Beyond Hanoi : local government in Vietnam
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Reproduced from Beyond Hanoi: Local Government in Vietnam, edited by Benedict J Tria Kerkvliet and David G Marr (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

Beyond Hanoi

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

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The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) was established as an autonomous organization in 1968. It is a regional centre dedicated to the study of socio-political, security and economic trends and developments in Southeast Asia and its wider geostrategic and economic environment. The Institute’s research programmes are the Regional Economic Studies (RES, including ASEAN and APEC), Regional Strategic and Political Studies (RSPS), and Regional Social and Cultural Studies (RSCS). ISEAS Publications, an established academic press, has issued more than 1,000 books and journals. It is the largest scholarly publisher of research about Southeast Asia from within the region. ISEAS Publications works with many other academic and trade publishers and distributors to disseminate important research and analyses from and about Southeast Asia to the rest of the world. The Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) is funded by the governments of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden via the Nordic Council of Ministers, and works to encourage and support Asian studies in the Nordic countries. In so doing, NIAS has been publishing books since 1969, with more than one hundred titles produced in the last decade. The Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies (RSPAS) is a prominent centre for research and postgraduate training on the AsiaPacific region. Priority areas of the School are Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific. The School has nine major disciplines: Anthropology, Archaeology, Economics, History, Human Geography, International Relations, Linguistics, Political Science and Strategic & Defence Studies. It is one of the four original research schools that formed The Australian National University when it was established in 1947. The Vietnam Update is a series of annual conferences by RSPAS that focus on recent economic, political and social conditions in Vietnam and provide in-depth analysis on a theme of particular relevance to Vietnam’s socio-economic development. In recent years, the Vietnam Update has been organized in conjunction with ISEAS.

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

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Beyond Hanoi Local Government in Vietnam

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

iv First published in Singapore in 2004 by ISEAS Publications Institute of Southeast Asian Studies 30 Heng Mui Keng Terrace Pasir Panjang Singapore 119614 E-mail: [email protected] Website: First published in 2004 in Europe by NIAS Press Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Leifsgade 33, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark Tel: (+45) 35329501 Fax: (+45) 35329549 E-mail: [email protected] Website: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. © 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore The responsibility for facts and opinions in this publication rests exclusively with the authors and their interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views or the policy of the publishers or their supporters. ISEAS Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data Beyond Hanoi : local government in Vietnam / edited by Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet and David G. Marr. 1. Local government—Vietnam. 2. Vietnam—Politics and government—20th century. I. Kerkvliet, Benedict J. II. Marr, David G. III. Title: Local government in Vietnam JS7152.3 A2B57 2004 ISBN 981-230-222-0 (ISEAS hbk) ISBN 981-230-220-4 (ISEAS pbk) ISBN 87-91114-55-1 (NIAS pbk) Typeset by International Typesetters Pte Ltd Printed in Singapore by Oxford Graphic Printers Pte Ltd

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

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Contents Preface

vii

Abbreviations

x

1

1

Surveying Local Government and Authority in Contemporary Vietnam Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet

2

A Brief History of Local Government in Vietnam

28

David G. Marr 3

Village Government in Pre-colonial and Colonial Vietnam

54

Martin Grossheim 4

Caught in the Middle: Local Cadres in Hai Duong Province

90

Pham Quang Minh 5

Winter Crop and Spring Festival: The Contestations of Local Government in a Red River Delta Commune

110

Truong Huyen Chi 6

Local Politics and Democracy in a Muong Ethnic Community Tran Thi Thu Trang

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

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Contents

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7

Local Government in the Exercise of State Power: the Politics of Land Allocation in Black Thai Villages

167

Thomas Sikor 8

Urban Government: Ward-level Administration in Hanoi

197

David Koh 9

The Facilitators of Rural Transformation and Development: The Role of Agricultural Extension Officers in Two Districts of Long An Province

229

Natalie Hicks 10 Ho Chi Minh City’s Post-1975 Political Elite: Continuity and Change in Background and Belief

259

Martin Gainsborough 11

Push, Pull, and Reinforcing: The Channels of FDI Influence on Provincial Governance in Vietnam

285

Edmund J. Malesky Glossary of Vietnamese Terms

334

Index

348

About the Contributors

357

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

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Preface When the word “Vietnam” is mentioned, many people still think of a war that ended twenty-nine years ago. Yet Vietnam, the country, possesses the second largest population in Southeast Asia and ranks twelfth largest in the world. Surely it deserves to be approached on its own terms, not as a foreign memory. A stern test of this prescription is to study governance in Vietnam. Undoubtedly, Vietnam’s entire political system was profoundly influenced by war and revolution from 1945 to the late 1970s. On the other hand, those western writers who labelled Vietnam “totalitarian” had very little to go on except their own Cold War ideological predilections, extrapolations from Stalin’s USSR, and Hanoi’s determination to portray Ho Chi Minh and the Communist Party as infallible. Scholars who rejected the totalitarian epithet for Vietnam still found themselves severely limited as to sources that might support alternative models. Fieldwork was impossible, archives were closed, provincial newspapers inaccessible. By default, the utterances of central leaders and public intellectuals dominated writings on contemporary Vietnam. And governance — being inherently political — proved more difficult to research in practice than economic, social or cultural topics. Vietnam’s research conditions have improved substantially during the past decade, with scholars able to reside in the countryside, some archival materials rendered accessible, and back sets of hundreds of local periodicals readily available at the National Library in Hanoi. Of equal importance, a new generation of Vietnamese and foreign scholars has emerged and is making its mark in PhD theses and publications. Growing up after the war, these young men and women are looking at received wisdom critically, asking fresh questions, and eagerly taking advantage of the wider range of study opportunities. We

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Preface

are delighted that a number of promising young scholars are represented in this book. While governance is the context for this book, it is still only feasible in Vietnam to examine certain aspects rigorously. Several years ago we identified two propitious elements. The first was organizations that claim to speak on behalf of sectors of the public, represent their interests, provide linkages between citizens and government, and sometimes enable people to hold authorities accountable. At the Vietnam Update in Singapore in 2001, we brought together scholars who had broken new ground on this subject, and the results were published as Getting Organized in Vietnam: Moving In and Around the Socialist State (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2003). The second element was local government and authority –– the focus of this volume. When papers were originally tabled and discussed at the Vietnam Update in Canberra in 2002, we found it refreshing to be looking at a topic from the bottom up, rather than top down, as has so often been the case in the past. Papers also revealed interesting empirical differences by locality, especially as between rural and urban, lowland and upland, and north-centre-south. Everyone grappled with suitable translations for political concepts and administrative terminology, which led us to include a glossary of Vietnamese terms, and to symbolize the language complexity on the cover. We should also point out that the chapter by David Koh on Hanoi focuses on neighborhood and ward government, not the central state. A number of individuals provided vital help with the 2002 Vietnam Update, the editing of chapters for this volume, or both. Bev Fraser and Oanh Collins have coordinated so many Update conferences so efficiently that participants are often blissfully unaware of how much work is involved. Stan Tan assisted with audio-visual equipment. Allison Ley edited the revised papers, Oanh Collins made the corrections, while Pham Thu Thuy compiled the glossary and the index. The Publications Unit of Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) manifested is usual professional talents and cordiality, notably the Managing Editor, Triena Ong, and the senior editor, Dayaneetha De Silva. We would like to thank the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) for its financial support, and give special mention to Patricia Dodson for her abiding interest in a whole series of Vietnam

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

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Updates. Prof. Chia Siow Yue, then director of ISEAS, also responded helpfully to our funding request. The Political and Social Change Department and the Division Pacific and Asian History, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, ANU, contributed resources as well. Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet and David G. Marr, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, ANU Russell H.K. Heng and David Koh, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

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Abbreviations AN AOM BATK BCDT BDTQLHTXNN

BEEPS BNN BNV BOT CG CIEM CRPTK CSOE ct. d DCSVN DOF DOI DPI DRV FDI FPHD FPND hs GDP

L’Annam Nouveau Archives d’Outre-Mer (Aix-en-Provence) Bulletin Administratif du Tonkin Bao Cao Dieu Tra (Inspection reports) Ban Dieu Tra Quan Ly Hop Tax Xa Nong Nghiep, tinh Hai Hung (Committee to Inspect Agricultural Cooperatives, Hai Hung province) Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey Ban Nong nghiep (Department of Agriculture) Bo Noi Vu (Ministry of the Interior) Build Operate Transfer companies Commission Guernut Central Institute for Economic Management Chambre des Représentants du Peuple du Tonkin Central State-Owned Enterprise carton dossier Dang Cong San Viet Nam Department of Finance Department of Industry Department of Planning and Investment Democratic Republic of Vietnam Foreign Direct Investment Fonds de la Province de Ha Dong Fonds de la Province de Nam Dinh ho so (file) gross domestic product

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

Abbreviations

HUNG IFC INCOM IPM IZ JV LLC LSOE MARD MOF MPDF MPI N Ph NA3 NF NCHC NCLS NXB p PA PCOM QH RSTK $ SAARC SMCI SCCI SOE SOM t/c t/c DTH t/c NCDNA TTg TTLTTUHD

xi

Huyen uy Ninh Giang (Party Committee of Ninh Giang District) international financial corporation industry and commerce Integrated Pest Management industrial zone joint venture limited liability company local state-owned enterprise Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry of Finance Mekong Project Development Facility Ministry of Planning and Investment Nam Phong (Southern Wind) Trung tam Luu tru Quoc gia So III (National Archive Centre No. III) Nouveau Fonds Nghien cuu Hanh chinh (Administrative Studies) Nghien cuu Lich su (Historical Studies) nha xuat ban (publishing house) phong (record group in archives) Pacific Affairs People’s Committee Quoc Hoi (Natinal Assembly) Résident/Résidence Supérieure du Tonkin piaster Small Area Administrative Representation Committee Standing Member of the Committee to Inspect Agricultural Cooperatives in Hai Hung province State Committee for Cooperation and Investment state-owned enterprise Section d’Outre-Mer des Archives Nationales tap chi (journal) Tap chi Dan Toc Hoc (Journal of Ethnology) Tap chi Nghien Cuu Dong Nam A (Journal of Southeast Asian Studies) Thu Tuong (Prime Minister) Trung tam Luu tru Tinh uy Hai Duong (Archive Center of the Party Committee of Hai Duong Province)

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

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TTLTUBNDHD

TVE UBCCRDTW UBHC UBND UBNDNG UNDP VBES VCP VNCKHTCNN VNQDD vv WB WPB WPSC

Trung tam Luu tru Uy ban Nhan dan Tinh Hai Duong (Archive Center of the People’s Committee of Hai Duong Province) town and village enterprise Uy ban Cai cach Ruong dat Trung uong (Central Land Reform Committee) Uy ban Hanh chinh (Administrative Committee) Uy ban Nhan dan (People’s Committee) Uy ban Nhan dan Huyen Ninh Giang (People’s Committee of Ninh Giang District) United Nations Development Program Vietnam business environment survey Vietnamese Communist Party Vien Nghien cuu Khoa hoc To chu Nha nuoc (The Scientific Institute for Study of State Organization) Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang (Vietnam Nationalist Party) vinh vien (permanent) World Bank Ward Party Branch Ward Party Standing Committee

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

Reproduced from Beyond Hanoi: Local Government in Vietnam, edited by Benedict J Tria Kerkvliet and David G Marr (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http:// bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

Surveying Local Government and Authority in Contemporary Vietnam

1

1 Surveying Local Government and Authority in Contemporary Vietnam Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet

The context of this book is discussions and controversies regarding governance in Vietnam today. Although an old concept, governance has attracted new attention among academics, development agencies, and government offices around the world. It means, according to one widely cited definition, “the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority to manage a nation’s affairs” and includes “the complex mechanisms, processes, relationships and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their rights and obligations and mediate their differences”.1 This highlights a feature in many analyses and uses of the concept: governance includes both government and citizens.2 It is a process in which government officials and institutions make and implement policies, rules, and regulations while at the same time being accountable to the public. Bad policies and poor accountability equal bad governance. Good policies and accountability mean good governance.

