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Monday, 24 September 2018 17:18
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Building the Communist Party of Vietnam on ethics: an urgent mission in today's context

(LLCT) - At present, the corruption circumstance and the ideological, moral, lifestyle degeneration of a not so small number of cadres and Party members still remain serious, resulting in a bad effect on the people's trust in the Party's leadership. In order to lead country achieving a fast and sustainable development, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) must truly represent for brainpower, conscience and morality; the Party must ensure consensus and solidarity among the entire people. Therefore, in today's context, it is imperative to work out effective solutions to build the Party  in terms of ethics.


1. Just 15 years after its establishment and with nearly 5 thousand members, the Vietnamese communist party was completely achieved  the people’s trust, consent and support; successfully implemented the August Revolution; gaining back the national independence after nearly 100 years under the domination of French colonialism, and establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

The embryonic government of the people’s democratic regime had to fight against French colonialism, which had just lost the country’s ruling power but still possessed overwhelming military power. The unequal resistance of our soldiers and people against the French colonial rule lasted 9 years under the leadership of the Party, crystallizing in the historical victory of Dien Bien Phu that shocked the entire world. This led to an armistice and the liberation of half of the country.

However, peace didn’t last long. Our whole nation got involved once again in an even longer and fiercer war against the invasion of powerful American imperialism. Millions of Vietnamese people sacrificed themselves in this resistance for our final victory and national unification.

These glorious victories in the resistance war were due firstly to our truly intellectual, “moral, civilized” Party, which built up a correct fighting method, and the solidarity of the entire Party and people. As President Ho Chi Minh once stated: “Why are we successful? - Because we are united!” “In the resistance war, the enemy had navy, land and air forces. We had none. So why did we win? It was thanks to our unity”(1). This sense of solidarity originated from our people’s patriotism and unshakeable trust in the Party, from heroic sacrifices for the people and the country, from examples of “being close to the people” and “righteousness” of cadres and Party members, who often “go in front” for “the people to follow”. The people put their trust in the Party because “our Party didn’t come from the sky, it originated from society”(2). It is an organic part of society but not above or outside society. Accordingly, it is not coincidental that President Ho Chi Minh calls it the Party of the whole Vietnamese nation, and the Vietnamese people call it our Party. “Our Party” genuinely reflects trust and pride and conveys a message of hope for a bright future.

Throughout its glorious history, our Party has made mistakes; it has had shortcomings and even committed wrongdoings at certain times. However, instead of concealing them, our Party earnestly corrected them to meet the expectations of the people towards national development. Under its leadership over the country, our Party always keeps in mind President Ho Chi Minh’s instruction: “A Party that hides its faults is a rotten one”(3). As such, the 6th Party Congress had to “face reality, evaluate the facts correctly, and tell the truth”, while condemning itself for “manifestations of subjectivism, voluntarism, simplicity and hastiness in thought and action while pursuing our subjective aspirations”(4). Based on this strict criticism, our Party devised guidelines for comprehensive national reform, opening up a new page in our national history.

2. Together with our new mindset, the market economy is recognized as the outcome of civilization, and not only of capitalism; and the centralized, bureaucratic and subsidized planning mechanism has gradually been replaced with it. Thanks to this, many impressive multi-faceted achievements have been recorded; Vietnam has embarked on a new development period; GDP per capita has increased significantly in comparison with the pre-renewal period, and the living conditions of the majority of our people have seen important improvements.

In the market economy, the self-motivation and initiative of each and every individual has witnessed an unprecedented increase in all social fields. Because everyone, including Party members, is allowed to do business in all unprohibited sectors by law, the sluggishness, dependence, and reliance on the government has been significantly reduced. Meanwhile, initiatives and creativity in production and business have flourished and seen unprecendented advancements.

However, it must be acknowledged that economic success cannot overbalance the weakness and degradation of other aspects of the market economy, especially in terms of social morality. The darker side of the market economy favours negative influences as there still remain various weaknesses and shortcomings in personnel organization, national management and governance, policy planning and implementation, an incomplete and incomprehensive legal system, etc.

Although our country has shifted to the market economy, the ask-give mechanism still exists, applied to the allocation of projects, lands, funds and credits, as well as the nomination of successful tenderers of construction projects without open and transparent bidding, thus distorting objective economic rules. The ask-give mechanism is a fertile land for corruption: “bribe-exacting” is spreading in social fields, causing a huge waste at all levels and the mushrooming of negative interest groups, as well as the linkage between political power holders and economic power ones, thus spoiling quite a few Party members, especially cadres in power at different levels. Power corruption also originates wherefrom.

One must mention also the appointment of cadres whom are relatives and family members of leaders to positions with significant economic benefits, which are presently being uncovered by the media; our Party and Government have been very strict in their dealing with this.

