Vietnamese Communist Party Accepts President’s Resignation

Thuong’s Resignation

On March 20th, Vietnam’s Communist Party’s (VCP) 13th Central Committee accepted the resignation letter of Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong during an extraordinary session of the committee in Hanoi. Thuong also resigned from his positions as member of the VCP’s 13th Central Committee, Politburo member, and National Defense and Security Council Chairman for the 2021–2026 term. The VCP’s Central Committee agreed to accept Thuong’s resignation based on the Party’s and State’s regulations.

In a statement released by the Party’s Central Committee’s Office, they pointed out that Thuong is a “key Party and State leader, who has been trained from the grassroots level and tasked with many leadership positions of the Party and State.” However, the statement also highlighted reports from the VCP’s Central Inspection Commission and other agencies showing that Thuong “violated Party regulations on prohibitions for Party members, regulations on the responsibility of officials to set an example.” The officials, especially “members of the Politburo, Secretariat, and Central Committee of the Party, are held accountable as the leader, according to Party regulations and state laws.”

The statement then said that the “violations and shortcomings of Comrade Vo Van Thuong have caused negative public opinion, affecting the reputation of the party, the state, and his own person.” The Party Central Committee’s statement said that Tuong, “recongising his responsibilities to the Party, the State, and the people, has submitted a letter requesting relief from his assigned duties and work.”

The Party Politburo appointed Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan as acting president during a session on March 21st. She will be in the role until a session of the National Assembly can be held to vote for a new president. Xuan assumed the position for the second time during the 2021–2026 term after she was appointed to the role for about one month after Nguyen Xuan Phuc resigned to take responsibility for several COVID-19 corruption scandals.

Lan’s Expulsion from Party

Undated photo of then Secretary of Vinh Phuc Provincial Party Committee Hoang Thi Thuy Lan (Photo: Quochoi.vn)

The Committee also voted to expel 13th Central Committee member, Hoang Thi Thuy Lan from the VCP at the same meeting. The committee based its decision on the recommendations of the Central Inspection Committee on March 18th, after being detained by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS).The decision was based on Lan’s degradation in “political ideology, morality, and lifestyle” that “violated Party regulations and state laws in the discharge of assigned duties and tasks, violated regulations on what Party members are not allowed to do, and the responsibility to set an example,” such as preventing and combating corruption and negativity.

Lan also accepted bribes that caused “very serious consequences and public outrage” that seriously affected “the prestige of the Party organization and local authorities.” They said that the decision to expel Lan was based on the “content, nature, extent, consequences, and causes of the violations” she was found guilty of, as well as “following Party regulation on disciplinary actions.”

Analysis 

Thuong’s resignation and Lan’s expulsion likely stem from the ongoing corruption investigation into the Phuc Son Group Joint Stock Company, and its subsidiaries for tax evasion and defrauding investors in several real estate projects. On February 26th, Vietnam’s MPS arrested the Chairman of Phuc Son Group, Nguyen Van Hau, and five other employees. The reason the MPS spokesperson, Lt. General To An Xo, gave for arresting Nguyen and the five others is that they were accused of “violating accounting regulations causing serious consequences,” i.e., corruption. The MPS’s initial investigation determined that Nguyen and the other five individuals committed forgery, false declaration, and leaving revenue and related assets out of the accounting books.

The investigators uncovered further evidence after they detained Nguyen and the five others and questioned them while searching their homes. However, most of the evidence uncovered during this period of investigation pointed to local Party and State officials in Quang Ngai, Vinh Long, and Vinh Phuc provinces receiving bribes from the company. On March 8th, the MPS then arrested several active and former Party and State officials and searched their homes in the three provinces. The investigation into the arrested officials uncovered further evidence of former Party and state officials being involved in corruption, including Thuong and Lan. Thuong likely received bribes from Phuc Son Group during his time as the Party Committee Secretary in Quang Ngai from 2011 to roughly 2014. Lan also likely received bribes during her tenure as the Party Committee Secretary and Provincial People’s Council Chairwoman in Vinh Phuc province in 2020.

However, both the corruption investigation and Thuong’s resignation will likely cause significant issues for Vietnam, but for different reasons. The investigation into Phuc Son Group comes as Vietnam is also trying its largest financial fraud case involving Van Thinh Phat Chairwoman Truong My Lan in the country’s history. Furthermore, the investigation and trial point to a wider problem of corruption in Vietnam’s real estate and financial sectors that the anti-bribery campaign is attempting to resolve.

The campaign saw several high-level VCP officials and businessmen arrested and charged with various corruption charges by the Central Discipline Committee. The large number of Party officials, including Thuong and Lan, may worry senior VCP leaders since Thuong was the likely candidate to replace VCP General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong. However, his resignation will likely cause a significant movement in succession before the 14th VCP National Congress in 2026.

Both Thuong’s resignation and the anti-corruption campaign will cause increased worries among foreign businesses looking to invest in Vietnamese industries. Thuong’s comes as the country is leveraging its geographic location to attract businesses moving operations and investment from China. The resignation will likely cause some businesses to become apprehensive about moving their business operations to Vietnam. Furthermore, the investigation into Phuc Son will likely lead to both the state and VCP increasing their anti-bribery campaigns. The increased emphasis on the campaign would increase the time the state needs to make decisions in an already burdensome bureaucratic system. The increased difficulties would lead firms and countries to not want to invest in the country, even if it is an attractive location.

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Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin the panda began Sino Talk in 2022 primarily to give an objective, unbiased view on China related topics as well as other issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. He spent several years studying and traveling throughout China and many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. In another life, the panda was also a U.S. Marine intelligence analyst who enjoyed bamboo MREs and drinking bourbon and soju. Indo-Pacific Division Desk Chief for Atlas News.
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