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08HANOI632 2008-05-30 09:11:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Hanoi
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1. (C) In response to "rampant corruption," GVN leaders have
undertaken a national drive to convince people to follow Ho
Chi Minh's "moral example." A central-level Party steering
committee, which includes several Politburo members, meets
regularly to assess the campaign's progress. However, CPV
and GVN insiders are skeptical the drive has had much impact,
telling us it is "form over substance." The campaign may, in
fact, merely be serving to remind Vietnam's citizens that
their current leaders' lifestyles are quite different from
their revered late leader's austere ways. End Summary.

The Ghost of Ho Chi Minh


2. (SBU) The Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) has expended
much effort over the last four months to get Party officials
and the public to follow Ho Chi Minh's "moral example." The
CPV launched the nation-wide drive on February 3, the
anniversary of the CPV's founding. A Politburo resolution
says the campaign's purpose is to "preserve moral quality,
reform manners, practice thrift and combat wastefulness and
corruption" among Party members and the public at large.

3. (SBU) As a sign of the importance the CPV places on the
project, it established a central-level steering committee,
which includes CPV General Secretary Nong Duc Manh and
Politburo members Truong Tan Sang and Nguyen Phu Trong, to
oversee the campaign and assess its progress. The CPV also
created committees in government ministries as well as at the
provincial, district and commune Party levels. All of these
committees are to increase citizen awareness of the late
leader's life by organizing Ho Chi Minh story-telling events,
sponsoring training on his "working manner," adding courses
on his "moral example" to high school curriculums and
promoting "criticism and self-criticism" studies among Party

4. (SBU) The national-level committee also has produced
documentaries about the late leader's life-style that have
aired twice per week on national television and organized
press conferences providing updates on the campaign, which is
scheduled to last four years (until 2011). In addition, the
national-level steering committee held a two-day conference
last February to review campaign progress. At this
conference, the Party highlighted the campaign's "successes,"
which mostly were just recitations of how many people had

5. (SBU) In commemoration of Ho Chi Minh's life, the Party
also put on several events across the country on May 19,
their revered leader's birthday. In attendance at the Hanoi
event were President Nguyen Minh Triet, Prime Minister Nguyen
Tan Dung, General Secretary Manh and National Assembly
Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong. At the event, Secretary of the
Hanoi's People's Committee and Politburo member Pham Quang
Nghi said the Vietnamese people had "inherited a valuable
heritage from President Ho Chi Minh: his thoughts, theories
and revolutionary ethics." In Vietnam's largest city, Deputy
Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Nguyen
Van Dua urged the public, in a City Hall address, to follow
Uncle Ho's example by putting "the nation and people's
interest ahead of their own."

"Form Over Substance"


6. (C) The Ho Chi Minh Political Academy's (the Party's
training ground for up-and-coming leaders) Nguyen Van Nghia
told us the Party launched the campaign in response to public
criticism about "rampant corruption" within the CPV and
Government. The Ministry of Culture and Information's Nguyen
Van Hoa and the CPV External Relations Commission's Nguyen
Van Hoa added that, while the CPV worries about corruption
because it hurts the Party's legitimacy, the campaign is
"form over substance." Hoa said war veterans, teachers,
students and Party and Government officials "seem reluctant
to participate." The general lack of enthusiasm for the
campaign and the fact that no one is forced to participate
make it easy "to see why not many people" are taking part, he

7. (C) Dr. Nguyen Van Thanh, Research Director at the
Government Inspectorate (GI), told us that, in carrying out
the campaign, the Party is trying to improve its image.
Ordinary people often associate Party officials with
expensive cars and large houses and tracts of land, he said.

HANOI 00000632 002 OF 002

Corruption is "almost everywhere" in State agencies, which
has led to repeated complaints to the GI, Thanh added. It
"makes sense" for CPV leaders to undertake efforts to get
Vietnamese from all walks of life to follow Uncle Ho's
example, he concluded.

Comment: Cynicism Abounds


8. (C) Party propaganda about the need to follow Ho Chi
Minh's example is ubiquitous in Vietnam. However, the drive
to get more people to act like their late leader may be
having the opposite of what Party leaders intend: instead of
burnishing the CPV's image, the campaign has reminded the
public that Vietnam's current crop of leaders have followed a
path very different from the one taken by their revered late
leader. End Comment.

9. (SBU) This cable was coordinated with the Consulate in Ho
Chi Minh City.