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Viewpoints of President Ho Chi Minh on cadre evaluation and its application by our party during reform period

Political Theory Journal,
Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

(PTOJ) - Our Party and President Ho Chi Minh have always been determined that the contingent of cadre play a key role in the revolutionary cause. As a result, they have always paid attention to the work of building a contingent of cadres that meet the mission requirements. Cadre evaluation is an important stage in this process. The article clarifies President Ho Chi Minh's views on cadre evaluation, including the methods and purposes of evaluating cadres, promoting evaluation results, and handling weak, insufficiently competent, or non-compliant cadres. Those views are also the guidelines for today's cadre personnel work.

Ho Chi Minh  National Academy of Politics held the Opening Ceremony of the Advanced Political Theory Class, March 15, 2023_Photo: hcma.vn

President Ho Chi Minh always affirmed that cadres hold a particularly important position and play a critical role in determining the success and failure of the revolution: “Cadres are at the root of every work”, “All successes and failures are attributed to good or bad cadres”(1). He always paid due attention to building and training a contingent of qualified and capable cadres who could meet the requirements of revolutionary tasks.
During his leadership of the Vietnamese revolution, Ho Chi Minh wrote many articles and instructions on cadre personnel work. These writings deeply expressed his dialectical, objective, comprehensive, and humane viewpoints on cadre evaluation. In his work “Revolutionary Pathway” published in 1927, he first and foremost mentioned 23 criteria for eligibility and morality for revolutionary cadres. Twenty years later, in the context of our party’s gaining control of the administration and leadership of the resistance war and national construction, he wrote “Modifying the Way of Working” (1947), in which he emphasized the work of developing a contingent of cadres capable of leading the people to successfully carry out the revolutionary mission.
His views on the work of cadre evaluation bear fundamental significance for orienting the work of cadre evaluation in all circumstances. The study and application of his views to cadre evaluation are essential in constructing and rectifying the Party as well as improving its leadership and ruling capacity, especially in building a contingent of cadres at all levels that are qualified, capable, prestigious, and prestigious in their duties. This is the ideology and methodology that President Ho Chi Minh drew from the material experience of revolutionary activities, and they still bear practical and valid significance today.
1. Ho Chi Minh’s views on cadre evaluation
Firstly, cadre evaluation is an important factor that determines other stages of cadre personnel work. A sound cadre evaluation will help to properly grasp and objectively perceive the actual situation of cadres and the contingent of cadre in order to effectively implement the cadre personnel work as determined by the Party. If cadre evaluation work lacks accuracy, impartiality, and scientific organization, the evaluation results will be distorted and fail to reflect the actual situation, leading to mistakes in other stages such as cadre training, retraining, assignment, organization, and policies.
According to President Ho Chi Minh, cadre evaluation should be based on the content of a cadre’s work and their performance, with the goals stemming from job requirements. In other words, work, not individuals, is the focus of cadre evaluation.
The goal of cadre evaluation is, first and foremost, to help cadres and party members recognize their own strengths, weaknesses, advantages, and limitations in order to determine the direction to move forward, for training, learning, avoiding faulty work, and courageously correcting their shortcomings.
Secondly, the principles and methods of cadre evaluation should be objective, dialectical, and humane. Cadre evaluation shall be carried out based on historical context, current circumstances, and mission requirements. Its goal is not only to identify strengths and weaknesses, but also, and more importantly, to help cadres recognize their strengths and find ways to address their weaknesses in order to facilitate growth.
After the successful August Revolution of 1945, during the government’s first meeting on September 3, 1945, President Ho Chi Minh stated that, as the country had just gained independence, cadres were still unfamiliar with management work and were more prone to making mistakes. Therefore, he profoundly believed that it was important to find a sound approach to help them improve their work and get over their flaws: “After eighty years of oppression, exploitation, and obscurantist policies by the French colonialists, you and I are all new to administrative techniques. But that does not concern or falter us. We can learn while working and work while learning. We may inevitably make mistakes, but we will correct them; we have the courage to fix them. With deep patriotism and love for the people, I am sure we will succeed”(2).
