2011-03-03 Rampant, nationwide corruption in Vietnam; how people fight back on the web

Systematic Corruption ruptures Vietnam with inequality

Since the mid-1980s, the time when Vietnam launched the ‘Doi Moi (industrialization)’ project to boost the national economy, Vietnam has recorded remarkable GDP increase rate, 7 to 8% a year. However, the economic inequality gap and government debts are huge, and show no sign of shrinking.

Primary reasons for the problems lie in the structure of the ‘industrialization’. The only legal political party, the Vietnam Communist Party, utilized state owned enterprises(SOE) as useful tools which enable the government to take a firm grip on the state economy. In a rare thesis discussing the privatization of the Vietnamese economy, Fredrik Sjöholm pointed out that it’s actually a state takeover of economy in disguise of ‘privatization’; about one-quarter of state revenues come from SOEs and the state can take control of any SOEs by having ‘minority state ownership share’(Sjöholm, 2006)

Commonplace collusion between politics and economy, interwoven through shares, squandered bailout money and venal practices in the name of ‘industrialization’, generated astounding breeding ground for corruption and rapidly increasing debts. The ‘industrialization’ process had few constructive plans behind it, which produced obfuscated ownership responsibility while working on ad hoc economic strategies. This opened the door for private, often political, actors to ‘hijack’ the real control of the firms.

2011-03-03 The Internet, the spirit, the resistance – How the Internet fuels voices of dissent in Vietnam

Despite the fact that the communist government firmly controls the Internet and blocks any web sites that might be any ‘threat to national security’, the Internet silently mends the fire of dissent voices simultaneously around Vietnam.

Courage cannot be ‘centralized’ – Farmers protest against arbitrary land seizures with the help of Internet

In a tightly controlled, Facebook-blocked country, Vietnamese farmers marched out to the Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s second largest city and a national economic hub, to resist the government’s decision to seize their land.

Due to the centralized economy, government authorities are sole legal actors who can switch legal status of any land. Besides, the legal procedure of dealing with various different land rights of the government and farmers are extremely complicated, which becomes the central loophole allowing public officials to blur the line where exact responsibilities lie.

Exploiting this, lots of corrupt officials can take away seemingly profitable lands, handing tiny amount of compensation money to the land owners. The victims mostly fail to find the proper government authorities to get the fair compensation due to the blurred responsibility.

Government officials have been arbitrarily ‘robbing’ the lands as huge ‘development plans’ have swept the major urban cities into the swirl of dazzling real estate speculation. The real estate prices have hit thousands of dollars per square meter, which made both cities involved in the ‘Most Expensive Cities in the World’ list. However, Vietnam has the lowest real estate transparency index among 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

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