A woman files complaint at Thanh Nien’s headquarters in Ho Chi Minh City. The newspaper receives dozens of complaints from readers every day, and publishes, or forwards them to relevant state agencies, but less than 30 percent of them receive responses./ PHOTO: HAI NAM
Thanh Nien newspaper receives dozens of complaints from readers every day, and publishes, or forwards them to relevant state agencies.
But less than 30 percent of them receive responses, the newspaper has found.
A majority of complaints remain unanswered for months though the law stipulates that authorities have to respond to people’s complaints within 30 days if reported or forwarded by the media.
The list of unanswered complaints that Thanh Nien publishes every week is growing longer and longer.
But apparently this silence is not limited to complaints forwarded through Thanh Nien.
Nguyen Thi Tuyet Oanh, a lawyer at Loc Dien Law Firm in Ho Chi Minh City, says it is common for government agencies to delay their responses or not respond at all.
They often make excuses like they are considering the complaint or that it was made too late, she said.
The way government agencies respond to people’s complaints is also problematic since the law requires them to reply formally with a letter called “the decision on handling” a case, but most do not, she said.
Without this letter, a person making a complaint cannot go to higher authorities even the court, she said.
The law says people can take their complaints to higher agencies or the court if the relevant agency fails to resolve them.
But in many cases authorities do not respond until the time allowed to make complaints almost expires, meaning a complaint cannot be pursued any further, Oanh said.
“[This] erodes people’s trust in authorities more and more,” she said.
Hoang Kim Chien, deputy chief of the Ministry of Justice’s southern office, said government agencies’ failure or delay in dealing with people’s complaints has to do with the sense of responsibility of their chiefs.
But also they receive too many complaints to handle them properly, he claimed.
It is a problem related to people, not the law, because it is clearly spelled out that people can complain to higher agencies or courts if an agency does not deal with a complaint within a stipulated time, he said.
But not many people are keen to file a lawsuit because the procedures are tiresome and time consuming, Dao Duy Tan of the HCMC Bar Association said.
People also doubt whether a court verdict would be enforced given that task too has to be done by a government agency, he said.
State agencies that fail to respond to people’s complaints or delay their response should be punished, he said.
Only when such a regulation is in place would state agencies stop sitting on complaints, he said.
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Thanh Nien News (The story can be found in the 11th issue of our print edition Vietweek)