Provincial chief sacked, expelled from Party

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Ha Giang legislators voted on July 28 to dismiss one of their own.

Nguyen Truong To, 57, has served as a member of the legislative body since 1999. He was elected chairman of the Ha Giang People's Committee, the provincial government, in 2005.

The police investigations have alleged that To carried on an affair with a sex worker in 2005, while serving as head of the provincial Department of Planning and Investment. Earlier this year, two teenage sex workers accused To (in addition to police and their high school principal) of paying them for sex.

On July 28, 36 of the 39 voting officials agreed to dismiss To as a member of the People's Council. In another decision, 35 members voted to strip To of his position as chairman.

The two resolutions will be effective immediately. Citing health problems, To requested to remain absent from the meeting which lasted for less than an hour.

The move against To began last month when Communist Party inspectors recommended To's dismissal due to his "unhealthy relations" and "self-indulgent lifestyle."

On July 25, the Party's Secretariat announced a decision to expel To from the Party for having "[sexual] relations with prostitutes, which seriously violated the conduct [expected] of a [good] Party member."

Hoang Dinh Cham, permanent deputy chairman of Ha Giang People's Committee has been assigned to take To's place.

His troubles began in November 2006 when Ha Giang police discovered nude photos of To posed "in different positions" saved in the phone of the sex worker, in addition to several text messages sent from his cell phone number.

In early February this year two high school students accused To of having sexual relations with them when they were under 18 in open court.

Following the decision to expel him from the Party last week, To eventually apologized for his role in the scandal, but not before accusing Ha Giang's Police Chief Nguyen Binh Van of having "shady affairs" with different women.

At a press briefing held on July 28 to announce To's dismissal, Hoang Trung Luyen, head of Ha Giang Part Unit's Propaganda and Education Commission said that authorities are investigating To's accusations against Van.

He said that Van's decision to send To's nude photos to Central Party Inspectors was totally normal. Local authorities in Ha Giang are not losing solidarity, he told the media.

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