Deputies attending the seventh meeting of the 13th National Assembly set their vigilant eye on the draft Referendum Law, which they think is not relevant to the Vietnamese context where “people’s knowledge is limited.”
A deputy from Hanoi, Ha Minh Hue, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Journalists Association, said, “Our democracy is not large, public awareness and knowledge is very limited, and those who have knowledge belong to a minority. In that sense, a referendum may be harmful, so we must not be reckless.”
Another deputy, Do Van Duong of Ho Chi Minh City, questioned whether major issues like the Civil Code, the Penal Code, and large socio-economic projects related to national security should be put to referendum.
Mr. Do Van Duong has been widely known for many provocative, even preposterous, quotations. The most recent one is “recognizing the right to silence is a plot against the people.”
Deputy Ksor Phuoc, member of an ethnic group in the Central Highland, was convinced that the law must establish taboo topics that cannot be put to any referendum. Basically Phuoc is a big supporter of the controversial bauxite mining project in Tay Nguyen, which thousands of scholars and dissidents objected to while Phuoc, as a local official, highly appreciated. The project, however, has been running at a big loss since 2009.
Phuoc’s viewpoint on the draft Referendum Law was shared by Do Kim Tuyen, a high-rank official at the General Department of Crime Prevention, Ministry of Public Security, who reminded that the political system in Vietnam is where, unlike other countries, “every major national issues must be decided by the Politburo.”
“In our society, the Party holds leadership. So even after a referendum is conducted, the Politburo and the Party Secretariat should consider the wish of the people and the will of the Party, based on which they will make decisions. Referendum result must obey the Party’s will,” Tuyen said Wednesday (June 3) at a group discussion on the draft Referendum Law.