Ngô Văn Sửu
Ngô Văn Sửu, former head of the Party Central Committee for Disciplinary Inspection Commission, speaks to the newspaper Khoa học & Đời sống (Science & Life) about Prime Minister Phúc’s order to prohibit the giving of expensive gifts for the upcoming Lunar New Year festival.
How do you respond to Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc’s order that junior government officials should not offer gifts to their superiors for Tết?
This is good news. It is an indication of the PM’s resolve to eliminate gifts to big bosses during the country’s biggest and most important festival. Let’s wait and see if the PM’s order is fully implemented. I remember similar orders being issued in the past, but implementation was very poor.
But, I’m pretty sure that gifts will not be given as openly as they used to be in the past.
But it is a fine tradition to pay Tết visits to the bosses, relatives and friends, don’t you agree?
Yes, I can’t agree more. But quite a few people have abused the occasion by giving bribes, for example, for blackmail and other nefarious deeds.
It’s high time for us to restore law and order. Tết is an occasion for people to pay courtesy visits to each other and wish each other all the best for the New Year. Of course, it is also our age-old tradition to give gifts to old people and children during the festival and wish them good health and luck.
Is the biggest challenge trying to guess what’s inside the gift wrapping?
Neither the giver nor the taker wants other people to know what is inside the package.
In my opinion, the giver should know that bribery is against the law. The recipients also know they don’t deserve expensive gifts so they should turn down the offers immediately. If the gifts are of high value, they should be regarded as an act of bribery.
I’m pretty sure that if the recipient rejects the gift, the giver would not dare do it again.
But for Vietnamese people, giving small presents/gifts to their bosses during the Lunar New Year is considered a courtesy and show of respect. If their gifts are rejected, can you imagine how embarrassed they will feel?
If the gift is a genuine token of love and respect for the boss, he/she should accept it. But if the gift is worth a fortune, the boss should reject it immediately. I think the boss would know how to deal with those circumstances.
Some people say that whether the PM’s order will be strictly implemented or not depends mainly on the bosses. Do you agree?
A saying in Việt Nam goes “a good beginning makes a good ending”, so I’m pretty sure that if the head of an office/agency strictly implements the PM’s order, the staff will not dare break the rule.
I’m confident that Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc’s promise of a government of constructivism and action will become a reality and the 2017 Lunar New Year will be a prosperous and happy year for all Vietnamese citizens. Junior staff don’t have to worry about how to choose “worthy” Tết presents for their bosses.
Paying Tết visits to their boss is a fine Vietnamese tradition. We should keep it up. — VNS