National Assembly deputies spent the whole day yesterday trying to iron out their differences over the draft Law on Associations. — VNA/VNS Photo Doãn Tấn
HÀ NỘI — National Assembly deputies spent the whole day yesterday trying to iron out their differences over the draft Law on Associations.
All agreed that the right to establish associations was one of the fundamental rights of citizens provided by the Constitution. However, some deputies said the law should only allow Vietnamese citizens to establish associations in accordance with Article 25 of the 2013 Constitution.
All the deputies agreed that the Law would not be applied to six socio-political organisations born at the time of the revolutionary period of the Communist Party, namely the Việt Nam Fatherland Front, the Hồ Chí Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee, the Việt Nam Women’s Union, the Việt Nam War Veterans Association, the Việt Nam Farmers’ Union and the Việt Nam General Confederation of Labour. These organisations are subject to their own set of laws and the decision is in line with the Constitution as well as with the historic development and political structure of the nation.
They also expressed their confidence that once the law is adopted, it will create a good environment for exercising human rights, including citizens’ rights and organisations’ rights. That’s why, they recommended “further study” and suggested the law should only focus on Vietnamese citizens’ rights to establish associations in accordance with Article 25 of the 2013 Constitution.
Many deputies expressed concern about the draft law’s rules on non-alignment - meaning joining foreign associations or receiving foreign aid - unless they are approved by the Government. Deputy Nguyễn Văn Sơn from Hà Tĩnh Province described the issue as “a coin with two faces – positive and negative”. He argued that many Vietnamese organizations get foreign aid for capacity building and other activities. However, he added, quite a few organisations have used the funding for other activities.
Deputies Cao Đình Thưởng from Phú Thọ Province and Nguyễn Sỹ Cương from Ninh Thuận Province asked the drafting committee to revise the wording of this Article to say that Việt Nam will not receive foreign aid if it is detrimental to the country’s political stability or law and order, but humanitarian aid in special circumstances is welcomed.
During the discussion about which associations will receive Government funding, most deputies agreed that only those established at the request of the Party and State and carry out activities assigned by the State would receive financial support.
Deputy Cao Đình Thường said the law should also have provisions sanctioning any associations that violate the financial rules in order to create a level playing field for all associations.
At present, Việt Nam has some 63,000 registered associations. It often takes about 60 days to process applications to establish a new association while it takes just three days for a new enterprise to get a license. The deputies all asked that the application period for licensing new associations be shortened. — VNS