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The rhetoric of the Communist Party in Vietnam advocates good governance. Party leaders claim to have high regard for what people want and need; and they take pride in trying to make policy that serves the people and the nation as a whole. These orientations are encapsulated in such well publicized slogans as government “for the people, by the people, and of the people” (cho dan, do dan, vi dan) and “the people know, discuss, implement, and evaluate” (dan biet, dan ban, dan lam, dan kiem tra). At the same time, Vietnamese officials acknowledge considerable shortcomings. To improve the situation, they have taken numerous measures, among them national campaigns against corruption and for “grassroots democracy”. Foreign aid agencies have been giving considerable development assistance to Vietnam aimed at improving “governance” — both the ability of government to make and implement policy and the ability of citizens to know about and influence what officials do. Meanwhile, criticisms inside and outside the country range from saying that officials are not doing enough to contending that good governance under Communist Party rule is impossible. Although governance is this book’s context, it is too vast a subject to examine here. More manageable, colleagues and I decided, is to look at topics related to governance. We identified two and convened scholars doing new research on them.3 As the Preface explains, the first topic was organizations, for which a book has been published.4 Broadly, that study found that since the late 1980s, organizations have become much more numerous, many have considerable independence from the Communist Party and its government, often they serve members well, but government-imposed constraints significantly hamper their ability to counter poor policies and badly behaved officials. The second topic, local government and authority, is the focus of this book. The emphasis is on Vietnam during Communist Party rule, although we purposefully included examinations of the colonial period as well. Contributors were asked to probe one or more of the following questions: what local institutions and offices have authority to govern; who are local officials and how do they get their positions; what do local governments do and whose interests do they serve; and what do residents say about local officials and governing institutions? Some other research has also been done on these matters for contemporary Vietnam. The purpose of this chapter is to synthesize

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what that literature and the following chapters in this book say about those questions. I take in turn the first three questions. While doing so, I shall weave in materials pertaining to the fourth question on citizens’ views. Institutions In Vietnam, as in many other countries, talking about government and authority can become confusing. “Government” may refer specifically to the prime minister, deputy prime ministers, and ministers and deputy ministers of national ministries and departments. Often this is the meaning of the Vietnamese word for government (chinh phu) today. But “government” can also refer to the whole governing structure, which then would also include, for instance, the National Assembly (Quoc Hoi) and local governments. In Vietnamese, the latter are often chinh quyen dia phuong, which can be translated as “local government” but also as “local administration” and “local authority”. Authority, though, is not necessarily the same as government (nor is administration, which is frequently referred to as hanh chinh). The Communist Party has considerable authority, but in Vietnamese it is not included in the above meanings of government (although sometimes people do speak of the [Communist] party government, chinh phu dang). English speakers often talk about the Communist Party government, just as they talk about the Labour Party government in the United Kingdom and the Liberal Party or Coalition government in Australia today. Usage in the chapters of this book is not uniform. Readers will understand from the context what each author means by government, authority, administration, and the like. Indeed, context is what we use during everyday conversation, without usually realizing it, to understand and distinguish the various meanings of such words in Vietnam and anywhere else. In this chapter, government refers to particular institutions identified in Vietnam’s constitution to make and implement policies and laws. At the national level, these include the National Assembly, ministries (including the prime minister’s office and various departments), and the Supreme Court. The three, broadly speaking, cover the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of national government. But, as flagged above, authority for running the nation–state goes beyond government institutions. Consequently, to talk about government and authority, I

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add the Communist Party, the People’s Army, and the Fatherland Front (Mat Tran To Quoc) and the mass organizations within it (for women, peasants, workers, youth, and so on).5 Except for the military, these institutions or their equivalents are also found in the provinces (including cities) and districts (including towns and small cities). The People’s Council (Hoi Dong Nhan Dan), People’s Committee (Uy Ban Nhan Dan), and People’s Court (Toa An Nhan Dan) serve legislative, executive, and judicial functions, respectively. There are also branches of the Communist Party, the Fatherland Front, and various mass organizations. In addition, many national ministries and departments have branch offices at these two levels. In the third level down, communes (including small towns and wards) also have a People’s Council, People’s Committee, Communist Party branches, and Fatherland Front and mass organization branches. This level has no courts. Civil, criminal, and other legal issues that arise there are taken to district People’s Courts, or resolved locally without involving the judicial system. The army at the subnational level is organized according to zones (khu). Each zone is responsible for military bases and garrisons in its area. Provincial and district officials are authorized to organize militia and self-defence forces to bolster the country’s national defence system and to be available for armed mobilization in the event of an emergency.6 Handling law enforcement matters in provincial and subprovincial levels are usually local officers of the Public Security police (Cong An Nhan Dan). “Local” here mean four subnational levels of residence and administration: 1) province (tinh) and city (thanh pho); 2) district (huyen in rural areas, quan in cities), provincial city, and town (thi xa); 3) commune (xa) and small town (thi tran) in rural areas and ward (phuong) in cities; and 4) village (thon) and hamlet (xom, ap) in rural areas.7 To simplify the discussion, I frequently summarize these levels as province, district, commune, and village. Since around 1946, the province (or city), district, and commune (or, in a city, ward) have been the three official levels of local government in much of northern Vietnam.8 Each has had a People’s Council, People’s Committee, and branches of the Communist Party and mass organizations of the Fatherland Front.9 In the south, because of war (early 1960s–75), the situation was considerably more complicated. Since the end of that war and reunification, these three levels and sets of

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institutions have been firmly in place in most parts of the nation. The number of communes, districts, and provinces has fluctuated over time due to population growth and periodic amalgamations and separations. Provinces (including cities), for instance, numbered 38 in 1978, 46 in 1990, and 57 in 2000. Of these three levels, the lowest has probably been the most contentious unit of government. At various times, city leaders and academics have questioned the need for wards as a unit of local government. Critics have argued that district and city levels are sufficient.10 As for communes, in some areas, often among certain minority groups, they have not quite supplanted earlier basic levels of government. For example, in places where Muong, Tay, and Thai people reside, the commune has yet to replace entirely three older administrative units — ban, xong (or poong), and muong — which are smaller or larger than a commune. Consequently, administering the commune level of government in such areas has frequently been difficult.11 Often a commune includes two to five villages. If, as has happened in several places, those villages have a history of antagonistic or competitive relations, then residents are slow to accept and may continue to question the legitimacy of commune officials. This is particularly likely if most officials come from one or two villages while none or few come from the other villagers. 12 For this reason, communes often have developed internal agreements for distributing important positions among the villages or have asked candidates for an elected office to stand in an area of the commune other than where they reside. Another point regarding communes is that during the 1960s–late 1980s in northern Vietnam they had little purpose. Taking over most of their responsibilities were the managerial boards of the local collective farming cooperatives. Since the demise of collective farming in the 1980s, communes have regained their importance.13 The official status of villages (including hamlets) is ambiguous. While many have a party cell (chi bo) and units of some mass organizations, they have no People’s Councils, People’s Committees, or the other government institutions that communes, districts, and provinces have. Yet by the late 1980s and early 1990s, several villages and hamlets in the Mekong and Red River deltas and the northern midlands had a “head” (truong thon, truong ap, truong xom). Since then, the position has become commonplace across the countryside. A village or hamlet head usually

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has the approval of commune and even higher authorities. Yet no regulations specify the person’s responsibilities and relationship to the commune’s People’s Council or other government bodies. The result, says one observer, is “confusion” about the role of a hamlet or village head.14 A similar position in urban areas is the head of one of the residential groups into which many wards are divided. A group head has no official government status but often acts as the lowest rung on the governmental structure in cities.15 As of 2000, Vietnam had 10,390 communes and wards, 604 districts, and 57 provinces. According to law, the size of a People’s Council in a commune or small town ranges from 9 to 15 people, depending on population and location. The number of residents per council member in the lowlands, for instance, is larger than in upland and mountainous areas. Councils in wards have 19 to 25 members, depending on population. For districts and provincial towns, councils have from 25 to 30 members; for provinces and cities, the range is 45–85.16 People’s Committees typically have a quarter to a third the number of council members. I have yet to find the number of all other officials in each level of administration. Available figures for communes do not agree with each other. One source says a commune has on average 30–32 “cadres”; another says the average is 190 “cadres.”17 Besides incomplete information, the discrepancy is probably due to differences in who are counted as cadres (can bo). This somewhat indeterminate term can refer to people sitting on the councils and committees but may also include clerks, officers in Communist Party chapters and cells, local leaders of mass organization branches, and administrative personnel of national ministries and provincial or district offices assigned to work at the commune level. The key cadres (can bo chu chot), which I also refer to as key officials, in a commune or ward, or for that matter in a district and province, number about a dozen people. Among the usual key officials are the local party secretary; chair and vice chair of the People’s Committee; members of that committee in charge of finances and some other significant resources; the head of the local security police contingent; chairs of the local branches of the Fatherland Front, Veterans’ Association, Women’s Association, Peasants’ Association; and the secretary of the Youth League branch.18 According to the nation’s constitution and various laws, the People’s Council at each level “represents the will, aspirations, and mastery” of the residents there. The council makes decisions about matters concerning

