After Ho Chi Minh's death, the government was run collectively. Many of these leaders left little impression and were little known outside Vietnam. How much power they wielded was not clear with decisions tending to be collectively made, it is thought, within the Politburo or Central Committee. Le Duan was the dominate leader of North Vietnam after Ho Chi Minh’s death and in first decade of a unified Vietnam until his death in 1986. His conservative, socialist policies drove the Vietnamese economy into the ground. The reform-minded Nguyen Van Linh was selected as General Secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party in 1986.

The conservative Du Muio was General Secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party from 1991 to 1998. President Le Duc Anh and Prime Minister Vo Van Klet were selected 1992. Vo Van Klet was an vocal reformers. The 1990s and eary 2000s was characterized as period of battles between conservatives and reformers. President Nguyen Rhi Binh, a woman who distinguished herself during the Paris Peace Talks in the 1970s, was Vice President of Vietnam from 1992 to 2002 but was not a member of the Central Committee.
Secretary General La Kha Pheiu served as General Secretary and leader of Vietnam from 1997 to 2001. An army commissar, he was very conservative. He was criticized for ineffectiveness and using military intelligence agency to spy on his rivals. Both political and economic reforms were slowed under his leadership. President Tran Duc Luong and Prime Minister Phan Van Khai selected in September 1997.

In the mid 2000s, a three-person collective leadership was responsible for governing Vietnam. This triumvirate consisted of the VCP general secretary (Nong Duc Manh, April 2001– ), the prime minister (Phan Van Khai, September 1997– ), and the president (Tran Duc Luong, September 1997– ). General Secretary Manh headed up not only the VCP but also the 15-member Politburo. President Luong was chief of state, and Prime Minister Khai was head of government. The leadership promoted a "socialist-oriented market economy" and friendly relations with China, Japan, the European Union, Russia, and the United States. Although the leadership presided over a period of rapid economic growth, official corruption and a widening gap between urban wealth and rural poverty remained stubborn problems that eroded authority of the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) .

Le Duan

Le Duan (1907 –1986) was the leader of Vietnam from the time Ho Chi Minh’s death in 1969 to his own death in 1986. He rose in the party hierarchy in the late 1950s and became General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam (VCP) at the 3rd National Congress in 1960. He continued Ho Chí Minh's policy of ruling through collective leadership. From the mid-1960s, when Ho's health was failing, until his own death in 1986, he was the top decision-maker in Vietnam. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Le Duan was born into a lower-class family in Quang Tri. province, in the southern part of French Indochina as Le Van Nhan. Little is known about his family and childhood. He first came in contact with Marxist literature in the 1920s through his work as a railway clerk. Le Duan was a founding member of the Indochina Communist Party (the future Communist Party of Vietnam) in 1930. He was imprisoned in 1931 and released in 1937. From 1937 to 1939 he climbed the party ladder. He was rearrested in 1939, this time for fomenting an uprising in the South. Le Duan was released from jail following the successful communist-led August Revolution. +

In his victory speech, after the fall of Saigon in 1975, Le Duan stated: "Our party is the unique and single leader that organised, controlled and governed the entire struggle of the Vietnamese people from the first day of the revolution." In his speech he congratulated the provisional government in South Vietnam for liberating South Vietnam from imperialism. But not long after that Le Duan purged South Vietnamese who had fought against the North, imprisoning over one million people and setting off a mass exodus and humanitarian disaster. In a 1983 United States Department of State human rights survey the Le Duan regime was called "the single most repressive government in the world." +

Le Duan was a nationalist and during the war he claimed that the "nation and socialism were one". He stressed the importance of building socialism politically, economically and culturally and of defending the socialist fatherland. Ideologically he was often referred to as a pragmatist. He often broke with Marxism-Leninism to stress Vietnam's uniqueness, most notably in agriculture. Le Duan's view of socialism was statist, highly centralised and managerial. In one of his own works, Le Duan talked about "the right of collective mastery", but in practice he opposed this. For instance, party cadres who presented the peasants' demands for higher prices for their products at the National Congress were criticised by Le Duan. His ideas of collective mastery were hierarchical: "Management by the state aims at ensuring the right of the masses to be the collective masters of the country. How then will the state manage its affairs so as to ensure this right of collective mastery?" His answer to this problem was managerial and statist. +

Le Duan During the War with the French and the Vietnam War

During the First Indochina War, Le Duan was an active communist cadre in the South. He headed the Central Office of South Vietnam, a party organ, from 1951 until 1954. In 1956, he wrote "The Road to the South", calling for a non violent revolution to achieve reunification. His thesis became the blueprint for action at the 11th Central Committee Plenum in 1956. Although "The Road to the South" was formally accepted, its implementation waited until 1959. During the 1950s Le Duan became increasingly aggressive towards the South and called for reunification through war. In the aftermath of the 1954 Geneva Accords, which indirectly split Vietnam into North and South, Le Duan was responsible for reorganising the combatants who had fought in South and Central Vietnam.

By the mid-to-late 1950s Le Duan had become the second-most powerful policy-maker within the Party. In the mid 1950s, the party was split by factional rivalry between party boss Truong Chinh and President Ho, who was supported by Võ Nguyên Giáp. This rivalry focused on the issue of land reform in the North. Le Duan remained neutral, allowing him to act as the First Secretary (head of the Communist Party) on Ho's behalf in late 1956. In 1957, he was given a seat in the Politburo. By 1958, Le Duan ranked second only to Ho in the party hierarchy, although Truong Chinh remained powerful.Le Duan was a party man and never held a post in the government.

By 1960 Le Duan was the second-most powerful party member, after party chairman Ho. Throughout the 1960s Ho's health declined and Le Duan assumed more of his responsibilities. Le Duan was officially named party leader in 1960, leaving Ho a figurehead though Ho maintained influence in the government. During the Vietnam War years Le Duan tried to monopolise the decision-making process – this became even more evident following Ho's death. Throughout the war, Le Duan took an aggressive posture. He saw attack as the key to victory. In 1964, Ho's health began to fail and Le Duan, as his trusted underling, more visibly took on day-to-day decision-making responsibilities. Some analysts claim that by 1965 Ho and Le Duan had split and that "for all intents and purposes" Le Duan had sidelined Ho. By the late-1960s, Ho's declining health had weakened his position within the leadership. While Ho was still consulted on important decisions, Le Duan dominated the party. When Ho died on 2 September 1969, the collective leadership he had espoused continued, but Le Duan was first among equals and the most powerful figure in the North. +


