PROJECT OF BUILDING A DEMOCRATIC REGIME IN VIETNAM

PROJECT OF BUILDING A DEMOCRATIC REGIME IN VIETNAM

Part I: A number of common concepts and observations

      I/ Common concepts
Political regime  is a system of institutions, values, and standards that form the organizational and operational principles of a political regime. It is the manifestation of elements of the political system at the higher level. It also is the political, social foundation that regulate the nature and content of the related society.

     Institution is the entire set of legal regulations on a certain issue.

     Democracy is the method to organize society with the highest capability to guarantee human rights and the wherewithal to defend such rights.

     Democratic regime  is the system of institutions, values and standards on freedom and democracy that form the organizational and operational principles of a democratic regime with the highest capability to guarantee human rights and the wherewithal to defend such rights.

      II/ Common observations

      From both the concepts and real-life observations, we realize that building a democratic regime is a major and very complicated task. Such endeavor must meet two important requirements: First, it must guarantee that the operation of the institution, represented by the state government, be smooth and free of obstacles, stagnation, and biases; Second, it must guarantee the respect of human rights and each individual’s ability to defend such rights.
In reality, as we know, currently in about 150 so-called free and democratic countries in the world, only people in about 30 of them are actually free. The rest are only democratic because they hold elections. There are two important reasons that have led to such conditions:

  1. The building of the democratic regime was not connected to the ultimate goal of guaranteeing human rights and each individual’s capability to defend such rights. In other words, both the theories and practices of building democracy in the world today have not been able to identify the institution that could directly guarantee human rights and each individual’s capability to defend such rights. Only when such direct and essential institution is identified and the democratic regime is build around that institution could individual’s freedom is guaranteed.

  2. The method of building the democratic regime, the steps to carry it out, and the preparation time for such task are neither proper nor accurate to ensure success.

      Therefore, a majority of countries could only fulfill one requirement in building democratic regime. That is the operation of the system of institutions, or the state government. Only a small number of countries fulfilled the second requirement which is the guarantee of human rights. However, except for the USA (which still have no direct and concrete institution), no country is able to achieve the most important part of the second requirement. That is the means for each individual to defend his/her human rights.

     This project of building democratic regime is aimed to overcome the shortcomings in the perception of democracy, the building of democratic regime, and the method of carrying out the building of democratic regime.

     We have researched and were able to indentify the institution of human rights court as the means for people to defend their human rights. In the process of building democratic regime and operating the state system, the tendency to violate human rights is unavoidable. Only the human rights courts with their adequate independence and absolute power, and with the victims’ proactive actions could defend human rights. To help the institution of human rights courts function effectively, we need other supporting institutions. Those are the institutions that equip people with knowledge of human rights, freedom, and democracy; institutions of information and legal assistance; and lastly, institutions that ensure free services to people who stand up to defend their rights. Those institutions guarantee even poor people could defend their human rights.

     In short, we need to add to the current method of building democratic regimes around the world a number of institutions. Among them is the core institution of human rights courts to guarantee the ultimate goal of a democracy – to ensure human rights and individual’s ability to defend such rights.

Part II: Building Democratic Regime – Content and Method

      It is necessary to repeat that our idea of building democratic regime is basically the same as the method currently used around the world. The only difference is the addition of the core institution and its supporting institutions. And some adjustment to the method being used in terms of timing and steps of implementation.

