Brief Thoughts on the Formosa Disaster: The VCP Fails its People Yet Again… To No One’s Surprise

Posted in Economics, Opinions, Politics, Society with tags , , on July 11, 2016 by Ian Pham

Fish Deaths VietnamPhoto via Saigoneer

Folks, a lot has happened since the last time I’ve posted on here. I haven’t been able to provide coverage for them all, which sucks, but I would like to get us up to speed on some of the major issues here. I’m not sure how many issues I’ll be able to cover. I only know that there are some issues which I would love to chime in on. The Formosa issue is one that I feel the need to provide insight on, and that is what I will talk about today.

This problem has been brewing since early April of this year, with things finally boiling over by the end of that month and then beyond. The “Taiwanese” company Formosa Plastics Group has been in the hot seat for its role in contaminating Vietnam’s ocean waters, causing massive deaths of marine life, as well as considerable human life, along the country’s central coast.

The damage is so extensive that Vietnam’s fishing industry, its coastal waters, and the lives of millions of Vietnamese people will never be the same again. The livelihoods and means of survival of so many Vietnamese men and women have been taken away from them, Vietnam’s already damaged economy will only plummet further, and many Vietnamese lives have already been and continue to be lost due to poisoned water and fish.

One big thing I want to note about this horrible disaster is Formosa’s deliberateness in the whole issue. Formosa has made it no secret that they were both aware and willing to dump these exorbitant amounts of toxic waste into Vietnam’s waters, with no regard for the safety of Vietnam’s wildlife, habitat, or population.

The most notorious example of Formosa’s attitude comes from one of their officials’ audacious response to the crisis, saying the Vietnamese people must either choose between the steel industry or the fish industry, but they can’t have both (The Diplomat). Furthermore, the same source says that Formosa explicitly invested $45 million into that toxic waste dumping system, and, Formosa argued, since they already paid for it, feel they are entitled to dump in whatever means they see fit. They, Formosa, sought to destroy Vietnam’s environment, and, to the surprise of no one, Vietnam’s government was, and is happy to let them do it.

Whether it is from fear, incompetence, shameful obedience, or all of the above and more, the Vietnamese Communist Party has been slow and reluctant to respond to the Formosa disaster. Both in terms of helping Vietnam’s affected victims, and in holding the perpetrators responsible, the VCP has done little to step in and do its job in response to Formosa’s deliberate destruction of Vietnam’s land. It comes as no surprise, though. The VCP has been failing its people for this long, and there’s absolutely no hope in my eyes that they would ever step up and stop humiliating themselves or stop humiliating the people of Vietnam. The communists are cowards. It’s who they are, it’s who their fathers were, and it’s who their children will be.

In response to the massive backlash by Vietnam’s population, Formosa has claimed responsibility for the disaster, and offered a measly $500 million for the irreparable damage they had caused to the people of Vietnam and their country (Reuters). The damage thus far includes over 100 tons of dead fish (Asia Times), deaths of many, many Vietnamese people including fishermen and consumers of fish, the resulting broken families, devastated ocean waters and overall environment, and a fishing industry that may never recover.

Just so there is no mistake: $500 million is nowhere near enough to compensate the amount of damage caused by Formosa to the people of Vietnam. To put it in perspective, we may look at another environmental disaster: the BP Oil Spill along the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

In that disaster, which was an accident, a rig explosion caused a massive oil spill in the Macondo Prospect, located in the Gulf of Mexico (southeastern U.S., northeastern Mexico) (EPA). The environmental impact of this disaster was huge, and when the dust and smoke had settled, British Petroleum, the company responsible, was forced to pay up to $56 billion in fines, compensation, and cleanup (DoSomething.org). The settlement alone costs BP $20 billion, according to DW.com. In this disaster, the parties responsible were held accountable, everyone worked promptly to deal with and fix the issue, it was an accident, and, with the exception of the 11 workers who died in the initial accident, no further human lives were lost. Also, the compensation, which I repeat here, was worth $56 billion. That’s Billion, with a B.