Le Duan As Leader of Vietnam After the Vietnam War

When the North finally won the war in 1975, Le Duan and his associates were overly optimistic about the future. After the Vietnam War Vietnam was ruled by a bunch of old men. The Second Five-Year Plan (1976–1980) was a failure and left the Vietnamese economy in crisis. Vietnam became internationally isolated during Le Duan's rule. In 1979 the country had invaded Cambodia and ousted Pol Pot, fought a war with China and became dependent on Soviet economic aid. Le Duan died in 1986 and was succeeded by Truong Chinh. [Source: Wikipedia +]

From the beginning the party leadership had split into pro-Soviet, pro-Chinese and moderate factions. Under Ho the party had followed a policy of neutrality between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China in the aftermath of the Sino – Soviet split. This policy continued until reunification. In the aftermath of the war, a power struggle began between Le Duan's pro-Soviet and its rival pro-Chinese factions. Former rivals Le Duan and Lêuc Tho. formed a coalition and purged the pro-Chinese faction. To strengthen their hold on power, Le Duan and Lêuc Tho. employed nepotism. +

By the time of the 5th National Congress in 1982, the five most powerful Politburo members were all over the age of 70. Le Duan was 74 and Truong Chinh was 75. At the 5th National Congress, the Le Duan/Lêuc Tho clique amassed considerable power by staffing the 5th Central Committee, the 5th Secretariat and the 5th Politburo with their own supporters. Several moderates and old companions of Ho Chí Minh, as well as pro-Chinese communists (labelled dismissively as Maoists) and followers of Truong Chinh, were removed from the Politburo and the Central Committee. The most prominent ouster was that of Võ Nguyên Giáp. +

Le Duan's report to the 5th National Congress was a biting self-criticism of his leadership and the party's management. He criticised political and economic corruption and the government’s aging leadership. The 5th Central Committee contained only one member under 60. During this period the Central Committee was disrupted by factional infighting between pragmatists and conservatives. This struggle would lead to economic reform.Le Duan and his supporters began the effort to open the economy. Apparently Le Duan suffered a heart attack after the Congress and was hospitalized in the Soviet Union. He remained General Secretary until on 10 July 1986 at age 79, he died of natural causes in Hanoi. He was temporarily succeeded by Truong Chinh, who was deposed and replaced by Nguyen Van Linh at the December 6th National Congress. +

Le Duan’s Policies

Le Duan's concept of "collective mastery" was featured in the 1980 Vietnamese Constitution as was his concept of "collective mastery" of society. The concept was Le Duan's version of popular sovereignty that advocated an active role for the people, so that they could become their own masters as well as masters of society, nature and the nation. Le Duan said that land ownership entailed a "struggle between the two roads – collective production and private production; large-scale socialist production and small scattered production." This quote could easily have been taken from Joseph Stalin or Mao Zedong. His views had a direct impact on Vietnam. Since it was believed that collective ownership was the only alternative to capitalism, it was introduced without controversy by the country's leadership. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Subcontracting cooperatives to peasants became the norm by the late-1970s and was legalised in 1981. For conservatives this policy was similar to that of Lenin's New Economic Policy, a temporary break from hardline socialist development. However, those who supported reforms saw subcontracting as another way of implementing socialism in agriculture, which was justified by the ideological tenet of the "three interests". This was an important ideological innovation and broke with Le Duan's "two roads" theory. +

Le Duan departed from Marxist/Leninist orthodoxy when it came to practical policy and stated that the country had to "carry out agricultural cooperation immediately, even before having built large industry." While he acknowledged that his view was heresy, Le Duan insisted that Vietnam was in a unique situation; "It seems that no country so far in history has been in a situation such as ours. We must lead the peasantry and agriculture immediately to socialism, without waiting for a developed industry, though we know very well that without the strong impact of industry, agriculture cannot achieve large-scale production and new relations of agriculture cannot be consolidated... To proceed from small-scale production to large-scale production is a new one." According to Le Duan the key to socialism was not mechanisation and industrialisation, but a new division of labour. In his victory speech after the 1976 parliamentary election, Le Duan talked about perfecting socialism in the North by eliminating private ownership and the last vestiges of capitalism and of the need to initiate socialist transformation in the South.

Pham Van Dong: Marxist Mandarin Who Ruled Vietnam for over 30 Years

After Ho Chi Minh's death, the government was run collectively. Pham Van Dong served as Vietnam's prime minister for more than 30 years and was one of the giants of the country's struggle for independence and reunification. AFP reported: "Dong rose to international prominence at the head of the Viet Minh delegation at the Geneva talks in 1954 when Indochina won independence from France but Vietnam was divided between the communist North and the US-backed government in the South. As Ho Chi Minh's "favorite nephew," Dong inherited the mantle of "Uncle Ho" following the death of Vietnam's avuncular nationalist figure in 1969. Bitterly opposed to the division, Dong spent the first 20 years of his premiership fighting for reunification, which came in 1975. He was an uncompromising proponent of national reunification who even as the North was being crushed by American bombs confidently predicted victory for Hanoi because it would always outlast the United States. Seen from the outside as a fervent pro-Soviet Marxist and hard negotiator — Henry Kissinger described him as "wily and insolent" — at home Dong was more an administrator and ideological guardian. [Source: AFP - May 2, 2000 ////]

"Born March 1, 1906 to the private secretary of Emperor Duy Tan, Dong grew up in the Confucian mandarin tradition but was heavily influenced by the Vietnamese nationalism that developed under French colonial rule. Convicted of leading a student demonstration at the lycee in Hue, Dong spent seven years from 1929 doing hard labor on Poulo Condore, the brutal French penal colony that served as the "university of revolution" for Vietnam's leaders. Released in 1936, he resumed his underground activities but after a crackdown at the start of the war he escaped to China, joining up with Ho Chi Minh. ////

"During these years he became a key figure in the founding of the Vietnam Minh alongside Ho and General Vo Nguyen Giap, even taking over the leadership from Ho when he was imprisoned by the Chinese from 1942-43. In 1946 he represented the Viet Minh in talks with the French government at Fontainebleau. But when these broke down he went back to the Viet Minh's jungle base for another eight years of war, culminating in the defeat of the French at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. After independence in 1954, Dong played an increasingly high profile role as prime minister and foreign minister until 1961, controlling policy during the war with the South and maintaining a hard stance during negotiations. Premier from 1955 until 1987, he survived the turmoil of land reform in the 1950s, wars against the United States, Cambodia and China and the economic crisis that hit the country after reunification. ////

"Later he would admit that "mistakes were made" after 1975, when the country suffered from what Dong called "subjectivity and leftism" -- Marxist jargon for the leadership's determined push for socialism that left Vietnam bankrupt and dependent on the Soviet Union. Seen only as a compentent administrator by the more adept political operators in the politburo, Dong reportedly complained of powerlessness during his time in office when all decisions were by consensus. He stepped down from the politburo in 1986, a year when many of the old guard were swept out and Vietnam began a process of market reforms. ////

"Almost blind by the end of the 1980s, the haughty and patrician leader kept a semi-official post as an advisor until December 1997, wielding considerable clout and remaining an implacable critic of the inequalities and corruption that accompanied reforms. His hands remained cupped around the dying members of the socialist flame as the stiff winds of reform whipped through Vietnam and his communist credentials remained impeccable to the bitter end. He died in May 2000. ////

After Dong's death, only Giap remained from the first comrades in arms of communist leader Ho Chi Minh. The party leadership was followed by delegations led by parliament speaker Nong Duc Manh, state president Tran Duc Luong and Prime Minister Pham Van Khai, representing the three branches of government.

