"Raw' rules, projects cost more than money

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This is a modus operandi that has demonstrably failed, but, for some reason, is persisted with in Vietnam: regulations are issued ignoring or overlooking valid objections made by experts and the public; once they are issued and the predicted inconsistencies, difficulties and uproar ensue, they are suspended or scrapped.

What this does is weaken public trust and confidence in the government's competence, but this fact does not seem to have sunk in yet, despite repeat performances.

For example, take the pilot project introducing new ID cards that include the names of the cardholder's parents.

Prior to its launch in several districts in Hanoi in September, the proposed project had already drawn objections and raised concerns among the public, experts and the press alike. They said that the additional information was unnecessary, that it violated international conventions on child protection, and that it could create class divisions.

However, the Ministry of Public Security went ahead and started the project.

Now, at a meeting with the National Assembly's Law Committee on December 24, Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong admitted his ministry's mistakes in reviewing the government's decree before the project was launched.

However, he did not explain why his ministry, as the agency in charge of reviewing the decree, failed to take any action in response to the public's concerns. The ministry, in fact, did not voice its reservations about the new regulation until the pilot project had already begun. 

Now it is not known if the government will order a halt to the pilot project or not.

Even if it were suspended, the public might not be surprised. It is not the first time they have been guinea pigs for the government's experiments with new regulations.

The Ministry of Public Security last month issued a decree to fine vehicle owners who fail to transfer ownership to themselves from previous owners. But, earlier this month, the government suspended it, saying that it was "wrongly" enforced, confusing people. Actually, the public had expressed these concerns before the decree took effect.

In an interview with the press after Cuong admitted the ministry's mistakes, Tran Van Ve, deputy chief of the administrative management department under the Ministry of Public Security, said they will continue the pilot project until next September, collecting more public opinions.

He said that the ministry would not mind suspending the pilot project, because the loss of money spent on buying the new ID cards and other costs was not much.

However, Ve might not do well to consider that when the government issues a new regulation or starts a new project despite public objections and then suspends it because of its impracticability, the loss is not just about money, but something far more valuable - people's trust in the government.

Is there a bigger loss?

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