AFP. 31 January 2002. Vietnam number one orders rethink on capitalists in communist party.
HANOI -- Vietnamese leader Nong Duc Manh has instructed communist ideologues to reconsider admitting capitalists to the party just a year after the idea was rejected by top officials, state-run media said Thursday. Manh told the party's Theoretical Council to "explore if it is fitting to allow party members to engage in private enterprise," the English-language Vietnam News reported. A party ordinance has explicitly barred members from "exploiting their fellow human beings" ever since private enterprise first became legal here with the launch of market reforms in the mid-1980s. Party ideologues should review their definition of exploitation, Manh told Tuesday's meeting of the Theoretical Council. Manh's comments come as giant ideological soulmate China prepares to vote on similar proposals by President Jiang Zemin at a key party congress later this year. Jiang's proposals, made in a key policy speech last July, sparked outrage among hardliners in the Chinese party. They charged that capitalism was already responsible for rampant corruption in party ranks, which could only get worse if private businessmen were admitted. But Hanoi expressed great interest in Jiang's idea, even though it had rejected a similar proposal from within the Vietnamese party at a meeting of its central committee last January. "We pay great attention to China's new points of view and theories on socialism and the communist party," foreign ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh told AFP the following month. The Vietnamese party last considered admitting private businessmen in the run-up to a five-yearly congress last April, at which Manh was appointed to the country's top job. Party chiefs roundly rejected the proposal from its branch in the former capitalist capital of Saigon. The market reforms of the past 15 years meant ordinary people could engage in private enterprise, committee spokesman Huu Tho told reporters after the January meeting. "But for party members we must have some limits on their economic activity to ensure their quality." The ban has sparked mounting cynicism among ordinary Vietnamese as many top party leaders are reputed to have extensive business interests through spouses and family. The Ho Chi Minh City branch argued that party members should be allowed to "exploit their fellow human beings" under certain conditions. Those included that party entrepreneurs should not be serving government employees and should have their own capital, a professional qualification and managerial ability. The business they establish should also have a "reasonable" system for sharing profits with staff and should be in accordance with both the law and "socialist orientation." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Barry Stoller http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ProletarianNews