Deputy Cuong unfazed by blasts from Ha Giang

Published: 21/03/2010 05:00



Deputy Le Van Cuong says it’s part of a legislator’s job to speak truth to power – provided he has the facts straight. Another in VietNamNet’s ‘Know Your Deputy’ series.

Background: Thanh Hoa province deputy Le Van Cuong made headlines when he questioned PM Nguyen Tan Dung persistently at a National Assembly meeting last November, asking why Dung had allowed the Ha Giang province to disobey his direct instruction. Afterward, Cuong said, he was phoned by Ha Giang Chairman Nguyen Trung To, who objected to his bringing up Ha Giang’s affairs in the National Assembly. The Ha Giang province delegation also sent a letter questioning Cuong about his ‘evidence.’

Deputy Le Van Cuong, 59, was born in Thanh Hoa province on the north central coast. His home is in Thanh Hoa City. Cuong is a full-time legislator and a member of the NA’s Committee for Science, Technology and Environment. Educated as a mechanical engineer in Czechoslovakia, he rose to the leadership of the Thanh Hoa province labour federation and then the province People’s Council. He was first elected to the National Assembly in 1995 (10th session).

“The matter I brought up is based on plenty of facts” said Cuong, deputy chief of Thanh Hoa province’s delegation and a full-time legislator. “In 2006, I visited Ha Giang to learn about the life of the people who live in rugged rock areas and share their experience with highland people in Thanh Hoa. I also visited huge construction sites in Ha Giang. I reported to the NA afterward that these projects were up to their ears in debt.

I also asked about the operations of the Ha Giang authorities during that trip. I heard a lot about the local authorities’ bad decisions regarding the Song Lo Company. Afterward, I also read many newspaper articles about this case. Government inspectors got involved and there were hearings in the People’s Court but it didn’t go to a judgment. The media reported that the PM sent instructions about this case five times but the Chairman of Ha Giang province didn’t obey him. So I decided to ask the PM about this. I didn’t plan to name Ha Giang’s chairman but when the PM said that he didn’t know about the matter, I had to say I was referring to Chairman Nguyen Trung To.”

VietNamNet: When you named Ha Giang’s chairman while questioning the PM, were you thinking of how the Ha Giang officials would react?

How could I imagine that! I only said what I know, things that I knew were based on solid facts.

I questioned the PM in the morning. That same afternoon, Chairman To phoned me while I was at a committee meeting. He asked why I brought up Ha Giang’s business at the NA, during the question and answer session with the PM, which was aired live on national television.

I told him that this was the job of NA deputies and I was just doing my job – I had no particular ax to grind. The Chairman said he would report this matter to the Party Committee of Thanh Hoa province. I said I only do my job and he could do whatever he wished.

At a meeting of our Thanh Hoa provincial delegation that evening, I also reported about this matter to our chief, Le Ngoc Han, who is a deputy Party Secretary of Thanh Hoa. A few of my colleagues wondered how a provincial chairman could dare to threaten a deputy.

The next day Chairman To phoned me again. I told him straight out that I had reported his call of yesterday my chief of delegation. I added that then I had turned off my phone.

VietNamNet: What happened next?

Several days later, Ha Giang province’s NA delegation sent me an official and very public letter. They asked on what grounds did I, Deputy Le Van Cuong, know that Ha Giang’s Chairman ignored the PM’s instruction five times? Then they asserted that if I couldn’t say why, I’d have to bear responsibility for my speech. The letter is four pages long, and signed by the chief of Ha Giang NA delegation Hoang Minh Nhat, pointedly noting his office titles as a member of the Central Party Committee and Party Chief of Ha Giang province.

Many members of our Thanh Hoa NA delegation were worried for me. Some deputies from other provinces looked at me differently.

Many NA deputies said that NA deputies don’t have to explain to other deputies unless the NA Standing Committee requests them to do so. However, I replied to the Ha Giang letter that as I had dared to question the PM, I would be responsible for my questions and I would answer them rightly. The vice chief of Ha Giang delegation, after receiving my feedback, said that “it was regrettable” that I only listened to one-way information.

In late 2009, the PM said that he has asked the Government Inspectorate to look into the matter.

VietNamNet: How did your case impact on other deputies?

It depends on each deputy. Many deputies saw the great pressure on me and they worried for me. I believe that the matter that I raised at the NA is well-founded and I didn’t have any personal stake in it.

VietNamNet: But it seems that raising questions about a provincial official at the NA session remains controversial, doesn’t it?

We don’t have to be afraid of any officials, but it is important that we have grounds for the information we release.

VietNamNet: When you have questioned corruption or other matters related to officials, have you been “reminded”?

Only once. I asked about a party secretary in a town in Tay Ninh province who involved in a land scam but was nonetheless appointed director of the local Construction Department, I received a letter which was signed by ‘Citizen of Tay Ninh’ who said I had my facts wrong and criticized me for bringing it it up at a NA session.

Other cases of malfeasance that I addressed in the NA are quite clear.

VietNamNet: A deputy from Thanh Hoa province said that once you told Thanh Hoa officials that “if anyone tries to put words in my mouth, I will stop speaking.” Is this true?

It was like this. One time the Thanh Hoa deputies met with the province People’s Committee before the delegation went to Hanoi for the NA meeting, an official said that there were some deputies who spoke frankly at the NA forum and that might be not good for Thanh Hoa. I acknowledged that that deputy was me. But my opinions were always constructive and supported by our constituents.

Our ministers have to understand their responsibility to the country and the people. Is it possible for them to take offence at a question from a NA deputy and retaliate against that deputy or the province he represents?

If a deputy raises questions based on wrong information, they can exchange opinions with the deputy at the NA meeting. They should not ask provincial officials to intervene.

Deputies question cabinet members according to our law and they only reflect the constituents’ questions. Cabinet members should learn what the people think and thank deputies. I believe that no cabinet member treats us like that.

I also understand that I should speak gently. Vietnam has a tactful culture. Still, just like the Chairman of the Committee for Defence and Security, Deputy Le Quang Binh, I’m a tiger. People born in the Year of the Tiger tend to speak so honestly that their listeners don’t feel comfortable.

Le Nhung

Related articles:

The detective who became a deputy

Insider view of National Assembly

“Endeavour to be independent voice”

Constituents want more than a candid answer from the PM

Top lawyer, also a legislator, plays key role in drafting bills

Return congress woman battling for ethnic minorities

‘The people need to hear some new voices’

“Our constituents expect us to work for them”

Concurrent jobs impede deputies from carrying out responsibility to constituents

No one has the right to influence NA deputies

“A deputy is no different from a farmer”

Deputy urges tighter oversight of use of state assets

Provide by Vietnam Travel

Deputy Cuong unfazed by blasts from Ha Giang - Profiles - In depth |  vietnam travel company

You can see more

enews & updates

Sign up to receive breaking news as well as receive other site updates!

Ads by Adonline