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

Published: 07/02/2010 05:00



“Attending National Assembly sessions is a bit stressful because we sit for days, but actually, I’m more stressed on my ‘normal’ days,” says Deputy Pham Quoc Anh in an interview with VietNamNet.

Pham Quoc Anh was born in April 11 1940 in the northern province of Hung Yen. He lives in Hanoi at present.

Concurrent with his work as a National Assembly member for Dong Nai province, Quoc Anh is Chairman of the Association of Vietnamese Lawyers and Vice Chairman of the Alliance of Vietnamese Scientific and Technological Associations (VUSTA). He is a member of the NA’s Legal Committee.

VietNamNet: You are not a full-time National Assemblyman. How much time can you give to your work as a legislator?

Deputy Pham Quoc Anh: Actually, I’m not spending too much time on it, just about three months a year, attending two month-long sittings of the Assembly and meeting with constituents four times.

It is hard for part-time deputies like us to share our time between two jobs. Because I work also at the Lawyers’ Association, I’m very busy.

VietNamNet: Can you attend all parliamentary meetings?

Quoc Anh: I give the NA sessions my full attention, except if I’m summoned by the Central Party Secretariat or the Prime Minister or there’s a long-scheduled meeting with foreign visitors. In these cases, I have to ask for permission from the NA delegation. I only dare to be absent for one or two days.

VietNamNet: Are you able to read most of the bills submitted to the NA at each session?

Quoc Anh: I read nearly 100 percent of the NA documents, especially proposed bills. As a leader of the Lawyers’ Association, I have frequent contact with the agencies that are drafting the bills, and an opportunity to comment on them at an early stage.

VietNamNet: In studying a proposed law, what do you pay attention to?

Quoc Anh: We focus on three aspects. The first is the object of the bill and what benefit it will bring to our community and society.

Second is the drafting process. We are expected to spot procedural errors.

Third is feasibility; will the bills ‘work’ in a real life situation? Will they accomplish their purpose of regulating the social relationships that are their purpose?

These are very important matters because there have been many laws that sound good, but haven’t worked well in the ‘real world.’ The Land Law, for example. It is very important, extremely necessary and the subject is very broad. The principle is right but it is difficult to apply in Vietnam’s circumstances.

VietNamNet: Does the Lawyers’ Association participate in drafting proposed legislation?

Quoc Anh: For the first time in its 50 year history, the National Assembly assigned the Association full responsibility to draft a law, the Law on Commercial Arbitration. This bill has been reviewed by the NA Standing Committee twice and will be considered for approval in the upcoming session (May 2010).

The Association has also been invited to participate in preparation of bills on Protection of the Interest of Consumers, Intellectual Property, Civil Law, etc.

VietNamNet: What is the current state of the proposed laws on Referendums and on [public] Demonstrations?

Quoc Anh: The Lawyers’ Association was instructed to draft the Law on Referendum based on a resolution of the 11th NA. I’m the chief drafter. The draft bill was finalized in one year and submitted to the NA Standing Committee. However, there are different opinions about this bill.

State agencies want further research to ensure that the measures are feasible. Referenda are a way to promote democracy but we must also ensure social stability by preventing anyone from exploiting referenda to distort the democratic nature of our state.

The NA instructed the Ministry of Public Security to compile a proposed Law on Demonstrations. There are still some problems; the draft is not finalized yet and, meanwhile, there are some unsanctioned manifestations involving a lot of people. We need a law that specifies under what circumstances (e.g., size of expected turnout, location) a permit must be obtained. The Lawyers’ Association position is that we need to have this law, with provisions appropriate to Vietnam’s circumstances, democratic but governed by laws. Democracy isn’t just speaking and doing anything you want.

VietNamNet: Have you expressed your personal opinions at NA sessions or, because you are involved in the drafting, do you refrain from speaking?

I think all deputies have equal rights and duties so I also register to speak during plenary sessions. However, I will say more or even table written opinions about the issues on which I have more knowledge and experience. It is not good to say nothing or to speak too much.

VietNamNet: Have there been times that your opinions were not accepted? Does that perplex you?

Quoc Anh: There are details in some bills that I still wonder about, but I have to accept that because I was in the minority. For example, I think the Law on Legal Assistance places a big responsibility on the state that should be shared by the whole society. We said that to the drafting group and the NA but the law doesn’t clearly show it.

VietNamNet: Among our deputies, whom do you admire?

Quoc Anh: Many deputies have profound opinions that I greatly respect, for example Deputies Duong Trung Quoc of Dong Nai province, Nguyen Minh Thuyet of Lang Son Province, HCM City’s Tran Du Lich, Cao Sy Kiem and Tran Dong A.

VietNamNet: Is it tiring to sit for a month at NA sessions?

Quoc Anh: Attending NA sessions is stressful because we sit for days, but actually, it is less stressful than my ordinary days. It is only hard in that I still have fulfill my job at the Lawyers’ Association even during NA sessions. During breaks I have to call to my office to supervise and speed up my staff. After NA meetings, I have to work at night!

I wish we could shorten NA sessions. For specialized bills, it is unnecessary to have long discussions because many NA deputies don’t have comments on them.

VietNamNet: What do you do to keep good health?

Quoc Anh: It is very easy for me to sleep, so I try to sleep 6-7 hours a day. I’m trying to not gain weight. I don’t smoke, don’t drink, just some tea. I also swim very often.

Khanh Linh

Provide by Vietnam Travel

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