After two long years of deliberation about revision of the current constitution of Socialist Republic of Vietnma by the Central Committee and Politiburo of Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), the revised constitution draft was publically released on January 1st and called for the public feedbacks until the end of March 2013.
In the revised constitution draft, the party itself as the sole leader of the State and Society Affairs, and imposes a new clause demanding absolute loyalty of Vietnam’s People Armed Forces to the Party. This reminds of the allegiance oath to the Furher that all German people and Armed Forces were obliged to make.
After 60 years of absolute rule in North Vietnam and 39 years of absolute rule by the CPV, the regime’s need for the formal oath of allegiance from the Armed Forces speaks volume of the shaky foundation of the regime and the nature of the regime transforming itself into Nazism in order to preserve the regime at all costs.
In spirit of civic participation, Vietnamese intelligentsia, which includes former high- ranking officials of the current government, professors, retired general and other intellectuals from all walks of life, exposes the self-contradictory clauses of the revised constitution draft and proposes a new version of constitution, based on the basic principles of democracy.
It calls for the separation of the three different branches of the government, multi-party system, and guarantees of basic human rights in accordance with the international standards that Vietnam has signed on. Furthermore, it calls for the constitution needs to be submitted to the popular referendum for approval.
The petition calling for democratic reform of the constitution, launched by the intelligentsia on the Bauxite Viet Nam, has garnered more than 2,500 signatures in less than 2 weeks. This number seems to be small in a country of 90 million citizens,but it is actually a very courageous act of those signatories because the regime has a history of severely punish any peacful dissent.
For instance, on February 1st, Human Rights Watch released an update of the human rights condition, qualified as Vietnam: Crackdown on Critics Escalates.
Today, 22 human rights activists were sentenced from 10 years to life sentence of prison on the charge of “subversion” because the group “produced documents distorting policies of the communist party and the state.”
Therefore, even a small number of 2,500 signatures from ordinary citizens is a very encouraging sign of open defiane. It should be noted that the intelligentsia group is part of the the regime, who are holding or held important positions in the communist regime. It is also encouraging that some have conscience to appreciate the value of real democracy.
Today, a delegation of the intelligentsia group, lead by former minister of Justice Nguyễn Đình Lộc from 1992-2002, submitted formally the petition and the new proposed version of the constitution to the authorities. The meeting was formally and warmly met with the deputy chair of Constitution revision committee, Mr. Lê Minh Thông under the red banner, which reads “The Party Is Glorious And Forever” and under the eyes of Marx and Lenin.
It is very unlikely that the CPV will seriously consider the proposed new version of the constitution based on the democratic principles and process. If the constitution is finally approved by the National Assembly without the abolishment of the clauses giving the Party the sole leadership role in the the State and Society affairs and the requirement of allegiance pledge from the Armed Forces of the People, the new constitution will be not have the popular legitmacy and the communists are moving Vietnam towards Nazism and Fascism.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Long. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.
Some 500 intellectuals in Vietnam have signed an online petition calling for a revision to the constitution which would allow for multi-party elections and for the separation of the country’s executive, judicial and legislative branches of government.
The petition was published on a number of well-known blogs Tuesday following a call by the ruling Communist Party this month for public suggestions on proposed amendments to the constitution.
Nguyen Dinh Loc, Vietnam’s former Minister of Justice, and just one of several former senior officials to have signed the petition, said that it was “obvious that there must be some changes” and that it was only “a matter of how much.”
“It’s hard for me to say exactly, but we have called for intellectual input from all of the people so I am sure some suggestions will be adopted to allow for a rather new constitution,” Loc told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
The former minister said that Vietnam’s most recent constitution, approved in 1992, had not been amended enough within the past 10 years to keep up with the vast changes in the country.
“Our society has democratized more and more. It’s a real democracy, not just a symbolic one,” he said.
“Now we need to have more fundamental changes.”
Loc said that the petition also called on the government to rename the country to better reflect the state of the social climate.
“Right now we call it the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, but socialism is a long term goal,” he said.
“At the moment we have not achieved true socialism, so we should return to the old name ‘Democratic Republic of Vietnam’,” he said.
While Vietnamese authorities have said that they will accept comments from the public until March 31 about revisions to the constitution, which could be adopted in May, they have also been cautious about the consultation process.
Topics seen as sensitive, which include the possibility of multiparty elections or improving land rights, have been explicitly excluded from the constitution debate.
Sources told RFA that many of the websites hosting the petition had been shut down by official censors to prevent the public from accessing it.
Father Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, the Bishop of the Vinh Diocese in central Vietnam, said that wide ranging proposals were included in the petition, “but the most important concerns the direction of the constitution—which is the right of the people to decide, not one of a political party.”
“Another issue is the differences among the executive, legislative and judicial powers,” Hop said.
“Then [the draft] must go through a referendum for the people to speak up about the constitution,” he said.
“Those are the three basic principles … in a democratic process.”
