Two deputy PMs dismissed within anti-corruption push

06 Jan 2023

According to a government statement, Vietnam's National Assembly has voted to dismiss two deputy prime ministers.

Although analysts believe this latest move is part of a heightened anti-corruption crackdown, no explanation was initially given as to why Pham Binh Minh and Vu Duc Dam were removed from their posts.

No charges have been filed against either Minh or Dam, Reuters news agency reports.

In addition, the National Assembly approved the appointment of the environment minister, Tran Hong Ha, and the party chief of Haiphong City, Tran Luu Quang, as the new deputy prime ministers taking over.

Should these latest dismissals be associated with the anti-corruption drive, they would be the most senior officials targeted up to now.

Previously, the anti-corruption crackdown has resulted in the arrest of a health minister along with other prominent officials and diplomats. 

Pham Binh Minh acted as Vietnam's foreign minister between 2011 and 2021 and as a deputy prime minister from 2013, the Reuters report adds. Vu Duc Dam was appointed deputy PM in 2013 and is widely recognised for his work in leading Vietnam's fight against the Covid crisis.

According to an expert in Vietnam's diplomacy at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Carl Thayer, these latest dismissals could be linked to two scandals related to the pandemic. These involve the purchase of Covid testing kits and bribery reports over returning Vietnamese citizens who were stranded overseas.

At the end of last month, Vietnam's communist party removed Minh from the politburo, and both Minh and Dam were dismissed from the Central Party Committee.

In addition, the former Vietnamese ambassador to Malaysia, Tran Viet Thai, was arrested on Thursday as police expanded investigations.

Thai was accused of "abusing power in performance of official duties," according to a statement by the Ministry of Public Security.