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

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the area over which it has jurisdiction and in that sense is the legislative arm in each level of local government. At the same time, a council is also accountable to the next level up the tiered administrative system. Councils are not to issue resolutions or make other decisions contrary to the directives and resolutions of levels above them or contrary to national law. Indeed, each council is obligated to help to implement laws and policies of the national government and the decisions and resolutions of the level above them. A council and People’s Committee at a higher level has the authority to overrule the actions or decisions of the council below it. For instance, a district council can nullify a resolution or directive issued by a commune council. Being accountable to a constituency on the same level as well as to agencies at a higher level is common in Vietnam’s structure of government and authority. The People’s Committee, according to law, is the executive arm of the council at that level. In addition, however, it is accountable to the People’s Committee at the next level above, particularly to the chair of that higher committee. A council’s selections for the chair and vice chair of the People’s Committee, for instance, are subject to the approval of the chair of the People’s Committee at the next higher level. For example, the chair and vice chair of a People’s Committee in a commune must be approved by the chair of the district People’s Committee. Hence, the People’s Committee of a commune is linked horizontally to that commune’s council and vertically to the People’s Committee in the district. This pattern of “double subordination” also applies to district and provincial levels — the People’s Committee in each is accountable to the People’s Council at that level as well as to the People’s Committee at the next highest level.19 For a provincial People’s Committee the next highest level is the central government. The nation’s prime minister, in particular, has the authority to “suspend or annul” decisions and other actions of provincial and city People’s Committees and councils as well as to remove the provincial People’s Committee chair and deputy chair.20 The chair of a provincial People’s Committee has comparable powers over lower levels of government. He (or, rarely, she) can “suspend or annul the wrong decisions” of People’s Councils and committees below and dismiss the chairs and deputy chairs of lower level People’s Committees.21 People’s Councils convene only a couple times a year, and then only for a day or two. And a considerable portion of that time, said one

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observer wryly, is ceremonial, leaving little time for serious deliberation and debate.22 Consequently, the councils in most places govern primarily by endorsing whatever is put before them.23 Much of what comes to them is from higher levels of government, the chair of the local People’s Committee, and the secretary of the local branch of the Communist Party. Usually running day to day governmental affairs at each administrative level is the People’s Committee. Generally, the most active are the chair, deputy chair, and members responsible for particular functions. According to the Constitution, the chair of the People’s Committee has considerable power and influence in local affairs.24 In practice, this is indeed often the case; the chapters by Truong Huyen Chi and Tran Thi Thu Trang in this volume provide two examples. The People’s Committee, particularly its chair, is the primary institution working with branch offices of national ministries and departments. These offices are supposed to assist the People’s Committee to implement national laws and programmes regarding agriculture, finance, tax collection, education, health, among other matters. According to law, these offices exist at the pleasure of the People’s Committee, which can theoretically dissolve them. At the same time, however, the offices report to their corresponding office at higher levels and ultimately to the relevant national ministry or department.25 The nation’s Constitution says that the Communist Party is “the force leading the State and society” in Vietnam.26 Neither that nor other laws about governing the country, however, elaborate how this leadership is institutionalized. In practice, that job is done by party members holding key positions within the government structure. As one study of governmental structure within a commune said, the local party branch (dang uy) “plays the role of the headquarters and high command” giving instructions to “combat troops”, played by commune officials.27 Nearly all chairs of People’s Committees are prominent members of the local branch of the Communist Party. The chair of a district People’s Committee, for example, is usually a member of the party’s district standing committee, a group of five to seven people in charge of the party branch. In many places, the chair of the People’s Committee is the deputy secretary of the local party branch, and the chair of the People’s

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Council is the local party secretary (bi thu), the highest position in a party branch.28 Other members of the party’s standing committee, as David Koh’s chapter on a ward in Hanoi elaborates, simultaneously hold such other positions as vice chairs of the People’s Council and People’s Committee and head of the local police unit. The pattern of horizontal and vertical accountability also applies to the party. Local officials are supposed to represent and act on behalf of all local members. At the same time, the secretary, deputy secretary, and other local party officers are responsible to leaders of the next higher party branch. Party leaders of a commune must be approved by party leaders of the district; district party leaders need the endorsement of provincial leaders; and provincial leaders need the same from the party’s national office. Officials Most local government, party, and Fatherland Front officials get their positions through processes involving both selection and election. The typical pattern is somebody names possible occupiers for vacant positions, then an election determines which of those nominees or candidates will serve. Guiding the process for government positions are laws and regulations, although informal practices and other factors often affect both the process and the outcome. Consequently, variations of this pattern are frequent. Officials holding appointment-only positions are primarily those in charge of local branches of national ministries and departments and the police. Elections featured in how government leaders obtained office at the very outset of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945. But soon thereafter, due to the war against France and turmoil during the land reform of the mid-1950s, officials were often appointed rather than elected. In 1957–58, Vietnamese over eighteen years old once again cast ballots in northern Vietnam to elect representatives to People’s Councils. Those local elections began in the cities of Hanoi and Hai Phong and then took place in rural communes across the north.29 Since then, elections of representatives to People’s Councils and other bodies have regularly occurred.30 In recent times, voters in rural communes and urban wards elect People’s Council members every five years. They also vote for members of those councils at district and province levels. Preceding elections is

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the selection of candidates. Local leaders of the Communist Party, the Fatherland Front, and mass organizations typically dominate that process through their roles in the local election councils and committees (hoi dong bau cu and ban bau cu) and through informal means.31 Technically speaking, individuals not selected can be candidates and occasionally a few are. From time to time, such independent candidates are elected.32 The vast majority of elected officials, however, are those whom the Fatherland Front and Communist Party have endorsed. Prior to the mid-1980s, the number of endorsed candidates often equalled the number of available positions. In 1984, national leaders decided that elections for council members should have at least two more candidates than available seats.33 Members of People’s Committees are also elected, but not directly by voters. Each People’s Council elects the members of the People’s Committee at its level; the council also chooses the chair and vice chair of that committee. The People’s Council in a district or province, for instance, chooses the membership and leadership of the People’s Committee in that level. Usually party leaders there and/or at higher levels propose to the council whom to elect. While all committee members may come from the council, laws only specify that the chair of the committee must be a council member.34 As noted earlier, the People’s Council choice for chair and deputy needs the consent of People’s Committee at the next higher level. Determining the local leaders of the Communist Party also involves selection and election. Members of party cells elect representatives to the local party congress (dai hoi dang bo), which elects an executive committee that in turn elects the party secretary and other party leaders for that level.35 A higher level of the party often proposes names for those party leaders. For instance, the party’s executive committee of a district or commune elects the party secretary for that level. But typically the next level up in the party organization has recommended who that person should be. Hence, provincial party leaders nominate who a district party executive committee should choose; district level party leaders suggest who a commune’s party executive committee should select. This pattern is similar for picking leaders of local branches of the Fatherland Front and its member organizations. To fill the semi-official positions of village and hamlet heads, residents may cast ballots. Often, however, the People’s Council or party branch in the commune appoints them or at least nominates them.36 In urban

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neighbourhoods, at least in Hanoi, residents elect their group heads and assistant heads with little or no involvement from local officials.37 Only a few studies have looked closely at what actually happens in local elections. Among them is evidence that selection is more significant than election. Watching how a hamlet in Hoa Binh province chose its head in 2001, Tran Thi Thu Trang reports in her chapter of this book that ordinary residents had little say in the matter. Formally speaking, an election occurred. But there was only one candidate, the nominee of the hamlet’s Communist Party cell. Moreover, that cell was essentially endorsing a person whom the People’s Committee at the commune level had designated. The voting itself was a show of hands, even though only about a third of the hamlet residents had approved that method. Hence, people did not even have the opportunity to cast anonymously a “no” vote against the single candidate. In Hanoi, Koh suggests, dictation from on high over candidate selection, and hence the outcome, is greater in elections for district and city People’s Councils than for ward-level councils. He also finds that at least some voters criticize the party and Fatherland Front’s tight hold on the whole process. Partly for that reason, a sizeable percentage of voters see elections as meaningless.38 Other studies, however, show that selection does sometimes take a back seat to local preferences. During several elections between the late 1980s and mid-1990s, voters in Thinh Liet, a rural commune of Hanoi, rejected some candidates whom Communist Party leaders had endorsed.39 When choosing the chair of the People’s Committee in Ho Chi Minh City, national authorities (especially the prime minister) and city party leaders have considerable say. But in the 1990s, the city’s People’s Council has not necessarily elected their selection. Instead, the process involves considerable negotiation and consultation among national, city, and even lower party and government authorities as well as business groups.40 The military is probably the most common training ground for local officials; next is experience in the Communist Party, Fatherland Front, or mass organizations within the Front. Many communes and wards also have some officials who, although long-time residents of the area, have served in district, province, or city offices of the government, party, or a ministry.41 Often high-ranking provincial and city level leaders, such as party secretaries and People’s Committee chairs, have held nationallevel positions, particularly in central offices of the Communist Party.42 Military background is less common among the young generation of

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local officials than among middle-aged and older ones. Young officials, instead, are probably apt to have more formal education.43 Communist Party membership becomes more pervasive the higher up one goes. In a commune the chairs of the People’s Council, People’s Committee, and Fatherland Front are likely to be local party leaders, but most council and committee members are unlikely to be in the party.44 The proportion of party membership among holders of council and committee seats in a district is probably much higher and in a province, higher still. Many local officials lack sufficient skills and training to do their jobs well. This is particularly true for rural commune and district leaders. The majority of commune officials have only primary education, which analysts say is insufficient for the responsibilities they have.45 Only a small proportion of commune and district officials get additional preparation in accounting, preparing and administering budgets, managing land, and handling other technical matters of their work. A survey, apparently done in 2002 by the National Institute for Administration (Hoc Vien Hanh Chinh Quoc Gia), found that 73–85 per cent of members of commune People’s Councils, People’s Committees, and four other types of local cadres did not have training pertinent to their particular responsibilities.46 The few who do become competent frequently leave to take up higher level positions in the province. Replacing them are other under-trained and inexperienced people.47 Even in urban areas, many government officials are “not well trained”, their knowledge of local markets and laws is “very limited”, and their organizational and managerial capacities are “poor”.48 Inexperience, incompetence, and poor discipline, some studies say, are major reasons why local government and party leaders, especially at commune and district levels, are unable to deal well with problems such as corruption and conflicts over land. Unresolved problems accumulate and fester, creating larger ones and sometimes aggravating citizens to the point of public protests and demonstrations.49 National policies in the 1990s aimed at improving public administration across the country have emphasized the need to improve the capabilities of local officials, but the results have been modest. Most provinces have schools for party leaders and training institutions for local government officials. So far these networks are inadequate for the task.50 Provincial level officials are more likely to have opportunities to upgrade their skills and knowledge than district level ones. The least likely are commune government officials.

