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Promoting democracy, publicity, and transparency - a solution to prevent and combat corruption in personnel work

(LLCT) - President Ho Chi Minh once said: “Personnel work is the root of all works”, by being well aware of that, during the process of leading the construction and development of the country, the Party and the State of Vietnam always paid attention to personnel development. One of the key tasks they worked towards was improving organizational personnel in terms of quantity and quality; and at the same time, focused on issuing regulations to standardize and develop leaders at all levels. However, personnel development has many problems and negatively affected the sustainable development process of the country. In this article, we will focus on democracy, publicity, and transparency in personnel work, which is an important and fundamental solution in preventing and combating corruption in personnel work development in Vietnam today.

Keywords: prevent and combat corruption; personnel work.

1. Issues of implementing democracy, publicity, and transparency in personnel work in Vietnam

Personnel plays a pivotal role in advising policy-makers, as well as directly participating in the process of making and enforcing laws, manage all aspects of social life. Stemming from the principle that “in order to build socialism successfully, first of all, there must be socialist people”, founders of Marxism - Leninism noted that: personnel work, especially the leaders play a decisive role in the success or failure of a revolution.

With that spirit, during all revolutionary activities, President Ho Chi Minh focused on building personnel of “young and talented people” who had enough strength to fuel and support the Party’s glorious cause. President Ho Chi Minh had been training, mentoring, and building a team of dedicated and resilient personnel who were successful in completing their tasks through the stages of the revolution.

Inheriting the President Ho Chi Minh Thought, since its inception, the Party has always considered personnel work a strategic issue for the entirety of its revolutionary cause. The Party’s views and policies on personnel work are always consistent, people is always considered as a decisive resource for the cause of national construction and development. As a result, over three decades of reformation, we have attained great achievements and historical significance on the path of building socialism and defending the country. It is this generation of personnel who have been well trained and matured through facing challenges, with willingness to conquer all difficulties, hardships, dynamism, and creativity; along with improvement in level of knowledge and practical capacity (capacity of economic management and social management), the eager to implement the reformation and soon adapt to the market mechanism. Personnel have affirmed the leading role of the renewal process, being a decisive factor in the implementation of an effective and efficient administration for the State allowing it to be a State of the people, by the people and for the people, together with the success or failure of the revolution.

Having accomplished these achievements, it would be remiss not to mention remarkable efforts in personnel work, especially the implementation and promotion of democracy, publicity, and transparency. In recent years, the implementation of democracy, publicity, and transparency in personnel work has made impressive progress. The party committees at all levels are aware of the position and importance of democracy, publicity and transparency in personnel work. Many undertakings, principles, opinions, and great solutions on personnel work are institutionalized and concretized by regulations, procedures, and processes to ensure democracy, objectivity, and strictness. Performance of management, evaluation, selection, planning, training, mentoring, rotation, and allocation in implementing personnel policy are democratically discussed by the party committees and organizations and decided by majority; the decentralization in personnel work is well-realized and implemented. The organization of comments, criticisms, and votes of confidence for personnel, especially the significant officials, is strictly carried out in accordance with democratic regulations. Party committees and organizations at all levels have promoted the implementation of democracy, publicity, and transparency in promotion, appointment and training personnel, thus strengthening the confidence of the people in the Party.

However, personnel work still has limitations and weaknesses. There has been degradation in political and ethical ideology and lifestyle such as corruption, bribes for power, for getting away from committed crime, and for lowering their age, abusing the power of their position, misuse of power of several officials, Party members, even leaders and managers, including high-ranking ones. There are also State-owned enterprise managers who fail to practice the Party’s characteristics, taking advantage of loopholes in mechanisms, policies, and laws, intentionally seeking profits from the State’s capital and property, causing serious consequences. The use of bribery for positions, power, age, position allocation, degrees, rewards, titles, or crimes, etc of high-ranked officials is slowly being prevented. Meanwhile, the personnel assessment process is weak, unable to reflect the true characteristics personnel should have, that are unassociated with specific results and products. In many cases, the assessment of personnel is conducted with an emphasis on personal emotion, permissiveness or prejudice. Unqualified officials have been appointed, including family members reflecting the nepotism in some of these decisions, relatives, and friends this has caused frustration in public opinion. Recruitment and promotion examinations for public personnel are still limited with low and uneven quality, which is why some violations still happen.

Therefore, the Party has proposed many remedies through Conclusions, Regulations, and Resolutions.

