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Tuesday, 21 November 2017 11:00
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Causes and solutions to prevent the modern problem of “bribing for positions”

(LLCT) - The phenomenon of “bribing for positions” is popular in a part of officers and Party members nowadays. It causes disapproval among the people, lowers the prestige of the Party and its members, and depletes the trust of the people in the Party, the Government and the socialist regime. This is one of the main causes of power corruption in public authorities, resulting in “self-evolution”, “self-transformation” within the Party and the State.

An officer entrance exam in Chu Pah district, Gia Lai province _ Photo: DC

1. It is imperative to be aware that “bribing for positions” is a serious problem, a “disease”, a typical symptom of the corruption of power. In fact, this is the selling and buying of a certain position in the public authority system, an “exchange” between buyers - who want to own professional titles or positions in the civil authority system without going through any hard training or selection basing on trust or prestige - and sellers who have the power to appoint people to different positions. This exchange is mainly anchored in monetary relationship or the ties of kinship such as family members or relatives, and gratefulness. 

The question is why this problem becomes so serious in a communist Party, a State of the people, by the people and for the people where State power lies in the hands of the people. Over 30 years of national renewal, the Party has been trying to prevent and check the regression, degeneration and corruption among a part of Party members and officials but why is the situation becoming more serious? At first, there were “some Party members”, then “a considerable number” and “an interest group” that still exist within the Party and the State. There are both objective and subjective causes leading to this problem.

 Firstly, during the renovation process, although the Party and the State issue a lot of regulations related to the cadre work, they are insufficient, inconsistent and not strict enough to prevent the problem of “bribing for positions”.

In fact, these regulations nowadays are bringing the privileges to some people in high positions. For example, the rules concerning office-owned cars, subsidized accommodation, equipment and working office provision etc are ambiguous, unreasonable and wasteful. The privilege mechanism leads to the excess and abuse of power and then to bureaucracy.   

Moreover, some regulations in the cadre work tend to assign power without connecting to supervision of power and accountability. Responsibility is certainly related to respective power and certain power helps officers to complete their assigned jobs. However, there must be a way to check power of the authorities because without it, excess and abuse of power are inevitable. Because of the lack of a strict power control mechanism, some people have exceeded and abused the power and in their views, being in a position means having power and having power means having money and other benefits (positions mean benefits). Positions and power do not hold sacred significance or honour entrusted by people but a mean to gain benefits or a thing to give to somebody who has sufficient money and/or right relations. And when in power, these people can integrate private motives and goals into common work to manipulate the whole system and appoint their children and relatives to certain positions or give them jobs in an unfair manner. Therefore, some people are willing to invest in gaining positions and do everything to reclaim their investments later. For these people, the greed for power, positions and money is unlimited, which leads to the corruption of some officers and Party members.  

Secondly, in the cadre work, the implementation of the policy for compliments and punishments is unfair. A very unusual phenomenon in the cadre work in Vietnam is that an officer making a mistake in his/her job is sometimes promoted to a higher position or moved to another position. If a person is in the system, he/she has a good chance for promotion or can enjoy a safe position until retirement without worrying of losing his or her power. The situation when the punishment is harsh in lower level but light in higher one or the only way is up is illogical. This situation makes some people in power ignore their responsibility and only think of bribery and establishment of relations for personal benefits.

The third cause is the violation of democratic centralism in Party building, especially in the cadre work.

Some regulations tend to centralize power. The policy to unify some titles is necessary and beneficial but it can lead to centralization of power in the hands of some people. In the time to come, the pilot study that the chiefs can choose his/her deputies can be carried out. At the moment, the deputies serve as assistants for the chiefs who have the power to make all decisions. That means the highest power lies in the hands of one person, not a community. And it is dangerous if the highest power lies in the hands of an opportunist. When the power is centralized but there is no way to control that power, abuse and excess of power and the selling and buying of power will emerge.

At the moment, the decentralized administration is being carried out. This is an appropriate policy which aims at promoting the activeness and dynamism of junior staff, but without supervision, this decentralized administration can lead to localization and negativism and group interest. All these problems are against the principle of democratic centralism and stimulate the greed for power and positions and arouse the bribery for power and positions. For the past time, some localities appoint more deputy officers than required number without knowledge of the higher-ranking offices, including the Party Committee, the Organization Committee and Department of Internal Affairs. This represents the weakness and the irresponsibility in checking the power when carrying out decentralized management of staff.  

Fourthly, the power corruption, the bribery for positions originate from moral corruption and practical individualism among some officers, Party members even in the officers responsible for managing staff.

