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Background Briefing: Vietnam: Confidence Vote by National Assembly Deputies Carlyle A. Thayer June 11, 2013

[client name deleted] Q1. The State Bank Governor Nguyen Van Binh received 209 votes of no confidence from 491 lawmakers. He was the government official that received the highest rate of no confidence, but anyway narrowly escaped the vote of no confidence. Overall, what does this outcome mean for him and what does it mean for Vietnam's economy? What do you make of this outcome? ANSWER: Governor Nguyen Va Binh’s results are a disaster. Binh is likely to be replaced although technically he can still wait until the next vote of confidence in 2014. Q2 Interestingly, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung got the second highest rate of no confidence with 160 votes. What is your take? ANSWER: The Prime Minister received the third highest low confidence vote. The Prime Minister will stay in office, however, as just over two-third of deputies voted confidence or high confidence in his performance. Binh’s results, combined with the Prime Minister’s high vote of low confidence, indicates that the deputies are not satisfied with the handling of the economy. Q3. Any further comments you want to add regarding this unprecedented move? The confidence vote reveals that concerns over handling the economy within the Vietnam Communist Party that surfaced in October last year are reflected among the deputies to the National Assembly, ninety present of whom are party members. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung scored twenty-fifth on the high confidence vote. The average high confidence vote was 209 and Dung scored just above it at 210. Prime Minister Dung will be chastened by the result but will continue in office It is notable that eight ministers received a low confidence votes above the average of 99. Two ministers, the Governor of the State Bank and the Minister of Education and Training, ranked above the Prime Minister in low confidence voting. Three ministers did well in the high confidence vote: Phung Quang Thanh, Minister of National Defence; Tran Dai Quang, Minister of Public Security; and Pham Binh Minh, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Overall members of Cabinet generally took a drubbing while deputies serving in the National Assembly and on its committees did well. Eleven ministers ranked at the

2 bottom of the high confidence vote, while fourteen members of the National Assembly ranked in the upper tier of the confidence vote. While one confidence vote is not supposed to determine a minister’s fate, the results of the first confidence vote suggest that there will be ministerial changes before the current term in office expires in 2016. In sum, the confidence vote reveals that concerns in the party and the National Assembly over the handling of the economy will likely to continue until the current term in office expires in 2016. Q4. Other than the State Bank Governor, other ministers that received the low confidence votes are those at the helm of the public health care, education, and tourism and culture. Given this, is it fair to say that the public confidence in these bread-and-butter sectors is also on the wane? If so, what does it mean for Vietnam's development? If not, why not? Answer: If the high confidence and confidence votes are added together for each official and divided by the number of deputies who voted for each individual, the result is the percentage of total confidence votes received. The average combined confidence vote for all deputies was 86.51%. Thirteen ministers fell below this average. Four ministers received less than 70% of the total confidence vote: including the Minister of Health, Prime Minister of Education and Training and the Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam who is a member of the Cabinet. Two factors appear to be at work. First nearly half the members of the Cabinet (chinh phu) received low votes. This reflects on the Prime Minister’s personal choice of ministers. Secondly, deputies are reflecting society-wide frustration over the slow pace of socio-economic reforms. If Vietnam were a liberal democracy one of two things could happen. First the prime minister could sack poor performing ministers and offer a new reform program designed to address the complaints by deputies and the public. Second, the prime minister could be replaced or resign. Either outcome would hold out hope for restarting reform and developing the country. If the status quo is maintained it is likely Vietnam’s development will be hostage to underperforming ministers. Q5. Some have also argued that the vote results might not necessarily reflect the true picture. They say the lawmakers voted against the ministers of education, health, or tourism because these are the sectors that affect their lives the most so those ministers are very vulnerable to criticism. But on the other hand, the "high confidence" votes for some officials have raised public hackles. For example, vice house speaker Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan was chosen as the best performers but some critics say her performance has not been that impressive thus far. What is your take? ANSWER: Each deputy was free to make his/her own assessment of each government official. The controversial nature of some of the portfolios, such as banking, education and public health, may account for the low vote the minster received. But it does not account for the relatively poor showing of all but four ministers. The four top ministers who scored in the upper half of the total confidence vote were the Minister of National Defence (97.3% of the total confidence vote), Minister of Foreign Affairs (95.73%) Minister of Public Security (95.00%), and the head of the Government Office (94%).