The 9th Plenum of the 10th Party Central Committee issued Conclusion No.37-KL/TW dated February 2nd, 2009 on continuing to accelerate the implementation of the Personnel strategy from now until 2020. It stated: “Strengthening the inspection and supervision by higher-ranked committees for lower-ranked committees in education and implementation of personnel work”; building a mechanism for Party members and people to participate in supervising personnel and personnel work. Subsequently, following the Resolution of the 4th Plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee dated December 12th 2013, the Politburo issued Decision No. 218-QD/TW which provided rights for the Vietnamese Fatherland Front, socio-political organizations and people to contribute to building the Party and government.

The 3rd Plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee promulgated Regulation No.47-QD/TW on November 1st, 2011 on what Party members cannot do. The regulation stipulated that party members were forbidden from intervening or affecting organizations and individuals ability to appoint or nominate themselves or other people to go to school or go abroad in contravention of regulations; forbidden from creating conditions or committing acts for parents, spouses, children, or siblings to take advantage of their positions and misuse their power to seek personal interest.

The Resolutions of the 4th Plenums (of the 11th and 12th Party Central Committee), Resolution No.26-NQ/TW, dated May 19th  2018 of the 7th Plenum of the 12th Party Central Committee about focusing on building personnel at all levels, especially the strategic level, with sufficient quality, capacity, and reputation for the various levels. Regarding this task, the Central Government has set and directed the implementation of a number of solutions in personnel work, such as: leading and managing officials must conduct reviews, self-criticism, and criticism on a top-down basis; strictly implementing the Regulation on interrogation in the Party, especially in local-level activities, including interpersonal and personnel questions; taking votes of confidence for leading and managerial officials.  They should also promptly replace personnel with low credibility, those who fail to complete their tasks before the end of their terms and working-age. They need to strictly implement property declaration; strengthen inspection, supervision, audits, investigations, prosecution, and adjudication; consolidate and strengthen responsibilities, and raise the operational efficiency of anti-corruption agencies.

The 5th Plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee issued Conclusion No. 21-KL/TW dated May 25th 2012 on the Continuation of the 3rd Plenum of the 10th Party Central Committee Resolution to enhance the leadership of the Party in preventing corruption and misspending; set up the Central Steering Committee for Anti-corruption under the Politburo, led by the Party General Secretary; and re-establish both the central and local Internal Affairs Committees. Conclusion No. 21-KL/TW required: “To exercise democracy, publicity, and transparency in personnel work, especially in recruitment, planning, appointment, allocation, rotation, assessment, commendation, reward, etc. To set specific provisions to transfer and replace leaders and managers who have a manifestation of corruption, misspending, reduced prestige, are unable to meet task requirements... To study and promulgate regulations on income control of persons with positions and powers... To set provisions on accountability for increased assets’ origin”(1).

After nearly 20 years of implementing the Personnel strategy in the period of industrialization and modernization following the Resolution of the 3rd Plenum of the 8th Party Central Committee, personnel work still has shortcomings and limitations. The publicity, transparency, democracy, and majority conclusions are matters of principle and must be embodied in the entire personnel work process. However, in reality, the implementation is still misleading with different subjects, ways, scopes, and levels of publicity. It is the lack of democracy, publicity, fairness, equality, and transparency in personnel work that causes many negative consequences. Such as situations where employees who rely on leaders, lack trust in their leaders, and worry about building relationships rather than focusing on work, prioritizing self-interest rather than fighting for what is right. Some cases of appointing family members with “speedy promotion, appointment, rotation” with “correct procedure” show the disability and incapacitation of the collective. Sometimes, collective decisions are just a “cover” to “legalize” the decisions of superiors. The phenomenon of bribery for positions, power, and planning still exists in personnel work.

A series of violations in recent personnel shows the abuse of power and loss of democracy of many officials and leaders in party and state agencies. The principle of central democracy, publicity, and transparency in many party organizations is loose; self-criticism and criticism are just acts of formality, without a mechanism to protect people who fight against corruption... It results in a weak, degraded and corrupt personnel; that weakens the Party and State apparatus; weakens people’s confidence in the Party and regime; misconducts the Party and States’ policies that led to deviations from regulations, etc. Therefore, synchronous and vigorous reformation of personnel work and control of power in politics is an urgent and long-term need.

2. Further promoting democracy, publicity, and transparency to prevent and combat corruption in personnel work

To control corruption in personnel work, it is first necessary to create a system to control power effectively. That system should not have any internal control among branches of state power by counterbalancing mechanisms to constrain each other, where the legislative, executive, and judiciary cannot exceed the set limits. Meanwhile, external control of public rights is carried out by the people involving the important role of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front and People’s Councils at all levels; the role of the press and media... Once the power control systems have been identified, the next thing to do is propose solutions and measurements to ensure that the system can operate effectively. Factors related to corruption were presented at the 13th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Athens (Greece) those factors are C=M+D-A. In particular, C stands for Corruption, M stands for Monopoly, D stands for Discretion, and A stands for Accountability. From the above formula, it can be affirmed that: to fight against corruption, the establishment of a controlled power system, the implementation of democracy, publicity and transparency are some of the big, effective, and appropriate solutions. Thoroughly grasping and strictly implementing this principle is an important requirement for the Party to unify the leadership of personnel work, promote the responsibilities of organizations and leaders in the political system.  These principles would ensure that personnel work is done in a democratic, objective, and fair manner, selecting the right people with adequate qualifications and competence according to the prescribed standards.