      I/ Building the institutions

  1. Democratic constitution

      Democratic constitution is the document that dictates the system of basic political principles to establish the government as well as to guide the life and the progress of a nation.The constitution is the fundamental laws of a country. It represents the aspiration and wishes of the vast majority of the population.a/ The most basic requirement of a democratic constitution is the announcement of human rights – the fundamental rights and the civic rights, and the most important institutions to guarantee and defend those human rights. In reality, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the accompanying covenants are the most complete document on human rights. The democratic constitution can make use of that universally-valued document. The democratic constitution should also announce the most important institution that most directly guarantee individual’s human rights – the institution of Human Rights Courts.b/ The democratic constitution announces those important institutions as the foundation to build the democratic regime, such as the Separation of the Three Branches of Government, Multi-party Pluralism, Market Economy, Federal Government (Division of Power), Free Election and Candidacy, Freedom of Expression, etc.c/ Some important characteristics a democratic constitution must have: – The democratic constitution must be stable but not immobile. Stability is extremely important because the constitution is the most fundamental laws of society. Any changes in its content could bring chaos in national activities and disruptions in many projects. Only with stability could people invest in the future. On the other hand, stability must not mean immobile. The constitution must adapt to the changes of the era. We should neither amend the constitution arbitrarily nor set a lock on the door for necessary amendments. – The democratic constitution should aim for full emergence and globalization in the future. The process of globalization had started and went through high and low periods, and have become irreversible. A modern constitution needs to be ready to join the rest of humankind economically, culturally, socially, and politically.

  1. Three branches of government

      The institution of 3 independent branches  is fundamental to the building of a democratic  government. This institution appears at the same time with democratic government. Before that time, all powers had been concentrated in the hand of an individual or a small group. Such concentration of power led to dictatorial and autocratic governments. At the same time, state power, according to many studies, tends to self-expand and self-intensify its role. Power naturally leads to abuse regardless of localities and ownership. The separation of power for the  necessity of preventing dictatorship and abuses of power is, therefore, very important.The principles in the three-branches government is mutual control and counter-balance to prevent abuses of power, dictatorship and autocracy. The separation of power must be followed by laws to force each branch to operate within its boundary only.The functions of each branch should be as follows:

  • The Legislative branch: Representing the wishes of the nation. It belongs to the entire population via the representation of the national assembly – the parliament. This branch issue national laws.

  • The Executive branch: Enforcing the established laws through its various departments.

  • The Judicial branch: Arbitrating conflicts between individuals and punishing the violators of the laws. Judges are selected from the people and can only issue judgments within the laws. This branch also interprets the laws.

     It is important to set reasonable balance among the three branches to avoid domination of one over the others, and also to prevent collusion between them. The world already has plenty of experiences in those matters.

  1. Multi-party Pluralism

      Pluralism in politics should mean multiple idealisms. Idealism is the system of perceptions to explain the presence and direct the future. Pluralism, therefore, affords multiple ways to explain presence and direct future. The institution of pluralism consists of the recognition of multiple social tendencies, multiple ways to view current reality, and multiple methods to build and develop society.Multi-party system is the actualization of pluralism. Each party represents a different idealism. The parties contrast their idealism and compete to hold the power of government. The parties also apply their idealism to the direction of the nation, the operation and management of the government.A political party is an association of people that subscribe to the same idealism, try to obtain power through elections to develop the country and run the government according to its plans. A democracy recognizes and accepts multiple ways and methods to develop the country and run the government for the advancement of society. Political parties, in each election, must attract voters by representing the interests of the majority of the people. For that reason, the institution of multi-party pluralism contribute to the building of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Furthermore, opposition parties are also the balance forces that monitor and point out the shortcomings of the parties in power so that the government machinery can be more and more effective and flawless.In its operation, each party can be financed by various companies and commercial entities. There must be legal oversight to avoid distortion of party activities, particularly regulations for political party’s fund raising.

  1. Election

     Election is the process to form people’s decision in choosing officials for government positions. Election is the legal basis for the formation of entities representing the power of the government.

  • Principles of election:

    • General election: The power to vote is given to all adults regardless of races, genders, social standings, religions, education levels, duration of residency.

    • Equality: All citizens have equal opportunity to participate in election. All forms of discrimination are forbidden. Each person has one vote and all votes have the same value, regardless of genders, social standings, religions, etc.

    • Direct election: Each citizen directly express his/her wishes via the ballot. The citizens directly select their representatives without any buffers.

    • Voting privacy: Nobody is allowed to know or interfere with the act of filling the ballot of each citizen to guarantee his/her total freedom to select.

      The institution of election not only guarantees the best candidates for the government offices but also reflects the wishes of the population regarding the programs of the political parties for each period.

