Cablegate: 9th Party Plenum Ends Without a Bang

Published: Tue 13 Jan 2004 10:26 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
REF: A. 03 Hanoi 3156 B. 03 Hanoi 2175
- C. 03 HANOI 1805 D. 03 Hanoi 0175
1. (SBU) Summary. With no real surprises, the 9th CPV
plenum concluded with predictable calls for faster economic
growth and integration as well as tougher campaigns against
corruption. No major personnel shifts were announced (or
apparently made), but four Central Committee members were
censured, including one involved in the 2001 Gia Lai
demonstrations. The CPV continues to highlight the
importance of stability for its economic and social well-
being, which may account for the decision not to undertake -
- or at least articulate -- any bolder steps at this
session. End summary.
2. (U) The Central Committee of the 9th Congress of the
Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), elected in spring 2001,
met in Hanoi January 5-12 for its 9th plenum, publicly
touted as a review of CPV policies and implementation mid-
way through the Party Congress. Apart from a final
communique as well as opening and closing remarks by CPV
General Secretary Nong Duc Manh, no other documents are yet
available from the plenum, which apparently did pass a
"resolution on a number of major policies and solutions."
The resolution will likely be released later.
3. (SBU) Contrary to heated rumors in recent days and
months that the plenum would make some top-level personnel
shifts -- one version had Prime Minister Phan Van Khai
stepping down from his Politburo seat in advance of his
replacement as PM by a subsequent meeting of the National
Assembly; another version would have dropped from the
Politburo former Minister of Public Security Lt. General Le
Minh Huong and CPV Economic Commission director Truong Tan
Sang (already reprimanded formally for the Nam Cam mafia
case), with new members allegedly to have included Deputy
Prime Ministers Vu Khoan and Pham Gia Khiem and perhaps the
head of PAVN's General Political Department -- no changes
were announced or apparently even made. GS Manh's closing
remarks highlighted the necessity of "stability" in the
interests of development, and this overriding objective may
have been a factor in deciding against rocking the
leadership boat just yet.
4. (SBU) The Plenum patted itself on the back for making
"important achievements" on 9th Party Congress goals, but
urged even faster economic growth (i.e. over 8 pct in 2004
and 2005), doing more toward building "market-oriented
economic institutions along the socialist lines," and
"settling the most urgent social issues such as hunger
eradication and poverty reduction." The Plenum also called
for more international economic integration and early
accession to WTO.
5. (U) Manh's closing remarks cited repeatedly the dangers
of corruption, waste, and overly bureaucratic behavior by
Party and State cadres and their families, and called for
renewed attention to Ho Chi Minh Thought and "acting
according to the model of Uncle Ho." He also urged closer
supervision of officials by the Party, the Vietnam
Fatherland Front, and mass organizations. He denounced
"opportunism" and "individualism." The communique
reiterated a call to "renew the Party leadership method,"
without explaining what this would entail.
6. (U) Unusually, the Plenum publicly reprimanded several
officials, most notably Central Committee member and Ethnic
Minorities Commission Chairman Ksor Phuoc, explicitly for
failing to prevent the February 2001 demonstrations in Gia
Lai province (where he was then Party Secretary) and for
"losing security order." Central Committee member and
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Huy Ngo was
also reprimanded for responsibility over a corruption case
involving a MARD-related company (ref a), and the Plenum
called upon the GVN to consider administrative punishment.
Central Committee member and Ba Ria Vung Tau Provincial
Chairman and Deputy Party Secretary Nguyen Tuan Minh was
similarly reprimanded and recommended for State
administrative punishment over a auto smuggling case, while
Central Committee member and Quang Tri Party secretary Vu
Trong Kim was reprimanded for having "lost internal
leadership solidarity" in the province (possibly linked to
the punishment and early retirement of the provincial
chairman in August/September 2003 -- ref b). These
scoldings were broadly reported in the Vietnamese media.
7. (SBU) Comment: Compared to expectations of a more
dramatic turn of events at this mid-term plenum, and even
compared to the 7th and 8th plenums with their major
resolutions on ethnic minorities, religion, land, and
national defense strategy (refs c and d), the 9th plenum was
a bit of a sleeper. More news may emerge over the weeks to
come -- at least, after the Tet holidays -- but the CPV
again appears to be committed to staying the course and
avoiding any detours from its announced path of economic
growth, integration into the international community, and
renewed Party building and supervision.
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