With an objective view, sound foresight, and a humane spirit, Ho Chi Minh recognized from the very beginning that a new regime had just been established and that its cadre contingent was largely composed of farmers and workers, along with some intellectuals and descendants of mandarins from the old regime. In other words, they were all products of the feudal colonial system and could not entirely shed the vestiges of that era.
This dialectical perspective of the leader underscored the importance of motivating and encouraging cadres to cultivate and practice their skills and qualities that could enable them to mature and meet the demands of the new regime.
Thirdly, cadre evaluation is not only intended to identify limitations and negative manifestations but also to strictly require cadres to self-evaluate and self-adjust.
In the newly independent country, the required tasks were different from those of leading the secret revolutionary struggle, making it inevitable that cadres with limited understanding and capacity for socio-administrative management to experience shortcomings in their performance. In this context, President Ho Chi Minh did not impose strict requirements because of the weaknesses and shortcomings of cadres. Instead, he encouraged them to recognize their flaws, avoid blaming the situation, and courageously and resolutely overcome their shortcomings in the spirit of dedicating themselves to the common good of the country and the people.
In order to help cadres avoid mistakes and negativities in their work, on October 17, 1945, Ho Chi Minh issued a “Letter to the People’s Committees of the Regions, Provinces, Districts, and Villages”, in which he pointed out that the necessary task of the government and authorities at all levels at this time was to make the people enjoy freedom and happiness; public authorities from the central to local levels are servants of the people, not the tyrants treading on their necks; “Whatever benefits the people, we must do our best to make it happen”; “Whatever harms the people, we must do our utmost to avoid it”(3).
He pointed out the subjective causes of shortcomings in the work of cadre evaluation at all levels, namely division, disunity, arrogant leaders, contempt for the people and public opinion, self-indulgence, ganging up or forming factions, hiring relatives rather than talented and virtuous people, working for personal gains rather than the interests of the people, etc.
He graciously advised that “Anyone who has committed these faults must try his best to remedy them, otherwiser the government would not tolerate them,” and “those who do not make these mistakes should be cautious to prevent them while striving for further growth”(4).
He demanded the elimination of individualism in order to properly evaluate and employ the appropriate cadres. In his “Letter to the Comrades in the North” dated March 1, 1947, he noted that cadres and party members must resolutely get rid of the following shortcomings:
“Localism” - just focusing on one’s own local interests without considering the whole picture, defending, and fostering only the department in which one works.
“Factionalism” - blindly supporting one’s fellow members of one’s faction, regardless of whether or not their ideas are correct; and ostracizing those who are not in one’s faction, even if they possess genuine talents and propose valuable proposals.
He also warned and cautioned cadres against adopting “militaristic and bureaucratic mentalities” that express themselves as a king of a region through bossy and aggressive behavior, despising their superiors, abusing their authority to oppress subordinates, and bureaucratically alienating the masses.
“Appetite for formalities” - a preference for flaunting outward appearances to show off one’s power and authority rather than prioritizing practical results and outcomes.
He demanded severe disciplinary measures for intentionally non-compliant cadres in order to strictly maintain the discipline and regulations of the Party and the Government. He also required the elimination of the phenomenon of “indiscipline or disobedience,” which refers to improperly and excessively leniently disciplining non-compliant cadres or even colluding in covering up their flaws, deceiving their superiors, and lying to their organizations.
On the other hand, he stated that group interests must be eliminated in his speech: “Some comrades still cling to the notion that ‘becoming a cadre benefits one’s whole clan,’ and they appoint their relatives and friends to various positions without regard for their qualifications. These cadres allow their organizations to suffer and cover up for their relatives’ incompetence, prioritizing personal connections over merit and their organizations’ interests”(5).
It was not only a warning but also a thoughtful instruction from President Ho Chi Minh for cadres to avoid making mistakes at work.
In his work, “Modifying the Way of Working,” President Ho Chi Minh urged cadres and party members to practically study and address their shortcomings identified in previous letters to improve their work performance. Be acutely aware of the crucial role that cadres play in building socialism, as he once stated that “All successes and failures are attributed to good or bad cadres”(6) and that “Cadres are responsible not only for explaining the policies of the Party and Government for the people to comprehend and their implementation, but also for helping the Party and government keep abreast of the people’s situation and thereby make sound policies”(7).
