Authorities in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh have approved a senior official's request to retire due to "health issues" amid a scandal involving a former female co-worker who caused a disturbance at his office last January.
Tra Vinh Party Unit voted last week to allow Tran Khieu, 59, to retire early from his posts as deputy chief of the provincial Party Unit and chairman of the provincial People's Committee -- the local government, a source told Thanh Nien.
Khieu is just 18 months shy of his 60th birthday, the official retirement age for male officials stipulated by Vietnamese law.
Khieu told local media that he wanted to retire early to "create favorable conditions for the younger [official] to replace him" and due to his "health issues," rejecting rumors about concerning an alleged "love affair" with Tran Hong Ly, 34, a deputy head of the corporation and labor management department of the Tra Vinh Economic Zone Authority.
He said he and Ly are like "brother and sister" and that her grandfather had protected him during the Vietnam War and that he had been Ly's supervisor on the Tra Vinh Economic Zone Authority.
Ly also confirmed Khieu's account of the nature of their relationship.
Khieu's request came after Ly had been expelled from the Party for "violating the ethics codes, discrediting herself and her office," as the latter had reportedly caused a disturbance at the Tra Vinh People's Committee on January 7.
According to a Tra Vinh's Ward 1 police report, Ly drove her motorbike into the Tra Vinh People's Committee building at around 10:10 p.m on that day., ignoring warnings from the police officers on duty.
She allegedly used a brick to strike the glass windows of the public car used by Khieu. When the officers tried to stop her, she attacked them, injuring one.
Ly then went straight to Khieu's office and struck its door with a brick, threatening and insulting the officers when they tried to stop her.
She left at 11:15 p.m. and has since refused to report to the local police despite being repeatedly summoned to do so.
Ly rejected the accusations against her, adding that she is "a woman" and would have been "unable" to carry out such an attack, Tuoi Tre reported.
But she admitted to scolding a police officer she says caused her phone fall onto the ground and who did not pick it up, adding that she plans to file a complaint about being expelled from the Party.
Meanwhile, the Tra Vinh Economic Zone Authority is seeking additional punishments for her, news website VnExpress quoted the agency in a news report.
Khieu has also said that his office door and his car were not damaged, according to media reports.
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted a source from the Party Unit as saying that although the reasons Khieu cited were "totally unconvincing", it accepted his resignation because the rumors about him have diminished his reputation.
Tra Vinh Party Committee said it will send its report on the case to relevant central authorities. Tong Minh Vien, vice chairman of Tra Vinh People's Committee said despite its decision, Khieu will continue working until central level authorities approve his early retirement.
Vietnam's top echelons have repeatedly warned about the "decay of political ideology and morality" among Party members, saying the "lifestyle of a group of Party members and officials" is holding the country back on its development path.
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