The National Assembly has been active for 67 years and it has completed half of its 13th term (2011-2016) as the country’s most powerful legislative body with oversight over policies and actions of the executive.
In effect, it is supposed to pass laws that benefit people the most, and supervise the enforcement of such laws.
But, there are so many gaps between the ideal and the actual that many responsible legislators are endlessly questioning themselves. They are asking if they have been able to match people’s expectations.
To take a particularly prominent and pertinent example, Duong Chi Dung and his accomplices pocketed millions of dollars in the purchase of a floating dock in poor condition from abroad while he was at helm of the Vietnam National Shipping Lines between 2005 and 2012.
The scam took place smoothly and was not discovered until last year. But, it already caused the loss of nearly US$20 million to the company. Then, Dung’s younger brother Duong Tu Trong, deputy chief of Hai Phong City’s Police Department at that time, helped him flee the country after the wrongdoings were exposed.
Trong, despite being in charge of enforcing laws, put his criminal relative above the law.
Corrupt officials are increasingly pestering people and businesses for personal gain. Local production activities and people’s health are at risk as toxic and fake goods are smuggled and sold widely in markets and supermarkets.
There are gaps between the content of resolutions passed or approved by legislators, and the results of the government applying them; between legislators’ questions and the government’s responses over violations and corruption.
The gap between the rich and poor is widening at a high speed. Poor people lose access to schooling and live with diseases without treatment, while rich people buy not only luxury cars and houses, but also political power.
Compared to other countries in the Southeast Asia, Vietnam also sees gaps in different fields, including the economy, education, healthcare, science and technology, and legal effectiveness.
However, amidst all these gaps, what is most worrying is that Vietnam had several opportunities to narrow or close the gap with neighboring countries, but missed them.
Many international organizations and experts still say that Vietnam has new opportunities and potentials, but will the country be determined enough to grab them, starting with clearing up its internal problems and initiating reforms?
Japanese Professor Kenichi Ohno, who has spent nearly 18 years working as a consultant for Vietnam’s economic policy markers, recently told the Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper that if Vietnam can reform its economic policies, it will be able to catch up with Thailand in the next 10 years.
Otherwise, Vietnam will never be able to be on par with Thailand, let alone Malaysia, he said.
Lawmakers with dedication to people and the country have been doing their best to help bridge all these gaps, but it is going to take a lot more effort and a lot more determination to achieve the objective.
By lawyer Truong Trong Nghia, vice chairman of the Vietnam Bar Federation and a legislator of Ho Chi Minh City
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Thanh Nien News (The story can be found in the October 25th issue in our print edition Vietweek)