  1. Market economy

      In the market economy, the buyers and sellers affect one another according to the rule of supply and demand. Such rule will decide both the price and the quantities of products and services produced in the market.The institution of market economy guarantee the right of private ownership – a fundamental human right. Without the right of private ownership, all other rights are not feasible. People need the right of ownership to maintain their very lives. Those who produce but cannot keep their products must be slaves. From another corner, market economy is the economic system to guarantee each individual’s freedom in doing business.The institution of market economy must have the following characteristics:a/ Fundamental conditions of market economyFirst and foremost, an effective market economy must respect a number of fundamental rules. Should these rules be violated, the whole system would be distorted. – Private ownership of means of production. In books on market economy, not many authors discuss this topic. The reason is in capitalist countries – where these books were written –  private ownership of means of production is obvious, without question. Within this area, private ownership of land is very important. It is not only a major part of the market economy but also the important catalyst for other economic activities. – Allowing the market to decide the price of all items in the economy. Letting the rule of supply and demand decide prices is important to the effective distribution of capital, labor, and technologies. Any interference on the setting of prices beside the rule of supply and demand will distort the entire process of manufacturing and commerce of the economy. – The mutual connection between the amount of money issued and circulated, and the amount of products produced in an economy must be strictly observed. An excessive printing of money will lead to severe inflation and cause great disorder in manufacturing and commerce.b/ Institutionalized environment for market economyBeside preserving the above conditions, it is equally important to institutionalize an environment suitable to the activities of the whole economy. This task include the building of a body of laws, operational regulations, and social structure around economic activities. The most important elements of this environment are: – The integrity, transparency, and openness of information. We all know the importance of information for companies to make business decisions. Without adequate, truthful, objective information, most companies would dare to invest further. And if  the absence of  useable information prolongs, business failure is unavoidable. – A level playing field for all economic sections, companies, and individual participants in the market economy. This task is required of all governments that desire an expanding and effective market economy – A healthy environment for social activities alongside economic ones. Legal framework and education programs are  needed to curtail or outright prevent corruption which bleed away the strength of any economies.Next to those elements, the task of balancing the markets – capital, labor, real estate, …- is also important.c/ Government policiesThe government must carry out economic policies to smooth out the cyclical effects of the economy as well as achieve the set goals for each period, such as the monetary policy to control the amount of money in circulation; the budgetary policy to control government expenditure which could affect private sector investment; the policy to subsidize farmers; the policy on export-import; etc. These economic policies must always be based on (1) Real needs of the market while not violating the principles and rules of the market economy; (2) Transparency, uniformity, and stability.

  1. Freedom of speech

      Freedom of speech is the right to express one’s thought without censure or restriction. This right is the same as the Freedom of expression.Freedom of speech is recognized as a fundamental human right in the 19 article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international covenants.In this era of information technology, freedom of speech is known to cover not only the right to express and distribute information and thought but also the following:

  • The right to seek information and ideas

  • The right to receive information and ideas

  • The right to share information and ideas

     Freedom of speech is applied to all means of communication including speech, writing, printed material, internet posting, and artistic expressions. Freedom of speech, therefore, involves both the content and the means of expression.

  1. Federal government – a form of power distribution

    The institution of federal government divide government power along the vertical system while maximizing the potential of areas, localities with different geographical, economical, and societal conditions within the country. This important institution has not been recognized adequately and accurately. It currently exists in just about 30 democratic countries. Fundamentally, the federal government has the following advantages: – First, federal government is a guarantor for democracy. The state cannot become dictatorial because its power is limited to areas of economy, culture and social activities. It is monitored and could be penalized by the central government. In the opposite direction, the central government cannot become dictatorial either because most of people activities are in the hands of state government. If the central government lost people trust it will be replaced. The central government cannot force people to its will. Such mutual check and control ensure democracy. – Second, this system maximizes the potential of localities and cut down bureaucracy. In economic activities, applications can be approved at state level instead of federal save time and cost. State and local governments can be informed and come up with plans to deal with problems much faster. If all issued were sent to the central government, those of major states and cities will dominate the attention of the federal government while others would be left out. The distribution of power also contributes decidedly to the stability of the nation. Most problems are localized and dealt with locally. Furthermore, it helps the nation implement major reform without falling into chaos. – Third, distribution of power reduces conflict among political parties, ensure harmony among people and civilized political activities. A political party might hold federal power but play opposition roles in many states. The conflict between the government and the opposition is also less intense.To implement successfully the institution of federal government, the following conditions are needed: First, each area or state must be able to stand on its own feet in term of survival and development. In other words, it must have adequate population, land, natural resources and geographical condition; Second, distribution of power does not encourage secession. To avoid this problem, state authorities must be limited. State cannot have its own armed forces. State laws must not contradict federal laws. State cannot issue its own money, hold political referendum, or sign agreements between states, … For further discussion, please consult book To Quoc An Nan by Nguyen Gia Kieng.

