A majority of Vietnamese legislators stand opposed to a plan to relocate the government's administrative center, and many have begun to ask whether or not the decision to do so was influenced by special interests.
The plan aims to keep National Assembly and Communist Party offices inside Hanoi as the country's "political center," while creating a new "administrative center" in Ba Vi Mountain, 60km outside the current capital city of Hanoi, composed of all ministries, departments and other government agencies.
"Is it possible to have officials from the central government traveling all the way down here [downtown Hanoi] whenever they have to report to the National Assembly?" asked Huynh Ngoc Son, vice chairman of the National Assembly Vietnam's parliament during a group discussion on the plan at the ongoing assembly session that will end on June 19.
The plan will be revisited at a discussion on June 15.
"The move is awkward to our affections, traditions and feng shui. And there are also national defense and security concerns," he added.
But Minister of Construction Nguyen Hong Quan said the central governmental offices, currently located in Hanoi's crowded central districts, suffered from a lack of transport infrastructure.
He said the government had previously instructed several ministries to relocate outside the city center and many had already made plans to do so.
But Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem said several of the agencies had drafted their own relocation plans outside Ba Vi before the new arrangement was announced.
"The new Ministry of Foreign Affairs' office [currently under construction in Tu Liem District] was supposed to be used for centuries. Now we have another plan to relocate it to Ba Vi Mountain in the next 30 years. It is impossible to move it twice in such a short time."
Representative Nguyen Minh Thuyet from the northern province of Lang Son said the government needed to reconsider the plan.
"We shouldn't be convinced to separate our administrative and political centers just because a few other countries have already done so... We have to maintain Hanoi's identity in the plan. Hanoi will not be itself if the government's presence is undetermined," he said.
For the benefit of whom?
Land prices in areas surrounding the swaths of Ba Vi property that have been designated for the project have begun skyrocketing since the plan was announced.
Several representatives have since advised planners not to be influenced by special interests.
Nguyen Lan Dung of Dak Lak Province said the plan was unfeasible and he couldn't see any reason to move the administrative center.
"I can't understand why they want to relocate the administrative center to Ba Vi. This has ignited a land prices hike even though the center has yet to be relocated," he said.
Dak Lak delegate Tran Dinh Long was more to the point:
"Was this an idea by those who had bought land in Ba Vi?"
Many lawmakers also criticized a plan to construct a Thang Long Thoroughfare connecting Ba Vi to the city center, saying it would be a waste because it would run directly alongside the Lang Hoa Lac Thoroughfare some four kilometers away.