Vietnam prime minister survives confidence vote but position weakened

Premier Nguyen Tan Dung warned in non-confidence ballot

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 June, 2013, 11:52am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 June, 2013, 11:52am

Vietnam’s prime minister survived a non-confidence ballot in the national assembly on Tuesday, but with his position weakened after more than 30 per cent of its members voted against him.

Premier Nguyen Tan Dung and 48 other high officials faced the test, the first of what will be an annual exercise aimed at showing the country that its leaders are accountable.

Dung’s handling of the economy has put him under internal and public pressure. Last year he survived a leadership challenge. While the internal goings of the Communist Party are hard to read, many analysts said that Dung was under pressure from a clique close to President Truong Tan Sang.

Assembly members got to vote on whether they had “high confidence,” “confidence” or “low confidence” in the officials. The implications of the voting were vague, but some interpretations suggested officials with a 60 per cent “low confidence vote” might have to resign.

Dung received 130 “low confidence” votes out of 498 ballots, the third highest number of negative votes cast.

The central bank governor received 209 “low confidence” marks, while the education minister got 177.

Sang got 28 “low confidence” votes.

Dung was handed a second five-year term by the party in 2011 despite his widespread unpopularity among the Vietnamese public.

Dung has faced down repeated threats to his premiership including rare public criticism from senior party figures and even an unprecedented call from one lawmaker to resign.

Critics blame the 63-year-old’s policies and governing style for Vietnam’s economic malaise, endemic corruption and banking system riddled with toxic debt, mostly held by state-run companies.

Top officials running state-owned companies frequently flaunt lifestyles incompatible with their official remuneration, fuelling public anger at corruption, inefficiency and waste in the sprawling sector.

But the Communist Party tightly controls public debate and routinely imprisons dissidents who question the political system or call for change.

Associated Press and Agence France-Presse