Equality in the eyes of the law?

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Lady justice is not so blind in Vietnam

State-owned cars illegally park in the street in the southern province of Binh Phuoc on December 8 / PHOTO: DO TRUONG

Legal equality is considered one of the basic rules of building a jurisdiction. It is thoroughly and seriously applied in law enforcement to bring justice to everyone, helping stabilize a country.

The National Assembly has recently passed amendments to Vietnam's constitution the most important legal framework that every citizen has to abide by.

The revised constitution says Vietnam is a socialist republic that is of people, by people, and for people.

It also says "everyone is equal before the law," and that "no one is discriminated against in political, civil, economic, culture, and social life."

Such regulations are evidence that Vietnam wants to be a place where everyone is equal before the law.

However, in reality it is sad that people with either power or wealth are apparently given preference by law enforcement.

On December 4, the People's Procuracy (prosecutor's office) of Da Lat in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong announced that it had dropped criminal charges against a local official who was accused of killing a man and seriously injured three others while driving drunk in May this year.

Prosecutors said Mai Nam Duong, former deputy director of the provincial Department of Agriculture, had paid over VND1 billion (US$47,400) to the victims who, in response, withdrew their complaints.

As a result, Duong is subject to administrative fines only.

So, does this mean that as long as people have money to pay compensation for damages they cause, they can drive drunk and speed as they like?

A few days after the announcement of Da Lat's stirring decision, local media reported that hundreds of cars"”including those with blue license plates for state-owned vehicles and red plates for military-owned ones"”had parked illegally in the street and on sidewalks in the southern province of Binh Phuoc on December 8.

The cars' owners or users were reportedly attending the wedding party of the provincial police department director's son at a local hotel. More than 1,800 guests were allegedly invited to the party.

The illegal parking upset traffic around the hotel.

But, speaking to the press, Nguyen Tan Hung, secretary of Binh Phuoc's Party Unit, called it "carelessness", saying that since it was the party of a provincial leader, it was "understandable" that there were many guests.

Not only do people with power and wealth receive special treatments, but their relatives do as well.

In one of the most high-profile cases, authorities in the central city of Da Nang dismissed Do Hoai Phuong Minh, the son of an official in the southern province of Binh Duong, from the local police department in August 2007.

The punishment came after Minh, then a second lieutenant traffic police officer, parked his car in a restricted area at Da Nang Airport to pick up his friend.

In response to airport security guards' warning, he verbally threatened to make them lose their jobs and beat them, before taking out a sword and attempting to attack them.

Besides the dismissal, Minh was fined VND5 million ($235).

Previously, in 2000, he had been forced to pay the same fine for firing a gun and threatening people at a local karaoke shop, almost injuring one. The gun he used belonged to his father.

With all these cases, we can't help but wonder if it is true that everyone is equal before the law.

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