Citizens speaking out against corruption, dishonesty or malpractice in Vietnam’s agencies has suffered criticism or harsh treatment. Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper spoke to Nguyen Sy Dung, deputy head of National Assembly Office.
How can claimants who fight against agencies’ malpractice and corruption be protected? Are there any effective ways to punish those who display prejudice against these people?
Articles 246 and 247 of the Criminal Code require that those who defend or intentionally do not report criminals will either receive a strong warning, house arrest or a prison sentence that can last anywhere from three months to five years. Under the Criminal Code, the people are responsible for informing about injustices and corruption cases, however the pervasive fear of being ridiculed and the risk that making a claim will cause the claimant to be a target of prejudice makes the law difficult to enforce. Consequently, it is important to raise awareness and emphasise that it is the citizen’s responsibility to report wrongdoing and corruption.
How do you deal with people who know that lawfully they must report crimes, yet are afraid of unfair treatment if they do?
We need to protect claimants, and their protection should be issued in a law package or as non-negotiable requirements for agencies and offices. First, in my opinion, each citizen should be informed of their responsibility and citizens should be encouraged to speak out, those who do should be appropriately praised and awarded. Second, a claimant’s personal information must remain confidential and those who display any prejudice against people who report corruption cases must be seriously punished.
What do you think about the fact that anonymous claims are discarded and self-addressed claims are-sometimes returned to the accused person or to their authorised agencies?
Anonymous letters are not considered, as letters must be self-addressed, however the claimants are afraid of judgement. It illustrates the need for better protection of claimants. The party agencies are trying to improve the issue, as claims that are sent to higher level agencies are looked at by officials who then dispatch selected relevant quotes to ‘the authorised agencies that deal with the problems at hand without disclosing the claimant’s personal in formation.
In my opinion, claimant’s personal information should be recorded in confidential files accessed by only the librarians who should not be privy to details about the claims themselves. Meanwhile the authorised agencies which deal with the claims should not know about 1he claimants. These would be effective precautions against a possible leak of information. Those who experience prejudice can complain about inappropriate behaviour directed toward them and their case should be considered seriously by authorised agencies.
What are some instances of prejudice?
After claims are identified and announced, any ‘harmful behaviour towards the claimants and their supporters are considered cases of prejudice. While an informant’s power, salary or allowance may not be threatened; they might not be considered for promotion. The promotion process for claimants should be considered and enforced by separate councils under different regulations and procedures without the accuser’s attendance.
Many claimants often seek help from the mass media to voice their concerns because they believe it can investigate objectively without revealing personal information. What is your opinion on the issue?
I think in a fight against corruption issues and wrong behaviour toward claimants, public opinion is important and should be generated and considered. From this perspective, the media should have more freedom to illuminate cases of misconduct.
When laws to protect claimants come into effect, do you think it will result in excessive claims or vilification?
Honest claims of wrongdoing and vilification are so closely related in this adverse issue of protecting claimants. Bad people are still a part of our society and many of them take advantage of laws in order to vilify. Up to half of claims are made to exploit the power and position of the accused rather than to draw attention to their misbehaviour. We should encourage proper claims without making the law system chaotic that are why our laws consider anonymous letters invalid.