Nguyen Van Linh

Nguyen Van Linh (1915–1998) was a Vietnamese revolutionary and politician. Described as Vietnam’s Gorbachev, he was the general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam from 1986 to 1991 and a political leader of the Vietcong during the Vietnam War. During his time in office, Linh was a strong advocate of "doi moi" (renovation), an economic plan whose aim is to turn Vietnam economy to a socialist-oriented market economy. [Source: Wikipedia =]

Linh was born in Hung Yen, near Hanoi on July 1, 1915. Though this is unconfirmed, he is likely to have come from a bourgeois family. His original name was Nguyen Van Cuc, he would later adopt Nguyen Van Linh as his nom de guerre. At age 14, Linh became involved in underground communist movement against French colonial rule, joining the Revolutionary Youth League. In 1930 at the age of sixteen, Linh was arrested and incarcerated until 1936 for distributing leaflets directed against the French. After his release, he joined the Communist Party of Vietnam. He was sent to Saigon, in the southern part of the country to help establish party cells, causing him to be detained again from 1941 to 1945. Meanwhile, Linh rose in the party hierarchy becoming a member of the Central Committee in 1960. +

During the Vietnam War, he was the party secretary for the Vietcong in South Vietnam, which had seen him direct the guerrilla resistance against the American-allied government there, but most of his duties were organizational rather than military. He also specialized in propaganda, studying and attempting to influence American politics in favor of North Vietnam. He trained special undercover Vietcong spies who infiltrated government organizations in Saigon. In 1968, Linh directed the Tet Offensive against South Vietnam. After the end of the Vietnam War and the re-unification of Vietnam in 1975, Linh was inducted to the Communist Party's Politburo and became party chief of the capital Saigon. He favored a slow transformation of the formerly capitalist southern part of the country causing him to come into conflict with his party colleagues. In the late 1970s, though considered a promising party politician, he had repeated arguments with Le Duan, preventing him from rising further in the hierarchy. In 1982, he was even removed from the Politburo. According to his friends, Linh resigned after an argument over the future of South Vietnam, in which he defended private capital.

Nguyen Van Linh as Leader of Vietnam

In the mid-1980s the Vietnamese economy experienced crisis, making a more liberal, market-based economy more of a sensible option to many politicians. This led to Linh's being re-instated in the Politburo in 1985 (and Permanent Secretariat 1986), under the direction of General Secretary Truong Chinh draft political report and even being made party general secretary the following year. Immediately, he started reforming Vietnam's economy. He was elected General Secretary in the immediate aftermath of the 6th National Congress in 1986. Renouncing the ideological decisions that he claimed had caused the problems, he allowed private enterprise and market prices and disbanded agricultural collectives. This change in policy was dubbed doi moi, a Vietnamese term meaning innovation.

In the political sphere, Linh tried to improve relations with both the United States and China. In 1990, he secretly visited China, becoming the first Vietnamese leader to do so since the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War. In 1989, he ordered the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Cambodia, where they had been sent to remove Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime. However, as far as domestic policy is concerned, Linh felt there was little need for change. "It is not objectively necessary to establish a political mechanism of pluralism and multiparty government," he stated, while always referring to Western-style democratic systems as "demagogic bourgeois democracies". He criticized the old communist policies, blaming them on corrupt leaders. Thus, Linh's policies were the constant target of criticism from the more conservative elements in the Communist Party. Linh stepped down as party leader in 1991 at the 7th National Congress, having announced his withdrawal a year before. His poor health was cited as the cause, as he had been hospitalized for what is suspected to have been a stroke in 1989, but political rivalries probably also played into his decision. He was succeeded by Muoi, a supporter of Linh's reforms.

Linh was Advisor of the Party's Central Committee from 1991 to December 1997. Starting with a surprising speech at the 8th National Congress and then series of letters to the country's newspapers, Linh eventually renounced the effects of his own policies, accusing foreign investors of exploiting his native country and harming socialism. He attacked the growing gap between the rich and the poor and accused American companies of dumping goods on the country rather than helping it with investments and technology. He Linh died of liver cancer on April 27, 1998, in Ho Chi Minh City.

Vo Van Kiet, Reformer and Premier in the 1990s

Vo Van Kiet served as prime minister from 1991 until 1997 and helped led Vietnam through vital economic reforms and opened up its foreign policy. A former wartime Viet Cong revolutionary in South Vietnam, he was considered the chief architect of the doi moi, or renewal, market reforms of the late 1980s and 1990s that replaced the Soviet-style government-controlled economy. After he stepped down to be replaced by his deputy, Phan Van Khai. After that he remained an outspoken reformist commentator, arguing for a free press and dialogue with dissidents. [Source: AFP, June 12, 2008 ]

AFP reported: "As prime minister, Mr. Kiet presented to the world the pragmatic face of Vietnamese Communism, traveling widely in Asia and Europe to drum up investment and seal new relationships as the country emerged from years of isolation. His open public style and enthusiasm gave him the look of a campaigning politician in contrast to the severe Marxist mandarins who preceded him. It was during his watch in 1994 that the United States under President Clinton lifted its trade embargo against Vietnam and restored diplomatic ties the following year. Mr. Kiet was also successful in pushing for better ties with other Asian countries, developing close relations with a former adversary, the Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew, who visited Vietnam several times to offer advice. Ebullient and energetic, Mr. Kiet battled to overcome the administrative inertia in Hanoi and was a strong proponent of bolstering the rule of law to protect businesses.