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Activities and interests served Education, health care, and social welfare services are among primary responsibilities of local authorities.51 Communes, for instance, often run and maintain kindergartens, primary schools, health clinics, and relief programmes for poorest residents. Those activities consume about 66 per cent of commune governments’ annual expenditure.52 Village, commune, and district branches of Women’s Association, Peasant’s Association, Youth League, Elderly People’s Association, and other mass organizations typically help to fund and administer projects that give loans, organize social and political activities, and assist indigent members. District governments often run hospitals and secondary and vocational schools. Other core responsibilities of local authorities are maintaining and constructing roads, public buildings, irrigation canals, and other physical infrastructure; allocating and managing land; and collecting taxes. For instance, district People’s Councils and Committees plan and maintain roads within their jurisdiction, coordinating with commune officials to get the work done and with provincial offices to secure approvals and funding. Much of central governments’ revenue collection starts in the communes, which gather taxes on land, agricultural production, and market stalls, then pass the money up the administrative ladder. Altogether, commune, district, and provincial governments collect a sizeable part of the central government’s taxes.53 In addition, local officials are responsible for implementing many of the laws, programmes, and policies of the central government. The law says, for example, all land belongs to the “entire people” and is “managed by the state”.54 Much of that management is done by provincial and district governments. Provincial People’s Committees, for instance, issue land use rights to businesses, agencies of the state, and other organizations; district-level People’s Committees allocate land use rights to households and individuals; and commune-level People’s Committees keep track of who is using what land, exchanges of land use rights among users, and other details. Officials also develop programmes and policies tailored to local needs (but which are not supposed to contravene higher level ones) and administer and organize other public activities within their jurisdiction. In 1991, the People’s Committee in Long An established an agricultural extension programme, which at least some districts in the province have developed into a valuable service to farmers.55 In several provinces, government and Communist Party leaders

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energetically seek foreign investment in hopes of enhancing the local economies.56 In villages and communes, government officials and mass organization branch leaders are involved with such matters as mobilizing people to repair footpaths and other community projects, arranging festivals, and dealing with disputes among households and villages and between village and commune levels of authority.57 Much of the funding for local government comes from above, beginning with the national government. From those locally collected tax revenues and other income, the central government makes allocations to each province.58 As of the mid-1990s, “the bulk” of provincial governments’ budgets came from the central government.59 The largest transfers to provinces have been for education and health. Indeed, “almost 90 per cent” of the central government’s budget for the country’s health care programmes is assigned to provinces to spend.60 Allocations from the national level are more or less fixed for three to five years through budget negotiations between provincial and central government offices. In the process, the central government attempts to moderate inequalities by redistributing tax income from better off provinces to poorer ones.61 Having received funding from the centre, provincial authorities are responsible for allocating it to province-wide programmes and to districts, which in turn give a portion to communes. For this internal distribution each province reportedly “has its own system”.62 Securing funding for salaries, operating expenses, and programmes is a continuing concern for local governments and authorities. Besides the allocations they get from the level above, offices in communes, districts, and provinces are allowed to retain a small proportion of the taxes collected for the central government. The combined amounts, however, are usually substantially less than their budgetary needs. Some provinces have found other sources of income, such as a spin-off from foreign investment, to become less dependent on national allocations while also boosting their total revenue.63 In communes, one of the key ingredients to being able to pay adequate salaries, fund schools and other services, and develop new programmes is finding ways to raise money locally. Officials impose new fees and levies on residents, charge tolls on vehicles passing through, and invent other methods of raising revenue. From these sources and earnings of whatever businesses they might manage, according to surveys in four provinces, commune-level governments finance about a quarter of their expenditure.64

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Being able to raise a significant share of budget needs locally reportedly enhances officials’ ability to adjust expenditure to match priorities of their constituents, thereby contributing to social and economic development.65 In the case of revenue raised through foreign investments, Edmund Malesky argues, the benefits to provinces include not only less dependence on the central government funding but more money to improve schools and infrastructure that in turn attracts more investment, which creates more jobs, better living conditions, and more revenue for local needs. In many cases the combination also results in more transparent governmental processes.66 That local officials know how to use funds for community needs has also been an argument for decentralization, a topic of debate and some policy measures during the 1990s.67 Analysts inside and outside the country, foreign aid donors, and international lending agencies argue that the centralized character of funding and policy-making in Vietnam is incompatible with the market economy that has replaced the centrally planned one. It is better, they say, to devolve to local governments more authority and funding to implement national policies and to design local ones appropriate for each jurisdiction.68 Exploring the pros and cons of decentralization is beyond the scope of this chapter. However, the problems of inadequate training and little opportunity to become more skilled raise concerns about whether such confidence in local officials is entirely warranted. Another issue is the extent to which local authorities are any more public service-oriented than are central authorities. Several studies find local authorities who do try to be good public servants. These officials assess community needs and take steps to make life better for residents there. For instance, Malesky says that what officials do makes a difference in how well provinces are able to attract foreign investment and then use it for the general good. The most significant factor promoting economic development, he concludes, is provincial Communist Party and government leaders who are proactive and dynamic.69 Dara O’Rourke shows that local governments are frequently responsive to community pressures to improve and enforce regulations against environmental pollution.70 Natalie Hicks argues that agricultural extension agents in Duc Hoa and Ben Luc districts of Long An province help farmers devise effective agricultural strategies and are linchpins between rural people and the local government. Due to shortages of

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funds and other resources the agents are unable to serve everyone and, at least in one district, their activities have been biased toward better off and more progressive farmers. Nevertheless, to many rural households, the agents provide both technical advice on agricultural matters and solve, or at least sympathetically listen to, other problems they encounter.71 Often a major challenge confronting local officials is how to be accountable to both local people and authorities above. The two are frequently in tension, sometimes even at odds with each other. Consequently, local officials must wend their way between being mindful of local needs and doing as higher echelons direct. For instance, district and commune leaders in parts of Son La province felt squeezed in the mid-1990s between national policies regarding land use and people’s preferences. Eventually they managed to accommodate many of those local concerns without blatantly ignoring central directives.72 Officials who do not learn to make adjustments and are sticklers for implementing policies that residents dislike are apt to have considerable difficulty getting people’s support. For example, local leaders in the 1960s–70s in charge of implementing the national government’s collectivized farming policies, which many families disliked, faced substantial trouble getting people’s cooperation.73 In some places tensions and conflict from that period continue to adversely affect relations between villagers and commune authorities.74 Available evidence suggests that local leaders who aspire for positions at higher levels of the government, the Communist Party, or other organizations, are more concerned about pleasing authorities above than the people with whom they live. By the same token, officials who have long-term commitments to the areas where they are working are more inclined to heed the concerns of local people.75 Studies also show that local authorities can be self-serving and tyrannical. Officials at various levels, even in villages, are known to embezzle public funds, take over public lands and ponds for themselves and relatives, extort money and labour from residents, impose illegal taxes and use the revenue for illicit purposes, and bully people to keep quiet and torment those who dare to object. A manifestation of this kind of behaviour during the 1990s were officials in Ho Chi Minh City, who, under the guise of renovating the economy, covertly appropriated for themselves the assets of state companies, factories, and merchandizing outlets.76 Abusive and corrupt local authorities, Martin Grossheim’s chapter in this book reminds us, have a long history in Vietnam.77 They have

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contributed significantly to widespread discontent among the Vietnamese population and political turmoil. Reckless local officials helped to fuel opposition to French colonial rule and support for the revolutionary movement for national independence. During the late 1950s, resentment against the abuses and corruption of “petty despots” was “a prominent factor in helping…cadres to organize the insurgency” against the Saigonbased government of the Republic of Vietnam.78 In recent times, too, despicable and crooked authorities have so angered Vietnamese citizens that they have marched and demonstrated in district and provincial towns as well as in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. The most pronounced instances were hundreds of demonstrations in several parts of Thai Binh province beginning in late 1996 and culminating in May 1997, when about 10,000 people converged on the provincial capital.79 Following investigations into the causes of the Thai Binh protests, national Communist Party leaders launched a “grassroots democracy” programme in February 1998. Among the primary objectives were to make revenue, budgets, and expenditure transparent and to enable citizens to oversee better local authorities’ activities. What difference the programme has made is not clear. Authorities often claim great success, while also noting shortcomings.80 In rural surveys apparently done in 2001 or 2002, most respondents reportedly credited the programme for improving local officials’ behaviour. Over 77 per cent said cadres were more considerate of ordinary citizens, 64 per cent said embezzlement and other bad practices had decreased, and 50 per cent said officials were more receptive to people’s opinions.81 Other studies, however, have found little has changed. For instance, officials in a Chieng Hoa commune, Hoa Binh province, go through the motions of complying with democratic procedures but in practice subvert them. Many villagers, meanwhile, are too intimidated to file grievances.82 Social scientists at the Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy found that the programme made no improvements in 80 per cent of 30 sampled communes.83 Vietnamese people, analysts suggest, would like local authorities to combine fair-mindedness and impartiality with being “good with the people” and somewhat flexible in order to accommodate particular circumstances. People also favour officials who can get results while also being morally upright. Leaders who combine all these qualities enjoy considerable prestige among their fellow citizens.84 No doubt some

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local authorities manage to fulfill all these expectations pretty well. Others do not even come close. Perhaps most are strong in some respects but fall short on others. The autocratic commune officials in Chieng Hoa, for example, have been able to improve the local schools, health clinic, and roads, earning them some respect in the eyes of otherwise discontented villagers.85 Officials in Chieng Dong commune, Son La province, endeared themselves to residents by bending central directives on land use to fit local circumstances. But in the process some of those officials used a tree planting programme to their own financial benefit. Wards in Hanoi have officials who are corrupt yet are also compassionate and understanding toward hard up residents. What Vietnamese people expect and how well local governments and authorities measure up are major questions for which there has been little research. Neither they nor the other issues surveyed in this chapter have been adequately studied for contemporary Vietnam. Much of what we know comes from the work of other contributors to this book. Hopefully their work will spark more research into what officials do and why, who the officials are, how institutions function, what residents’ views are, and other questions about local government and authority in Vietnam.

Notes I am grateful to Pham Thu Thuy for assisting me with research for this chapter and to Russell Heng, David Marr, and Thomas Sikor for commenting on draft versions. 1 2

3 4 5

6 7

UNDP, “Reconceptualizing Governance”, p. 9. This is emphasized in a thoughtful and wide-ranging discussion by Goran Hyden, “Governance”. Also see Bratton and Rothchild, “The Institutional Bases of Governance”; Pierce and Peters, Governance, ch. 2. The “we” are Russell Heng, David Koh, David Marr, and myself. Kerkvliet, et al., eds., Getting Organized in Vietnam. All of these are prominent institutions of the state (nha nuoc) as conventionally talked about regarding Vietnam. Thayer, Vietnam People’s Army, p. 17. Translating xa as commune is problematic. It suggests that people are living in a communal manner, which is not the case at all. Essentially, a commune is the smallest official unit of government within Vietnam. To me, “subdistrict”