Our Party has also openly pointed out that quite a few cadres “are taking advantage of their position and authority to seek for profits; to screen and support corruption and negative phenomena”; “to manipulate personnel work, campaign to have desired positions, power, seats, job rotation, academic degrees and to avoid legal charges”; “fall into social evils and violate the fine customs and traditional culture of the nation as well as the ethical norms of families and society”(5).

In its previous Congresses, our Party confronted these evils directly. The 9th Party Congress stressed that “The corruption and political, ideological, ethical and lifestyle degeneration of not a small portion of cadres and Party members is extremely serious”(6).

The 10th Party Congress repeated: “The political, ideological, ethical and lifestyle degeneration of not a small portion of cadres and Party members in association with bureaucracy, corruption and waste is still developing seriously and is not effectively checked”(7).

The 11th Party Congress repeatedly acknowledged that “The political, ideological, ethical and lifestyle degeneration of not a small portion of cadres and Party members as well as bureaucracy, corruption and waste remain serious”(8).

The 4th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (11th tenure) assessed more specifically: “Not a small portion of cadres and Party members, including Party members holding leadership and management positions and some high-level cadres, show political, ideological, ethical and lifestyle degeneration with different manifestations of fading ideals and falling into selfish individualism, opportunitism, pragmatism, running after fame, profits and money, regarding positions with envy, partialism, corruption, disorder and unscrupulousness”(9).

The 12th Party Congress further stated that “The degeneration of political ideology, ethics and lifestyle of not a small portion of cadres and Party members and bureaucracy, corruption and waste has not been checked”(10).

From the above evaluations of Party Congresses and plenums, the degeneration in all aspects inside the Party can be seen from an extremely serious to a serious level without being checked, which means that the problem has not been overcome appropriately.

I agree with the assessment of the 9th Party Congress stating that the situation is extremely serious. For our political ruling party, it is an alarming problem when its strength and prestige is reduced when not a small portion of its cadres and members at all levels show signs of degeneration of political ideology, ethics and lifestyle, fading ideals and falling into selfish individualism, opportunitism and pragmatism, running after fame, profits and money, regarding positions with envy as well as bureaucracy, corruption and waste, causing troubles to the people and keeping away from them. Such an imminent danger, if it is not timely resolved, will inevitably result in losing the Party’s fighting spirit and prestige as well as the trust of the people, thereby seriously threatening its leadership role and the survival of our regime.

To sum up, during the past 15 years and throughout four Party Congresses, no changes have been noted in overcoming the degeneration with regard to ethics, lifestyle and political ideology, including corruption and waste in not a small portion of cadres and Party members.

3. Given the Party’s serious ethical degeneration, which viewpoints should be adopted and which practical and urgent solutions implemented to consolidate the Party’s strength, particularly to regain the people’s trust?

It is imperative to thoroughly grasp and realize President Ho Chi Minh’s viewpoint: “Ours is not a party to get promotion nor make profits”, “Our Party has no other interests than those of the people and the Fatherland”, and “Our Party should always review the way its guidelines and resolutions are carried out to prevent them from becoming nothing but empty words that harm the people’s trust”(11).

It can be said that many of our Party’s resolutions regarding Party building and the education and fostering of revolutionary ethics have been issued with quite sufficient contents. Their implementation, however, has not met its expected outcomes. It is therefore necessary to point out reasons for this and put forward practical solutions.

First of all, it is imperative to control power. To that end, power supervision should be ensured. Moreover, there should be a Party resolution on power control, or even a law on power control and supervision. A law-governed state of the people, by the people and for the people cannot do without such a law. The lack of it facilitates people in power to abuse this power itself. It is true that “the common rule is that anyone who has strong power is tempted to abuse it more and more”(12).

The lack of such a law also causes “power corruption” to flourish by enabling the appointment of one’s relatives and family members to important positions despite their weak professional skills and ethical degeneration. Many of such cases have been detected and are being dealt with. Unfortunately, the detection and handling of these cases is slow, even after the retirement of some cadres, which means the effectiveness of deterrence is not as high as it should be. Power corruption ultimately leads to material corruption and becomes its most favourable predisposition. The people’s trust in Party organizations and administration is partly reduced for this reason.

One of the best possible solutions is to practice democracy in the Party and society in all working fields, including theoretical and scientific research. The right to freedom and supervision of all citizens should be respected and ensured in compliance with what is stipulated by law. Every Party member as well as the masses can raise their own voices in detecting manifestations of power abuse or behaviours leading to it, corruption and law-breaking activities committed by power holders at all levels of the national political system.