"Mr. Kiet, originally named Phan Van Hoa, was born into a sharecropper’s family in the Mekong Delta on Nov. 23, 1922, and joined the anti-French revolution at 18 when he fled into the jungle after an abortive local uprising. Under the nom de guerre Sau Dan, he later emerged as an important member of the Viet Cong insurgency in South Vietnam. His first wife and children were killed by United States bombs, and their remains were never recovered. Mr. Kiet’s second wife, Phan Luong Cam was a scientist.

"After the war Mr. Kiet was party chief of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, from 1976 to 1982. A protégé of the economic reformer Nguyen Van Linh, a fellow southerner who would set the rest of the country on the path of economic reform, Mr. Kiet resisted Hanoi’s drive to bring private business under socialist state control in the south. In 1982 Mr. Kiet joined the powerful Politburo and became vice chairman of the council of ministers in Hanoi. But he failed to retain the position, and the more conservative Do Muoi took over three months later. When Mr. Muoi became party chief in 1991, Mr. Kiet was elected to the newly created post of prime minister.

Do Muoi

Do Muoi (1917- ) was the general secretary of the Vietnam Communist Party from June 1991 to December 1997. He rose in the party hierarchy in the late 1940s and was elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam at the 7th Congress. He continued some of the reformist economic policies of Nguyen Van Linh but otherwise was regarded as a conservative. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Born into a Hanoi family as Nguyen Duy Cong, he began working as a painter in the 1930s. He joined the Communist Party of Indochina in 1939 and was imprisoned on charges of subversive activities by French colonial authorities in 1941. He managed to escape in 1945 and became an even stronger supporter of communism. During the early to mid-1950s, Muoi served as a political commissar and held various party offices responsible for military affairs. During the Vietnam War, Muoi worked in fields related to construction and economic activity. During the late 1970s, he oversaw the socialisation of the South Vietnamese economy. During the 1980s Muoi began to believe that economic reforms were necessary to improve the Vietnamese economy, however, he still subscribed to the view that the planned economy was better adapted to developing economies than a market economy. +

At the 7th National Congress in 1991, Nguyen Van Linh stepped down as General Secretary because of poor health. Du Muoi was appointed the party's General Secretary at the 1st plenum of the 7th Congress. He became the de facto leader of the conservatives; party officials, ideologues and supporters of state-owned domination of the economy supported his tenure. In the meantime, Võ Van Kiet , the premier, became the head of the reformist faction, while Lêuc Anh as President, represented the military faction. The split in executive power led to the writing of the 1992 Constitution. The constitution reduced the General Secretary's powers and while the constitution referred to him as the party's leader, he had no executive or legislative powers. However, Article 4 enshrines the role of the Communist Party as "the leading force in the State and society", giving the general secretary authority on the overall direction of policy. The 1992 Constitution led to the disappearance of party strongmen such as Lê Duan. In the words of Du Muoi. "In the leadership over the building of the state apparatus and appointment of state officials, the party sets forth views, principles and guiding orientations related to the organization of the state apparatus; it considers and makes suggestions about the points raised by the state, which is [then] left to make decisions." +

At the 7th Congress in 1991, the majority of Politburo seats were filled by conservatives. Together with the emerging military/security group in the Politburo and the Central Committee, the new party leadership was more focused on security and stability than its predecessor. In 1994, four new members were appointed to the Politburo, all of whom opposed radical reform. Despite conservative maneuvering, the economic reforms proved highly successful and economic growth in the early 1990s averaged 8 percent. This growth rate was not sustainable in the long run without more reforms. However, the conservatives believed this would lead to instability and possibly even threaten the Party's hold on power. The reformers supported change, believing that faster growth would better enhance security. However, with the Asian financial crisis of the late-1990s, growth plummeted to 2 percent. +

Factional infighting emerged between the 7th and 8th Party Congress, crippling the country's leadership. While the reformers led by Võ Va Kiet wanted to open Vietnam to the global economy by neo-liberal means – which meant a total break with Leninist economics – the conservatives wanted the socialist-oriented market economy to be dominated by Vietnam's state-owned enterprises, pointing to the success of South Korea's Chaebul model. The party's approach of consensual decisions was rapidly ending. In a 1995 letter to the Politburo, later leaked to the press, Võ Van Kiett wrote "in order to mobilize the genius of all within party, there must be uncompromising democracy." Võ Van Kiet lambasted the conservatives, claiming that the state-owned sector had to shrink in favor of the private sector. He stated that Vietnam had to forsake its relations with the remaining socialist states, stop the party from meddling in government affairs and put national affairs in front of government affairs. In response, the conservatives sent Nguyen Hà Phan around the country to criticse Võ Van Kiet , who he claimed was deviating from socialism. +

Before the 8th National Congress was launched in 1996, the stalemate between the conservatives and reformers continued. While rumors circulated that the 8th National Congress would be postponed, the conservatives and the reformers were able to compromise at the 11th Central Committee plenum of the 7th Congress. Du Muoi stepped down in 1997. According to Carlyle Thayer "The fourth plenum brought to an end the to the period of leadership transition that had been under way since the Eighth National Party Congress in 1996, but did not resolve internal party factionalism between reformers and conservatives." +

Nong Duc Manh

Nong Duc Manh served as the general secretary of Vietnam from April 2001 to January 2011. Regarded as reformer, he was trained as a forestry engineer and served as the National Assembly Speaker for nine years before taking the job. He was the first member of an ethnic minority and the first university graduate to hold the country’s top job. He was 61 when he took the job, which is regarded as young in Vietnamese politics.

Mahn was born 1940 to an ethnic Tay family. There have been persistant rumors that he is an illegitimate son of Ho Chi Minh. His mother, Nông Thi Trung (1920–2003) was Ho's housekeeper from 1941-42. Mahn was educated a the Leningrad Institute of Forest Technology in the former Soviet Union. He took no significant part in either the fight against French or the war against the Americans. He was selected for the job as general secretary based on his management skills and his pragmatic approach to governing. He was also regarded as a reform-minded centrist who could make changes without alienating the old guard.

President Tran Duc Luong and Prime Minister Phan Van Khai were chosen to to stay on their positions at the 2001 Party Congress, thus marking the first time there was no military men in the top three positions. Phan is regarded as a reformer. Some hardlines were ousted.

Life of Nong Duc Manh

Nong Duc Manh was born in September 1940 in Na Ri District, Vietnam. His link to Ho Chi Minh may have been a factor in his selection as party boss. In a profile of Manh published in the official press immediately after he gained this position, Trung was identified as his mother. Manh's official biography gives his date of birth as 11 September 1940, when Ho was still in China. Ho returned to Vietnam in February 1941 and met Trung in July. Ho wrote a four-line poem for Trung in 1944, and gave her a notebook as "a token of my love". This poem was later taught to elementary school students. In April 2001, shortly after Manh was named as party boss, a reporter at a news conference asked him to confirm or deny the rumor. He responded, "All Vietnamese people are the children of Uncle Ho." When asked again about the rumor in January 2002 by a Time Asia reporter, he denied he is Ho's son and stated that his father was named Nông Van Lai and his mother Hoàng Thi. Nhi.

