Questions remain unanswered at a Thursday press briefing regarding a controversial land revocation that led to a violent confrontation with farmers in the northern port city of Hai Phong.
The Hai Phong City People's Committee, the municipal administration, organized the press briefing one week after more than 100 officers and soldiers had the encounter with Doan Van Vuon's family to force them to return 19.5-hectares of land allotted to them in 1997.
Le Van Hien, chairman of Tien Lang District's People's Committee that ordered the revocation, did not respond when asked why the revocation occurred at the family's house, although it wasn't located on the targeted land. The house was located on the 21 hectares of land that the committee assigned to Vuon in 1993.
In response to the question why the forces destroyed the house after the confrontation, during which four policemen and two soldiers were injured by home-made mine and shotguns, Hien said it was because "the criminal acts" occurred there.
Following the clash, four members of Vuon's family, including Vuon, were arrested and have faced charges of "murder." Two others face charges of acting against people on public mission. Police said two other members who fled the scene are still at large.
At the conference, local officials also failed to answer questions about the allegations that the district government had violated regulations when allotting the land to Vuon to do aquaculture farming.
They, instead, insisted that the district's authorities conformed to laws when issuing a decision to give the land to Vuon in 1997 permitting him to use it for 14 years.
But, in an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Dang Hung Vo, former deputy minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said under the country's prevailing Land Law, the right to use aquaculture land is valid for 20 years. So the decision was illegal.
The farmer should be eligible to use the land until 2017, not 2009 as claimed by the authorities, Vo said.
In the meantime, a report in Tuoi Tre on Friday quoted Dao Trung Chin, deputy chief of the General Department of Land Administration under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, as saying that the ministry has asked the Hai Phong's environment department to report the case.
He said based on the department's report, they will decide if Tien Lang's authorities' land assignation was correct or incorrect.
"People who reacted wrongly will be dealt with in accordance with laws. But if authorities are wrong, their responsibilities will be reviewed as well," Chin said.
According to the official, matters involved in the regulations on land allotment will be discussed at the next central meetings, as well as among related agencies and with experts to introduce amendments to the current law.
He said land allotment is controversial in Vietnam. While some experts say there should be no time limit to using assigned lands, others say land use needs to be restricted to 20 years only, so that the lands can be returned and allotted again.