Party to address corruption and misconduct from its roots

July 18, 2023 - 08:28
The Resolution of the 4th plenum of the Party Central Committee (12th tenure) identifies nine manifestations of degradation in morality and lifestyle among some Party members. Major General Lê Văn Cương, former Director of the Institute of Strategy and Science (Ministry of Public Security), discussed this matter with An ninh Thủ đô magazine.
Major General Lê Văn Cương, former director of the Institute of Strategy and Science (Ministry of Public Security). — Photo

The Resolution of the 4th plenum of the Party Central Committee (12th tenure) identifies nine manifestations of degradation in morality and lifestyle among some Party members. Major General Lê Văn Cương, former director of the Institute of Strategy and Science (Ministry of Public Security), discussed this matter with An ninh Thủ đô magazine.

In September, 2021, the Politburo agreed to change the name of the Central Steering Committee on Anti-corruption to “the Central Steering Committee on Anti-corruption and Anti-misconduct". After two years, how do you feel about adding the term "anti-misconduct" to the current anti-corruption work?

In science, misconduct and corruption are two distinct categories, but closely related. There is no act of corruption that is not mischief. While corruption is undoubtedly a form of misconduct, not all misconduct involves corruption. Misconduct encompasses a broad range of actions, some of which may involve corruption and others that do not. In general, misconduct serves as the first step, closely related to corruption. Therefore, the Central Steering Committee for Anti-corruption has incorporated the term "anti-misconduct" for this reason.

Previously, our focus was solely on anti-corruption efforts, while overlooking the aspect of misconduct. The Party's new discovery and awareness led to the addition of "Central Steering Committee on Anti-corruption and Anti-misconduct," aiming to address misconduct as the root cause, in parallel with anti-corruption measures. Since the absence of misbehaviour will prevent corruption, it becomes essential to address both aspects.

During the process of building and rectifying the Party, new insights and perceptions clearly demonstrate the determination to prevent and combat corruption and misconduct. The scope and objectives have expanded, encompassing a broader range of misconduct that needs prevention and control. This comprehensive and focused approach ensures unity and inclusiveness, working towards the goal of establishing a clean and strong Party for the people and by the people.

Would it be correct to say that after many years of anti-corruption efforts without achieving the desired results, we have come to realise that preventing misconduct is the key to addressing the root problem?

Through practical experience, we have now transformed our insights into a theoretical understanding. Take, for instance, the case of Đinh La Thăng, where misconduct remained undetected for years during inspections and examinations. Similarly, in Đà Nẵng, problems arose among high-ranking officials for an extended period. If we take a strong stand against misconduct from the outset, major crimes can be prevented. Our Party's perception has evolved from practice to theory.

If we define corruption as the misuse of positions and power to undermine morals and appropriate state or public property for personal gain or the benefit of an interest group, then misconduct becomes a widespread issue, affecting even those without official positions. Misconduct, especially when unchecked, can lead to a decline in political ideology, eventually paving the way for corruption.

On September 10, 2021, General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng presided over a Politburo meeting to discuss the project "Revising and supplementing the functions, tasks, and powers of the Central Steering Committee on anti-corruption," emphasising the need to combat both corruption and misconduct. Party General Secretary Trọng highlighted that the fight against corruption is not limited to the economic field alone, but it is equally vital to address misconduct in the realms of political ideology, morality, and lifestyle. These two aspects are interconnected, as the degradation of political ideology, morality, and way of life can lead to corruption. This forms the very basis for our struggle. Economic interests are often intertwined with political interests.

On September 16, 2021, General Secretary Trọng, as the Head of the Central Steering Committee on anti-corruption and anti-misconduct, signed and promulgated Regulation No. 32-QĐ/TW, outlining the functions, tasks, powers, working regimes, and working relationships of the committee. This new regulation replaces Regulation No. 211-QĐ/TW, issued on December 25, 2019, during the 12th Politburo, focusing on anti-corruption efforts.

The specific tasks of the steering committee include directing anti-corruption endeavours and prevention of misconduct, with particular attention to combating the decline of political ideology, morality, and lifestyle among cadres, Party members, civil servants, and public employees. This applies primarily to leaders and managers at all levels within the political system throughout the country.

The steering committee is directly responsible for handling serious and complex corruption cases and other incidents that negatively impact the honour, reputation, moral standing, and role of officials, Party members, civil servants, and public employees. Such cases also erode public trust in the Party, the State, and the regime. The steering committee operates under the direct leadership and direction of the Politburo and the Secretariat.

Is it correct to interpret, as mentioned above, that preventing and combating corruption and misconduct is not about waiting for our comrades, teammates, and colleagues to commit a crime before taking action under the law, but rather about the need to prevent it from its very inception?

The interpretation emphasises the significance of preventive measures in combating corruption and misconduct. Similar to fire prevention and fighting, if we focus on effective prevention, the occurrence of corruption and misbehaviour will be reduced, saving both human and material resources that would otherwise be expended in dealing with other issues.

The reality is that wrongdoing doesn't simply happen overnight; it often develops over a long period. By strictly implementing inspections, examinations, internal management, Party work, and cadre management, we can significantly reduce the likelihood of a large number of cadres engaging in misconduct. The failure in the initial prevention phase is regrettable, as it led to the need for legal intervention and handling after the misconduct really happens.

However, the Party has shown a strong political determination to address corruption and misconduct from its roots. This commitment is supported by a significant number of people and reflects the genuine expectations of Party members and the public: to prevent these issues at their source and fight against them relentlessly. Corruption and misbehaviours don't emerge in a single day, month, or year; they may persist for five to seven years or even decades before coming to light.

In conclusion, the focus now is on comprehensive prevention and eradication measures, addressing both corruption and misconduct effectively, and employing all means to eliminate these problems within the bureaucratic system. This unwavering determination is driven by the understanding that lasting solutions can only be achieved by tackling the issues at their origins and persistently working towards the goal of a corruption-free and misconduct-free society.

To effectively combat these groups, simply adding the words "misconduct" to the name of the steering committee is not enough. There are still numerous challenges related to amending laws, adjusting mechanisms, and making other necessary changes to ensure a highly effective fight against corruption and misconduct. What are you thoughts on this?

Preventing and combating corruption and misconduct was a decision made by the Party, but the responsibility for implementation primarily falls on the State. To address the issue, which represents the initial stage of corruption, law amendments are necessary, including those concerning the Law on State Organisation, the Law on Organisation of Government, and the Law on Organisation of People's Councils and People's Committees at all levels.

One critical aspect of addressing these issues is the engagement of ministers, provincial chairmen, district heads, and commune leaders with the people. Regular dialogue and interaction with the public are essential, requiring them to be accessible and open to their constituents. Engaging closely with the people allows the detection of misconduct and corruption, as they play a significant role in monitoring and reporting such cases. Transparency and publicity should be mandatory for all public agencies to ensure their activities are held accountable and transparent in the public eye.

Creating a culture of transparency and openness is crucial in the fight against corruption and misconduct. When the public can observe and scrutinise the actions of public agencies, it becomes challenging for corruption to thrive. Additionally, it is essential to establish mechanisms that allow the people to question and oversee the activities of the State executive agencies. However, currently, it is difficult for ordinary people to meet with officials at various administrative levels, making detecting corruption and misconduct a challenging task.

In conclusion, merely adding the words "misconduct" to the Resolution is not enough to address corruption and misconduct comprehensively. To be truly effective, it requires a broader overhaul, amending laws, ensuring transparency, and actively involving the people in monitoring and oversight efforts. — VNS