A former senior government official has called for dialogue between the Communist leadership and dissidents, warning that failure to talk could lead to political violence.
Chu Hao, a former vice-minister for technology and the environment, said the recent shooting of two provincial government officials in the north of the country was a worrying example of how political disputes could erupt into violence.
“There needs to be an open dialogue between leaders of the ruling Communist party and peaceful dissidents in the party and all people inside the country and abroad,” Chu Hao said in a recent article.
He said that supporters of opposition parties and civil society were not strong enough at the moment to hold the government to account.
“The authoritarian regime has to hold dialogue so as to avoid an uncontrolled and inevitable conflict like the recent shooting in Yen Bai province,” he said.
Two senior provincial officials, Pham Duy Cuong and Ngo Ngoc Tuan, were shot and killed in their offices on August 18 just before the opening of session of the local legislative council.
They were shot several times in what appears to have been an attack by the head of the province’s forest ranger’s office, Do Cuong Minh, who then shot himself in the head.
Sympathy for alleged killer
The attack has been widely interpreted on social media as the culmination of a power struggle and internal battles over corruption in local government.
Facebook users in their tens of thousands have shown sympathy to the alleged killer while far fewer have shown similar support for his murdered superiors.
Chu Hao sees the incident as a sign that political and social stability is under threat, as infuriated citizens react to perceived corruption and maladministration by unaccountable Communist party bosses.
“It is high time to make radical changes in this political system, but we want to do so without resorting to violence”, he said.
Stifling political progress
Mr Hao is currently director of Nha Xuat Ban Tri Thuc (Knowledge Publishing House) based in Hanoi, which publishes Vietnamese translations of classic works on politics, philosophy, culture, science and religion.
His article said the main cause of dissension and public anger stems from what he called the anti-scientific, retrogressive and undemocratic platform of the Communist party and the socialist constitution.
He said they were holding back development and stifling all potential avenues of political progress.
Chu Hao signed a petition in 2013 with other leading intellectuals, including Dr Nguyen Quang A and Le Dang Doanh, calling on the government to abandon authoritarianism and adopt a democratic system.
“Our country will not develop until the (current approach)is changed,” he said.
Mr Hao’s appeal for an open, fair and equal dialogue between the government and its critics is not likely to receive much support in the current leadership of the Communist party.
The reshuffled leadership has continued a harsh campaign of repression against independent bloggers and other political activists.