When social issues are raised or when abnormal things, straying from guidelines or policies, are detected by scholars, our Party must take them into serious consideration to find out the truth, comply with the truth and protect the truth. President Ho Chi Minh once wrote: “Freedom of thinking – ours is a democratic regime under which thinking should be free. What is freedom? On every problem, people are free to express their opinions to contribute to finding the truth. That is a right and an obligation of the people. When people speak their minds, and find out the truth, the right to freedom of thinking turns out to be the right to freedom of complying with the truth”(13).

Listening to constructive criticism and feedback from the people, Party members and young generations, thanks to the widespread and effective execution of democracy, would help the Party and State organization to avoid mistakes in selecting the right people for the right positions. In other words, before and after considering and appointing cadres, it is necessary to listen to the opinions of both Party members and the masses about the appointed persons; it is necessary to ensure “complete freedom of expression for everyone, regardless of the right or the wrong”(14). Only by doing this can we bring about effectiveness and fight against degeneration, thus regaining the people’s trust in the Party.

In order to keep cadres and Party members from ethical degeneration, it is vital to pay attention to the true capacity of leaders of agencies and organizations. President Ho Chi Minh asserted that “cadres are the root of every work”; “everything will become successful or unsuccessful largely due to good or bad cadres. That is a fact”(15). Leaders of agencies and organizations should not only have adequate professional capacities, moral qualifications, and a good heart and vision, but also enact fair treatment towards subordinates both in gains and obligations. If the leaders show manifestations of bias, or favour flattery while victimizing and rejecting sincere and constructive opinions, they are suffering from “narrow-mindedness”, which means that “they cannot know how to use talented people”(16). The factions formed by narrow-minded leaders would lead to potential instability and loss of solidarity within the organization and agency.

The loopholes in certain policies are making inequality increasingly acute. It is easy to understand why people have not been afraid to spend money on soliciting positions, power and jobs over the past years. They believe they will regain their “inputs” and make profits. That is why it is necessary to organize fair and transparent competitions of leadership positions so that talented people can obtain positions at the level of their capacities, thus preventing the danger of soliciting positions and power corruption.

Our recent economic achievements are worthy of our pride. However, it is time to pay attention to another aspect of this development. In society, especially due to the market economy, the gap between the rich and the poor has become a normal phenomenon. But the rapidly increasing the rich-poor gap in our country deserves our attention.

We wish for the emergence of many rich people so that the country may quickly become prosperous. But the issue lies in reallocating the achievements of such economic development equally thanks to appropriate policies. Without appropriate policies, two possibilities ensue.

First, rich people are not encouraged to make more money because there is no driving force for them to do so. If they are making money legally, then they should be encouraged. If not, even cadres and Party members holding leadership positions should be strictly dealt with by law.

Second, poor people who do not profit from the new economic development will have negative reactions. If their number increases, or if the people living in mountainous, rural or ethnic minority areas cannot improve their lives, this will lead to potential social instability. Therefore, salary policies should be developed scientifically to ensure equality and encourage talented people, as well as to avoid the danger of running for positions and power.

Proper social policies which care for people who rendered merits to the revolution, and the underprivileged will contribute significantly to reducing social evils and to gradually preventing and eliminating the factors causing the degeneration of social ethics in general and the ethics of cadres and Party members in particular.

Of course, methods of frequent political and ideological education should not be underevaluated but they should be practical, not elementary nor formalistic. Methods of disseminating and studying important Party documents should be improved in the current context of multi-formed media.

When the perception is not yet thorough, theories stray from reality, and many negative phenomena remain caused by degenerated cadres who are not timely and properly disciplined, the people’s trust in the Party will decrease, leading to the decline of the ruling Party’s persuasiveness and appropriateness towards the people and the danger of it losing its potency. Therefore, an urgent task in the current context is to have adequate viewpoints and effective solutions that may build the Party in ethical respect in order to restore the people’s trust and enhance the Party’s strength, thus promoting national development further.


(1), (13) Ho Chi Minh: Complete works, Vol.8, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1996, p.383, 216.

(2), (3), (11), (14), (15), (16) Ho Chi Minh: Complete works, Vol.5, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1995, p.262, 261, 249-250, 232, 269, 240, 238.

(4) CPV: Documents of the 6th National Party Congress, Truth Publishing House, 1987, pp.12, 26.

(5) CPV: Documents of the 12th Party Central Committee’s 4th Plenum, Internal Circulation,  2016, pp.31-32, 230, 269, 240, 238.

(6), (8) CPV: Documents of the 9th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2001, pp.76, 29.

(7) CPV: Documents of the 10th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2006, p.22.

(9) CPV: Documents of the 11th Party Central Committee’s 4th Plenum, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2012, p.21.

(10) CPV: Documents of the 12th National Party Congress, Office of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, 2016, p.15.

(12) S.Mill: Representative political regime, Knowledge  Publishing House, Hanoi, 2007, p.163.

Prof., Dr. Nguyen Trong Chuan

Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences

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