Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Vietnam "Elects" A President To Fight Corruption

Vietnam has "elected" a new president:

A Vietnamese politician with a reputation for fighting corruption became the communist-run country’s new president on Tuesday as part of a changing of the guard to a group of younger leaders.

The National Assembly, or parliament, confirmed the appointment of Nguyen Minh Triet, 63, Communist Party chief in the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City, in a session opened to the media.

Elected, appointed, it's all the same at the end of the day, right?
The leadership changes and other cabinet positions were decided at April’s five-yearly party National Congress but were being formalized by parliament this week, officials said.

On Monday, deputies confirmed Hanoi politician and sociologist Nguyen Phu Trong, 62, as chairman of the increasingly influential legislature in an era of economic and legal reforms.

In Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Triet’s campaign in 2002 against top mafia boss Nam Cam led to the arrests of a deputy police minister and several officials.

Triet’s anti-graft credentials fit with the Party’s promises to do more to fight corruption, which leaders acknowledge threatens their rule and the goal of lifting the country out of poverty in the next 10 to 15 years.

Some questions to ponder:

Communism has always has always had a toxic tendency to eat away at itself from the inside: a communist system does not appear to exist that does not have smoldering resentments amongst the all-powerful party leaders that on regular occasions flare up into violent purges. How much of the fight against corruption in Vietnam (and also in Cuba) is simply an updated format for the classic communist purge? Is the crusade against corruption simply a purge to establish dominance within the party under the guise of economic purity, a replacement of purges to establish dominance under the guise of ideological purity?

I suspect that the answer to the first question is "a lot" and that the answer to the second question is an emphatic "yes."

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