President Ho Chi Minh identified three negative traits that cadres and party members must address to effectively lead the people - subjectivity, narrow-mindedness, and braggadocio. He also stated that the source of these negative traits is “individualism,” from which arise other bad habits and manifestations such as conducting unnecessary and unconstructive meetings, illegal and irresponsible compliant reciprocity, greed for money, laziness, arrogance, lust for fame, indiscipline, narrow-mindedness, xenophobia, self-proclaimed leaders, pseudo-cadres or pseudo-party members whose competences are not on par with their positions, ganging up or forming factions, shortsightedness, selfishness, envy, and the habit of obsequious flattery. Simultaneously, he highlighted experiences and methods for addressing and correcting cadres’ shortcomings, such as properly assessing their actual situation, frankly and objectively pointing out their weaknesses, providing serious and constructive criticism, and demanding strict self-correction to help cadres improve their work performance.
Building the contingent of cadre based on the masses and the people has made the Party and government agencies at all levels clean and robust and has enabled them to lead the entire people and army in solidarity, creating a synergistic power that attained victory in the resistance war against the French colonialists.
Fourthly, in order to avoid and remedy limitations and flaws, one must first be able to recognize their own flaws through self-criticism, from which can self-training and strive to improve.
“It is not difficult for a good party member or cadre to become a true revolutionary. It entirely stems from our heart. When one’s heart beats solely for the interests of the Party, the Fatherland, and the people, one will achieve a state of justice and impartiality. That state of justice and impartiality will help one reduce shortcomings and enhance good qualities over time”(8).
To that end, cadres must self-train and cultivate revolutionary morality, “That morality is not a conservative morality. It is a new and great morality, which is not for the glory of individuals but for the common good of the Party, the nation, and humanity as a whole. Rivers need water sources to flow; without them, rivers would eventually run dry. Trees need roots to survive; without them, trees would quickly wither. A revolutionary must have morality; without morality, even the best talent cannot lead the people”(9).
He clarified that “At work, in struggle, in training, party members and cadres shall always question, criticize themselves and their comrades. By always and skillfully using criticism and self-criticism, our weaknesses will eventually disappear, our strengths will absolutely increase, and our Party will definitely gain victories”(10).
Thus, for President Ho Chi Minh, cadres are assessed to be a precious capital that needs to be built and cultivated with a compassionate, serious, insightful, and reasonable heart, especially when mentioning their flaws. Only in this way can they further mature and devote themselves to the revolutionary cause.
He also shared that the objective method of cadre evaluation as follows: “Everything in the world is constantly changing, including people’s thoughts. Therefore, the method of assessing cadres should not be fixed and must evolve over time. A cadre’s mistake in the past does not guarantee that it will be repeated forever. Likewise, some cadres may not have made mistakes yet, but it’s not a guarantee that they won’t in the future. Everyone’s past, present, and future are not always the same. Everyone has both good and bad sides. We shall tactfully enhance their good sides and correct their bad sides”(11). Hence, leaders, and managers shall have a perspective that is objective, realistic, profound, democratic, and impartial while evaluating cadres.
Fifthly, it is essential to avoid prejudice in cadre evaluation. To achieve this goal, leaders, or those responsible for cadre evaluation must possess the following qualities:
Generosity: They should evaluate cadres in a just, unbiased, and unprejudiced manner without abandoning any cadre. Only a generous spirit can bridge the gap between those with different interests.
Open-mindedness: They should be open to listening to the opinions of comrades, colleagues, the people, and the public towards cadres while choosing their friends wisely to avoid being surrounded by depraved people and alienating good cadres.
Cheerfulness and friendliness: They should be cheerful and friendly to get closer to other comrades and thereby be able to keep abreast of their actual situation.
Sixthly, based on cadre evaluation, it is necessary to focus on supporting comrades who are underperforming and assist them in overcoming their inadequacies in order to help them progress. Additionally, from the results of a sound cadre evaluation, proper task assignments should be made in accordance with the capacity and strengths of each cadre, as the saying goes, “choose and use your staff as a carpenter chooses and uses wood”.
