ASEAN: Current changes to Vietnam’s Central Committee to see “Entry of Entrepreneurs”

By Pooky, Thai Intel’s economics journalist

Thai Intel readers have often asked, why is Thai Intel so into Vietnam and Indonesia?

Like what is it, many asked pointing out that like both Vietnam and Indonesia do have some severe difficulties. Many say Thai Intel is just using Vietnam and Indonesia to scare the royalist elite military rulers of Thailand-who may come across Thai Intel now and then.

But “No” Thai Intel is not trying to scare anyone. But just read the following report from Reuters-and it just shows how vibrant and how Vietnam has got its act together-as oppose to Thailand.

Like pick up Thailand’s various newspapers-like on the front page, in great big letters, it says the Thai SMEs, as a group of firms, are failing. But who cares? The big guys have got Thailand cornered.

Sometimes, covering Thailand is just so “Depressing” because there is never really anything but bull-shit all around. And that is why Thai Intel likes to do Vietnam and Indonesia. “Yes” they have problems-but they are doing something about it.

Like the Vietnamese Communist Party Central committee is stuffed with old school and can not keep up with the time and the changes-so what do the Vietnamese do-so they try to stuff the committee with entrepreneurs to meet the changes.

In Thailand, the royalist elite military can not keep up with social changes-and so what do they do-instead of opening up-the do the maximum repression-resisting changes.

The following is by Reuters:

The Communist Party Try to Keep Up with Business

By John Ruwitch


HANOI, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Vietnam’s ruling Communists are replenishing their aging ranks with younger, better-educated policymakers and entrepreneurs as the 81-year-old party founded by Marxist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh struggles to stay relevant.

The party will select a new policy-making Central Committee on Monday that is likely to be stacked with younger faces, and they vote this week on a test scheme to admit entrepreneurs into the country’s stodgy socialist bureaucracy.

The measures — part of the five-yearly Communist Party congress meeting in the capital Hanoi until Wednesday — are a recognition that Vietnam’s leadership needs a makeover to revitalise itself as the economy slips out of direct state control and fewer leaders carry strong revolutionary credentials.

With its leadership dominated by grey-haired bureaucrats, the party faces a challenge to attract talent. Gone are the days when membership was the sole path out of poverty.

‘In the past, nine out of 10 university graduates would go into the bureaucracy and want to join the party. Now, it’s the reverse. Nine out of 10 want to go into the private sector,’ said Le Dang Doanh, a former official and government advisor.

For today’s youth, he said, ‘there’s no need now to join the party’.

Still, for those in government agencies and state-owned enterprises, not belonging to the party can put a glass ceiling on careers. Privately, some people admit to joining because they have no real choice. Party membership can also be valuable in a country where connections are key to conducting business, and bureaucratic red tape is one of the biggest obstacles to success.

‘If you are career-minded and/or business-minded it makes sense. Others will stay away, not wanting the hassle and the endless meetings,’ said Martin Gainsborough, a Vietnam specialist at the University of Bristol.


Anecdotally, enthusiasm for party membership and activities, including a recently ended four-year campaign to study and learn from Ho Chi Minh’s ‘moral example’ is waning.

A new generation of younger, globally savvy Vietnamese prefer rock concerts to communist youth union meetings, and are more likely to be found thumbing SMS messages to friends than memorising fiery passages from Ho Chi Minh’s speeches. Sixty percent of Vietnam’s 90 million people are under the age of 35.

Not far from the congress venue, at Hanoi’s Foreign Language University, 19-year-old Nguyen Hong Ngoc says she and her 11 roomates never talk about joining the party.

‘I want to be an interpreter for a private business, maybe in tourism,’ says Ngoc, whose major is English translation.

Khuong Nhu Quynh shares that view, as she applies to universities in the United States and Singapore, where she hopes to study business administration.

‘Opportunities for promotion are better in the private sector. Salaries are better, too,’ she said.

The site of tens of thousands screaming teenagers at a South Korean boy band concert last year in Hanoi, for example, stunned a communist party member, according to venture capitalist Henry Nguyen who attended the concert with the cadre.

‘He was just like ‘This is incredible. I’ve never seen this side of Vietnam’,’ Nguyen recounted. ‘And he just kind of made this off-hand comment like ‘We need to invite these guys to the youth union meetings because nobody shows up anymore’.’

Such examples are now common in fast-changing Vietnam, stoking concerns over the party’s future as the economy emerges from the ruins of decades of war and central planning into regional exporting dynamo with a rapidly growing middle class.

On Monday, when congress elects a new Central Committee, they will try to boost the number of young people, women, ethnic minorities and scientists, party official Nguyen Bac Son said.

Results from the vote are expected on Wednesday. It will also this week approve a plan to allow entrepreneurs into its ranks, following the lead of neighbouring China whose communist leaders opened the door to businessmen in 2002.

At Vietnam’s 10th Party Congress, in 2006, the rules were changed to give party members permission to engage in private business — something many were already doing. But conservatives rejected allowing established businessmen to join.

‘I think some would be interested,’ said Phung Anh Tuan, a lawyer and board member of the Young Businesspeople Association of Ho Chi Minh City. It would depend for many on what role businessmen would be allowed to play, he added.

In a hole-the-wall sporting goods shop in Hanoi, salesman Vu Ngoc Duong, 20, does not see much point in joining. ‘I haven’t felt the need yet,’ he said.

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