Scandal-addled Vietnam official has early retirement approved

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Legislators of Tra Vinh Province on Wednesday approved the early retirement request by the provincial administrator, who made it four months ago amid a sex scandal involving a former female coworker.

Tran Khieu, 59, last month also resigned from his post as the deputy chief of the Party Committee of the Mekong Delta province.

In his request sent to relevant local and central authorities in March, Khieu cited "health issues" as his reason for seeking early retirement. He is now 15 months shy of his 60th birthday the normal retirement age for male officials stipulated by Vietnamese law.

He told the media he wanted to retire early to "create favorable conditions for a younger [official] to replace him" and did not want to be considered a person who insisted on "clinging to his power and position."

The local authorities are still searching for an official to replace Khieu.

In April, seniors members of the Tra Vinh Party unit had also voted to allow Khieu to retire early from his two posts, but he had to continue working pending approvals from other relevant authorities.

Khieu was elected by the Party unit to be its deputy chief in 2010; and by the provincial People's Council as chairman of the provincial People's Committee in 2011.

He was alleged to have had an affair with Tran Hong Ly, 34, a former official at the Tra Vinh Economic Zone Authority. He denied the rumor, saying he and Ly were like "brother and sister."

He said her family had protected him during the Vietnam War and that he had been Ly's supervisor on the Tra Vinh Economic Zone Authority.

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Ly also confirmed Khieu's account of the nature of their relationship.

She was expelled from the Party in February and fired last month after reportedly causing a disturbance at the Tra Vinh People's Committee Khieu's office on January 7; and also at her own office.

Furthermore, she was accused of making up a pregnancy story to avoid being fired from her post.

Ly rejected those accusations and filed complaints against her office for its decisions.

Exposed wrongdoings

Before his resignation was approved, several wrongdoings on Khieu's part were exposed. Among them, the provincial inspectors last month proposed that he be censured for his illegal decision to spend VND70 billion (US$3.3 million) from the government budget to disarming mines and bombs at a local industrial zone in May 2010. He was then deputy chairman of the provincial People's Committee.

According to current regulations, allocating funds from the state budget to build the infrastructure for industrial zones in poor localities must be used exclusively to compensate people who are affected by the construction, help them resettle and build waste treatment system. Disarming mines and bombs is not supported.

The province's Department of Planning and Investment in April 2010 also told the Tra Vinh Economic Zone Authority, which manages the project, that expenditures for the disarming of ordnance had to come from the investors.

The Tra Vinh People's Council also proposed that the Ministry of Transport cease work on an illegal dredging project in the Co Chien River Khieu had approved in May of this year.

It also proposed that the provincial People's Committee reverse Khieu's decision to carry out the project that was set to finish in 2020.

A leader of the People's Committee of Chau Thanh District's Hoa Minh Commune one of the two localities the river belongs to said the project would cause severe landslides of nearby alluvial ground, dyke erosion, damage to protective forest land and change the river's flow.

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