With dialectical, objective, comprehensive, concrete historical, humane, altruistic, and for-the-common-cause viewpoints and thoughts, President Ho Chi Minh and our Party have developed and trained a contingent of cadres that are “Loyal to the Party”, “Dedicated to the people”, united, creative, and capable of overcoming all difficulties and challenges, maintaining the independence of the Fatherland, and bringing our revolution from one victory to another.
President Ho Chi Minh’s humane, objective, comprehensive, and concrete historical views and thoughts on cadre personnel work provide profound lessons of great value for building a qualified, capable, and prestigious contingent of cadre that is fully equipped to carry out its tasks.
2. Our Party applies and develops President Ho Chi Minh’s views on cadre personnel work, focusing on renovating cadre evaluation work
The work of national construction and defense is a weighty, challenging, and complex new task, which demands a contingent of cadre that can rise to the occasion By thoroughly grasping Ho Chi Minh Thought on cadre personnel work, our Party has developed a contingent of cadres at all levels who are politically mature, and whose expertise, professionalism, quality, and practical skills increasingly meet the requirements of tasks in different periods, making decisive contributions to the achievements of reform, industrialization, modernization, and international integration.
Firstly, in implementing Ho Chi Minh Thought, the Party has always determined that cadres play a very important role in conveying the Party’s direction and guidelines and the State’s policies to the people and serving as role models in directing them to implementation, “after having sound guidelines and policies, the decisive condition is the organization of the guideline implementation, in which the key issue is having a cadre contingent that is well-rounded in all aspects”(12). The contingent of Cadre is the determinant in bringing the Party’s resolutions into vivid reality; “experience has shown that, after establishing the correct guidelines, the contingent of cadre is the most decisive factor in turning them into reality”(13).
Therefore, “The issue of cadres has emerged as the most critical aspect of the entire process of the reform cause. The selection and placement of the contingent ofcadre, particularly a leading contingent with synchronized structure, strong political courage, transparent moral qualities, and sufficient organizational knowledge and capacity to effectively execute the Party’s directives, is a significant and decisive matter”(14).
The majority of the cadres have a firm ideological stance and unwavering political courage, steadfast faith in Marxism - Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought, goals and ideals of national independence and socialism, clear working ethics, a simple and exemplary lifestyle, a sense of organization and discipline, constant training and striving to complete assigned tasks.
Many cadres are dynamic, creative, and capable of adapting to the integration trend and working in an international setting. The majority of capable, qualified, and prestigious cadres, especially those at the strategic level (cadres under the management of the Central Government), have innovative thinking and are capable of planning guidelines and policies, as well as leading and directing their implementation.
The growth and development of the contingent of cadre is a key and decisive factor, significantly contributing to the success of the cause of reform, construction, and defense of the socialist Vietnamese Fatherland, which has resulted in our country’s prosperity, position, and international prestige today.
Secondly, it is critical to evaluate the truth rigorously and clearly identifing defects. Many Central Conferences, such as the 6th Plenum of the 8th Party Central Committee (2nd session), the 4th Plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee, the 4th and 7th Plenums of the 12th Party Central Committee, and the 4th Plenum of the 13th Party Central Committee, have seriously, objectively, and frankly pointed out shortcomings and offered solutions for cadres to “self-evaluate”, “self-adjust”, cultivate and practice good qualities, prevent and overcome defects, and build strong political bravery, pure morality, and solid professional knowledge to meet the requirements of the era of accelerating national industrialization and modernization.
Our Party has pointed out the shortcomings emerging in the current contingent of cadre that are due in part to weaknesses in cadre personnel work, of which one of the weakest stages is cadre evaluation. Some cadres in leadership positions are not good role models, exhibiting behaviors such as paternalism, bureaucracy, negativity, and prioritizing group interests. Additionally, there are still instances of bribery for job appointments and promotions, cadre planning entries, cadre rotation entries, and so on, which are untimely and slowly prevented and repelled, sparking strong reactions in public opinion.
In cadre evaluation, there are still instances of subjectivity, using power to hide flaws, prioritizing personal gains over collective interests, putting micro-interests ahead of macro-interests, corruption, wastefulness, and abusing authority and power for personal benefits.
Thirdly, our Party has proposed many important and practical solutions to overcome shortcomings in order to build a contingent of cadres who increasingly meet the requirements of their tasks.
