Về bài viết “Plenty to smile about”
Tờ The Economist số ngày 31/3 đến
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Thứ nhất tác
giả viết: “Quốc hội, trước kia vốn là con
dấu cao su của đảng đang trở thành một diễn đàn thật sự để tranh luận và chỉ
trích chính phủ. Báo chí cũng được tự do phê bình những sai lầm lớn của chính
phủ.” Về Quốc hội, bề ngoài có vẻ như vậy nhưng sự thật
Quốc hội vẫn là con dấu cao su đóng vào các quyết định của Bộ Chính trị.
Các cuộc thảo luận không phải là những tranh luận như tại quốc
hội của các nước dân chủ mà chỉ là một màn kịch không hơn không kém. Hãy
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Điểm thứ hai về chống tham nhũng. Bài viết nói: “chính phủ Việt
Điểm thứ ba
bài báo viết: “sự cách biệt giữa người
giàu và người nghèo được thu hẹp lại khá hơn tại các
thành phố khác ở Đông
Điểm sau cùng là liên hệ đến Trung quốc. Bài viết nói: “Việt
Vốn là một độc
giả trong nhiều thập niên của The
Economist, một tạp chí tôi đánh giá xuất sắc nhất trên thế giới, nhưng riêng
bài viết này tôi thấy đáng được tô một chữ “F” lớn. Bài viết có thể làm cho những
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Nguyên văn bài báo Anh ngữ
Vietnam : Plenty to smile about
Mar 29th 2007 | BANGKOK AND HO CHI MINH CITY
From The Economist print edition
But despite its successes, Vietnam's ruling Communist Party remains terrified of any challenge to its monopoly on power
A SUSTAINED boom, with annual economic growth consistently around 7-8% since 2000, has transformed Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), its largest conurbation, is bustling, confident and expanding fast. Its fancy restaurants and designer shops are not just for the increasing numbers of foreign tourists and businessmen. The middle class seems broader, and the gap between rich and poor narrower, than in many other South-East Asian cities.
It is over 20 years since Vietnam's ruling communists abandoned collectivism and embarked on their doi moi market-based reforms, not unlike those China adopted a few years earlier. The country has come far since then. In Hanoi, the capital, food was rationed in the gloomy pre-reform era, and even senior officials wore threadbare clothes. “Boat people” were washing up on foreign shores.
Vietnam does not have the billion-plus populations of China and India. But with 84m people, it is no minnow. It is a serious contender in the world economy, especially since joining the World Trade Organisation this year. It has become Brazil's main rival in coffee exporting and Thailand's in rice. Vietnam is one of Asia's most open economies: two-way trade is around 160% of GDP, more than twice the ratio for China and over four times India's.
The country has put the wars of the 1960s and 1970s behind it. Americans are welcome these days, especially if they bring dollars to invest. Likewise, an ancient animosity with China—a frequent invader down the centuries—has been put aside in the interests of prosperity.
Reform has come in fits and starts since doi moi began but, at present, Vietnam's palpable success encourages boldness. The National Assembly this week urged the government to press on with building a market economy. The government in turn is pressing state firms for faster privatisation plans. Vietnam had only begun opening when Asia's 1997 economic storm hit, so, unlike some of its neighbours (see article), it was largely unscathed, and growth has accelerated since.
Where did it all go right? Observers detect a strengthening will to win among the Vietnamese but struggle to explain it. One factor is the self-confidence that comes from having, as they see it, beaten off three world powers (America, China and France) in the past half-century. There is also Confucianism: Vietnam has kept some useful bits, such as the belief in education and self-betterment, without the feudalistic overtones. And success has bred success—liberalisation is producing prosperity, encouraging further reform.
Vietnam has a corruption problem but is taking serious steps to tackle it. A former deputy trade minister was jailed last week for 14 years for bribery—the latest among dozens of top officials given stiff penalties for dishonesty. The armed forces, such a baleful influence in some countries, are fairly clean. Many Asian economies are sucked dry by entrenched, predatory elites. In Vietnam, although collectivist economics have gone, the government remains collective and consensual. Leadership is shared between the party boss, president and prime minister. No personality cults are allowed, other than the one idolising Ho Chi Minh, the revolutionary leader, who died in 1969.
The Vietnamese are enjoying new-found wealth and personal choice, including being allowed to educate their children abroad. Party bosses, conscious of what happened to their former backers in the deceased Soviet Union, realise that they must keep the people happy to stay in power. So far it is working. “Right now people don't think about politics,” says Nguyen Kim Dinh, a former city-government worker who now plays Vietnam's stockmarket full-time. “They just think about earning money.”
Even so, the National Assembly, once a rubber stamp, has become a forum for real debate and scrutiny. Serious criticisms of the government are aired and reported in the press. A record number of self-nominated candidates are standing in the Assembly elections due in May.
the party remains terrified of the slightest challenge to its monopoly on
power. The press is to remain party-run and independent candidates for the
election must still be party-approved. The government claims no one is arrested
for his political views, but in reality it treats pro-democracy activists as
common criminals, jailing them for supposed spying or sabotage. In February
charges were laid against
“The dissidents are getting bolder,” says Nguyen Manh Hung, an America-based Vietnamese academic. But Carl Thayer, a veteran Vietnam-watcher from the Australian Defence Force Academy, reckons that stronger pressure is coming from reformers inside the party, whose demands are remarkably similar to the dissidents'. Either way, as the Vietnamese enjoy more economic freedom and as more exiled Vietnamese return, bringing foreign ideas of pluralism and free speech, expectations of political liberty will grow.
If so, the ruling party has several regional models from which it can choose. In prosperous Singapore, the People's Action Party allows opposition parties to operate within strict constraints. In prosperous Taiwan, the Kuomintang has abandoned absolute rule for genuine alternation of power. But despite Vietnam's economic success there is little sign to date that the ruling party feels sure enough of its popularity to permit genuine political competition. Fear can be a habit for the ruler, as well as the ruled./.
Trần Bình Nam