By contrast, this Formosa disaster in Vietnam killed many Vietnamese people, destroyed over 100 tons of marine wildlife, was done deliberately by the offenders, who only admitted their faults eventually due to public outrage, and, even now, there is still no real solution to the death and destruction it has caused. The Vietnamese government has done absolutely nothing in response, besides happily accepting the money Formosa has offered to them, which is only $500 million. That’s Million, with an M. This money is not going to the victims of the disaster, but instead is being allocated to what the VCP is calling “future development,” which we all know really means their personal bank accounts.

Let me once again take a minute to talk about the compensation.

BP Oil Spill (U.S., 2010): accident, zero human casualties (besides the 11 BP employees), promptly handled, $56 billion costs in fines, compensations, and cleanup.

Formosa (Vietnam, 2016): deliberate, massive human casualties, still not handled, $500 million offer by Formosa to compensate (which the government is keeping).

Just so we’re clear: $56 billion / $500 million = 112

British Petroleum paid 112 times more to the U.S. for their accidental disaster than Formosa paid to the people of Vietnam, even though the Formosa Disaster of 2016 was deliberate and is astronomically more devastating than the BP Oil Spill of 2010.

That is why I say $500 million is a measly sum.

For a disaster of this scale, $500 million does nothing to compensate the myriad of people affected, the environment destroyed, or the lives lost. The Vietnamese Communist Party is stupid to accept it, but what else is new? They get to keep the money anyway, so in their eyes, it’s not about the worth of the disaster. In their eyes: “IT’S $500 MILLION, GUYS!!!” which goes straight into their pockets.

Out of this horrific disaster, the VCP did nothing to protect or help their people. All they did was make another measly profit off of the suffering and humiliation of their country and its people. They, the communists, are shameful. They are bastards. They are deserving of neither forgiveness nor remorse. They are communists, and they deserve to die.

That is why I say the Formosa Disaster is another failure by the Communist Party to the people of Vietnam.

At this point, though, what more can we expect from a communist? Just when we think it couldn’t get any worse with the communists, it does. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if they sink even lower in the future. This is the sad state of Vietnam today, people. The only way to change this sad situation is to change the regime. I’ve said it before, and I say it again now: The Communists need to go, and they need to go now.

Remembering South Vietnam: A Tribute to The Republic

Posted in Economics, IV. Columns, Modern History, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2016 by Ian Pham

Remembering South VietnamPhoto via Flickr

This is just a brief tribute to the former Republic of Vietnam and all the brave men and women who fought so bravely to protect the country. We all know very well the story of its tragic fall, but we also know very well what a great nation it was.

This year, to commemorate the day that Saigon fell to the communists, I want to remind everyone of the greatness of South Vietnam. By recognizing the actions, ideals, and achievements of the Southern Republic, I aim to demonstrate to us all why April 30 is such a sad day for any Vietnamese who loves freedom.

Every year since 1975, April 30 marks the fall of a proud, vibrant, and prosperous Republic, one that flourished culturally and economically, and carried itself with courage, pride and dignity. Moreover, this day marks the fall of a democracy, a young democracy, but a true democracy nonetheless.

South Vietnam was a nation that nurtured its young. It was a nation that had a deep love for education, invested heavily in education, and went to great lengths to ensure their citizens the access to this education. In only two decades of its existence, South Vietnam successfully expanded its educational programs by leaps and bounds, growing exponentially at the elementary, secondary, and university levels. To put neatly, South Vietnam was a nation of smart people, with endless potential for advancement and growth.

In terms of economy, South Vietnam was highly competitive, a leader in the Southeast Asia region, and a contender in Asia as a whole. Starting from its humble beginnings as a postcolonial state, South Vietnam showed rapid growth immediately after its birth as an independent nation. Over the course of its lifetime, up until its fall in 1975, South Vietnam prospered economically, excelling in agriculture, heavy industry, and trade. Due to its success, its capital city Saigon garnered huge respect from the world, and earned itself the famous title of “Pearl of the Orient.”