Due to negative effects of the market economy, social standards have changed from human and moral values to material ones. As a result, some officers and Party members become practical and use money instead of other values in social relationships. These people are willing to ignore honour and dignity and trying to gain power and positions by any means, at any cost. They use public power, the power entrusted to them by people as personal power and change it for personal material profits. This is the expression of the corruption of power and dignity among some officers and Party members, even among the officers in the offices responsible for managing staff and the people bribing for power and positions. These are the main causes of the bribery for power and positions phenomenon. 

The fifth cause is the weakness and the incapability of many executive committees and Party organizations and some officers and Party members. In reality, the phenomenon of bribing for power and positions is very popular. Everyone knows about it but no one dares to talk about it publically, and just spread the rumours and comments about it instead. The combativeness of some Party organizations is paralysed as in the case of Vinashin, Trinh Xuan Thanh and many other cases. It can be said that in many cases, the people bribing for power and positions do not meet any obstacles. As a result, the people selling, buying power and positions can freely operate.    

2. Some solutions to limit and prevent the bribery for power and positions in the cadre work

Firstly, complete the system of regulations to reduce the chance for the opportunists to bribe.

It is necessary to check the current rules and regulations for the gaps that the opportunists can take advantage of. At the moment, although the process of recruiting and appointing officers is claimed to be following the right process, it is unable to choose talented and virtuous people, while the opportunists with poor ability can still find a way to enter the system, which cause public discontent. That means the process is problematic and it is necessary to check for the gaps in the regulations.   

Build and complete the regulations about the responsibility of the executive committees, Party organizations and Party members in case there is bribery for positions. Where there is bribery for positions, leaders must be punished even when they are transferred, promoted or retired.

Build and complete the regulations letting people to supervise power so that people can check and timely discover the bribery. According to Ho Chi Minh, people know all but they do not dare to speak out. If there are regulations to encourage people discover and prevent bribery, the struggle against this problem will be effective. One illogical thing nowadays is that the power of the state is in fact the power of the people and the people entrusted the state to use that power for the people’s benefits but there is no way that the people can check and supervise their own power but are hindered by that power. According to Lenin, there are two key issues after seizing power: the first is to choose people and put them in the appropriate positions and the second is that the people have to check and supervise the activities of the government. These are the keys for a transparent and strong government.  

People can check the power and take part in preventing the bribery for power and positions using the methods of direct centralized democracy or representative democracy through Vietnamese Fatherland Front and other people’s organizations. The problem is to issue the policy to protect the fighters and collect information from people.  

It is necessary to publicize these regulations and rules for all officers and Party members to follow and for people to check and supervise. If democracy is not connected to publicity, it is only half democracy. 

Secondly, increase checking and supervising from senior offices and resolutely deal with the bribery actions.

Checking and supervision play an important role in preventing bribery. According to Ho Chi Minh, nine out of ten mistakes are because of lack of supervision. “Checking and supervising can reveal all the mistakes.” In fact, if the checking and supervision are effective and if the senior offices pay more attention to checking and supervision, a lot of negative cases in the past such as the case of Trinh Xuan Thanh or “Hello Cafe”, etc. have been timely discovered. If the senior officers are more attentive in checking and supervision, many cases will be timely discovered and solved.

 For the checking and supervision to be effective, there need to have the cooperation between people’s inspectors, state’s inspectors and Party’s inspectors and a system to receive and process information. All the information with clear address and evidence received from officers, Party members and people whether it is anonymous or not must be researched and processed. The current rule is not to solve any anonymous petitions. This rule overlooks a very important source of information in the struggle against embezzlement and bribery. The question is why these denouncers want to be anonymous. They are afraid that even when they denounce, nothing can be done and they can be repressed. Therefore, there needs to be a rule to protect the people denouncing criminals of embezzlement and bribery and a strict punishment for these criminals. For example, after someone is discovered to bribe for a certain position, this person must be dismissed because this position is gained not by talent or prestige but by bribery. Those who receive the bribe must be dismissed from the Party and the public authority system because they dare to exchange the people’s power and negatively affects the whole system.         

Thirdly, abolish the privileges

Check all the policies related to the cadre work and resolutely abolish all the regulations creating privileges. If privileges exist, there exists bribery for power and positions to enjoy these privileges. Publicise all the policies and regulations related to the responsibility and service allowances. Abolish the provision of common cars for officers and stop implementing the policy of package funding for a common car by halves because this policy creates an income for some people in power. All these privileges should be included in the salary and the responsibility allowance to ensure the clearance, equality and reduce the wastefulness of the state budget and people’s money.

Assoc. Prof., Dr. Le Kim Viet

Institute of Party Building,

Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

MA. Nguyen Huu Thiet

The People’s Police Academy

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