      Above are the most important and must-have institutions in building democratic systems. However, as stated earlier, these institutions are just to ensure the smooth operation of the government system and keep it from bias and abuse of power. The violation of human rights is still not and can not be solved with just those institutions. There must be a direct institution for individuals to defend their human rights. We would like to present the institution of Human rights Court and its supporting institutions to increase its effectiveness.

     II/ Institution of Human Rights Courts and its supporting Institutions

  1. Institution of Human Rights Courts

      Human Rights Court is the office that holds trials of violation of human rights by  individuals, groups, organizations, governments against individuals or other groups. The institution of Human Rights Courts guarantee human rights and each individual’s abilities to defend such rights. In other words, it is the institution to guarantee human freedom.a/ Why the need for the institution of Human Rights Courts? – Guaranteeing and defending human rights are of utmost importance and yet there is no direct institution to carry out this task. Some human rights and civic rights are taken care of by some institutions, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, private ownership in market economy, etc. But in general, there is no direct institution to guarantee and defend all human rights. – The process of building democratic systems is very complicated, difficult, and unprecedented in countries where they are started. In that process, laws were yet written; human rights are yet identified in each area of daily lives. Violation of human rights, therefore, is unavoidable. – Even in countries with established democratic institutions, the issues of human rights in daily lives are very complicated and not yet fully covered by laws. When related incidents take place, people do not have standardized system to adjust to. Violations of human rights, as a result, continue to occur, even unintentionally. – It is only natural for individuals and offices holding power to abuse their authorities. The absence of concrete regulations regarding human rights in each area and facet of real daily lives will allow violation of human rights to take place – intentionally for the benefits of the violators.b/ What issues will be solved by the institution of Human Rights Courts – First of all, it set the legal foundation to guarantee and defend human rights completely, concretely, and directly. The existence of the Human Rights Courts signify the implementation of standardized laws relating to human rights in real life. This system of standardized laws on human rights will respond to the following questions: What are human rights? What are the manifestations of human rights in each area of daily life? What is a violation of human rights? Where should one go when violation of human rights occurs? … – It is the basis to solve problems encountered by other institutions. While building the democratic system various institutions will face difficulties because they cannot cover all facets of real life. In trying to solve those difficulties, if there are no standardized laws on human rights, it is quite easy to violate human rights. On the other hand, with the existence of standardized laws on human rights, people can feel at ease to work on the problems without worries of violating human rights. People with power have no chance to abuse their power for benefits and later cover up with other laws. – It is the establishment of the institution of Human Rights Courts and the attention given to it is enough to warn and remind the entire political system, and therefore, contribute to the operation and defense of human freedom.In short, once the institution of Human Right Courts and its supporting institutions are established and operate effectively, we will ensure human freedom. And only when people have their freedom, could we have the basis to carry out other tasks, including the building of the democratic system. Freedom is also the basis for creativity, new values, and society advancement.c/ Organization and operationHuman Rights Courts is a brand new institution and yet the most important. It, therefore, deserves a central location – within the system of Constitution Courts. Such arrangement would mean the Constitution Courts of democratic countries will no longer consist of just one court but are systems of courts down to the layers of states and localities. At the national or federal level, the name could remain Constitution Courts. At the state and locality level, they should be called Human Rights Courts and will only try cases relating to human rights violation. The functions of the federal Constitution Courts remain the same with the addition responsibility to try cases of human rights violation at the national level, and supervising the vertical system of state and localities human rights courts.To successfully build the Human Rights Courts and the enforcement system, we need the following tasks: – Ensuring the complete independence and absolute power based on the constitution for the judicial branch in general and for the Human Rights Courts in particular. Without such independence and absolute power of the Human Rights Courts, we cannot talk about people’s capabilities to defend their human rights. – Building the ranks of independent and professional human rights lawyers to assist in legal matters and to participate in the defense of citizens’ human rights.