When speaking of democracy in South Vietnam, there is no doubt that the Southern Republic was a true liberal democracy. Secret ballot elections, universal suffrage, multiple political parties, freedom of speech, expression, and association, and checks and balances between its executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, South Vietnam met all of these criteria. In all, South Vietnam was a free country, one that championed the rights of its people, adhered to the rule of law, and kept its people safe.

Lastly, I would just like to recognize South Vietnam as a brave and noble nation that fought with every ounce of its strength to defend its people, from domestic terrorism by the National Liberation Front, the all too familiar invasions from North Vietnam, as well as an abrupt naval invasion by the People’s Republic of China.

In all of these cases, South Vietnam responded, and with whatever resources it had, the Southern Republic fought. This was the nation that captured many VC terrorists, even converting many of them to forsake their communist allegiances and come over to the Republic. Moreover, this was the nation that kept the North at bay for 20 years, and, statistically speaking, eviscerated the communist forces in the majority of engagements on the battlefield.

Finally, South Vietnam was the nation to open fire on the Chinese when the latter sent their warships into Hoang Sa (Paracel) in 1974, thinking that they can push the Southern Republic around. With all that has been shown, it simply needs to be understood here that South Vietnam was a nation that stood tall and fought hard. It was a proud nation, a brave nation, and an honorable nation that kept its people safe.

The loss of this Republic on April 30, 1975 is more than just a page in history. It is a tragedy, marking the day that every freedom-loving Vietnamese person lost their home.

The sadness brought about from the loss of the Republic of Vietnam stems from the greatness of its legacy. Because of its ideals, and because of its bravery, the memory of South Vietnam continues to resonate in the hearts and minds of every freedom-loving Vietnamese person across the world, even inside Vietnam today.

South Vietnam has become a symbol of what it means to be truly Vietnamese in the modern era: smart, hardworking, brave, loyal, and living with integrity. These are the things that the Republic of Vietnam stood for, and these are the type of people who hail from its origins and carry on its legacy. The yellow flag of freedom represents our roots as people of a proud and honorable nation, and reminds us of our undying love for independence and democracy.

In all of this, we cannot forget our veterans. The troops that sacrificed themselves, paying the ultimate price both physically and mentally to defend the ideals of the Republic and keep the people safe, their sacrifice must never be forgotten.

To the soldiers of South Vietnam, the soldiers of the United States, and soldiers of the allied nations who gave their lives to defend freedom in Vietnam, we thank you, for everything.

This is a tribute to the nation of South Vietnam, and all the brave men and women who fought to defend the country and its ideals. This is for you.

Thank you.

Annotated Bibliography: “South Vietnam’s New Constitutional Structure,” by Robert Devereux

Posted in Modern History, Modern History - A.B., Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2016 by Ian Pham

Nguyen Van Thieu SpeechPhotograph via Xac Dinh

Devereux, Robert. “South Vietnam’s New Constitutional Structure.” Asian Survey 8, no. 8 (1968): 627-645.

As its title indicates, this article by Robert Devereux provides analyses of the provisions within South Vietnam’s constitution, which was promulgated officially by Nguyen Van Thieu on April 1, 1967 (p. 628). For anyone interested in exploring in-depth the function and structure of South Vietnam’s democratic system, Devereux’s article is a fantastic starting point.

Following the usual format, this brief blog article will only cover a few of the many important insights about South Vietnamese democracy covered in Devereux’s work. However, the points raised in this entry will be more than enough to prove the credibility of South Vietnam as a true and functional democracy.

To begin, Devereux’s article shows that in 1966, of the estimated population of 14.5 million people in South Vietnam, 5,288,512 were registered to vote, and 4,274,812 did just that. The day of the election was September 11, 1966, and these over four million people went to the polls to elect their new Constituent Assembly, which consisted of 117 members (p. 627).