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9

10 11

12

13

14

15 16 17

18

19

20 21

22 23

24

19

is a better translation. But I bow here to the majority view among the writers in this book that we use “commune” in all the chapters. The province, district, and commune are the three local levels of administration stipulated in the 1946 Constitution (Hien Phap nam 1946, dieu thu 57, p. 404). In cities, at least in Hanoi, the ward did not come about until 1980. From 1945–80, however, there was a third level of administration, called “small area” (tieu khu), which the ward subsequently replaced. See this book’s chapter by David Koh. According to the Constitution, districts did not have People’s Councils until 1959. Hien Phap nam 1946, dieu thu 58, p. 404; Hien Phap nam 1959, dieu 78, p. 424. Koh’s chapter, this book. See the discussion about Tay Nguyen and Son La in Le Si Giao, “Thiet Che Chinh Tri”, pp. 166–67. See the chapters by Pham Quang Minh and Truong Huyen Chi in this book, and Malarney, “Culture, Virtue, and Political Transformation”, p. 903. Phan Dai Doan, “May Suy Nghi”, pp. 54–55; Nguyen Van Khanh and Thang Van Phuc, “Bo May Quan Luc”, pp. 118–19; Le Trong Cuc, et al., “VillageLevel Implementation”, pp. 53, 54. Le Minh Thong, “Mot So Van De”, p. 49. Also see Nguyen Quang Ngoc, “Lang-Thon”, pp. 90–92; Nguyen Van Khang and Thang Van Phuc, “Bo May Quan Luc”, pp. 135-36; and Trung Tam Nghien Cuu Khoa Hoc Luu Tru, Phap Luat, p. 35. Koh’s chapter, this book. Luat Bau Cu Dai Bieu, pp. 6–8. Contrast Le Chi Mai, “Dao Tao, Boi Duong”, p. 35, with Le Minh Thong, “Mot So Van De”, p. 48. Figures for the number of communes, wards, etc., in Vietnam also differ, though not so markedly. See these two sources as well as Vasavakul, “Rebuilding Authority”, p. 9. For examples, see Pham Quang Minh’s chapter, and Bui Chi Kien, “Doi Ngu Can Bo”, p. 43. Ascher and Rondinelli, “Restructuring”, pp. 141–42; Vasavakul, “Rethinking”, p. 193. Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Constitution, article 112. Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Constitution, article 124; Vasavakul, “Rebuilding”, p. 18. Le Minh Thong, “Mot So Van De”, p. 48. Edmund Malesky’s chapter in this book refers to exceptions when discussing the active role the People’s Council has had in Long An province. The country’s Constitution, article 124, says that the chair “shall give leadership and operational guidance” to the People’s Committee.

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20 25 26 27

28

29 30

31

32

33 34

35

36 37 38 39

40 41

42

Vasavakul, “Rethinking”, pp. 182–83. Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Constitution, article 4. Nguyen Van Khanh and Thang Van Phuc, “Bo May Quyen Luc”, p. 130. Note, dang uy may also be translated as “party committee”. In some communes, such as Chieng Dong, which Thomas Sikor’s chapter examines, the largest party unit is chi bo (party cell), apparently because there are insufficient party members to have a party branch. Personal communication from Thomas Sikor, 19 August 2003. Particular instances are cited in Martin Gainsborough’s and David Koh’s chapters, this book. Ginsburgs, “Local Government” (part 2), pp. 196–202. Even during the war against the United States, elections for People’s Councils and People’s Committees (then called administrative committees — uy ban hanh chinh) happened at regular intervals in most localities. Vu Van Hoan, “Local Organs”, p. 76. Trinh Duy Luan, “Vietnam”, p. 175; Malarney, “Culture, Virtue, and Political Transformation”, pp. 901–906; Koh, “Wards of Hanoi”, pp. 117, 121, 128; Luat Bau Cu, chap. 3. In 1957, one of the 100 elected to People’s Councils in Hanoi was an independent. In the city of Hai Phong, where 66 people were elected to council seats, one was also an independent. I have not seen more recent figures for these or other areas. Ginsburgs, “Local Government” (part 2), p. 201. Koh, “Wards of Hanoi”, pp. 133–34. Luat To Chuc Hoi Dong Nhan Dan, article 46. Also see Vasavakul, “Rethinking”, p. 181. Different from this process is a statement in Thomas Sikor’s chapter of this book that villagers outside of the party have had a direct say in choosing the party secretary in Chiang Dong commune, Son La province. Nguyen Quang Ngoc, “Lang-Thon”, p. 91. See Koh’s chapter, this book. Koh, “Wards of Hanoi”, pp. 125–54. Malarney, “Culture, Virtue, and Political Transformation”, pp. 900–901, 906. Gainsborough, Changing Political Economy, pp. 41, 44–45, 77. Le Minh Thong, “Mot So Van De”, p. 48; Le Si Giao, “Thiet Che Chinh Tri”, p. 159; Nguyen Van Thu, “Ve Dao Tao”, p. 140; and chapters in this book by Pham Quang Minh and Koh. Regarding military background, Le Minh Thong and Nguyen Van Thu estimate that between 44 and 70 per cent of commune government officials are ex-soldiers. For examples from Ho Chi Minh City, see Gainsborough’s chapter in this book.

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45 46 47

48 49

50

51

52

53

54 55 56 57 58

21

Gainsborough and Pham Quang Minh’s chapters, this book. I base this primarily on my visits to communes in northern Vietnam and comments from other researchers who have travelled elsewhere in the country. A report on one southern province shows that party membership is not universal among commune officials. The chairs of 30 per cent of the People’s Councils, 45 per cent of Fatherland Front branches, 56 per cent of Women’s Association branches, and 48 per cent of Peasants’ Association branches were not Communist Party members. Bui Chi Kien, “Doi Ngu Can Bo”, pp. 43–44. Thang Van Phuc and Nguyen Van Khanh, “Ve Doi Ngu Can Bo”, p. 195. Le Chi Mai, “Dao Tao, Boi Duong”, p. 34. Bui Duong Nghieu, “Mot So Van De trong Quan He Tai Chinh”, p. 64; Le Chi Mai, “Dao Tao”, p. 35. Trinh Duy Luan, “Vietnam”, p. 186. Also see Koh’s chapter, this book. Xuan Hai-Ha Nhan, “Do Dieu Rut Ra”, pp. 45–47; Nguyen Huu Khien, “Can Bo Xa”, pp. 35–36; Mai Xuan Yen, “Chinh Quyen Co So”, pp. 33–34; and Pham Quang Minh’s chapter, this book. Vasavakul, “Rebuilding”, pp. 34–35; Van Arkadie, “Managing”, pp. 445–46; Trinh Duy Luan, “Vietnam”, p. 186; and Pham Quang Minh’s chapter, this book. In 2002, the party’s central committee set a target date of 2005 by which time 70–80 per cent of “basic-level government cadres” (can bo chinh quyen co so), meaning commune- and ward-level ones, should receive training relevant to their duties and responsibilities. Estimating the number of such officials to be 230,000–260,000, one researcher suggests that not enough resources have been earmarked to meet the need. Le Chi Mai, “Dao Tao, Boi Duong”, pp. 34, 35. For a useful summary of local government responsibilities, see Ascher and Rondinelli, “Restructuring”, pp. 138–39. Calculated from figures resulting from surveys in five provinces, one each in a different region of the country. Rao, et al, “The Changing Requirements”, p. 168. As of the mid-1990s, according to Doug Porter, “Economic Liberalization”, p. 229, the central government brought in “one-third of national revenue collection”, implying local governments brought in much of the rest. National Assembly, Land Law. Natalie Hicks’s chapter, this book. Edmund Malesky’s chapter, this book. The chapter in this book by Truong Huyen Chi details some of these activities. The national level may also be a primary source of funding for local branches of the Communist Party and mass organizations, although I have little information about the matter.

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22 59 60

61

62

63

64

65 66 67

68

69 70

71 72 73 74 75

76

77

Ascher and Rondinelli, “Restructuring”, pp. 139–40. Fritzen, “Decentralization, Disparities, and Innovation”, p. 75, also see p. 77. Bui Duong Nghieu, “Mot So Van De”, pp. 62–s63; Fritzen, “Decentralization and Local Government”, pp. 74, 85–86; Fritzen, “The ‘Foundation,’” p.4; Porter, Doug, “Economic Liberalization”, pp. 229–33. Rao, et al., “The Changing Requirements”, p. 159. Also see Doug Porter, “Economic Liberalization”, p. 241; and Fritzen, “Decentralization, Disparities, and Innovation”, pp. 82–83. See the contrast between Ha Tinh and Long An provinces in Malesky’s chapter, this book. Rao, et al., “The Changing Requirements”, pp. 166–67, 169. Also see Nguyen Van Thao, “Chinh Quyen Cap Xa”, p. 39. Fritzen, “The ‘Foundation’”, p. 21. Malesky’s chapter, this book. It is not the first time decentralization has been a policy issue and acted upon to some extent in Communist Party-ruled Vietnam, according to Vu Van Hoan, “Local Organs of State Power”, p. 75. Studies of decentralization issues and policies in contemporary Vietnam include Vasavakul, “Rebuilding”; Vasavakul, “Rethinking”; Fritzen, “Decentralization and Local Government”; Fritzen, “Decentralization, Disparities”; Bui Duong Nghieu, “Mot So Van De”; Ascher and Rondinelli, “Restructuring”; and Gainsborough, Changing. Vasavakul and Gainsborough make the telling point that Vietnam was not as centralized before the 1990s as many observers and critics have claimed. They and others also show that in the 1990s centralization has accompanied decentralization — the trends are not one way or the other but both. Malesky’s chapter, this book. O’Rourke, “Community Driven Regulation.” Also see O’Rourke, “Motivating”. Hicks’s chapter, this book. Sikor’s chapter, this book. Kerkvliet, Transformative Power, forthcoming. This is one of the messages in Truong Huyen Chi’s chapter of this book. See chapters by Gainsborough and Sikor in this book. In a different context, Brantly Womack has written thoughtfully about local cadres’ orientations shifting between looking outward and looking upward. Womack, “The Party and the People”. Gainsborough, Changing Political Economy, pp. 102, 104, 106. Also see, Gainsborough, “Beneath the Veneer”. Also see Woodside, Community, pp. 128–42, which puts part of the blame for local authorities’ abuses on French colonial rule.

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79

80

81 82 83

84

85

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Elliott, The Vietnamese War, p. 194. Also, as this source suggests on p. 1217 and elsewhere, corrupt and heavy-handed local officials also helped to sustain the movement against the Saigon-based government until its collapse in 1975. For a summary of the Thai Binh events and their causes and other evidence of popular discontent with corruption, see Kerkvliet, “An Approach”, pp. 264–67. Anger towards local officials may also have contributed to large demonstrations in Vietnam’s central highlands in 2001 and April 2004. An example is a statement by the Communist Party secretary of Ha Nam province, Pham Quang Nghi, “Thuc Hien”. Le Kim Viet, “Qua 3 Nam”, p. 50. Tran Thi Thu Trang’s chapter, this book. Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy, “Democratic Institutions,” pp. 5–6. I am trying to combine here overlapping yet somewhat different findings of Malarney, “Culture, Virtue, and Political Transformation”, p. 913; Phan Dai Doan, “May Suy Nghi”, pp. 62–64; and Koh’s chapter, this book. This comes from Tran Thi Thu Trang’s chapter in this book; the next two examples come from Sikor and Koh’s chapters, respectively. Also see Koh, “Wards of Hanoi”, pp. 27–28.

