Purge has officials dithering

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 December, 1999, 12:00am

Vietnam's anti-corruption campaign appears to have had a dramatic impact on the already moribund decision-making process, with several sources saying officials are paralysed with fear at becoming caught up in the purge.

The decentralised structure and demand for consensus within the ruling Communist Party have been widely criticised as the principle reasons for the slow pace of economic reform and the apparent inability of authorities to deal with a host of deepening social problems.

But foreign and Vietnamese observers are now claiming that apart from the current session of the National Assembly, the day-to-day activities of government have ground to a halt.

'In the current climate, no one wants to put their name to a decision. Everything is at a standstill, it's incredible,' said an engineer involved with a major power project outside Hanoi.

The party's anti-corruption drive claimed two more high-profile victims yesterday as the National Assembly dismissed two of its members for alleged corruption.

Sacked were National Assembly member Dinh Hanh, a former vice-chairman of the Hanoi People's Committee, and Vu Xuan Thuat.

The details of charges against Mr Thuat remain unclear, but Mr Hanh has been linked to a multimillion-dollar land scandal.

The cleansing of the party - seemingly aimed at boosting its legitimacy in the face of public disillusion with endemic corruption - has resulted in the dismissal of nearly 1,500 party members with another 1,100 officials and businessmen being tried for corruption.