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Confidence vote gets lawmakers' nod

Update: December, 04/2014 - 09:49

The confidence vote assesses the work performance of ministers, Nguyen Sy Dung, Vice-Chairman of the National Assembly Office, tells the Ha Noi Moi (New Ha Noi) Newspaper.

What do you think about the recent vote of confidence on positions elected or approved by the National Assembly on November 15th?

I think the vote of confidence has great significance as it reflects the power of National Assembly deputies and the responsibility of people elected or approved by the National Assembly.

In the November vote of confidence, the deputies acted responsibly. People with the lowest votes of confidence last time made great efforts and scored high votes this time, such as the Governor of the State Bank of Viet Nam and the Minister of Transport. However, some sectors have not improved much. This was reflected in their continued low confidence results.

Will you please elaborate on the objective and significance of the last vote of confidence, which also aimed to raise the alarm about those with low confidence?

Our vote of confidence is different from that of other countries. It should be interpreted as a survey and a warning for people with low confidence votes. Obviously, people who have low confidence will have to review themselves and make efforts to improve their leadership skills and work performance.

I'm confident that the Q&A sessions and votes of confidence will make the ministers concentrate more on issues that are important to voters.

Some ministers are very enthusiastic about their work but don't have the sensibility of politicians, so they argue that the vote of confidence is not really fair for them. What's your position on this?

In our governmental system, we don't make a clear distinction between politicians and civil servants. That's why many of our ministers do not have the skills of politicians. We often call them "sector leaders." However, in reality they are also policy makers and political officials. If we are able to differentiate clearly the differences between political officials and administrative managers, I think that our votes of confidence will be more precise and our administrative system will be more progressive.

If you were given the right to vote, what criteria would you follow?

I would express high confidence in those who are willing to take responsibility for their decisions, for the work they do and for the people's well-being. There are not many such ministers in our country.

When talking about responsibility, we often refer to legal and political responsibility. So what is the minister's responsibility towards the National Assembly?

A minister is a politician. They are completely different from administrative officials. They have to take responsibility for policymaking. They should not act as CEOs. The ministers' responsibilities include politics and accountability through discussions, debates and Q&A. The National Assembly acts as a referee to determine if ministers perform these tasks well. According to the law, those with more than 50 per cent low confidence votes should resign.

But in the last two votes of confidence, none of the ministers had more than 50 per cent. Does that mean all the ministers have good or high performance ratings?

I think that in the last two votes of confidence, none of the ministers received over 50 per cent low confidence as in our existing institutions, the ministers have been vested with many responsibilities as well as many restrictions. In other words, if they can't do what they want, they can't be blamed for everything.

In addition, our current vote of confidence specifies three degrees: high confidence, confidence and low confidence. The probability of low confidence is over 33 per cent. If the vote of confidence was specified in two degrees (confidence and no confidence), the probability of no confidence would be over 50 per cent.

What about the introduction of the "resignation culture" in Viet Nam?

Yes, the resignation culture is a common practice in other countries. If the minister receives no motion vote, he or she will resign. The decision to resign can increase one's personal prestige, thus boosting chances of winning in the next election.

But in Viet Nam, the situation would be different. Differences in culture and politics may be the key reasons that so far no minister has submitted their resignation letter in Viet Nam. So in my opinion, before we introduce the "resignation culture" in Viet Nam, we should further promote the ministers' accountability before the full house meeting. — VNS

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