  1. Equipping people with knowledge of human rights, freedom and democracy

     There are two reasons for this need. First, in any theories on democracy, it is the people that build democratic system, but in reality, probably people haven’t participated properly in any country at all. In other words, people rarely have adequate knowledge and information to choose worthwhile representatives, or to make their wished reflected in government institutions, directions, and policies. Therefore, it is necessary to equip people adequately so they can participate in the process of building the democratic system. Without this step, the building of democracy only borrow the name of the people.Second, even more importantly, the institution of Human Rights Courts only provide the means for citizens to defend their human rights should violation takes place. People have to do it themselves. For that reason, people must know and understand their rights, how they were violated, how and where to demand redress. Equipping people with knowledge on human rights, freedom, and democracy is therefore utmost important so that they can make use of the Human Rights Courts.The education of the population on democracy should initially be carried out by a single organ with offices at the central down to local levels. This organ is charged with the task of distributing information on important matters of the nation and of legal assistance. Such organ could be called the Center for Information on Human Rights and Legal Assistance with the following functions:

  • Distributing information on the nation, political parties, general state of the nation, regions, and localities.

  • Equipping people with knowledge on human rights, freedom, and democracy.

  • Assisting people in legal matters to defend their human rights.

     This organ has the responsibility to inform, to bring knowledge to each citizen in all districts, villages across the country. No citizens are left behind.Once the democratic system is established and goes into operation, the task of educating people on democracy is shifted to the education ministry and the schools. Schools of all levels, from elementary to high schools and universities, must teach and distribute knowledge on human rights, freedom, and democracy and the method of building democracy. Students must understand and  remember their rights as well as do the table of multiplication!We must carry out this task as an institution. Only with an organ in charge, budget, officials, monitoring could we be successful in this task. If we don’t carry out this important task as an institution, it will affect people’s perception, their abilities to defend their human rights, and their freedom.

  1. Free of charge for the plaintiff in cases of human rights violation

     When the victims of violation of human rights carry out their right to defend their human rights in a lawsuit against individuals, groups, or government departments, organizations, they must be able to do it totally free of charges. The victims are usually poor and have no means to raise their voices. They don’t have money to pay for the proceedings. The best help for them is to eliminate all relating cost. Not just the trial fee, the plaintiffs are also assigned free lawyers from the Center for Information on Human Rights and Legal Assistance. This center always has human rights lawyers to participate in the proceedings on behalf of the victims. The accused of violations of human rights, however, if convicted will have to pay court fees as specified.This is an important institution. It cannot be absent in the effort to build the institution of Human Rights Courts. Only with monetary and legal assistance, could people defend their human rights. All of these costs will be appropriated from the national budget which is the tax money from the people themselves.

      III/ Steps of implementation and other concerns

     In the process of building democratic systems around the world, beside the lack of building the core institution, the steps of implementation also have many significant flaws. The preparation time is too short, in most cases, just from 6 months to a year. In this space of time, most countries hire foreign experts to join force with native scholars to draft the constitution and set a date for the a general election. Afterward, they start building the democratic system with the new national assembly and government. Such method and allotted time is only enough to prepare for an election and not enough to get ready to build a democratic system.The task of building democracy is totally different from that of issuing a new constitution or organizing an election. Most efforts around the world missed the crucial step of informing citizens of human rights, freedom, democracy, existing political parties, and the state of the nation, … Inadequately informed citizens, as a result, could not participate meaningfully in the process of building democratic systems and living out their rights.To properly prepare for the process of building a democratic system, we need at a minimum a period of 2 to 3 years to accomplish the following important tasks:

  • First, allowing political forces and parties to form. This important step require time for parties to register and make themselves known to the population.

  • Second, informing people of the state of the nation, of political organizations and parties, of human rights, freedom, democracy at the most fundamental level). This step is very important to help people participate in the building of the democratic system and to form basis for their action to defend their rights later on.