One year following this important election, a formal presidential election took place on September 3, 1967, resulting in Nguyen Van Thieu’s election as the new President of the Republic of Vietnam (p. 628). Also on that day, 60 new Senators were elected to South Vietnam’s Upper House, and on October 22, 1967, another 137 representatives (called Deputies) were elected to the nation’s Lower House (ibid). In South Vietnam, elections were carried out by universal suffrage and secret ballot (p. 631), a point relevant here for clearly demonstrating the verity of South Vietnam as a democratic nation.

The major events above are mentioned in the introduction to Devereux’s article. The sections following then delve at great length into the various chapters and sections of South Vietnam’s constitution. Covered by Devereux in his article are the many provisions outlining the functions and powers of South Vietnam’s three branches of government: the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial.

The Executive section talks about the powers of the President, the Prime Minister, and the Vice President, and their duties and responsibilities to the National Assembly and other government organs (p. 628-631). In the Legislative section, the process of introducing and approving bills is discussed, with details on how the Senators in the Upper House and the Deputies in the Lower House go through the process of making laws (p. 631-634). Lastly, for the Judicial branch section, the process of selecting judges to the Supreme Court in South Vietnam, as well as details of the country’s judicial process, are examined (p. 634-636).

In addition to these sections, Devereux’s article also talks about other important parts of South Vietnam’s government structure, as covered within the constitution. Specific offices and governmental organs, described as Special Institutions, are discussed (p. 636-640), as well as the functions of Local Administrations in South Vietnam (p. 640-641), and very importantly, in the Political Parties section, the guaranteed rights of opposition parties to form and operate in the Republic (p. 642-643).

Devereux moreover provides important insights on the human rights aspects of South Vietnam’s constitution. In the Bill of Rights section of the constitution, as summarized by Devereux, many statements are presented which guarantee and defend the rights of South Vietnamese citizens. Examples include a line from Article 6 of the constitution, which stipulates that the state is pledged to “respect human dignity, and the law every citizen’s freedom, life, property, and honor,” (p. 641). Furthermore, in Article 8, the document “guarantees the privacy of a citizen’s personal life, home, and correspondence…” and that “Freedom of thought, speech, press and publishing is guaranteed,” (ibid).

In addition to these provisions, the Judicial section previously mentioned also demonstrates many examples of the Republic’s adherence to the rule of law. Articles 7 and 8 of the South Vietnamese constitution express many guaranteed rights to protect its citizens, and include, but are not limited to, the following:

“Every defendant is entitled to a speedy and public trial and to a defense lawyer at every stage of the legal process, including the preliminary investigation.”

“No one can be arrested or detained without a warrant issued by a competent legal authority, except in cases of flagrante delicto.”

“No one can be tortured, threatened, or forced to confess, and any confession obtained by such means cannot be used as evidence.”

“Defendants will be considered innocent until found guilty; in case of doubt the court must find for the defendant.”

“No one can enter, search, or confiscate the property of a person without a properly executed court order, unless it is necessary for the defense of security and public order according to the spirit of the law.” (p. 636).

These provisions outlined clearly illustrate the democratic foundations in which South Vietnam was built. From the information above, it can be clarified that the Southern Republic was one that respected human rights, and one that championed the basic rights and freedoms of its citizens and the rule of law.

Evidences provided in this article clearly demonstrate that South Vietnam was a true liberal democracy. Proven throughout this post, through Devereux’s findings, is universal suffrage, secret ballot elections, a system of checks and balances in government, individual’s rights, constitutional rights, and multiparty democracy in South Vietnam.

For all of its challenges as a young and developing nation, the Republic of Vietnam had all the foundations, and met all the criteria of being a liberal democracy. Further study will continue to prove this fact. In terms of establishing a base for research on this topic, this source by Robert Devereux is an excellent place to begin.

Annotated Bibliography: “Education in Viet Nam,” by Berry E. Morton

Posted in Modern History, Modern History - A.B., Society with tags , , , on April 24, 2016 by Ian Pham

La San Taberd School in Saigon, South VietnamPhotograph via Flickr

Morton, Berry E. “Education in Viet Nam.” Contemporary Education 45, no. 3 (1974): 201-208.