In 1958-61, Manh attended the Hanoi Higher School. From 1962-63, he worked as a forestry supervisory technician in the Bac Kan Forestry Service. He joined the Communist Party in 1963 and received full membership in 1964. From 1963-65, Manh was the deputy chief of the Bach Thông wood exploitation team; he later returned to his studies, learning Russian at the Hanoi Foreign Languages College (from 1965–66). He traveled to Leningrad, where he studied at the Forestry Institute until 1971. After returning to Vietnam, he became the deputy head of the Bac Thái provincial forestry inspection board.

From 1973-74, Manh served as director of the Phú Luong State Forestry Camp in Bac Thái province. From 1974-76, Manh studied at the Nguyen Ái Quoc High-Level Party School. From 1976-80, he served as the deputy director of the provincial forestry service and director of the construction company of the provincial forestry service. Rising through the party ranks, Manh was a member of the Bac Thái Provincial Party Committee from 1976-83. In 1984, he was named deputy secretary of the committee, and in November 1986, the secretary of the committee. At the 6th National Congress he was elected as an alternate member of the Central Committee. At the sixth party plenum in March 1989, he was elevated to full central committee member. Since 1991, he has been in the politburo.

Nong Duc Manh as the Leader of Vietnam

Manh was selected General Secretary of the Communist Party in April 2001. His term was renewed in April 2006. He is first Vietnamese party head with a university degree. He announced his plans for Vietnam's future as an industrialised country, to be completed by 2020. At the time of his second term was approved in 2006, the Financial News reported: "The reappointed leader of Vietnam’s ruling Communist party pledged to step up the battle against official corruption by improving government management, increasing surveillance of bureaucrats and being "resolute" with punishments. "We always try to curb negative phenomena, including corruption," Nong Duc Manh, 65, said. [Source: Amy Kazmin, Financial Times, April 25, 2006 ]

"Mr Manh’s reappointment comes as the Communist party is still reeling from the discovery that senior transport ministry officials, who were charged with supervising the use of millions of dollars of World Bank aid money, had lost up to $7 million by betting on European football matches. As a result of the scandal, which many Vietnamese believe has tarnished the country’s image, Mr Manh reportedly had to battle to retain his position as the "first among equals" of Vietnam’s controlling triumverate. But Mr Manh said he was determined to root out corruption, which the party has identified as a major threat to its survival in power.

"Analysts say Mr Manh’s reappointment signals a "steady as she goes" approach to economic reform, which is sometimes criticised for being too cautious and failing to tackle deeply rooted problems in inefficient state enterprises and state-owned commercial banks. During the Congress, the Communist party also decided that it would allow party members to engage in private business, a decision analysts said makes legal an activity that is already widespread. Mr Manh said some party members in business had set "bright examples" of how companies could generate jobs, thus contributing to society. However, the Communist party leader waffled on whether the party was ready to allow entrepreneurs to join its ranks. He suggested such a move might come in future after further "analysis".

Nguyen Minh Triet—First Top Vietnamese Leader to Visit the U.S. Since the End of the Vietnam War

Nguyen Minh Triet, 63, an economic reformer, became prime minister of Vietnam in June, 2006 with a 94 percent vote from the National Assembly. He was the sole candidate. Triet is from the southern province of Binh Duong. He spent most of his time during the Vietnam War promoting communist ideals to young people. In 1992 he was appointed party chief of southern Song Be province and guided the largely agricultural province into one of most attractive places for foreign investors. In 2007 Triet became the first Vietnamese head of state to visit the U.S. since the end of the Vietnam War. [Source: Margie Mason, Associated Press, June 26, 2006 /*]

Vietnam reshuffled its top leadership in June 2006 on the eve of being selected to join the World Trade Organization (WTO)—a move seen as reaffirming the trend towards liberalizing the economy while keeping politics under the tight control of the ruling Communist Party. Alan Sipress wrote in the Washington Post, “Vietnamese legislators named Nguyen Minh Triet, a corruption fighter and Communist Party chief in Ho Chi Minh City, as president, and economic reformer Nguyen Tan Dung as prime minister. These promotions mark a shift to a younger, more cosmopolitan generation and place greater power in the hands of politicians from southern Vietnam, which has long been the country's commercial engine. Triet, for instance, helped establish his home province as one of region's prime destinations for foreign investment. Dung, as deputy prime minister, oversaw economic policy and represented the government at a February ceremony at which U.S. computer chip maker Intel Corp. announced it would invest $300 million to build a chip plant in Ho Chi Minh City. "The new prime minister is really a protege of the old one and will not change things fundamentally," Pincus said. In any case, he added, "the problem in Vietnam is not at the top but in the middle, where there's resistance in some ministries and in some quarters of the party to reform." [Source: Alan Sipress, Washington Post, July 15, 2006 ==]

Associated Press reported: "Triet was elected to the all-powerful Politburo in 1997 and became head of the Communist Party in Vietnam's southern economic hub, Ho Chi Minh City, in 2000. A year later, he was at the helm when Truong Van Cam, known as Nam Cam, was arrested. The former kingpin of Ho Chi Minh City's underworld was at the center of the communist country's biggest-ever criminal trial in 2003. The proceedings involved 155 defendants, including police officers and high-ranking government officials. Nam Cam was convicted of murder and bribery and was executed by firing squad along with four of his associates. /*\

Michael Sullivan wrote in NPR, Triet "is from southern Vietnam and was a mathematics student at Saigon University in the early 1960s, where he joined Saigon's student movement. He was officially admitted to the Communist Party in March 1965. Triet has a reputation as a reformer and as an enthusiastic supporter of Vietnam's economic liberalization and integration into the world economy, while maintaining the Communist Party's absolute grip on political power in Vietnam. Triet's reputation as an economic reformer was cemented in the 1990s in what's now called Binh Doung province in the south, where he courted foreign investment and encouraged local residents to set up businesses, too, at a time when such radical thinking was still viewed with unease in many parts of the country and the party. In 1997, he was sent to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, where he gained a reputation as an anti-corruption crusader, helping bring down a notorious Mafia don whose network of brothels, betting parlors and other shady businesses was protected by several high-ranking party officials and police officers.[Source: Michael Sullivan, NPR, June 21, 2007 :::]