Bibliography Ascher, William and Dennis A. Rondinelli. “Restructuring the Administration of Service Delivery in Vietnam: Decentralization as Institution Building”. In Market Reform in Vietnam: Building Institutions for Development, edited by Jennie I. Litvack and Dennis A. Rondinelli, pp. 133–51. Westport, Conn.: Quorum Books, 1999. Bui Chi Kien. “Doi Ngu Can Bo Chu Chot Cap Co So o Tinh Lam Dong” [Local Key Cadre in Lam Dong province]. Tap Chi Cong San 15 (1997): 43– 45. Bui Duong Nghieu. “Mot So Van De trong Quan He Tai Chinh giua Trung Uong va Dia Phuong” [Problems in Financial Relations between Central and Local Levels]. Tap Chi Cong San 21 (2001): 61–64. Bratton, Michael and Donald Rothchild. “The Institutional Bases of Governance in Africa”. In Governance and Politics in Africa, edited by Goran Hyden, pp. 263–84. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, 1992. Elliott, David W.P. The Vietnamese War: Revolution and Social Change in the Mekong Delta 1930–1975. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2003. Fritzen, Scott. “Decentralization and Local Government Performance: A Comparative Approach with Application to Social Policy Reform in Vietnam”. Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 2000.

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———. “Decentralization, Disparities, and Innovation in Vietnam’s Health Sector”. In Market Reform in Vietnam, edited by Jennie I. Litvack and Dennis A. Rondinelli, pp. 71–94. Westport, Conn.: Quorum Books, 1999. ———. The ‘Foundation of Public Administration’? Decentralization and its Discontents in Transitional Vietnam, unpublished paper, December 2002. Gainsborough, Martin. “Beneath the Veneer of Reform: The Politics of Economic Liberalisation in Vietnam”. Communist and Post-Communist Studies 35 (2002): 353–68. ———. Changing Political Economy in Vietnam: The Case of Ho Chi Minh City. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. Ginsburgs, George. “Local Government and Administration in North Vietnam since 1954” (Part 2). The China Quarterly 14 (April–June 1963): 195–211. Hien Phap nam 1946 cua Nuoc Viet Nam Dan Chu Cong Hoa [1946 Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam]. In Hien Phap Nuoc Cong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam [Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam], pp. 393–405. Hanoi: NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1985. Hien Phap nam 1959 cua Nuoc Viet Nam Dan Chu Cong Hoa [1949 Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam]. In Hien Phap Nuoc Cong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam [Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam], pp. 409–27. Hanoi: NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1985. Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy, “Democratic Institutions and Commune Government Building in Vietnam Today.” Typescript, 12 pp., 2003. Hyden, Goran. “Governance and the Study of Politics”. In Governance and Politics in Africa, edited by Goran Hyden, pp. 1–26. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, 1992. Kerkvliet, Benedict J. Tria. “An Approach for Analysing State–Society Relations in Vietnam”. Sojourn 16 (October 2001): 238–78. ———. The Transformative Power of Everyday Politics: How Vietnamese Peasants Overturned National Policy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, forthcoming. Kerkvliet, Benedict J. Tria, Russell H.K. Heng, and David W.H. Koh, eds. Getting Organized in Vietnam: Moving In and Around the Socialist State. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2003. Koh, David. “Wards of Hanoi and State-Society Relations in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”. Ph.D. dissertation, The Australian National University, 2000. Le Chi Mai. “Dao Tao, Boi Duong Can Bo Chinh Quyen Co So” [Education and Training of Local Government Cadres]. Tap Chi Cong San 20 (2002): 33–37. Le Kim Viet. “Qua 3 nam Thuc Hien Quy Che Dan Chu Co So o Nong Thon” [After Three Years of Implementing Grassroots Democracy Regulations in the Countryside]. Tap Chi Cong San 18 (2002): 48–53. Le Minh Thong. “Mot So Van De Dat Ra tu Thuc Tien To Chuc va Hoat Dong cua Chinh Quyen Cap Xa Hien Nay” [Some Emerging Issues in the Activities

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and Practices in Today’s Subdistrict Governments]. Tap Chi Cong San 14 (2002): 47–51. Le Si Giao. “Thiet Che Chinh Tri va Quan Ly Xa Hoi Nong Thon o cac Vung Dan Toc Thieu So Mien Nui Viet Nam” [Political Institutions and Managing Rural Society Among the Minority People in Mountainous Regions of Vietnam], pp. 158–89, edited by Phan Dai Doan. Hanoi: NXB Chinh Tri Quoc Gia, 1996. Le Trong Cuc, Thomas Sikor, and Michael Rucker. “Village-Level Implementation of Economic Reform Policies in Dong Hung and Thanh Hoa Districts”. In Red Books, Green Hills: The Impact of Economic Reform on Tresoration Ecology in the Midlands of Northern Vietnam, edited by Le Trong Cuc, pp. 47–56. Honolulu: East-West Center, 1996. Litvack, Jennie I. and Dennis A. Rondinelli. Market Reform in Vietnam. Westport, Conn.: Quorum Books, 1999. Luat Bau Cu Dai Bieu Hoi Dong Nhan Dan (sua doi) va Huong Dan Thi Hanh [Election Law (revised) for People’s Councils and Implementation Guidelines]. Hanoi: NXB Chinh Tri Quoc Gia, 1994. Luat To Chuc Hoi Dong Nhan Dan va Uy Ban Nhan Dan (sua doi) [Law on Organizing People’s Council and People’s Committee (revised)], June 1994. In Cac Luat To Chuc Nha Nuoc: Nuoc Cong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam [Laws Regarding State Organizations in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam], revised and supplemented printing, pp. 71–106. Hanoi: NXB Chinh Tri Quoc Gia, 1995. Malarney, Shaun Kingsley. “Culture, Virtue, and Political Transformation in Contemporary Northern Viet Nam”. Journal of Asian Studies 56 (November 1997): 899–920. Mai Xuan Yen. “Chinh Quyen Co So Voi Cong Tac quan Ly Dat Dai” [Grassroots Government and Land Management]. Tap Chi Cong San 11 (1999): 33–35. National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Land Law, 1993 (amended 1998). Nguyen Huu Khien. “Can Bo Xa, Phuong: Van De va Giai Phap” [Commune and Ward Cadres: Problems and Solutions]. Tap Chi Cong San 11 (1997): 35– 37. Nguyen Quang Ngoc. “Lang-Thon trong He Thong Thiet Che Chinh Tri-Xa Hoi Nong Thon” [The Village in the System of Rural Political Institutions]. In Quan Ly Xa Hoi Nong Thon Nuoc Ta Hien Nay, Phan Dai Doan chu bien, pp. 11–67. Hanoi: NXB Chinh Tri Quoc Gia, 1996. Nguyen Van Khanh and Thang Van Phuc. “Bo May Quyen Luc Cap Xa: Co Cau To Chuc va Phuong Thuc Van Hanh” [Power Apparatus of a Commune: Organizational Structure and Mode of Operation]. In Quan Ly Xa Hoi Nong Thon Nuoc Ta Hien Nay: Mot So Van De va Giai Phap, edited by Phan Dai Doan, pp. 110–46. Hanoi: NXB Chinh Tri Quoc Gia, 1996.

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Nguyen Van Thao. “Chinh Quyen Cap Xa voi Tien Trinh Doi Moi Kinh Te, Phat Huy Dan Chu duoi Goc Do Quan Ly Hanh Chinh” [Commune Government within the Process of Economic Renovation and Developing Democracy under Administrative Management]. Tap Chi Cong San 4 (1999): 36–40. Nguyen Van Thu. “Ve Dao Tao, Boi Duong Can Bo Chinh Quyen Dia Phuong trong Giai Doan Hien Nay” [Training and Strengthening Local Government Cadres during the Present Time]. In Cai Cach Hanh Chinh Dia Phuong: Ly Luan va Thuc Tien, edited by To Tu Ha et al., pp. 134–46. Hanoi: NXB Chinh Tri Quoc Gia, 1998. O’Rourke, Dara. “Community-Driven Regulation: Toward an Improved Model of Environmental Regulation in Vietnam.” In Liveable Cities? Urban Strategies for Livelihood and Sustainability, edited by Peter Evans, pp. 55–131. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. ———. Motivating a Conflicted Environmental State. Community-Driven Regulation in Vietnam. In The Environmental State under Pressure, edited by A.P.J. Mol and F.H. Butel. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2002. Pham Quang Nghi. “Thuc Hien Quy Che Dan Chu Co So o Ha Nam” [Implementing Grassroots Democracy Regulations in Ha Nam]. Tap Chi Cong San 5 (2000): 12–16, 30. Phan Dai Doan. “May Suy Nghi ve Xu Ly cac Thiet Che Chinh Tri Xa Hoi Nong Thon Hien Nay” [Thoughts on Dealing with Today’s Rural Social and Political Institutions]. In Kinh Nghiem To Chu Quan Ly Nong Thon Viet Nam trong Lich Su, edited by Phan Dai Doan va Nguyen Quang Ngoc, pp. 42–72. Hanoi: NXB Chinh Tri Quoc Gia, 1994. Pierce, Jon and B. Guy Peters. Governance, Politics and the State. Hampshire, England: Macmillan Press, 2000. Porter, Doug J. “Economic Liberalization, Marginality, and the Local State”. In Vietnam’s Rural Transformation, edited by Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet and Doug J. Porter, pp. 215–46. Boulder and Singapore: Westview Press and the Institute Southeast Asian Studies, 1995. Rao, M. Govinda, Richard M. Bird, and Jennie I. Litvack. “The Changing Requirments of Fiscal Relations: Fiscal Decentralization in a Unified State”. In Market Reform in Vietnam”, edited by Jennie I. Litvack and Dennis A. Rondinelli, pp. 153–78. Westport, Conn.: Quorum Books, 1999. Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Constitution 1992. Hanoi: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1992. Thang Van Phuc and Nguyen Van Khanh. “Ve Doi Ngu Can Bo Nong Thon”. In Quan Ly Xa Hoi Nong Thon Nuoc Ta Hien Nay, edited by Phan Dai Doan, pp. 190–24. Hanoi: NXB Chinh Tri Quoc Gia, 1996. Thayer, Carlyle A. The Vietnam People’s Army under Doi Moi. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1994.

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Trinh Duy Luan. “Vietnam”. In The Changing Nature of Local Government in Developing Countries, edited by Patricia L. McCarney, pp. 171–93. Toronto: Centre for Urban and Community Services, University of Toronto, and International Office, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, 1996. Trung Tam Nghien Cuu Khoa Hoc Luu Tru. Phap Luat va Quan Ly cua Xa, Phuong theo Phap Luat [Laws and Managing the Commune and Ward According to Law]. Hanoi: NXB Chinh Tri Quoc Gia, 1994. UNDP. “Reconceptualizing Governance”. UNDP Management Development and Governance Division Discussion Paper 2, January 1997. Van Arkadie, Brian. “Managing The Renewal Process: The Case of Vietnam”. Public Administraion and Development 13 (October 1993): 435–51. Vasavakul, Thaveeporn. “Rebuilding Authority Relations: Public Administration Reform in the Era of Doi Moi”. Report commissioned by the Asian Development Bank, Hanoi, 2002. ———. “Rethinking the Philosophy of Central-Local Relations in Post-CentralPlanning Vietnam”. In Central-Local Relations in Asia-Pacific, pp. 166–95, edited by Mark Turner. London: Macmillan, 1999. Vu Van Hoan. “Local Organs of State Power”. In An Outline of Institutions of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, pp. 60–81. Hanoi: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1974. Womack, Brantly. “The Party and the People: Revolutionary and Postrevolutionary Politics in China and Vietnam”. World Politics 39 (July 1987): 479–507. Woodside, Alexander B. Community and Revolution in Modern Vietnam. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976. Xuan Hai – Ha Nhan. “Doi Dieu Rut Ra tu tinh hinh Phuc Tap o mot So Dia Phuong tinh Thai Binh” [Matters Extracted from Complicated Situation in Some Parts of Thai Binh Province]. Tap Chi Cong San (20, 1997): 41–47.