This article examines in detail the growth of South Vietnam’s education system during the nation’s lifespan. From the evidence presented, one will learn that from the nation’s birth in the 1950s up to 1974 when this article was written, South Vietnam’s education system achieved exponential advancement that was nothing short of extraordinary. From elementary, through secondary school, all the way to post-secondary, South Vietnam invested heavily in its education, increasing rapidly its number of schools, student enrollment, as well as its teaching staff, with the active support and assistance both from friendly nations and international organizations from all over the world (p.202).

Morton’s article is filled with valuable statistics and information. This brief entry will only highlight a few, to illustrate just how much value South Vietnam placed on the educational development of its people.

Notable points presented by Morton include South Vietnam’s vast expansion in higher education. According to Morton, “there were no colleges or universities in all of South Vietnam” in 1954. However, by the 1973-74 academic year, South Vietnam had established nine universities, and enrolled a total of 86,000 students to these institutions (p. 201). Moreover, by that same 1973-74 academic year, South Vietnam had also developed “sixteen post secondary two-year teacher training schools, enrolling 9,000 elementary teachers in training; plus two newly operational junior colleges which are part of the recently planned system of two-year post secondary institutions,” (ibid).

At the top of South Vietnam’s priority list was the development of its elementary schools (p. 202). “In 1954,” Morton explains, “there were 8,191 elementary classrooms scattered throughout the nation; very few classrooms were built between 1954 and 1960,” (ibid). With the South Vietnamese government’s investment in education, a staggering 17,000 classrooms were added by the 1970-71 academic year, “making a total of approximately 25,500 classrooms… housing 2,490,246 elementary students,” (p. 203).

During the 1960s, the South Vietnamese Ministry of Education undertook a massive task to reform and develop the country’s secondary school program (junior high and high school), changing the system from an elitist French-colonial structure into a more accessible, “viable and truly Vietnamese secondary school system,” (p. 203-204). This initiative was carried out through the widespread building of classrooms, changing of curriculums and administrations, increasing of enrollment, and an abundant array of other developments. The astronomical growth in South Vietnam’s secondary schools is illustrated by the following information:

In 1956, there were 69,700 students enrolled in the nation’s secondary schools. By 1960 this figure had increased to 165,000 students or about six percent of the youth of secondary school age. By 1970 this figure had increased to 710,541 or about twenty-one percent and during the 1973-74 academic year the total secondary school enrollment is 1,062,000 or about twenty-eight percent of the population group (p. 205).

These statistics of the rapid increase in secondary schools is an indicator of South Vietnam’s success in overhauling its system for schooling youth of the adolescent age group. As a whole, the information presented thus far, regarding the whole South Vietnamese educational system, from elementary all the way to post-secondary, presents a clear representation of the South Vietnamese nation’s emphasis on education, improvement in the quality of life, and the development of its people.

Another interesting point worth noting from Morton’s source is that in South Vietnam, education for the nation’s public universities is free (p. 206). In addition to this, it is also noteworthy that education ranks second among the desires of the South Vietnamese people, with “security from insurgency” ranking first (p. 201).

Morton’s article is lengthy and detailed, containing many more relevant information and statistics regarding South Vietnam’s educational development. This brief annotated bibliographic article only presents some notable highlights. In all, the information presented here should demonstrate South Vietnam as a nation that greatly valued education, and went to all the possible lengths to deliver education to its people.

Annotated Bibliography: “South Vietnam’s Economy – A Note,” by Curtis Crawford

Posted in Economics, Modern History, Modern History - A.B. with tags , , , on April 22, 2016 by Ian Pham

Saigon 1961Photograph via Flickr

Crawford, Curtis. “South Vietnam’s Economy – A Note.” Vietnam Perspectives 1, no. 4 (1966): 14-16.

This is a brief article by Curtis Crawford, written during the Vietnam War years in 1966. With statistics included, the article encapsulates the strong economic growth that South Vietnam was experiencing between 1955 and 1960 under President Diem.

