Vietnam gets 2 new deputy PMs

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Pham Binh Minh (L) and Vu Duc Dam, who were voted in as deputy Prime Ministers by the National Assembly Wednesday

The National Assembly, Vietnam's legislature, approved the elevation of two ministers, both foreign-trained, as deputy prime ministers Wednesday.

Vu Duc Dam, Minister and Chairman of the Government Office, received 84.54 percent of deputy's votes, and will assist PM Nguyen Tan Dung in handling the culture, social affairs, science, and education portfolios, according to a government report.  

Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh received 85.75 percent vote and will help Dung with foreign affairs.


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Unlike Dam, Minh will continue to be foreign minister.

Also on Wednesday, Dung nominated Nguyen Van Nen, deputy chief of the Communist Party's Department of Propaganda and Education, to replace Dam.

The house will vote on Dung's nomination Thursday.

Dam, 50, a Belgian-trained technocrat, became the youngest minister in the cabinet when he took up the job in 2011.

He has since been the de facto spokesman for the government, hosting monthly press briefings where he fielded questions on the country's bread-and-butter policies.

He used to be a secretary and then assistant to Vo Van Kiet, the late prime minister.

He moved quickly up the ranks, holding a wide range of jobs including Deputy Minister of Post and Telecommunications and leader of Bac Ninh and Quang Ninh provinces.

He is credited with improving the IT sector and being part of significant developments such as launching the Internet and licensing giant companies like Intel and Microsoft.

Minh, 54, is the son of Nguyen Co Thach, a former deputy prime minister and foreign minister who died in 2006.

He underwent diplomatic training in the late 1970s and has been a diplomat since.

He is a familiar face for the west after being posted in the UK in the 1980s and the UN and the US more than a decade ago.

He was the first Vietnamese cohort to study in the US on a Fulbright scholarship.

In 1994 he got a master's degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, one of the leading international relations programs in the US. 

With the appointments of Dam and Minh and the removal of incumbent Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan, who took on the presidency of the Vietnam Fatherland Front last September, Vietnam will now have five deputy prime ministers.

Three of them were educated in the West Hoang Trung Hai in Ireland, Dam in Belgium and Minh in the US and are all aged less than 54, considered young enough in Vietnam's political apparatus to serve for a decade in high-office following the next Party congress if it is held in early 2016.

Last April, the Politburo adopted a resolution on international integration, highlighting the role of the major powers and key multilateral institutions.

A month later, the Party Central Committee for the first time since its national congress in 2011 started to debate the planning and grooming of key personnel until 2021.

"The basic course of Vietnam's international integration has been set," Carl Thayer, a Vietnam expert at the University of New South Wales in Australia, said.

"The addition of Dam and Minh will greatly assist Vietnam in its efforts to proactively integrate with global economy."

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