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Reproduced from Beyond Hanoi: Local Government in Vietnam, edited by Benedict J Tria Kerkvliet and David G Marr (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http:// bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

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2 A Brief History of Local Government in Vietnam David G. Marr

Vietnam’s political culture has long combined firm ideological dispositions towards centralization of power with practical recognition of local particularities and responsibilities. In this chapter I offer a preliminary view of governmental relations from the village level upward, beginning in the 15th century AD, proceeding through the French colonial period (1885–1945), and concluding with early developments under the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (1945–1976). The story could begin much earlier, but the historical traces are less plentiful, and the Viet (Kinh) people had yet to move down the coast beyond Nghe An.1 I also say little about government at the centre (trung uong), as that story is better known, and in any event would take us away from the focus of this book. Pre-colonial local government During almost a thousand years of independent monarchism (939–1885 AD), the emperor sat at the apex of a pyramid of princes, courtiers, military commanders and civil officials — all of whom demanded

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obedience from common subjects. For at least half that time, local government was intertwined with the operation of large estates controlled by the royal family, aristocrats, and Buddhist temples. Gradually, however, the state administrative hierarchy took on more tasks. In 1490, Emperor Le Thanh Ton restructured his realm into thirteen regions (xu), 52 prefectures (phu), 50 sub-prefectures (chau; usually inhabited by nonKinh people), 178 districts (huyen), 6851 communes (xa) and 1155 other units of diverse designation.2 Although this administrative terminology was borrowed entirely from China, Vietnamese usage often proved different. Another major reorganization occurred in 1831, when Emperor Minh Mang delineated 31 provinces (tinh), 75 prefectures, 249 districts, several thousand cantons (tong) and more than 12,000 communes, villages or village-type settlements (xa, thon, dong, sach).3 By this time, Vietnam had more than doubled in territory and quadrupled in population, imposing additional governmental challenges.4 The tyranny of Vietnam’s geography determined that officials posted more than a hundred kilometres or so from the royal capital possessed considerable administrative discretion. If the actions of district mandarins pleased the court, promotion to prefecture, province and then hopefully central level was their reward. If they encountered trouble, then demotion, dismissal or arrest was almost certain. To reduce the risks of perturbation, mandarins formed discreet alliances with local influential families. In periods of dynastic vitality, the imperial authorities worked hard to eliminate or circumscribe the power of clans or lineages. At other times there was no choice but to accept the existence of substantial political alignments beyond imperial control. Meanwhile, the vast majority of Vietnamese grew up in villages surrounded by rice fields and waterways, learned their politics in the extended family, grappled with the elements, and participated in a variety of community groups or associations. For them, the principal level of extra-family authority was the village council of notables (hoi dong ky muc, hoi dong ky dich and other titles), composed of male elders who supervised internal affairs according to customary rules (tuc le) and were expected to safeguard village interests vis-à-vis the world outside. Rules varied widely from one village to another about how to select council members and village officers (ly dich), make decisions, allocate tasks and be rewarded for services. Imperial edicts designed to enforce a single village standard appeared on many occasions. If faced with raw power

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from above, village leaders humbly made the necessary concessions, then usually managed within a couple of decades to resume favoured practices. Ironically, it was the growing influence of neo-Confucian ideology, not direct state interference, which led village elites to compile genealogies, study for the civil examinations, reserve highest honours for retired mandarins, seek court recognition of their village statutes (huong uoc) and tutelary spirits (thanh hoang), and consolidate activities at the community house (dinh).5 The notables and village officers had many administrative responsibilities, usually to include periodic reallocation of public land (cong dien cong tho), resolution of intra-village disputes, punishment for minor crimes, organizing protection against outside thieves or brigands, collecting fees to maintain local facilities, dealing with adjacent villages, and interacting with higher echelons. The council almost never acted without first consulting other organizations in the village, particularly the literati association, lineage councils, brotherhoods (giap), and neighbourhood groups. The village head (ly truong) tended to be an ambitious younger man6 hoping to make this fixed-term position his stepping-stone to the council of notables. While power and perhaps material benefit came with the job, it also contained the risk that external authorities would hold him personally responsible for the failings, crimes, or political mistakes of fellow villagers. In periods of social upheaval or civil war, deliberations and decisions of the council of notables took on life and death significance. Tactical alliances often had to be struck with other villages, influential families, merchants, soldiers-of-fortune and even bandit groups. A village caught on the wrong side of a confrontation could be charged collectively with treason and subjected to physical erasure. Other villages continued to be tied to large estates, the owners of which could afford to ignore local government echelons. Extensive areas remained royal property (quan dien, quan trai, tu dien, tich dien), which the ruler could grant to relatives, trusted retainers or key officials — complete with designated manpower. The recipients of such favours often manoeuvred to make the estates hereditary, whereas strong rulers insisted they be returned after death of the beneficiary. Court officials came to examine big estates routinely, while provincial mandarins reported to the emperor on lesser estates. By the late 18th century, it seems that such estates had become less significant in northern and

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north-central Vietnam. 7 Whether this was another result of neoConfucian ideology, or due to population growth and the absence of primogeniture, is uncertain. Below the Gianh river during the 17th and 18th centuries, in the expanding domain of the Nguyen lords (chua), the military establishment levied taxes directly, and routinely conscripted villagers to serve not only as soldiers and sailors, but as porters, labourers and artisans as well. By the mid-18th century, sale of office had become legal and pervasive in the Nguyen state, to include village positions. As many as twenty individuals might pay higher authorities to occupy the same local position, clearly expecting to recoup the cost via exactions on the rest of the community. Faced with such pressures, the only recourse for some villagers was to flee further south and clear new land for cultivation.8 In the Mekong delta, however, settlers soon found themselves being taxed by local supremos or forced into tenantry by big landlords. Under Emperor Minh Mang, the standard local government hierarchy was applied to the Mekong delta, but village administration remained uncomplicated compared to northern and north-central Vietnam. For more than a century, much ink has been spilled over whether “the Vietnamese village” in the monarchist era enjoyed “democracy” or “autonomy”. Usually the debate has been limited to villages in the Red River delta, leaving aside a host of questions about different patterns elsewhere.9 Restricting ourselves to the Red River delta, it seems clear that democratic principles were far from the minds of village elites as they put forth candidates for village head, canvassed opinions on various issues, and made decisions. For example, although all adult males listed on the household register had the right to voice a preference on candidates for village office, there was no showing of hands, much less a secret ballot.10 Rather, following consultations, the most powerful villagers reached a decision which was then presented to everyone at a ceremonial gathering. In short, villages functioned on hierarchical principles, usually ameliorated by a search for elite consensus. Was the village autonomous? Certainly an impressive range of issues were deliberated and often resolved at village level. Villages also managed to keep secrets from higher echelons. However, there were no constitutional assurances (written or unwritten) against state removal of village leaders, abrogation of powers, or reassignment of village territory. Villagers might assert among themselves that “The laws of the King are

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less than the customs of the village” (phep vua thua le lang), but they also knew the classical statement, “There is no land under the vault of heaven that does not belong to the king” (pho thien chi ha, mac phi vuong tho). They were proud to belong to their village, yet that did not make them any less the king’s subjects. What was granted by the ruler could be taken away. Wise monarchs avoided interference in village affairs without due cause, realizing the impossibility of their civil or military officials forcing compliance with every edict emanating from the court. Wise villagers understood that state authorities could turn their lives upside down. From the 10th century, the term xa (commune) can be found as a recognized local unit in historical records, but with diverse meanings. When the Le dynasty (1428–1788) came to use the term xa, it initially signified an organizational template to be applied to every existing village, making them the bottom rung of the state ladder. In 1465, Emperor Le Thanh Ton ordered district mandarins to round up all designated commune heads (xa truong) and send them to the capital, together with their census registers. As this would have meant royal hospitality for more than 6,000 individuals, one doubts the edict was implemented rigorously. In 1488, Le Thanh Ton authorized district mandarins to choose commune heads (plus two assistants) from among the local neo-Confucian literati. Undoubtedly Le Thanh Ton aimed to build imperial links to commune heads that would help check the power of local clans.11 These and many other ambitious state reforms of the late 15th century proved hopelessly unrealistic, yet they continued to be memorialized by neo-Confucian ideologues for the next four hundred years. Over time, the monarchical state did succeed in assigning commune names to most communities in the countryside, although in many cases the community continued to call itself a village (lang, thon, ap, etc.), and to employ its original name internally. In the 19th century, a northern commune may have contained 100–400 households, or 500–2000 inhabitants. A valuable study of one 19th century Red River delta province, Kinh Bac, reveals that more than half of the officially recognized communes were in fact villages (nhat xa nhat thon), not aggregates of a number of different villages as generally assumed. At various points, two or more villages did apply to be joined into a commune, but simultaneously other villages seem to have been splitting into two or

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more villages, with the state eventually recognizing them as separate communes. Remarkably, the total number of recognized communes in Kinh Bac changed very little between the 15th and 19th centuries, despite a substantial increase in population.12 By contrast, in some provinces beyond the Red River delta where land was still available to be cleared and converted to rice paddies, the number of communes doubled or tripled between 1490 and 1810.13 Whatever the number of villages in a commune, it was the village elders who took the lead in choosing the commune head (subject to district mandarin approval), and who decided on appropriate emoluments. Usually it was the commune head and his assistants who maintained the land register (dien bo, dia bo) and the household register (dinh bo), although subordinate villages might keep their own registers too, which did not necessarily conform to commune records. The most important function of the commune head was to receive tax, corvée and military conscript quotas from above and then coordinate discussions about how to comply. If a particular sub-unit appeared unable to extract its share of taxes or manpower from households, the commune head might order detention of lowly defaulters, backed up if necessary by canton or district authorities.14 Not surprisingly, senior village leaders often eschewed appointment to commune positions, preferring to put forward loyal clients instead. Immediately above the commune was the canton (tong), with chiefs selected by district or prefecture mandarins from lists supplied from below. The number of communes in a canton varied widely, from three to eleven or more. Some cantons also contained fishing villages (van), tenant housing (trang) on estates, artisan clusters (so) or guild quarters (phuong). Often it appears the canton was less a functioning government echelon than a device to satisfy local elite desires for official titles and favours. At best, canton personnel facilitated district mandarin efforts to collect taxes, conscript soldiers and organize corvée labour for public works, while also making higher levels aware of village difficulties and aspirations.15 The district magistrate (tri huyen) was at the coalface of Vietnam’s monarchical system, expected to enforce quotas set by higher echelons, dispense local justice, monitor economic conditions, look for signs of unrest, and regularly submit reports to superiors. At the same time, a resourceful district magistrate made himself part of the local political