Some notable points from the article include the fact that from 1955 to 1960, South Vietnam’s “per capita food production rose substantially,” with the total crop production overtaking that of the country’s prewar levels. Moreover, Crawford’s article dispels earlier statistics given by Bernard B. Fall, whose findings are reported and proven by Crawford to be “grossly inflated” and distorted in ways that fail to represent the real growth experienced by South Vietnam’s economy.

Although compact, Crawford’s source gives a concise and statistical illustration of the South Vietnamese economy. In the context of understanding South Vietnam’s economic strength during its existence, Crawford’s article demonstrates that the Southern Republic had a robust and vastly developing economy, one that was competitive and highly regarded in the international system.

Obligatory Comments on the VCP 12th National Congress: Dung is Out, Trong is Still In… Vietnam is F*cked

Posted in Opinions, Politics with tags , , , , on March 29, 2016 by Ian Pham

Trong and VCPPhoto via ABC Australia

I gave myself a little bit of time to digest the information before sharing my official opinion on the outcome of the VCP’s Party Congress. Now that a good month and a half has gone by (sorry, folks) since the completion of the convention… I still got nothing.

That’s not to say I don’t have views on the matter, I just don’t have anything insightful to say about it. To sum it all up in one declarative sentence: I am disappointed.

The headline says it all. Nguyen Phu Trong, aka Trong Lu, retains his position as the General Secretary of the Communist Party. His competitor, Nguyen Tan Dung, is now finishing off his final days as the Prime Minister of the Party, and is slated to resign his post very, very soon.

Most importantly of all, as indicated by the headline, Vietnam is screwed. Actually, to state the situation more accurately, Vietnam is still screwed. Before the congress, under Trong, Vietnam was getting screwed, and now, still under Trong, Vietnam continues to get screwed.

Though they were both horrible choices for the country, former Prime Minister Dung was the lesser of two evils. Dung hated China, he was familiar with liberal economic theory, and he liked the U.S.

Trong, on the other hand, is Beijing’s bitch. He takes orders from Xi Jinping, stays silent on China’s piracy in the Eastern Sea, knows nothing about ANYTHING, discriminates against his fellow countrymen in the South (BLATANTLY), and says stupid things like “Anyone who wishes to lead this country MUST be from the North.”

Although I was hoping that Dung would win this power struggle, I knew that realistically, he did not have much of a chance. The Party is just too full of members who care more about the Party than the nation, who know nothing about governance and economics, and who bend over and take China’s every word without batting an eye. These dummies, cowards, and traitors are not just a wing of the Party. They are the Party. In addition to being the overwhelming majority, the dummies of the VCP also have the backing of China itself, making any opposition to their control a formidable endeavor.

The faction that wants to defend the nation and at the very least give it some dignity is much too small to make an impact. Dung was their last chance, and statistically, he was not likely going to make it. Though Dung had his wits, the deck was stacked overwhelmingly against him.

The system is built to reward the traitors and cowards. Therefore, from my observation, there is no chance for change to happen within the Party. Furthermore, because of this, we cannot ever rely on a communist to bring change to the nation. Either they are of the majority who are too cowardly, stupid, and influenced by China to make a change, or they are of the microscopic minority who are too marginalized and stifled to ever take action.

So, since Dung was the smarter of the two (between Dung vs. Trong), I was hoping that he would have a shot at an upset. He actually came close, but it just wasn’t enough. With the overwhelming majority support of Northerners and Chinese sympathizers (Chinese puppets), as well as the backing of China itself, the Trong faction was able to hold on to power, despite being noticeably shaken by the Dung faction.

And that’s the outcome.

Trong is still there, Dung came out of it alive (for now, at least) but is no longer in a position of power, and Vietnam continues down its perilous path drawn out by Trong and his Chinese overlords.

Now that the Party Congress is over, it’s back to business as usual. The communists will continue selling Vietnam to China, piece by piece, and we, over here on the right side of history, will continue to fight for Vietnam’s freedom.

With that bullshit leadership convention out of the way, let’s get back to what’s really important: Bringing freedom back to Vietnam, and taking the communists down.