  • Third, paying special attention to the building of local democratic structure. This is the administrative units where people participate directly. This is another different feature from the method currently used around the world. The focus of building democratic system should be placed at the local level where people can participate directly, so that the laws guarding their human rights are most relevant to their particular situation. The world tendency toward globalization has lightened the burden of each nation and therefore also reduced the concentration of power in the central government in the building of democratic system. The building of democratic system at local level is therefore very auspicious in most countries.

Part III: Building a democratic system for Vietnam – The important characteristics

     I/The special challenges in the process of building a democratic system for Vietnam

    Vietnam is country governed by a communist dictatorship. But unlike the other communist countries such as the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries before the fall of the Berlin wall, Vietnam has a long period of integration with the world community. Vietnam’s economy has many exchanges with the other market economies of the world. Vietnam also has diplomatic relations with the international community. The Vietnamese people has keen awareness of the world status due to these open economic and diplomatic exchanges. However, in the political realm, the communist government has been successful in maintaining a one-party system of strict  dictatorship. Due to this strict political dictatorship and its interference with other activities in the Vietnamese society, the economy is suffering under severe stress to the verge of fiscal insolvency. Many aspects of the Vietnamese systems are already pushed to the extreme limit of despair, with a possible collapse of the whole communist system in sight. The harmful effect of a one-party system is that there would be no apparent substitute when the autocracy collapses.

      1/ The big challenge of the future: no apparent substitute of the current political force

     When a political system collapses, if there is a new political force that can take over, there will be less chaos and disruption  in the life of the country. A sudden political void in any governing system will lead to the rise of many harmful opportunistic politicians and profiteers. The current situation in Vietnam is that there is no counter balance to the communist party since the oversea pro-democracy groups are not yet strong enough to form a political base inside the country. Since the communist party is the culprit of the dire ills of the current system, it would have no role in building a new healthy political system. The oversea pro-democracy groups would not be able to quickly form a new governing system in place of the old one. Except for few democracy activists inside Vietnam who are aware of the pro-democracy movement, the people of Vietnam would need lot of time to build a new government. The various pro-democracy groups will have to cooperate and also compete with each other at the same time to construct new political institutions. This atmosphere of political “competition” is completely new to the Vietnamese people.

     2/ Shock of political collapse and unpreparedness for future political change

      Many Vietnamese people, including some democracy activists would be much surprised of the collapse of the communist system.  This is the normal human reaction to a monumental change in the political system. It is also easy to understand this potential shock in the Vietnamese situation because of many factors:

     – During the normal everyday life activities, the Vietnamese perceive the communist system as majestic and not changeable.

     – The Vietnamese people suffer from strict censorship by the government in the different aspects such as politics, economics, and social activities. In economics, the public information is censored and distorted, so much that the government explanation of the problems and policies are  elusive and absurd. The people may not be aware that the government confiscates many private lands without decent compensation,  hence creating  a group of millions of landless farmers across the country. The communist suppression of many religious groups creates many anger and resistance. The communist sybaritic behavior toward the Chinese aggression and expansionism causes much indignation among the intellectuals, the youth. All of these actions by the government create severe oppressive pressure against the society.

     – The most important factor is that most people does not believe that there would be any significant political upheaval in the near future since there is no apparent political challenge to the current government. It is believed that in order to have any significant political change, it would require a strong force of opposition that can topple the current one-party system. In addition, the Vietnamese people does not count on the fact that the mere exhaustion of financial resources to support the communist system would be enough to eventually bring its downfall. The people don’t realize the enormous significance of the exhaustion of financial resources that occurs at the same time with the distressful economic situation, with the total break of trust in the system, and with the  desperate suppression of many social classes in the country. This is the explanation that most people does not count on a near collapse of the communist system even when they are currently living in anger and dire hopelessness.
This popular Vietnamese psychology is a great challenge to the process of any hopeful change toward democracy. If the people has shock when political change suddenly comes, there would be upheaval that can cause enormous difficulty in building a new democratic system.