3 The deputies gave high confidence votes to officials who held positions in the National Assembly most notably chairmen of committees, members of the Standing Committee. All National Assembly officials scored in the upper half of total confidence votes received. Mrs. Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, on the measure of total confidence vote (high confidence + confidence vote) ranked ninth (97.14%). This figure indicates her critics are in a distinct minority. Q. 6. Is it fair to say that a higher number of "low confidence" votes will have no discernible impact on officials' careers? What should be done to ameliorate the process in the future and what should have been done in hindsight to avert the "inevitable shortcomings" of the vote as house speaker Nguyen Sinh Hung put it? ANSWER: All 47 government officials scored above 50% in the confidence vote. Even the Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam, who came in last, received a 57.43% approval rating. This means that all ministers have passed this round. None will face dismissal when the next confidence vote is taken. This does not mean, however, that all ministers will serve out their term of office. It is ironic that the Prime Minister, who did poorly in the low confidence vote, has responsibility for reshuffling the Cabinet. We may have to wait until next year to see if the axe will fall on ministers who received the highest low confidence votes. At least the Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam should resign or be replaced. There is obviously a problem of how to interpret the confidence vote. First, there are 498 deputies yet it would appear that between six and nineteen deputies abstained on each vote. Only 479 deputies, for example, voted for the Minister of Information and Communication. What are we to make of these abstentions? Second, how are we to judge the high confidence and confidence votes? In my analysis I combined them. Who has the most confidence, the person with the most high confidence votes or the person with the highest total of confidence votes (high confidence + confidence)?

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TABLE 1 HIGH CONFIDENCE VOTES RECEIVED SORTED HIGHEST TO LOWEST
Name Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan Truong Thi Mai Truong Tan Sang Nguyen Sinh Hung Uong Chu Luu Phung Quang Thanh Tong Thi Phong Phan Trung Ly Nguyen Thi Nuong Phung Quoc Hien Nguyen Hanh Phuc Nguyen Van Giau Tran Dai Quang Nguyen Kim Khoa Nguyen Thi Doan Ksor Phuc Tran Van Hang Huynh Ngoc Son Nguyen Xuan Phuc Dao Trong Thi Pham Binh Minh Pham Xuan Dung Bui Quang Vinh AVERAGE Vu Duc Dam Nguyen Van Hien Nguyen Tan Dung Nguyen Hoa Binh Nguyen Thien Nhan Truong Hoa Binh Hoang Trung Hai Dinh Le Thang Cao Duc Phat Ha Hung Cuong Vu Van Ninh Huynh Phong Tranh Giang Seo Phu Nguyen Quan Trinh Dinh Dung Nguyen Thai Binh Nguyen Bac Son Vu Huy Hoang Nguyen Thi Kim Tien Position Deputy Chair NASC Director UB CVDXH President Chairman NASC Deputy Chair NASC Minister of National Defence Deputy Chair NASC Director UB Phap luat Director Cong tac dai bieu Chu niem UB Tai chinh-ngan sach Chu niem VPQH Director UB Kinh Te Minister of Public Security Director UB Quoc Phong An Ninh Vice President Chairman Hoi dong dan toc Director UB Doi Ngoai Deputy Chair NASC Deputy Prime Minister Director UB VH GD TN TN&ND Minister of Foreign Affairs Director UB KHCN&MT Minister of Planning & Development Minister chu niem VPCP Director UB Tu phap Prime Minister Vien truong VKSND toi cao Deputy Prime Minister Chanh an TAND toi cao Deputy Prime Minister Minister Transport Minister Agriculture Rural Development Minister of Justice Deputy Prime Minister Inspector General Chairman Ethnic Affairs Committee Minister Science and Technology Minister Construction Minister Home Affairs Minister Information and Communications Minister Industry and Trade Minister of Health High Confidence 372.00 335.00 330.00 328.00 323.00 323.00 322.00 294.00 292.00 291.00 286.00 273.00 273.00 267.00 263.00 260.00 253.00 252.00 248.00 241.00 238.00 234.00 231.00 274.60 215.00 210.00 210.00 198.00 196.00 195.00 186.00 186.00 184.00 176.00 167.00 164.00 158.00 133.00 131.00 125.00 121.00 112.00 108.00

