Vuong Dinh Hue, National Assembly Chairman, Resigns as Anti-Corruption Campaign Escalates

Vuong Dinh Hue, National Assembly Chairman, Resigns as Anti-Corruption Campaign Escalates

Notable events:

  • Vuong Dinh Hue, Chairman of the National Assembly, Resigned amid Corruption Probe
  • Amnesty International: Vietnam Deploys Spyware to Target Critics
  • Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Calls State Department Human Rights Report ‘Unobjective’

Vuong Dinh Hue, National Assembly Chairman, Resigns Amid Corruption Probe

Vietnam’s 13th Communist Party Central Committee convened on April 26 in an extraordinary meeting and approved the resignation of Vuong Dinh Hue, 67, chairman of the National Assembly in the 2021 - 2026 term. Hue's downfall, one of the “four pillars” of political power in the one-party state, occurred amid an intensifying anti-corruption drive that has unseated multiple high-profile officials.

On April 21, the police arrested Pham Thai Ha, deputy head of the National Assembly Office, and an assistant of Vuong Dinh Hue, on charges of “abusing position and power for personal gains” regarding bidding violations at the Thuan An Group, a construction company.

In just over a year, three prominent officials have been forced to step down over their alleged wrongdoings and violations of party rules. President Vo Van Thuong resigned on March 20, after his predecessor, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, left office nearly a year ago to assume responsibility for corruption scandals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many observers believe these unexpected resignations added to growing political instability and the succession crisis of elite leadership in Vietnam.

National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue was also deprived of his membership in the Central Committee and the Politburo - a crucial policy-making body of the Communist Party. The official announcement did not explain what Hue had done; it only ambiguously said that he had “violated party regulations and failed to make himself a model example for other government officials and party members.”

On the morning of April 26, Hue and other state leaders were seen visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi to commemorate the 49th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War on April 30.

Amnesty International: Vietnam Deploys Spyware to Target Critics

Amnesty International said in a report published on April 23 that the Vietnamese government had launched a spyware campaign, with the assistance of state agents, to target the social media accounts of Vietnamese individuals.

According to the report, a campaign connected to Intellexa’s Predator spyware attack infrastructure had targeted at least 50 social media accounts belonging to 27 individuals and 23 institutions, including several Vietnamese, between February and June 2023. Amnesty’s research also revealed that Intellexa's tools were sold to Vietnamese companies with business links to the Ministry of Public Security.

Moreover, the report highlighted Vietnam’s persistent crackdown on dissidents, journalists, and human rights defenders despite the country’s candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council. The government has arrested and prosecuted these activists under Article 117 of the 2015 Penal Code and Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code, which forbids the “distribution of anti-state propaganda.”

The report also mentioned that a Ho Chi Minh City court sentenced environmental activist Hoang Thi Minh Hong to three years for “tax evasion” allegations. For freedom of expression, it called on the health of Le Huu Minh Tuan, an independent journalist, has significantly worsened due to multiple ailments that threaten his life.

Regarding the death penalty, figures on executions and death sentences are classified as a state secret. The Vietnamese authorities did not allow the family of Le Van Manh, a wrongfully convicted inmate, to see him for the last time before his execution on Sept. 22.

Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Calls State Department Human Rights Report ‘Unobjective’

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pham Thu Hang, on April 25 dismissed the U.S. Department of State’s recent report on human rights as “unobjective” and “based on inaccurate information.” Hang made the announcement three days after the State Department released its annual 2023 human rights report, which highlighted Vietnam’s slow progress on human rights and Hanoi’s use of transnational repression against foreign-based critics.

According to the foreign affairs spokesperson, Vietnam’s consistent stance is “to protect and promote human rights, treating human beings as the centerpiece and the drive for innovation and the country’s development.” She added that the “basic rights and freedoms of people have been acknowledged in the Constitution and are protected and promoted on both legal documents and in reality.”

The report provided examples of notable human rights violations in the one-party Communist state. They include restrictions on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and association, and religious freedom. It also cited instances of torture and other cruel treatment by government agents, unjustified arrests, the prosecution of journalists, the questionable enforcement of criminal libel laws, and greater government control over the operation of nongovernmental and civil society organizations.