      3/ Lack of skills in the process of negotiation and cooperation

      Most Vietnamese people does not have the skills to work together in a collaborative organization. The political factions do not have the experience in negotiation and cooperation in common tasks. The Vietnamese people possess many great characteristics, but also has defective traits. The most significant defective trait is the lack of capability and skill to work in a common task. At the local scope, this is the lack of teamwork. At the larger scope,  this is the deficiency of an organizational culture. This is the most important weakness in the process of constructing a new democracy for the future. Actually, Vietnamese has been working together for a long time, for example in government agencies and government-sponsored civic groups. But all of these activities are under the communist control and coercion. However, in the construction of nascent democratic organizations, Vietnamese seriously lack the skills and experiences to collaborate. In addition, since Vietnamese in the country does not have independent political organizations, they do not know how to effectively discuss, negotiate, collaborate among the different political groups to work on common goals. The Vietnamese living abroad does have some political organizations, but their effectiveness and efficiency in collaboration have limited results after many years of observation.
With a perspective of our history, our forefathers did have experience working together effectively. For example, we had the village regulations and customs that made our system of local government function well. However, since the time of communist uprising and power consolidation, these village regulations and customs were regarded as feudalistic and were regrettably destroyed by the regime. Nowadays, since the start of the new policy of openness by the current regime, these local cultural activities and customs are being restored, accompanying  the spirit of collaboration and volunteering of the people at the local level.
The above discourse is just a high-level summary of the challenges anddifficulties on the road of building a democracy in the future. There are also other difficulties in building democracy such as the Vietnamese characteristic of factionalism, individual infatuation with personal fame, and the narcissistic pride. The other contributing factors to the arduous progress of building democracy are the limited knowledge of the people in various areas of education such as social sciences, civil policies, and public administration.

       II/ The concerns and needed actions when political change comes

     After analysis of the current status of the economic, social, and political system, many Vietnamese believes that there could be a near collapse of the current regime. When there is downfall of the regime, the most important thing to do is to bring stabilization to our country. We have no need to discuss again the steps toward building a new democratic system as have been mentioned above.
We realize that when the current regime breaks up, there would be no strong political group to fill up the void. Since the communist regime has many ubiquitous agencies and organizations that it controls, a collapsing regime would cause shock to the people and would bring total chaos to the country. The indignation among the people, the anxiety and fear among the communist cadres will make the turmoil worst. The communist regime has tried to prevent at any cost the formation of any political opposition, hence a total disorder would be consequential in the event of a disintegration of the communist party. Anarchy would reign the country until the various political groups could get together to negotiate and form a new provisional governing body. During this tumultuous period, we can not know what would happen. Even if there is extreme violence, no one would be able to help, unless the peace-keeping force of the United Nations decide to intervene, but this is unlikely. Therefore, a new provisional government has to be formed quickly. And the most important task of the new government is to establish order and to bring normalcy to people’s life.

     To establish order, it is required from the new government to identify the different factions in society and to recognize the root cause of the disorderly behavior. One of the factions would be the angry people who has been repressed and mistreated for so long by the communists, now rising up and would seek take revenge against the former party officials. The revenge and violence could drag on if there is no agency that can enforce law and order. Therefore, it is critical to have new laws and rules, new law enforcement agencies to stop the violence and vengeful acts. Another faction comprises of people who takes opportunity to commit looting and vandalism against other citizens. It is conceivable that many former communist cadres and government officials would band together because of fear of vengeance and to fight against the new ruling body. It is necessary for the new provisional government to have clear, fair and humanitarian policy toward the people who use to work for the communist system.
In summary, the new provisional government should do the following:

  • Publish its goals, missions, and its timeline of activities

  • Publish its progress, schedule, and its preparation for building a democratic system of governing.

  • Publish its policies toward the former officials and the actions of the previous regime.

  • Publish its task force to prevent act of vengeance and violence.

      In essence, we need prestigious leaders, a clear action plan with transparency, a well-thought schedule and milestones that are broadly communicated to the people to bring stabilization to the upheaval when there is a sudden disintegration of the communist system./.

Hà Nội, February 21, 2017

Nguyen Vu Binh

Translators: Vu Thach

 

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