Never depend on a communist.

Fuck communism.

Sources:

ABC Austrailia, The Guardian, VOA, Yahoo

Vietnam’s Coming 12th Party Congress, Why it Might Matter This Time

Posted in Opinions, Politics with tags , , , , on January 19, 2016 by Ian Pham

VCP Party MembersPhoto via The Diplomat

I don’t want to give too much credit to the idiots in the Communist Party by acknowledging their coming leadership convention as anything other than completely worthless. However, observing from the outside, one can see some interesting shakeups within the Party that might be worth a watch. A storm has been raging within the VCP, and could possibly boil over any day now.

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but the communists actually hate each other. This little detail held little relevance up until now, but with the new leadership convention coming up, and with it some high government positions on the line, old rivalries between members are reigniting, tempers are flaring, and the gloves are coming off. The major positions of General Secretary, President, and Prime Minister are all up for grabs, and unlike the previous years, the candidates (more like combatants) are showing little reservation in attacking each other openly. The power struggle is real.

The 12th National Congress of the VCP

Every five years, the Vietnamese Communist Party carries out a leadership transition. Known as the National Congress of the VCP, or Party Congress, these five-yearly conventions see the transfer of power to a new generation of Communist Party leaders to run the country.

These leadership conventions have been irrelevant in the past, as every new leadership seems to just carry on with the practices of their predecessors: corruption, suppression, and kowtowing to the Chinese.

For all we know, the results for the coming congress could be exactly the same as the previous years. However, when looking at the current disarray within the Party, and the breakdown of the selection process (they’re basically killing each other right now), there might be reason to pay attention.

Skipping all the smoke and mirror explanations, the Party selection process essentially boils down to patronage. The old leaders prop up their proteges, who promise to carry on the VCP family business of making each other rich by taking from the people. No one rocks the boat, no one speaks up against China, and every crook in the system is happy. Anyone who disagrees gets marginalized, usually politically, but sometimes permanently, by extreme measures.

It’s worked in the past. Leaders are usually chosen at this point, only waiting to be made official at the week-long convention. This time however, with a great rift within the leadership, a leader has still yet to be selected, and as cliche as it sounds, it’s anybody’s race.

The Contenders

Though the system is unpredictable, and neither of the following two contenders are guaranteed victory, this leadership race has largely been seen as revolving around these two famous figures of the current VCP:

Trong vs. DungNguyen Phu Trong (Left) vs. Nguyen Tan Dung (Right)

These two guys HATE each other.

Over the past five years, the two have taken subtle jabs at each other that didn’t seem all too important, because they are all communists, and they’re all scum. Though that fact is still true now, the differences in positions that these two hold have suddenly become relevant.

Currently, the Prime Minister Dung is trying to finally break into the seat of General Secretary (the supreme leader of the Party). Meanwhile, the current General Secretary Trong is trying to retain his position, and prevent Dung from gaining the title.

Quoting Alexander L. Vuving, I will describe concisely that “Trong is pro-China and anti-Western while Dung is pro-U.S. and anti-China.” Vuving himself actually discourages this generalization, calling the reality “far more nuanced and complex” than this description suggests. I disagree with Vuving here regarding the complexity statement, and argue that the seemingly over-simplistic description does adequately illustrate the two men. It works for me, based off of what I’ve seen, so I will therefore continue to use this framework to describe the difference between Dung and Trong.

Dung’s selling points, according to Jonathan D. London, is that he is “Vietnam’s most eloquent statesman, a reform champion, and a patriot keen to end Hanoi’s deference to Bejing.” Moreover, he appears to favor “liberalizing market reforms and a willingness to expand freedoms ‘in accordance with the law.'” The Economist describes Dung as “unusually knowledgeable about industry, well-advised by Western-educated staff and knows what investors want to hear.” The source also describes him as Vietnam’s “least uncharismatic politician,” which I think is the British way of saying that he’s Vietnam’s most charismatic politician. I’ll express my skepticism at these remarks, but remain impartial here and say that they are possibilities.