To assist cadres in cultivating and practicing positive traits, self-examination, self-adjustment, or preventing and avoiding flaws, the Central Committee, Politburo, and Secretariat of the recent tenures have issued the following resolutions and regulations: The 4th Plenum of the 12th Party Central Committee has issued a resolution “on strengthening the construction and rectification of the Party; preventing and repelling the deterioration of political ideology, morality, lifestyle, and the manifestations of intra-party “self-evolution” and “self-transformation;” clearly identifying nine manifestations of groups exhibiting political ideological decline, nine manifestations of groups exhibiting moral and lifestyle degradation, and nine manifestations of groups exhibiting “self-evolution” and “self-transformation.”
The 11th Party Secretariat has issued Regulation No. 101-QD/TW dated June 7, 2012, on “The responsibility of cadres and party members, especially those in key leadership positions at all levels, to become role models,” which requires cadres and party members to actively study and follow the moral example of President Ho Chi Minh. In other words, the higher their positions, the more exemplary they must be in terms of political ideology, ethics, lifestyle, working style, serious self-criticism and criticism, closeness to the people, and their sense of responsibility, discipline organization, and internal solidarity building.
The Central Committee has issued Regulation No. 08-QD/TW dated October 25, 2018 on “the responsibility of cadres and party members, especially members of the Politburo, the Secretariat, and the Central Executive Committee, to become role models,” which requires cadres and party members to lead the implementation of eight groups of issues on Political ideology, Public services, Working style, Responsibility at work, Control of power at work, The execution of the principles of democratic centralism, Learning, cultivating, and practicing revolutionary morality, and Self-criticism and criticism. Simultaneously, the regulation also specified eight groups of personal issues that cadres and party members must strictly and resolutely reject.
Every cadre and party member, particularly the leaders at all levels, should have a deep understanding of revolutionary moral standards and proactively cultivate and practice revolutionary morality in accordance with Ho Chi Minh’s ideology, ethics, and lifestyle, so as to resist the temptation of material gains, money, or fame; to effectively fight against all manifestations of individualism, bureaucracy, opportunism, xenophobia, factionalism, and internal disunity; and to regularly “self-evaluate”, “self-adjust”, and raise the honor and self-esteem of being a party member(15).
Fourthly, it is necessary to promote the role of supervision and the social counterarguments of the people, public opinion, and mass media. The Politburo and the Secretariat have promulgated regulations on supervision within the Party, including regulations on the participation of the people through the Fatherland Front in supervising cadres and party members. At the same time, the government also focuses on evolving cadre personnel work, implementing recruitment according to job positions, promoting and appointing according to job requirements, ensuring the right person is put in the right job, and winnowing out and promptly replacing people with limited capacity, low work efficiency, and low credibility.
By the efforts of Party committees at all levels and the proactive cultivation, practice, and striving of cadres and party members, positive changes have been made in the implementation of the responsibility of cadres and party members to become role models with exemplary ethical standards. In general, the cadres and party members have enhanced their sense of responsibility, maintained exemplary qualities, ethics, and lifestyles, and become role models by taking the lead, being dedicated to their work, and successfully completing the assigned tasks. Strict disciplinary actions taken against current and former Party members and cadres who’s political ideology degraded or who violated their political ideology, lifestyle, and ethics, or showed manifestations of “self-evolution” and “self-transformation,” have helped Party members better self-evaluate, self-adjust, regulate their behavior, and actively practice exemplary morality, lifestyle, and working style(16).


Received: November 10, 2022; Revised: January 18, 2023; Approved for publication: January 27, 2023.
l Endnotes:

(1) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, vol. 5, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p. 280.
(2), (3), (4) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, ibid., vol. 4, pp. 6, 65, 66.
(5), (6), (7), (8), (9), (10), (11) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, ibid., vol. 5, pp. 90-91, 280, 309, 291, 292, 305, 317-318.
(12) Le Duan: The Anthology, vol. 2, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2008, p. 680.
(13) Nguyen Van Linh: The Anthology, vol. 2, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p. 101.
(14) Do Muoi: Selected Speeches and Articles, vol. 2, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2007, p. 205.
(15), (16) As cited in: CPV: Documents of the 13rd National Party Congress, vol. II, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p. 237, 174-175.

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