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Vietnam’s New State President To Lam Vows To Carry On Fight Against Corruption

To Lam took oath as state President of Vietnam days after he was nominated for the position. As head of the public security ministry, he played a crucial role in the anti-graft campaign, aimed at hitting out at corruption. The anti-corruption campaign was called ‘blazing furnace’ and has seen some high-ranking government officials and corporates prosecuted or forced to step down, the most recent one being the arrest of Mai Tien Dung. The former head of government office, Dung was arrested as a part of the investigation into a bribery case.


The anti-graft campaign was launched a decade ago but has gained momentum recently in Vietnam. Earlier this month, the National Assembly voted to remove its chairman, Vuong Dinh Hue. In March, the Assembly had voted to remove the country’s president, Vo Van Thuong. Neither Hue nor Thuong have commented publicly on the allegations against them.

In the tightly-controlled one party state, To Lam’s election is also being seen as
a ‘stepping stone’ for Lam to later bid for the position of chief of the ruling Communist Party. After his election, the 66-year old said he would ‘resolutely and persistently continue the fight against corruption’. His elevation may mark the end of a difficult period for Vietnam where three of Vietnam’s top five leaders had to go due to unspecified wrongdoings.

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In 2021, during Vietnam’s Covid-19 lockdown, celebrity chef Salt Bae, (aka Nusret Gokce), stirred up a viral storm by sharing a video of himself serving Lam a steak adorned with gold at his London eatery while Vietnam was under Covid-19 lockdown. Even though Salt Bae removed the video later, it got widespread attention. However, when a noodle vendor replicated Salt Bae’s gesture in a later video, it was deemed ‘anti-state propaganda’ and the vendor was slapped with a five-year imprisonment.

The role of state president is largely ceremonial but is one of the top four jobs in the nation. The other three in the ‘four pillars’ are party chief, the Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker.

(with inputs from Reuters)