Demand for transparency receives no response

The Central Committee of the Communist party meeting in Hanoi this week. Photo courtesy Vn Express.

Pressure is growing on Vietnam’s top leader to declare his own assets as he claims credit for cleaning up the Communist party and rooting out corrupt officials.

An open letter, signed by some senior former officials and other citizens, called on Nguyen Phu Trong to comply with party rules and reveal his own financial details.

The letter, not reported by official media but picked up enthusiastically on social networks, gets to the heart of questions about the sincerity of Mr Trong’s anti-corruption campaign.

While many Vietnamese have been prepared to take the drive at face value, cheering the downfall of every official accused of wrongdoing, others question whether it amounts to more than a cover for a political purge.

If Mr Trong can prove that he has not been seduced by the temptations of power during his decades in the party hierarchy more people are likely to believe that he’s motivated by true disgust at the greed of his colleagues.

The letter, signed by 130 people including former diplomats, academics and party functionaries, is a rare public challenge to the authority of the general-secretary.

The party secretariat decreed last October that the assets of all party leaders must be made available for public scrutiny.

Some analysts suspect that Mr Trong will continue to ignore the demand and ensure the letter receives no mention in official media.

However, despite a harsh crackdown on independent bloggers over the past two years, the leadership has been unable to silence relatively open discussion on social media.

The longer Mr Trong resists compliance with the Communist party’s own rules, the more he opens himself to the charge that he considers himself above the party and the law.

He also risks feeding the suspicion that the anti-corruption campaign is founded on hypocrisy.