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Pham Thi Hai Chuyen Hoang Tuan Anh Nguyen Van Binh Pham Vu Luan Nguyen Minh Quang Minister Labor, War Invalids Social Affairs Minister Culture Sports Tourism Governor State Bank of Vietnam Minister Education & Training Minister Natural Resources Environment 105.00 90.00 88.00 86.00 83.00

NASC = National Assembly Standing Committee

6 TABLE 2 LOW CONFIDENCE VOTES RECEIVED SORTED HIGHEST TO LOWEST
Name Nguyen Van Binh Pham Vu Luan Nguyen Tan Dung Nguyen Thi Kim Tien Vu Huy Hoang Hoang Tuan Anh Pham Thi Hai Chuyen Nguyen Minh Quang Trinh Dinh Dung Dinh Le Thang Nguyen Thai Binh Huynh Phong Tranh Nguyen Bac Son Nguyen Thien Nhan Giang Seo Phu Vu Van Ninh Cao Duc Phat Bui Quang Vinh Hoang Trung Hai Nguyen Quan Ha Hung Cuong Nguyen Xuan Phuc Truong Hoa Binh Vu Duc Dam Ksor Phuc Nguyen Van Hien Truong Tan Sang Nguyen Sinh Hung Tong Thi Phong Tran Dai Quang AVERAGE Nguyen Hoa Binh Pham Xuan Dung Huynh Ngoc Son Pham Binh Minh Dao Trong Thi Phan Trung Ly Nguyen Thi Nuong Nguyen Van Giau Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan Uong Chu Luu Nguyen Thi Doan Phung Quang Thanh Nguyen Hanh Phuc Phung Quoc Hien Position Governor State Bank of Vietnam Minister Education & Training Prime Minister Minister of Health Minister Industry and Trade Minister Culture Sports Tourism Minister Labor, War Invalids Social Affairs Minister Natural Resources Environment Minister Construction Minister Transport Minister Home Affairs Inspector General Minister Information and Communications Deputy Prime Minister Chairman Ethnic Affairs Committee Deputy Prime Minister Minister Agriculture Rural Development Minister of Planning & Development Deputy Prime Minister Minister Science and Technology Minister of Justice Deputy Prime Minister Chanh an TAND toi cao Minister chu niem VPCP Chairman Hoi dong dan toc Director UB Tu phap President Chairman NASC Deputy Chair NASC Minister of Public Security Vien truong VKSND toi cao Director UB KHCN&MT Deputy Chair NASC Minister of Foreign Affairs Director UB VH GD TN TN&ND Director UB Phap luat Director Cong tac dai bieu Director UB Kinh Te Deputy Chair NASC Deputy Chair NASC Vice President Minister of National Defence Chu niem VPQH Chu niem UB Tai chinh-ngan sach Low Confidence 209.00 177.00 160.00 146.00 128.00 116.00 111.00 104.00 100.00 99.00 92.00 87.00 77.00 65.00 63.00 59.00 58.00 46.00 44.00 43.00 36.00 35.00 34.00 29.00 28.00 28.00 28.00 25.00 24.00 24.00 46.25 23.00 22.00 22.00 21.00 19.00 18.00 17.00 15.00 14.00 13.00 13.00 13.00 12.00 11.00

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Tran Van Hang Nguyen Kim Khoa Truong Thi Mai Director UB Doi Ngoai Director UB Quoc Phong An Ninh Director UB CVDXH 9.00 9.00 6.00