To do so, the first requirement is to strictly control the power of personnel work using systems and mechanisms. Building an institutional system, a mechanism that both creates conditions and the environment for individuals to voluntarily comply with laws and organizational principles, and that also creates a legal corridor that prevents bypassing the system. There also needs to be systems and mechanisms capable of punishing and deterring anyone who violates these principles. The more specific the systems and mechanisms are, the easier it is for members to control, facilitate, and handle violations.

The institutional system and mechanism must erase loopholes for bribery, as well as publicize and transparentize activities of public organization and personnel, and eliminate the notion that allocating personnel is a secret and sensitive job. Responsibilities of unit leaders, collective committees, and people who give recommendations for personnel appointments, rotations, or allocations should be clearly defined.

Second, it is necessary to raise awareness about the responsibility  Party Committees and officials at all levels have in implementing principles of democratic centralism in their personnel work. Reality has affirmed that democracy in personnel work can only be achieved when Party committees, leaders, and members are unified with the right perception of their position and role along with the adhering to the content of democratic centralism’s principle. This is the principle inherited and developed by President Ho Chi Minh and our Party based on Marxism - Leninism, consistent with Vietnamese revolutionary practices. In particular, centralism and democracy are united, centralism must be informed by democracy and democracy must go along with centralism. The more democracy develops and the more solid centralism is, the more the Party’s power is affirmed. Good implementation of this principle ensures the promotion of wisdom and collective responsibility; as well as the unity of the will and action of party organizations and party members in personnel work. If any aspect of the principle is underestimated, it is a violation of the principle as a whole.

Third, the role of exemplary pioneers of personnel and party members must be upheld, especially officials in charge of deploying, exercising democracy, publicity, and transparency in personnel work; the responsibility of leaders must be enhanced, and democracy must be widespread. One of the basic points emphasized recently is that the Party unifies leadership and management of personnel according to the principle of democratic centralism, which promotes the responsibilities of organizations and people, from top to bottom in the political system. Therefore, each stage in personnel work must be associated with the responsibilities of each collective committee, each leader of the committee, and each agency or unit.

Concerning the respective responsibilities for each collective committee, there should be specific provisions on individual and collective responsibilities during the important stage of personnel assessment (including the assessment of officials at all levels). The leader must take personal and collective responsibility. If there are signs of bias, critique, or inaccuracy in assessments for personal purposes, measurements must be taken to ensure unwavering fairness and transparency for officials and employees in personnel work. Besides, it is necessary to concretize regulations, the process of canceling and withdrawing incorrect decisions about personnel work; and stipulate procedures in handling misconducted organizations and individuals, especially for high-ranked officials who violated these principles in the spirit of having no “restricted zones”.

The last requirement is regular examination, inspection, and supervision of elected bodies, social organizations, and the press on personnel work to fight against bribery, publicity, and transparency. This requires strengthening accountability; under the supervision of an elected body. This must be considered as an important task, that needs to be carried out in two directions: superiors should supervise lower-ranked officials and vice versa. The inspection and examination of activities must be either regular and continuous, or periodic and irregular, coordinating with each step and stage of the entire personnel work process. Today, it is necessary to promote the supervisory role of the National Assembly and the People’s Councils. Particularly, the role of social supervision and criticism of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front and other socio-political organizations. Moreover, it is necessary to focus on people’s inclination towards nepotism in personnel work. At the same time, it is necessary to uphold the role of press and media in supervising and fighting against bribery, nepotism, and abuse of power. The focus should also be placed on appreciating the social pressure they put on personnel violations, honoring new models and methods of reflecting democracy in personnel work and appreciating talents.

_______________________

Endnote:

(1) CPV: Documents of the 5th plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2012, p. 157-158.

References:

1. Nguyen Van Giang: Identifying corruption in personnel work, www.tapchicongsan.org.vn.

2. UN-HABITAT (United Nations Human Settlements Program) and Transparency International, Tools to Support Transparency in Local Governance, 2004, p.13-14.

3. Anti-Corruption Law, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2006, p.8.

Assoc. Prof., Dr. Lam Quoc Tuan

Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

 Dr. Luu Thuy Hong

Academy of Journalism & Communication

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