"Since Triet became president in 2006, Vietnam has hosted the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and been granted membership into the World Trade Organization. But human rights groups say this time has also been marked by one of the worst crackdowns on dissent in decades. Several prominent activists have been jailed for lengthy prison terms for "spreading propaganda against the state." The recent crackdown — which began after the APEC summit in November — has drawn intense criticism from human rights groups and from Washington, and there was speculation that Triet's meeting with President Bush would be postponed until the human rights situation improved. But the visit went ahead after Vietnam released two prominent dissidents in the past few weeks. Triet is unapologetic about the crackdown, saying Hanoi respects human rights but is obliged to punish those who violate Vietnam's laws. :::

Nguyen Phu Trong

Nguyen Phú Trong (1944- ) is the general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam. Elected at the party's 11th National Congress in January 2011, he is also a Politburo member, Secretary of the National Assembly's Party Organization, Chairman of the National Assembly and heads the party's Secretariat, as well as the Central Military Commission, the country's two most powerful policymaking bodies. He was admitted into the Vietnam Communist Party in 1968. He speaks Russian and holds a PhD in politics (majoring in Party building). [Source: Vietnam government, Wikipedia ////]

Trong was born on April 14, 1944) in Dông Hoi Commune, Dông Anh District, Hanoi. His official biography lists his family background as "poor peasant". From 1957 to 1963 he attended Nguyen Gia Thieu junior and senior high schools in Gia Lam district, Hanoi He studied philology and linguistics at Vietnam National University, Hanoi from 1963-67. The Vietnamese government gave a ranking of "High-level" in political theory. His awards include First-class US Resistance Medal, Medal for Cultural Cause, and medals for the cause of the press and the young generations. He became permanent member of the Politburo in August 1999. ////

Nguyen Phu Trong’s Career

Nguyen Phú Trong worked for the Tap chí Cong San (Communist Review), the theoretical and political agency of the Communist Party of Vietnam (formerly the "Labor Party"), in the periods of 1967-73, 1976–80, and 1983-96. From 1991-96, he served as the editor-in-chief of the Tap chí Cong San. He went to the USSR in 1981 to study at the USSR Academy of Social Sciences and got the Kandidat nauk degree in history in 1983. In 1998, Trong entered in the party section devoted to political work, and he is one of the most prominent Vietnamese political theoretician heading (2001-06), the CPVCC's Theoretical Council in charge of the Party's theoretical work. [Source: Vietnam government, Wikipedia ////]

Summary of career: 1) December 1967- July 1968: Officer at the Documentary Desk of the Study Review (now the Communist Review). 2) July 1968 - August 1973: Editor of the Party Building Department of the Communist Review. He experienced a period of probation in Thanh Oai district, Ha Tay province (now Hanoi ) in 1971 and was Secretary of the Youth Union of the Communist Review from 1969 to 1973. 3) August 1973 – April 1976: Underwent a political-economic post-graduate course at the High-level Nguyen Ai Quoc Party School (now the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration), member of the Party cell committee. 4) May 1976 - August 1980: Editor of the Party Building Department of the Communist Review, Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee. 5) September 1980 - August 1981: Learnt Russian at the High-level Nguyen Ai Quoc Party School. 6) September 1981 - July 1983: On-the-job trainee and defended Associate PhD thesis (now PhD thesis) in Party building at the Academy of Social Sciences of the Soviet Union. [Source: Vietnam government, **]

7) August 1983 - February 1989: Deputy head of the Party Building Department, the Communist Review (October 1983); Head of the Party Building Department, the Communist Review (September 1987); Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee of the Communist Review (July 1985-December 1988) and then Secretary (December 1988-December 1991). 8) March 1989 – April 1990: Member of the Editorial Board of the Communist Review. 9) May 1990 – July 1991: Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Communist Review. 10) - August 1991 – August 1996: Editor-in-Chief of the Communist Review. 11) - January 1994 - now: Member of the CPVCC (7th , 8th , 9th and 10th tenures). 12) - August 1996 - February 1998: Deputy Secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee, Head of the Hanoi Party Committee's department in charge of tertiary education personnel, and head of the Hanoi Party Committee’s Popularisation and Education Board. 13) - December 1997 - now: Member of the Political Bureau of the CPVCC (8th, 9th and 10th tenures). 14) - February 1998 - January 2000: In charge of the Party Central Committee's Ideological-Cultural and Scientific-Educational Affairs. **

Nguyen Phu Trong’s Career Since Joining the Politburo

Trong has been member of the Party's Central Committee since January 1994, member of the Party's Political Bureau since December 1997, and deputy to the National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam since May 2002. From January 2000 to June 2006, Trong was secretary of the Party's Executive Committee of Hanoi, the de facto head of the city authority. On 26 June 2006, Trong was elected as the Chairman of the National Assembly. During this period he was elected secretary of the Party organization in the Assembly and member of the Council for Defence and Security. A party congress in January 2011 selected Trong as general secretary. This congress also selected a Politburo, or executive committee, and Trong is listed as its No. 8 member. The 5th plenum of the 11th Central Committee decided to take the Central Steering Committee for Anti-Corruption away from the prime minister’s control, and Nguyen Phú Trong was elected its head. [Source: Wikipedia]

15) - August 1999-April 2001: Permanent member of the Party Politburo. 16) - March 1998 - August 2006: Vice Chairman of the CPVCC's Theoretical Council (March 1998-November 2001); Chairman of the CPVCC's Theoretical Council in charge of the Party's theoretical work (November 2001-August 2006). 17) - January 2000 - June 2006: Secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee (12th , 13th and 14th tenures). 18) - May 2002 - now: Deputy to the 11th and 12th National Assembly ) - June 2006 - now: Secretary of the National Assembly's Party Organization, Chairman of the National Assembly and member of the Council for Defence and Security ) - Elected General Secretary of the 11th CPVCC at the 11th National Party Congress in January 2011. [Source: Vietnam government]

Truong Tan Sang

Truong Tan Sang (1949- )is the president of Vietnam and one of the country's top leaders, alongside prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung and communist party leader and general secretary Nguyen Phú Trong. He became state president following a vote of the National Assembly in July 2011. The presidency is a ceremonial position, but Sang is also ranked second after Nguyen Phú Trong on the party's Secretariat, a body which directs policy making. Sang has been a member of the Politburo, the executive committee of the Communist Party, since 1996. He was party secretary for Ho Chi Minh City from 1996 to 2000. He was promoted to the national party’s number two slot in October 2009. There are reports of rivalry between Sang and Prime Minister Dung, and each is backed by a faction within the party. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Truong Tan Sang was born January 20,1949, in My Hanh, Duc Hòa, Long An. He joined the Communist Party in 1969. He was jailed by the South Vietnamese government in 1971 and held in prison at Phú Quoc until his released under the Paris Peace Treaty in 1973. He holds a bachelor of law degree. From 1983–86, he headed Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)'s Forestry Department, as well as the city's New Economic Zone Development Department. In 1986, he was promoted to the Standing Board of the city's Party Committee. He became a member of the national party's Central Committee in 1991. In 1992, he became chairman for HCMC, the number two position in the city government.

