Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The National Assembly passed an amended Law on National Defense on Friday morning.
A highlight in the amended law is to level the playing field between civilian businesses and those that were set up by the army, many of which came under fire during recent years.
“There have been calls by lawmakers to draw a clear line between national defence and economic objectives for those businesses,” said head of the NA’s National Defence and Security Commission Võ Trọng Việt.
The Ministry of Defence is working on a process to restructure such businesses with a goal to reduce their number from 88 to 17.
“Once the process is completed, there will be no business units that are entirely economic-driven under the defence ministry, and those remaining businesses will be subjected to the same regulations and policies as their civilian counterparts,” Việt said.
The new law will see the army recall its investment from businesses it is dropping.
During previous NA’s meetings, lawmakers were reported to have voiced concerns over such businesses’ economic functions and whether they should be entirely focused in their national defence objectives.
Việt noted that those businesses are part of an important mission to maintain a foothold in remote areas, borderlands and islands, and to support ethnic communities in economic development.
Some of their projects are atypical in a sense that they may serve both civilian and military purposes if needed.
The amended law is a continuation of the NA and the army commitment made during the last NA’s meeting last July.
General Võ Hồng Thắng, head of the People’s Army economic unit, was quoted as saying the Central Army Commission’s stand was very clear that only businesses that serve both national defence and economic purposes will remain after the restructuring.
With an 88 per cent approval rate, the amended law, with seven chapters and 40 clauses, will come into effect on January 1, 2019.
Việt Nam Coast Guard
Lawmakers are working on a draft law on Việt Nam Coast Guard, the country’s police force at sea who maintain order and security and protect the nation’s sovereign rights.
They stressed the importance of a clearly defined function for the force, saying that while the coast guard has many tasks, they should only be responsible for a number of key objectives.
NA deputies also noted that the coast guard must work closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cases they see fit to seize foreign vessels and citizens of foreign countries.
Regarding the organisation of the coast guard, lawmakers are split. Some voiced their support for the force to become a branch under the Ministry of Defence while others said this may be viewed as a move to militarise conflicts at sea.
Deputies Nguyễn Phương Tuấn and Nguyên Minh Hoàng cited the example of the Chinese and Japanese coast guard saying that they have been organised as armed forces and such a move is necessary to improve its capacity to enforce the country’s laws at sea.
“The Việt Nam Coast Guard could be considered as the equivalent of the land border patrol force at sea. In cases of conflicts, they will be our first responders,” said NA deputy chairman Đỗ Bá Tỵ, “regarding its organisation, each country is different and we shouldn’t try to impose a model from elsewhere in Việt Nam.”
“The law’s top priority is to help the force grow and build capacity to carry out its missions,” said deputy Trần Thị Dung. — VNS