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VietNamNews

Constitution changes ‘advance human rights'

Update: March, 18/2013 - 10:21

The Vietnamese public has been invited to comment on an amended draft of the country's constitution. Viet Nam News reporters Phuoc Buu and Xuan Hiep spoke to people of varying ages and occupations about the draft.

Pham Thi Ngoc Han

Pham Thi Ngoc Han, export consultant at the non-profit organisation, Hinrich Foundation:

I think the amended Constitution is an important issue, and that every change to the nation's Constitution should receive a range of viewpoints from people from all walks of life.

This is the first time the country will hear from the public about the amendments being considered to the Constitution. I do appreciate the Government's effort to make our constitution more complete for the sake of the country's development, which indicates that the Government respects its citizens.

I was most impressed to learn that more emphasis will be given to human rights and citizen rights. However, the progress of making the constitution closer to real life remains slow. For example, the definition of human rights is not yet complete and is still restrictive in certain aspects. I'd like to see the constitution amended so that it allows same-sex marriage in Viet Nam, given the country is now more open about this issue. It sounds good that the amendment will seek to advance the principle that the people are the masters and that the State's power belongs to the people.

Pham Hai Chung, Ph.D student in media and communications, Bournemouth University, England

Pham Hai Chung

In my opinion, the constitutional amendment is needed. It reflects the natural process of development of the country, and the changes in thinking and views of the Party and the State towards socio-economic development in Viet Nam as well as other countries around the world.

The first Constitution was written in 1946. Since then, it has been rewritten four times to strengthen the Party's leadership role as well as to reflect the needs of all the people. The last revision six years after the adoption of the renewal process was approved at the 7th National Party Congress in 1991, which gave top priority to economic development.

After more than 20 years of reform, thanks to constitutional amendments, the country's socio-economic development as well as the level of people's education and awareness of fundamental rights of people of all walks of life have significantly improved.

Thanks to such improvements, Viet Nam became a member of the World Trade Organisation, a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and an important member of ASEAN and many international organisations.

Viet Nam has transformed from a country that is "willing to make friends with other countries in the world" to a country that is "willing to be a friend, reliable partner and responsible member in the international community," which shows that the role of Viet Nam has been asserted strongly.

I am hopeful that the new amendment this time will continue to create many more promising elements that further improve socio-economic development with the main goal of "democracy, justice and civilisation."

As I stated above, the level of our society today has improved a great deal; therefore, better awareness and a need to ensure the fundamental rights of people, including human rights, will be a highlight of the constitutional amendment this time.

The draft amendments to the 1992 Constitution introduced a special way to protect the Constitution, called the Constitutional Council. I reckon that a further in-depth study of this mechanism should be conducted to ensure its effectiveness.

I do believe that the implementation of such a Council will help us to better promulgate many of the State's laws and regulations, with many of them related to human rights and citizen rights.

Le Thang Binh, engineer at Hai Hoa Phat Trading Ltd Co.

Le Thang Binh

I'm very pleased to hear that the Government will listen to citizen comments and opinions about the draft amendments to the Constitution. This indicates a breakthrough in the development of the country's democracy.

I'm not sure if this will have a significant positive impact on the process of the constitutional amendment, as there are still many things needed to have a more complete Constitution that meets the country's socio-economic development needs.

The State should seriously look at the opinions from the people and consider them very carefully.

Regarding the amendments, I focus on only one essential point. We should consider that the Constitution is the most powerful force that can ensure all the fundamental rights of people, including human rights and citizen rights.

I totally support the Constitutional Council mechanism that protects the Constitution. With this mechanism, I am optimistic that all laws will be protected and better applied in reality and become closer and more relevant to people's lives.

I can see that since the 1992 constitutional amendments, much progress has been achieved in various areas, including the private economy and judiciary reforms. Yet many problems still exist that urgently require constitutional revisions.

Nguyen Huu Danh, lawyer, HCM City

The introduction in the amended Constitution draft should be re-written, especially the section about the sovereignty of Viet Nam over the Spratly and Paracels islands. Instead of saying generally, "the Constitution continues to affirm the strong determination of the People and the nation's sovereignty," it should say: "the Constitution continues to affirm the strong determination of the People and the nation's sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracels islands and other islands in the East Sea."

In Article 19 about overseas Vietnamese, the language should not refer generally to the State's creation of favourable conditions for overseas Vietnamese so they can contribute to the development of the nation. It should state more clearly the policy that defines responsibilities by the State towards the overseas Vietnamese community. — VNS


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