Vietnam's beleaguered foreign investors have received a boost from an unusual quarter - President Le Duc Anh, the country's top military official. In his first public speech since a severe stroke late last year, General Anh said 'individualism' - a veiled reference to official crime and graft - was stalling the flow of foreign aid and investment. 'Individualism is the danger above all . . . it's eroding the confidence of the people in the party and the state and it's driving foreign investors away,' he said in a surprise speech to the National Assembly yesterday. General Anh, 76, has long been wary of too much foreign influence but his views were echoed by another powerful hardliner, military political supremo and leading Politburo figure Lieutenant-General Le Kha Phieu. Lt-Gen Phieu, one of the country's most mysterious but influential emerging leaders, said more needed to be done to boost disbursements from investors. 'We have many chances and many opportunities for future development,' he said in rare public comments. 'We need to train our staff in order to meet our new requirements . . . we must find new ways to improve disbursements of foreign investment.' Of more than US$27 billion of pledged foreign investment, less than $8 billion is on the ground. His comments follow a low-key state-of-nation speech from Premier Vo Van Kiet, repeating government concerns from red tape to fears over widening gaps between the rich cities and poor countryside. Mr Kiet urged a stronger legal system to level the playing field between the rambling state sector and a fledgling private economy. 'We need to harness all areas of the economy if we are going to sustain high growth and development in the drive for industrialisation and modernisation,' he said. Foreign analysts said there was a lack of new initiatives in the speech, particularly in relation to the corruption-plagued banking sector. Mr Kiet and Ho Chi Minh City Communist Party chief Truong Tan Sang tried to play down worrying reports. 'There are no serious problems,' Mr Sang said of a possible credit crunch in Vietnam's growth hub, shaken again last week when two businessmen were arrested for involvement in a loans scam estimated to involve more than $70 million. Foreign analysts said state-owned banks were sitting on a rising mountain of dodgy debt following years of politically inspired lending to an unproductive state sector. Smaller private banks also had considerable interest in a troubled property sector.