Hop said that the new constitution must also include provisions for greater religious freedom in the country, which he noted was recognized by Vietnam as a signatory to the International Convention on Human Rights.
“Vietnam is involved in the [global] integration process and it has signed several international agreements,” Hop said.
“When Vietnamese legislation does not comply with agreements such as the International Convention on Human Rights, for example, the convention is given greater value than the national law,” he said.
“The constitution should be modified for Vietnam to integrate better internationally, as well as to comply with the conventions it has signed.”
Hue Chi, the manager of a website that has criticized the government’s support for bauxite mining in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, said that the response to the call for recommendations had been substantial.
“The people who signed this petition understand the laws. They include lawyers. So the proposed petition is quite comprehensive,” said Hue Chi, who is also a university professor.
“We don’t belong to any organization. We are just individuals—Vietnamese citizens—who care about the nation’s future,” he said.
Hue Chi said that as the government had requested the people’s opinion on constitutional changes, “we decided that we needed to propose what the Vietnamese people want and care about the most.”
“That was how this petition came to exist.”
Hue Chi said that the suggestions for amending the constitution should not be viewed as a threat to the Communist leadership, but rather as a way of helping them to overcome social “challenges” that have made their grip on power more tenuous.
“For quite a long time we have thought about [changing the constitution] and this is a historic movement that we can’t resist taking part in,” the professor said.
“I think the Vietnamese Communist Party is facing challenges, which include [a transition to] democracy and [respecting] human rights,” he said.
“If they can gain the people’s trust, then the Party can maintain their leadership as before. There is no reason that [this movement] would deprive the communists of their current position.”
Nguyen Minh Thuyet, a former delegate to Vietnam’s National Assembly, or parliament, said that while he is a communist, he does not believe that “imposing” the Party’s leadership on society is the proper way to govern the country.
“We want the leadership to be based on credibility, quality and real capacity,” Thuyet said.
“Besides, it would ruin the party if we include in the constitution that an organization such as the Communist Party should have absolute leadership over the whole of society forever,” he said.
“To do so would make the communists less determined to gain the trust of the people.”
Writer Vo Thị Hao said that a constitution is as important to a country’s people as their own physical well-being.
“It’s the most important contract to protect the people’s freedom and democracy,” Hao said.
“I think everybody needs to be interested in the constitution, not only writers, lawmakers or managers,” he said.
“Everyone contributes a bit of heat to light the fire, wake up the popular conscience and make the people reflect on what they have accomplished in the hopes that life will be better and cruelty will disappear.”
Vietnamese intellectuals and Catholics sign a petition for the end to single party rule
By Source AsiaNews.It
At least 800 Vietnamese personalities call for constitutional reform, with the separation of state powers. Appeal joined by Bishop of Vinh and vicar general of Saigon. Bishop Nguyen Thai Hop calls for “full respect for religious freedom.” A few sites that have re-published the petition censored by the government.
Hundreds of intellectuals, religious leaders and political leaders in Vietnam have signed an online petition, which call for a revision of the national Constitution and a multi-party system, separating the executive, legislative and judicial powers. Among the points for reform, is also the reform of land ownership (now in the hands of the State) and the demand for full religious freedom still subject – in the practice of worship – to state control. Among the more than 800 signatories are also prominent Catholic Church figures: among them the Bishop of Vinh Msgr. Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, Fr. Mary Joseph Le Quoc Thang of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace and Fr. Huynh Cong Minh John Baptist, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City.
Published recently by a popular Vietnamese site, the petition stems from an appeal made by the same communist authorities in Hanoi, for “public suggestions” to amend the Constitution. Among those who signed the document is the former Minister of Justice Nguyen Dinh Loc who states “it is obvious that changes must be made,” and it is “only to understand to what extent.”
The current basic charter of the State was enacted in 1992, but there have been no changes of any kind in at least 10 years, despite the events and changes that have marked the recent history of Vietnam. “Now – said the former state official in an interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA) – it is time for radical changes” among which he includes also the name of the country, the current Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the previous “Democratic Republic of the Vietnam”.
The authorities report that there is time until March 31 to submit comments on the constitutional review process, which should be promulgated – the new form – in the month of May. However, some “sensitive” points such as multi-party elections, improvements in land ownership rights – with a return to the Charter of 1946 – and other elements of tension are “excluded” from debate. Local sources also add that “many websites [critical of the Communist leadership] that published the petition were censored.”
At the forefront in the promotion of the on-line petition were faithful and figures of the Vietnamese Catholic Church, including the Bishop of Vinh in central Vietnam. Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop emphasizes that “it is the right of the people, not only of a political party” to address the Constitution, which must then be “submitted to a popular referendum” before the entry into force. The prelate hopes that the new formula provides “more religious freedom in the country” and that it will follow UN guidelines, Vietnam being “party to the International Covenant on Human Rights.” “The Constitution – said the bishop – should be modified for Vietnam to integrate better internationally, as well as to comply with the conventions it has signed.”