Debates outside parliamentary sessions should be promoted

Update: June, 27/2015 - 09:32

An "open environment" should be created for lawmakers to debate important issues, Le Nhu Tien, Vice Chairman of the Committee on Culture, Education, Youth and Children, tells Tien Phong (Vanguard)

A debate took place recently between Transport Minister Dinh La Thang and HCM City People's Council Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Quyet Tam on collecting road tolls from motorbikes. It happened during a break at a National Assembly meeting. Can you comment on this?

I appreciated it very much. Both Thang and Tam stressed that they had the best interests of voters at heart.

The issue of imposing road toll on motorbikes has sparked a heated debate these days. Open debate and discussions are measures to help us find the truth, I feel. So I hope discussions and debates among lawmakers during breaks will become a normal practice in the future. Such interaction will help both the deputies and the voters to have an objective, comprehensive look at issues that they are interested in.

How would you respond to comments that debates during the NA sessions are not as heated as those that happen outside it?

As I said earlier, open debate and discussions will help us find the truth, and this is useful particularly for management agencies.

For example, at the Q&A session with Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, all those present as well as TV viewers agreed that it was irrational for a chicken to "carry" 14 types of quarantine fees or have them levied on the number of eggs.

Although the policy is irrational, it has been in place for a long time. Why? It is high time that the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development sit together to review such policies and eliminate them.

Though Minister Thang kept telling Deputy Quyet Tam that the toll levied on motorbikes for road maintenance would not be lifted, the latter replied, "I'm sure people in HCM City will not have to pay motorbike toll fees in the future."

These two stories indicate that discussions during the NA plenary and breaks are opportunities for deputies to reflect the voters' will and aspirations.

But how are we to create an open environment during and outside NA meetings for deputies to discuss issues until final conclusions are reached?

To reach that goal, it is necessary to create many more "corridors" or "environments" for the lawmakers to interact with each other. During my visit to parliamentary sessions in several countries, I saw hectic discussions take place during the break. So it is time for us to change – for the better. This notion that the National Assembly session is the only place and time to debate/discuss issues is outdated. I feel that discussions outside plenary sessions should be considered "pre-discussions" before issues are debated formally in the house. Furthermore, discussions outside the meeting hall in the presence of media indicate openness and transparency, while official discussions inside the meeting hall are often time bound and controlled by the chairpersons. So it is good for Viet Nam that more debates take place outside NA sessions. — VNS