8 TABLE 3 TOTAL CONFIDENCE VOTES RECEIVED RANKED HIGHEST TO LOWEST
Name Truong Thi Mai Tran Van Hang Nguyen Kim Khoa Nguyen Hanh Phuc Phung Quoc Hien Uong Chu Luu Nguyen Thi Doan Nguyen Van Giau Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan Nguyen Thi Nuong Phan Trung Ly Dao Trong Thi Pham Binh Minh Pham Xuan Dung Huynh Ngoc Son Nguyen Sinh Hung Tong Thi Phong Nguyen Hoa Binh Phung Quang Thanh Ksor Phuc Nguyen Van Hien Truong Tan Sang Vu Duc Dam Ha Hung Cuong Tran Dai Quang Nguyen Xuan Phuc Truong Hoa Binh Hoang Trung Hai Nguyen Quan Bui Quang Vinh Cao Duc Phat Vu Van Ninh Giang Seo Phu Nguyen Thien Nhan AVERAGE Huynh Phong Tranh Nguyen Bac Son Nguyen Thai Binh Trinh Dinh Dung Dinh Le Thang Pham Thi Hai Chuyen Hoang Tuan Anh Nguyen Minh Quang Vu Huy Hoang Nguyen Thi Kim Tien Position Director UB CVDXH Director UB Doi Ngoai Director UB Quoc Phong An Ninh Chu niem UB Tai chinh-ngan sach Chu niem VPQH Deputy Chair NASC Vice President Minister of National Defence Deputy Chair NASC Director UB Kinh Te Director Cong tac dai bieu Director UB Phap luat Director UB VH GD TN TN&ND Minister of Foreign Affairs Director UB KHCN&MT Deputy Chair NASC Vien truong VKSND toi cao Deputy Chair NASC Minister of Public Security Chairman NASC Chairman Hoi dong dan toc Director UB Tu phap President Minister chu niem VPCP Chanh an TAND toi cao Deputy Prime Minister Minister of Justice Minister Science and Technology Deputy Prime Minister Minister of Planning & Development Minister Agriculture Rural Development Deputy Prime Minister Chairman Ethnic Affairs Committee Deputy Prime Minister Minister Information and Commuications Inspector General Minister Home Affairs Minister Construction Minister Transport Minister Natural Resources Environment Minister LaborWar Invalids Social Affairs Minister Culture Sports Tourism Minister Industry and Trade Minister of Health Confidence Total 486.00 482.00 482.00 480.00 480.00 478.00 478.00 467.00 476.00 477.00 475.00 474.00 473.00 471.00 469.00 469.00 467.00 467.00 456.00 467.00 464.00 463.00 463.00 460.00 455.00 455.00 456.00 437.00 447.00 436.00 433.00 431.00 428.00 426.00 423.32 402.00 405.00 399.00 392.00 384.00 377.00 381.00 378.00 363.00 336.00 Percent 98.78 98.17 98.17 97.76 97.56 97.35 97.35 97.29 97.14 96.95 96.54 96.34 96.14 95.73 95.52 95.52 95.31 95.11 95.00 94.92 94.31 94.30 94.30 94.07 93.04 92.86 92.68 91.04 91.03 90.46 88.19 87.96 87.16 86.76 86.51 83.92 82.31 81.26 79.67 79.50 78.38 77.43 76.52 73.93 69.71 Category NA NA NA NA NA NA S M NA NA NA NA NA M NA NA SO NA M NA SO NA S M SO M M M M M M M M M AVG M M M M M M M M M M

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Nguyen Tan Dung Pham Vu Luan Nguyen Van Binh Prime Minister Minister Education & Training Governor State Bank of Vietnam 332.00 315.00 282.00 67.48 64.02 57.43 M M M

NOTE: Confidence Total is the sum of High Confidence plus Confidence votes received. Percent is the Confidence Total divided by the number of deputies who voted for a particular government official CATEGORY: M = All members of Cabinet holding ministerial rank including the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minsters. NA = National Assembly deputy (not a member of Cabinet) holding a position in the National Assembly, either on its Standing Committee or Chair of a National Assembly Committee. S = State included President and Vice President SO= State Other, included head of People’s Supreme Court and head of Ethnic Council

Suggested citation: Carlyle A. Thayer, “Vietnam: Confidence Vote by National Assembly Deputies,” Thayer Consultancy Background Brief, June 11, 2013.