From the evidence gathered, it seems Dung’s strengths stem from the fact that he actually knows how to read, and is not a brainwashed Chinese slave-puppet like his closest competitor and arch rival, ole Nguyen Phu Trong, aka Trong Lu.

Before I proceed further, it is important for me to bring up Dung’s corruption. He is just very, very corrupted. He’s got lots of money that he didn’t work for, and is in no way, shape, or form a decent human being. To be fair, though, he’s a communist, and all of them are corrupted. All of them. I’m about to rip Trong Lu apart, but feel that I need to clarify my views on Dung first: Nguyen Tan Dung is a huge piece of shit, make no mistake. Now that we cleared that up, let’s talk about our pal Lu.

What can we say about Trong Lu? Well, for starters, Jonathan London claims that Trong is “Not known for his intellectual dynamism,” which I gather is just a nice way of saying that Trong is hopelessly stupid. This description is not false, but rather quite true, as a matter of fact. We’ve touched on this topic before, we know that Trong Lu is an absolute idiot. He is understood to be part of the conservative faction of the VCP, otherwise known as the nitwit morons who still cling to Marxism and look to China as their big brother overlords. These “conservative” wingers are the ones who have come to dominate the Party, and are the main culprits charged with “selling out to China.”

I can go on a long tirade about this conservative wing of the Party, but for the sake of brevity, I will sum them up in one sentence: The conservative faction of the VCP are the cowardly Chinese puppets who are handing the country over to China, and Nguyen Phu Trong is the poster boy at the forefront of this faction.

Moreover, Trong is just kind of a loser overall, saying things that he shouldn’t be saying, and humiliating himself on a regular basis. Recently, in an attempt to prevent his enemy Dung from vying for the party chief position, Trong set a decree stipulating that only a Northerner is eligible of becoming General Secretary of the VCP. Dung is a Southerner, and so are many other members of the VCP. Trong’s open discrimination effectively alienated many members of the VCP who are not from the North. As a result, the rift within the Party has only grown larger.

As an outside observer who hates the VCP, I think it’s hilarious. However, as a rational human being, I am just dumbfounded that a grown man, well into his senior, and is CURRENTLY IN CHARGE OF AN ENTIRE FUCKING COUNTRY, is capable of saying something so childish, divisive, and self-destructive. Just when you think he couldn’t get any dumber, he still somehow manages to blow us all away with his stupidity. Honestly, Nguyen Phu Trong is the pinnacle of stupid. He’s just so stupid. SO. STUPID.

I have to stop here, people. I’ve got so much ridicule for Trong Lu that I’m currently at risk of veering off topic. We’re talking about the VCP leadership race, right? Yes, right. To sum up, Trong Lu is a Chinese puppet-slave, a pathetic coward, and is just really, really, REALLY stupid. He has dealt inconceivable damage to the country, and it is appalling that he is trying to retain his grip on power.

The Verdict?

Fuck ’em both.

I know that from the comments given above, you may have an idea of which competitor I may hate somewhat less than the other. But, at the end of the day, they’re still both communists, and they’re both scum.

If Dung wins, the country will still be a mess. If Trong wins, not only will the country still be a mess, but he will continue to hand the country over to China, piece by piece. So, one choice is bad, the other is just worse.

And that, my friends, is the hand dealt to the people of Vietnam under the communist system. It’s not like they get to choose, either. There’s no voting in Vietnam, remember?

This article is less for the purpose of analyzing the coming leadership convention, and more just to make you all aware that a convention is going on.

The 12th Party Congress of the VCP commences on January 20, 2016, and lasts for about a week or so.

Only after the new leader takes power, after he makes clear what his intentions are, can we determine the true verdict. Only then can we judge whether this leadership convention matters or not.

A wise man once said, “Don’t listen to what a communist says, but look at what a communist does.” In keeping with these words of wisdom, no verdict will be provided today.

Second photo credits: Nguyen Phu Trong photo via VOA, Nguyen Tan Dung photo via ABC Austrailia

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