Truong Tan Sang joined the Politburo in 1996 as its 14th ranking member. He was party secretary for HCMC, the top position in the city government, from 1996 to 2000. He was promoted to 10th position in the national party at a congress in April 2001. He was also appointed head of the party’s economic commission at this time. In 2003, he was reprimanded for failing to act in the Nam Cam corruption scandal when he headed the city government. Sang was promoted to fifth position in the party at a congress in April 2006. At this congress, he was also appointed executive secretary of the party's Secretariat, a position which supervises the membership and the internal structure of the party.

Sang was promoted to the party’s number two slot between congresses in October 2009. His authority soon eclipsed that of General Secretary Nông Duc Manh, the only person nominally above Sang in the party hierarchy, according to a leaked diplomatic cable by U.S. Ambassador Michael Michalak. Sang "assumed many of Manh's normal responsibilities," Michalak wrote. At diplomatic meetings, Sang could "comment authoritatively, in detail and without notes," whereas Manh "appeared disengaged" while he read a 30-minute prepared statement "verbatim and in a monotone." A BBC story described rivalry between Sang and Prime Minister Dung and described their relationship as "stormy." Michalak described both Sang and Dung as "pragmatic" and "market-oriented." Both are southerners, but traditionally the party's top slot has gone to a northerner. Nguyen Phú Trong , a northerner, was appointed general secretary at 11th National Congress held in Hanoi in January 2011. The congress selected a list of Politburo members, and Sang is ranked first on this list. Following the congress, Trong was named the top ranking member of the party's Secretariat, Vietnam's most powerful decision-making body, while Sang is ranked second.

The National Assembly elected Sang as state president on 25 July 2011 with 97.4 percent of the vote.The term of office is five years. Sang told the Assembly that he would defend Vietnam’s independence and territorial integrity, and would resolve the Spratly Islands dispute with China peacefully. As the new president, he will work to set a foundation that will allow Vietnam to be become an industrialized and modernized country by 2020, Sang told the Assembly. Under party regulations, the president is under the authority of Secretariat, so the position is ceremonial. Sang's authority derives from his position as the senior member of the Politburo and as the second ranking member of the Secretariat.

Nguyen Tan Dung

Nguyen Tan Dung (1949- ) is the Prime Minister of Vietnam. He was confirmed by the National Assembly in June 2006, having been nominated by his predecessor, Phan Van Khai, who retired from office. Since a party congress in January 2011, Dung has been ranked third in the hierarchy of the Communist Party of Vietnam, after State President Truong Tan Sang and Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Dung was born in Cà Mau in southern Vietnam born 17 November 1949. He purportedly volunteeered on his 12th birthday to join the Viet Cong, doing first-aid, and communication tasks; he also worked as a nurse, and a physician. He was wounded four times during the Vietnam War, and was later ranked as a level 2/4 wounded veteran. As a Senior Lieutenant he was Chief Political Commissar of Infantry Battalion 207; as a Captain, he was Political Chief of Infantry Regiment 152, defending the southwestern border. As Major, Dung headed the Personnel Board of Kien Giang Province's Military Command. +

Dung attended the high-level Nguyen Ai Quoc Party School. He served the People's Armed Forces in from 1961 to 1984. He fought in the south and in the west during the Vietnam War. He cited his desire for "national independence" as his reasons for fighting on the battlefield. During this time, Dung served in the Cambodian–Vietnamese War, which resulted in the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia. +

Dung was admitted to the Communist Party of Vietnam in 1967. He was a protégé of conservative Le Duc Anh and reformist Vo Van Kiet, leaders from both major factions in the party, which enabled him to become the youngest member of the Politburo in 1996. Dung previously served as first deputy prime minister from 29 September 1997. He was also the governor of the State Bank of Vietnam between 1998 and 1999. Dung is the first senior Vietnamese communist leader born after the August Revolution in 1945 and the youngest Vietnamese prime minister (56 years old when he assumed the office). He is also a native southerner and remained in the southern region throughout the Vietnam War (he was only 5 when the country was divided in 1954). He was reelected to the post of prime minister on 25 July 2007.

Nguyen Tan Dung as Prime Minister

In August 2007, it was reported that Dung displayed "remarkable enthusiasm for the Internet". The government had set up a form through which corrupt officials could be reported online. He held an online chat that was viewed by over 1,000,000 people where he answered some screened questions regarding thing from government control of the media to personal career tips. One youth asked how he could be Prime Minister someday, to which Dung replied: "Throughout my time following the Party and the Revolution, I always obeyed the assignments of the organization." [Source: Wikipedia +]

It was reported that Vietnam's post-war generation "is increasingly wired, as the Communist Party attempts to foster economic growth and high-tech skills". The government blocks politically oriented sites and pornography. There has also been talk of censoring blogs; it was noted that there is a fake Dung blog on which the language "mimics official jargon, but is subtly peppered with anti-communist barbs." +

On 26 July 2011, Dung was officially re-elected prime minister by the 13th National Assembly, winning 470 out of 500 votes. He lost out to Truong Tan Sang in the competition to lead the party's Politburo, or executive committee. In October 2011, It was reported that political dissidents in Vietnam were "facing a growing crackdown on their activities ... [s]ince the Communist party congress in January, the authorities have steadily ratcheted up the pressure on dissidents." Since 30 July, 15 religious activists had been imprisoned. One lawyer with deep family connections to the Communist party was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment "to the shock and outrage of large sections of the Vietnamese public." A Human Rights Watch report also detailed forced labor and torture throughout the country's drug rehabilitation centers. Australian Vietnam expert Carlyle Thayer said "Nguyen Tan Dung ... is decidedly not a reformer." Although the U.S. and India are developing closer ties to Vietnam, neither "has seen fit to pressure Vietnam on its rights record with any conviction or consistency." +

In August 2012, the arrest of Nguyen Duc Kien, a local tycoon thought to be close to Dung, sparked discussions about Dung's ongoing political battle with President Truong Tan Sang. Following these discussions, much of the anger about nepotism and poor economic management has been directed at Dung. At Central Committee meeting in October 2012, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, the head of the Communist Party announced Politburo agreed to propose the committee impose a form of discipline on it and consider discipline on a Politburo member (is thought Nguyen Tan Dung), but the Central Committee decided to not take any discipline on the Politburo and one of its members - from the prime minister's mistakes in economic management issues, anti-corruption . Earlier the Central Committee decided to take the Central Steering Committee for Anti-Corruption away from Dung 's control, and the committee is now controlled by the Politburo and the general secretary is chief of committee. On 14 November 2012 Dung was told by a parliarment member, Duong Trung Quoc, to resign for his mistakes in handling the economy. He said that it was time for the prime minister to take responsibility, not just apologise. The attack was unusual because it was made in front of TV cameras in parliament.

