Last week's edition of Vietweek (and every weekly issue) is full of stories that depict a culture of corruption and uncivilized behavior; yet, few complain publicly. Why?
Although many Vietnamese say "Nothing will change," it may well be because their experience tells them that so-called "public servants" have no interest in furthering development, raising the standard of living for the masses, caring for the poor and sick of Vietnam - unless they can personally profit by their actions. Of course those who are in a position of power will do everything possible to remain in that position and this includes virtually all "public servants." The folks in these positions are perfectly satisfied with the existing system and have no intention of looking beyond their own well-being.
Time after time we see how government policy has driven-out foreign investment in order that officials may further enrich themselves at the expense of the people of Vietnam. Gifts of US$125,000 cars approved by the Ministry of Finance for the personal use of another government Minister (Vietweek April 13-19, 2012) is one example -- the "good old boy network" has no limits here.
I have often wondered why all government vehicles are not purchased in fleets by a central office (not the luxury cars we now often see) and the use of vehicles controlled. Many times the Prime Minister and others have tried to stop the personal use of government vehicles, but if anything, such use has increased. Vehicles are considered personal perks, not property of the people.
Why don't people complain? Because they can easily be singled out and retaliated against, supposedly because the person complained about has lost face. Maybe a few more people deserve to lose face and be forced to change or pay the consequences.
By Roy Little
The writer is an American expat who lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City