thinking and policy. Has the group been doing a good job in this matter? If, so why?If not, why not?ANSWER: The VFF plays an important role in conveying the views of its massorganisations to the party and the government. It also plays a key role in theselection of candidates for the National Assembly. The VFF must operate withinpragmatic limits. It can convey policy suggestions and criticism to the party but itcannot confront the party. The VFF
s performance can be rated as mediocre at best.The real measure of effectiveness is the role of mass organisations. The VietnamWom
en’s Union scores highly
while the Youth Federation seems out of touch with
. The VFF has the unenviable role of ‘herding cats’ among it
smembership.Q4. With Nhan at the helm, is there any ground for hope that he would be able toinject new life into the Fatherland Front? Some sceptics say things could even getworse because Nhan, a Politburo member, would just make the Fatherland Front apuppet organization rubber-stamping all the policies of the Vietnam CommunistParty. Is that a fair criticism and what is your assessment?ANSWER: In Confucian times, and in present circumstances, a retired official of impeccable integrity was/is the best person to avoid a conflict of interest. On theone hand,
relative youth holds promise that he can bring the VFF into thetwenty-first century by inspiring young people in the various mass organisations.
There is a clear conflict of interest in Mr. Nhan’s case because as a member of the
Politburo he is a referee, as head of the VFF he is a player. On the other hand, Mr.
Nhan’s track r
ecord does not hold out much hope that he will be truly dynamic.Q5. What needs to be done to empower the Fatherland Front and give it moreteeth?ANSWER: The VFF needs to expand its membership to include more groups that arenot directly represented at present including non-government organisations and
people’s voluntary associations. The biggest single reform should be to make the
General Confederation of Trade Unions a truly effective representative of those whowork in the textile and garment industry, especially foreign joint ventures.The head of the VFF should be directly elected by its members not parachuted into
office from above. The VFF should take a leaf out the National Assembly’s book and
allow leadership positions to be contested by independent candidates as well asthose chosen by VFF-affiliated organisations.Q6. Can you elaborate on your statement,
The biggest single reform should be tomake the General Confederation of Trade Unions a truly effective representative of those who work in the textile and garment industry, especially foreign jointventures
. Do you mean that the Confederation has not done a good job inprotecting the workers who work in those areas?ANSWER: Yes, and that is why wildcat strikes take place.