On April 11, Hanoi also dismissed a report on Vietnam’s human rights situation written by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Deputy foreign ministry spokesperson Doan Khac Viet said it “contained false, unjustified information and an unfair assessment.” The human rights report was prepared before the country’s fourth Universal Periodic Review cycle this May 7.

Lawyer of Tycoon Truong My Lan Calls for Punishment of Netizens Under the Cybersecurity Law for Defamation

The lawyer of real estate tycoon Truong My Lan, former chairwoman of Van Thinh Phat Group, has requested the police investigate those who created an online video clip about his client under the 2018 Cybersecurity Law. Giang Hong Thanh, the lawyer, claimed that the video clip “Setting Sail to Find Treasure” allegedly defames Lan and insults her honor and dignity.

Truong My Lan, 68, was sentenced to death in a trial on April 11 on charges of embezzlement of assets at Saigon Commercial Joint Stock Bank (SCB). After the trial, a video clip distributed on social networks in Vietnam showed the scene of Lan answering the judges' questions. When the judges asked Lan where she had concealed the embezzled money, she said, “The money is out at sea.” Other social media users used the tycoon’s testimony to mockingly create a map, which provided directions to the locations of “hidden treasures,” which were her real estate.

Lan’s lawyer cited Articles 8 and 16 of the Cybersecurity Law as the legal grounds for investigating the creator of the video clip. The lawyer added that he had filed a report with the Department of Cyber ​​Security and High-Tech Crime Prevention of the Ministry of Public Security and the Department of Broadcasting and Electronic Information of the Ministry of Information and Communications. Vietnam has frequently used its Cybersecurity Law to punish social media users who publish content critical of the government and the Communist regime. 

Vietnam Opposes China’s Fishing Ban in the South China Sea

On April 25, Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Pham Thu Hang opposed China’s fishing ban in the South China Sea, which Vietnam refers to as the East Sea, from May 1 to Sept. 16, 2024. The ban covers from the 12th parallel to northern Taiwan, including the Paracels and the Spratlys, which Vietnam claims as its sovereign territory.

Spokesperson Hang said at a press conference that the ban is “a violation of the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Vietnam over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).” She urged Beijing to “refrain from over-complicating the situation and to contribute to maintaining peace, stability and order” in the South China Sea, to which Hanoi refers as the East Sea.

Vietnam Insight: Learn more about Vietnam

Berlin Kidnapping Accusation Hangs Over Rising Vietnam Communist Official

Bloomberg/ Philip Heijmans/ April 26

“It was a calm Sunday morning in a park near Berlin’s iconic Victory Column when a sudden loud shriek startled pedestrians. They turned to see a black-haired man being dragged violently into the back of a car.

Trinh Xuan Thanh — former chairman of Vietnam’s state-owned PetroVietnam Construction JSC — was then driven south via Prague to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, according to a German court ruling last year describing the audacious 2017 kidnapping.


The two men later carried Thanh into a vehicle in the delegation’s convoy, which was escorted by local police to the airport tarmac. Joining him inside a waiting plane, according to the court document, was Vietnam’s minister of public security and a rising star in the ruling Communist Party: To Lam.

Within Vietnam’s opaque political system, Lam, 66, has emerged as one of the most important figures apart from 80-year-old General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, whose ailing health has triggered a rare succession battle in one of Southeast Asia’s most vibrant economies.

Lam is seen by analysts as a potential candidate for Trong’s job when it comes up. His name has also been mentioned once again as a possibility for president after Vo Van Thuong resigned last month over unspecified violations, though it’s unclear he’d even want the largely ceremonial post.”

Vatican eyes closer ties with communist Vietnam

DW/ David Hutt/ April 25

“While Catholics account for just 6% of Vietnam's population, they represent around half of all Vietnamese who identify as being religious, according to a 2019 census.

But Vietnam has been accused of flagrantly violating the rights of religious organizations and groups, especially congregations of the country's ethnic minorities, who are adherents of various Buddhist sects, Catholicism and Protestantism, as well as a number of religions deemed illegal by the communist government.”

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