor Mac Van Trang wants to see if the Party has advocated and changed domestic and foreign policies.
“But about personnel, like this plenum and maybe after this plenum can discuss and continue to discuss if not finished.”
“Many retired revolutionary cadres pay attention to the personnel issue while ordinary people see not differently who will rise and who will retire.”
Mr. Trang said people are expecting real and meaningful changes in terms of guidelines, policies and guidelines from democratization to taxation, and encouragement and support for domestic enterprises, etc.
“Currently, it is found that there are still many people, people in difficulty, especially in weak and disadvantaged areas, they are still very miserable. Therefore, specific improvements are needed, including in terms of healthcare, education, and others.”
From Hanoi, researcher Le Van Sinh (former lecturer in the History Department, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Hanoi National University) wants to know if the Party can discuss and come up with a wise economic-political draft plan.
“Will Vietnam become a country with both economic development and political stability, the people believe in the party and government? That is the best way to be independent step by step from China and firmly protect national sovereignty,” Mr. Sinh determined.
“However, this depends on whether the Party leadership realizes they need to, inevitably, implement democracy in the party and proceed to democratize the country’s politics.”
Human resources “strong” but with “weak” approach?
When asked what was most interested in the speech of CPV General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong during the opening session of this plenum, observers told the BBC.
Mac Van Trang said “nothing new.”
“There are still struggles on domestic and foreign policies, and especially human resources. They seem to be most worried about human resources, but in fact, it is still party’s internal issue and people do not care much.”
“They are worried about how to balance factions, between regions, between ages, and between vertical, horizontal, central and local branches of power, and then discourage each other from lobbying.
“It seems that internally they are very worried about personnel issues because if they do not settle and bargain well with each other, the party can be broken, unstable, reveal many things, but for the people, I think they do not care that personnel issue.”
Mr. Le Van Sinh pays attention to two issues:
“The first is whether in 5 working days, the current Central Committee will select a new leadership team (more than 200 people) that is really the quintessence of not only the party, but of the Vietnamese people also? Can they remove the opportunists and those who have lobbied?”
“And second, will the plenum deliver progressive political drafts that are free of dogmatic, old, outdated, and out of tune?”
If no results are reached, will there be more doubts?
Before the question of whether the above questions and concerns can be met with satisfactory results or not at this plenum or to wait until the next conference, or to the opening of the Congress, the specialists said as follow.
Mr. Mai Thanh Son does not pay much attention to whether this plenum can solve all 4 issues raised by the General Secretary.
“However, as far as I know, the subcommittees have had quite a long time to prepare documents as well as personnel to submit to the congress. The time from now to the opening day of the 13th National Congress is not much, the unification in the Central Committee of the party at this time is necessary.”
“If this plenum does not achieve the results as directed and expected by the General Secretary, I fear that the public will have doubts about solidarity in the Central Committee.”
Mr. Mac Van Trang believes there must be two more plenums before the Congress opens.
“Especially with the Communist parties, in terms of personnel, they are very scared, because essentially they do not have freedom, democracy, no freedom of election, freedom of election, but instead are arrangements and bargains internally, so their National Congress is just formal.”
Mr. Le Van Sinh feared that the above-mentioned issues as expected, or concerned, cannot be resolved by the end of this plenum.
“Simply because there has not been a symptom that reflects the innovation in the political lines and the ruling mindset of those holding power of the Party, similar to the eve of economic innovation at the 6th National Congress.”
In the months leading up to the National Congress, right before and between the final plenums of the 12th tenure, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong has made a number of articles presenting his views as the most senior leader of the party.
In his articles, the General Secretary has expressed some “concerns” according to state media, when he specifically emphasized the goals and responsibilities of the leadership of the party, the Central Committee and the 13th National Congress as “we must build a Central Committee, a Politburo and a strong, truly united Secretariat.”
When asked whether this statement or message has meaning, hidden language and whether it can be done as the VCP leader “concerns” as well as how it can be achieved, the officials closely told the BBC their opinions.
Mr. Mai Thanh Son said that the General Secretary was “very sincere and straightforward to imply that the Politburo and the Central Committee currently are not really strong and united.”
“The opportunity components always have. Besides, the status of sectarian/group interests, localism, psychological developments in the negative direction of some individuals when sitting on the important positions.”
“All of these factors can create great challenges in the work of party cadres. Instead of just ‘burning the furnace,’ it means dealing with cadres when ‘the crimes were committed for years. In the past, the party needs to strengthen monitoring/supervision, expanding democracy among the people (not just within the party), having flexible, responsive, and timely accountability and feedback mechanisms.“
Finally, news and political commentators from Hanoi and Saigon share with BBC News their Vietnamese projections on the results of the ongoing plenum.
Mr. Mai Thanh Son did not expect much from the most fundamental.
“The plenum may close a groundbreaking policy in thinking or thought and a more reasonable socio-economic development model in the near future.”
Mr. Mac Van Trang thinks that this plenum has yet to be determined.
“This plenum is still just for discussion and consideration and in the process of discussion, there is still to listen to a lot of public opinions, as well as many trends, so it must not be clear.”
“I emphasize that when the communist party convenes the National Congress, they already made decisions needed and voting during the event is formal, and nothing can be changed, or very little has changed.”
Mr. Le Van Sinh thought that the plenum will get the results that Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong wanted.
“But I do not expect a positive change in the preparation of groundbreaking political documents to be submitted to the upcoming National Congress, including for a strong, united, intelligent leadership to lead the country.”