Nguyen Tan Dung Visits Russia and the United States

In 2009, Dung made a two-day visit to Russia, where he signed a multi-billion-dollar arms deal. In 2010, one deputy called for a no confidence motion against Dung in response to a financial scandal at the Vinashin shipbuilding group. At a party congress in January 2011, he was nominated for another term as prime minister. [Source: Wikipedia +]

On 12 April 2010,Dung attended a luncheon with U.S. Vice President Biden and other world leaders at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. On the same date he met Obama at the World Security Summit where he "spoke glowingly to American business leaders of Vietnam's economic growth — 7.2 percent per year over the last decade — and endorsed Obama's concerns about nuclear safety." +

In April 2012, Dung met with Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Okada Katsuya. He expressed his approval with the growing level of cooperation between Vietnam and Japan and they discussed moving forward. They talked about ways accelerate visitation and simplifying both entry procedures and exchange programs. Dung stated that Vietnam wants to cooperate further and learn from Japan's experience in social insurance and continue to increase Japanese official development assistance. +

Vietnam Prime Minister Proposes Younger Cabinet to Push Economic Reform

In 2007, AFP reported: "Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung proposed a reshuffle to promote two younger ministers with strong economic credentials in a move seen as bolstering his drive for economic reform. Dung also wants to name around 10 new ministers and streamline the communist administration by merging 26 ministries and equivalent agencies into 22, the government said on its website. Dung, a 57-year-old southerner, asked the national assembly to ratify his proposals, including promoting Education Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan, 54, and Industry Minister Hoang Trung Hai, 47, to deputy premier-level. The prime minister said he wants the two men -- both relatively young English speakers with strong economic backgrounds -- to provide continuity by serving two five-year terms, the online VNExpress reported. [Source: Agence France Presse, July 31, 2007 ||||]

"They would join three incumbent deputy prime ministers -- Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem, Truong Vinh Trong and Nguyen Sinh Hung -- who are all over 60 years old. The key ministers of public security and defense, Le Hong Anh and Phung Quang Thanh respectively, would also retain their posts. Dung, however, asked the legislature to approve other changes, including appointing or shifting new ministers to run the labor, justice, health and environment portfolios, and changing the governor of the State Bank. ||||

"Foreign observers said promoting the two ministers with economic backgrounds -- Nhan spent some time at Harvard -- to become deputy premiers reflected changing priorities in economically booming Vietnam, a country that this year joined the World Trade Organization. "These two deputy prime ministers, with economic backgrounds, will have an impact on maintaining the path of socio-economic development," said one foreign diplomat who asked not to be named. Vietnam's economy expanded nearly 8.2 percent last year, second in East Asia only to China. The government has pledged that economic growth in Vietnam will continue strongly for the 2010-2015 period. Even if nominated deputy prime minister, Nhan should also stay on as education minister, whereas Hai would hand over his job as industry minister to Vu Huy Hoang, currently party secretary of northern Lang Son province bordering China. The 493 members of the national assembly on Tuesday also approved Dung's proposal to reduce the size of his government, from 26 to 22 ministries and ministry-level agencies. ||||

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Survives the Country’s First Confidence Vote

In June 2013, Chris Brummitt of Associated Press wrote: Vietnamese lawmakers handed the prime minister a grudging mandate in the country's first ever confidence vote, a ballot seen as a small step toward a more pluralistic style of governance in Vietnam. Premier Nguyen Tan Dung is under pressure because of his mishandling of the economy. In 2012 he survived a leadership challenge at a meeting of top party leaders. [Source: Chris Brummitt, Associated Press Writer June 11, 2013 ::/]

“Dung and 46 other ministers and top state officials faced the vote by members of the national assembly, the first in what will be an annual process aimed at showing an increasingly assertive public that its leaders are more responsive to their demands. Given more than 90 percent of the 498 members of the assembly are Communist Party cardholders, no one expected any of the officials to get the kind of poor showing that could trigger resignations. Still, more than 30 percent gave Dung a "low confidence" vote, a clear sign of the divisions within the party over his second-term in office, due to end in 2016. Analysts said this showing by itself wouldn't impact his position, but could be used by rivals in internal negotiations over his future. ::/

“Assembly members got to vote on whether they had "high confidence," ''confidence" or "low confidence" in the officials. The rules of the secret ballot state that officials with more than a 60 percent "low confidence vote" might have to resign. Dung received 160 "low confidence" votes out of 492 ballots, the third highest number of negative votes cast. President Truong Tan Sang, the man widely thought to be his main political challenger behind the tightly closed doors of party meetings, got just 28 negative votes. The central bank governor received 209 "low confidence" marks, presumably a reflection of his handling of the economy. The education minister got 177. Aside from the economy, concern over the poor standard of schools and universities is a major public concern. ::/

"This really does show that the assembly delegates are doing their job," said Edmund Malesky, a Vietnam expert at Duke University in the United States. "There definitely appears to some sort of responsiveness to constituencies. The two people associated with economic performance had a lower percentage of confidence votes than the mean." National assembly deputy Duong Trung Quoc said the voting reflected "the reality of life and pressing issues and ... partly reflect the people's grievances." The structural problems plaguing the economy and the increasing criticism and scrutiny of the party over the Internet have triggered calls for reforms by some in the party. While still arresting dissidents, it is revising the constitution, and will possibly water down language over the state's role in the economy. ::/

“Jonathan London, a Vietnam expert at Hong Kong's City University, said the ballot showed "Vietnam was charting its own course," albeit slowly. He asserted that a similar event wouldn't happen in China, Vietnam's much larger, Communist neighbor. "Perhaps by necessity it is going for a brand of politics that has many of the trappings of a semi-accountable system," he said. "For a party that has a tradition of assuming its leaders were pristine and of outstanding caliber, it is a change of tune." ::/

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Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, Fox News and various websites, books and other publications identified in the text.

Last updated May 2014

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