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scene, travelling to villages by palanquin or boat, cultivating allies, dispensing as well as receiving favours. A separate district education mandarin (huan dao) promoted classical learning and specifically identified suitable candidates for the nearest regional triennial civil examinations. A few clerks, guards and runners rounded off the district staff, housed in a modest compound. Some districts possessed a marketplace and a few artisans in residence, but nothing approximating a town. In the 19th century, Vietnam contained about 250 districts, each with perhaps 25,000–35,000 inhabitants.16 Unlike the canton below or the prefecture above, there was a certain geographical logic and sense of history to the district. In areas populated by non-Kinh peoples, the district equivalent was called a chau, with the Kinh magistrate spending most of his time nurturing quasi-tributary relations with major clan leaders. Three to five districts constituted a prefecture (phu), complete with walled compound to protect the mandarinal hall, official residences and the warehouse for storing tax rice. The prefecture (of which 75 existed in 1831) appears in some respects to have duplicated the functions of a district, especially in 19th century south-central and southern Vietnam, where people were not accustomed to so many echelons. Naturally a prefect (tri phu) received more emoluments than a district magistrate, and was more tied in to provincial and court politics.17 Officials on ad hoc missions, apprentice magistrates, and secretaries (lai muc) were likely to frequent the prefectural compound as well. At each local government level, unpaid supernumeraries survived by petty corruption, despite court efforts to stamp out this practice. The province (tinh) headquarters in 19th century Vietnam exuded state gravitas compared to the modest prefectural and district offices. Governors-general (tong doc) took responsibility for frontier affairs, defence and internal security of two (or three) provinces, while simultaneously administering one of the provinces involved. Governors (tuan phu) administered the other provinces, sometimes supported by judicial and financial commissioners. Province-level officials took responsibility for enforcing and scrutinizing the flow of cadastral and census data coming from the communes. During the early 19th century, 10,044 local cadastres were submitted to the emperor, with copies retained at province and commune levels.18 The provincial education commissioner (doc hoc) enjoyed much more prestige than his prefectural and district counterparts, usually heading a state school and lecturing on the neo-

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Confucian classics. Scores of officials awaiting assignment, secretaries, clerks and hangers-on rounded out the bureaucratic scene. Many 19th century provincial capitals boasted a walled citadel (thanh), complete with moat, cannons, armoury and professional soldiers. Shops, inns, tea houses, amusement venues and ateliers clustered nearby, yet the population of these provincial towns seldom exceeded 5,000. Where commercial centres did exist, it seems the emperor chose to position the provincial capital elsewhere to avoid pollution by merchants, money lenders and foreigners. Unlike China, the 19th century Nguyen monarchy did not install separate hierachies paralleling the territorial administration down to local levels, for example to deal with grain shipments, salt management or waterways. An exception was the Censorate (Do Sat Vien), which among other things carried out background investigations on prospective mandarins and scrutinized government operations from sixteen local bureaus, with powers to impeach any official.19 The system for renumerating officials changed significantly in 19th century Vietnam. Previously a court mandarin received the revenues of an entire designated district, while a lower mandarin “ate” the proceeds of a specific village or royal property. Rulers had long understood how vulnerable this system was to corruption, yet reforms never achieved much. After several decades of discussion and experimentation, a graduated schedule of fixed salaries in money and rice was mandated in 1839. Bottom level mandarins received only 4.5 per cent the amount allocated to a top mandarin. Local proceeds that earlier had renumerated mandarins were supposed to go to unsalaried sub-bureaucrats and the needs of ordinary subjects.20 This latter policy proved much more difficult to enforce than the former. Colonial local government Vietnamese first experienced French methods of local government in the south (Cochinchina), after the French Navy seized control during the 1860s. French officers positioned themselves as far down the administrative ladder as the canton (tong), although it took two decades for them to locate enough compliant native secretary-interpreters to help implement coherent policies regarding taxation, landownership, justice and education. Lands considered by the colonial authorities to be unoccupied or abandoned were passed out to Vietnamese collaborators

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and individual Frenchmen, including office holders. At the village level, notables had little idea of how to safeguard community interests amidst such dramatically altered circumstances. The French abandoned any pretense of village notables nominating canton chiefs, instead themselves selecting men from among nouveau riche concessionaires. From 1882, arrondissement councils were established at provincial level, comprised of chiefs and deputy chiefs of cantons, and presided over by the local French administrator. The Colonial Council in Saigon included some wealthy Vietnamese, who soon were permitted to acquire French citizenship. Large French landowners dominated the quasi-governmental Chamber of Agriculture, while also cultivating political connections in Paris.21 By 1885, France had also taken over northern Vietnam (Tonkin) and central Vietnam (Annam). In 1887, the Indochinese Union was established over the three parts of Vietnam together with Cambodia; six years later, Laos was incorporated as well. In 1897, the Governor General of Indochina, Paul Doumer, launched an ambitious centralization of government, comparable in some ways to the efforts of Emperor Le Thanh Ton in the 15th century, and Emperor Minh Mang only seven decades prior. Doumer put one French résident superieur in charge of Tonkin, another responsible for Annam. Each province possessed a French résident to supervise the local mandarins. Simultaneously, Doumer severely restricted links between the provinces and the Nguyen emperor and court in Hue. Next he created the General Services for Indochina, to include collection of customs and indirect taxes, post and telegraph operations, public works, civil affairs, and agriculture and commerce. Indochina-wide police, education and health services followed later. Revenues from state-controlled monopolies for the production and sale of alcohol, salt and opium met a substantial portion of the Indochina budget. Each of these Indochina-wide services proceeded to establish their own bureaus at regional, province and even prefectural levels.22 While Paul Doumer brought with him the centralizing and standardizing ideology of the French Revolution and Third Republic, he found himself compelled to work within a framework of four protectorates and a direct colony (Cochinchina), each possessing different administrative and legal systems. Although he overcame stubborn resistance from French colons in Cochinchina, they would claw back

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some of their prerogatives under subsequent governors-general. Nor could Doumer and his successors control the Catholic Church or the Bank of Indochina, two extra-government sources of authority in the colonial era. The cities of Hanoi, Haiphong and Da Nang were placed under direct control of the Gouvernement Général. The Indochina Army possessed its own territorial administration, particularly influential in the provinces facing China. Doumer’s parallel hierarchies soon became more complicated than anything experienced by Vietnamese during the monarchical millennium.23 For someone in the Mekong delta attempting to open a private Vietnamese school, for example, two hierarchies had to be navigated, the Cochinchina colonial and Indochina General Services. For someone in Vinh (Nghe An) trying to do likewise, there were three hierarchies to deal with: mandarinal; French résident-résident supérieur; and Indochina General Services. The Government Général’s control of new telegraph and postal services, extending to every district, meant that higher echelons could supervise routine local government and react quickly to emergencies in ways not dreamed of by Emperor Minh Mang. Soon merchants, newspaper editors and ordinary people were using these services as well, albeit subject to confidential government scrutiny. Development of road and rail systems enabled military units, police, customs officers, inspectors, dignitaries, supplies and equipment to circulate with unprecedented facility. This government capacity to communicate and to move around physically helps to account for the lack of success of a number of Vietnamese anti-colonial initiatives prior to 1945. Doumer’s governmental intensification required a major expansion in the number of officials, almost all of them Frenchmen on costly salaries (paid out of escalated taxes on the “native” population). Soon Frenchmen could be found not only running the military, security, political affairs, customs, justice, public works, education and medical bureaucracies, but searching villages for contraband alcohol or salt, collecting a multitude of indirect taxes, issuing or refusing permits, and even selling postage stamps. By contrast, the number of Vietnamese mandarins and secretaries employed at provincial level and below changed very little, even as the quantity of paperwork demanded by higher echelons increased dramatically. Unpaid supernumeraries (students, relatives, agents, and what the French called personnel occulte) multiplied as a result, many of them living by means of speculation, extortion or

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collection of illlicit fees. Repeated colonial prohibitions against the local use of such irregular personnel had no effect.24 By the 1920s, young Francophone Vietnamese were being admitted officially to lower bureaucratic echelons, but at salaries only a fraction of their French counterparts. After the outbreak of World War II in late 1939, faced with a shortage of French personnel and the perceived need to compete with Japan for native allegiance, the colonial authorities increased salaries and promoted more Vietnamese, particularly within the General Services. As the war dragged on, however, rampant inflation undercut these concessions. As of the 1930s, the population of Tonkin, Annam and Cochinchina had doubled compared to a century earlier.25 The French had increased the number of provinces to 65, compared to the 31 delineated by Emperor Minh Mang in 1831. One batch of new provinces existed in the upland areas of Tonkin inhabited mostly by non-Kinh peoples. The special district designation of chau was retained. A separate upland administrative corps was established, yet clan leaders continued to wield de facto authority in many locations. In Cochinchina, the number of provinces increased from six to twenty, the result mainly of sub-divisions in the western Mekong delta. Fifteen cities and towns now were given separate administrative treatment, a reflection of significant urbanization since the 1890s, although about 90 per cent of the population still lived in the countryside.26 At the village level, Governor Général Doumer and his successors aimed mainly to improve the capacity of village leaders to collect taxes, produce reports and prepare annual budgets. This had the effect of enhancing the position of the village head (ly truong), who increasingly served for long durations rather than the traditional three-year term. The village head now usually controlled the tax register, the village guard, and certification of land transactions (as well as births, marriages, and deaths).27 As Martin Grossheim explains in Chapter 3 of this book, after the French authorities became disenchanted with Vietnamese village administration they introduced major reforms on several occasions, but without accomplishing the results desired. Nonetheless, the Vietnamese village of the 1930s had substantially less autonomy than a century prior. It also possessed an increasing number of pen pushers who seldom laboured in the rice fields — a trend destined to continue to the present day. In the 1930s, a total of 20,234 communes (xa) and 2,024 cantons

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(tong) were recorded in Tonkin, Annam and Cochinchina. Communes in Cochinchina tended to contain two or three times as many people as those further north. By the 1930s in Tonkin and Annam, prefectures no longer possessed their own districts. Rather, larger territorial units below the province were styled a prefecture, smaller ones a district. In Cochinchina there were no prefectures at all, and the district was called a quan. Cities had now been recognized beyond those under direct French jurisdiction: Hai Duong and Nam Dinh in Tonkin; and Thanh Hoa, Vinh-Ben Thuy, Hue, Qui Nhon and Da Lat in Annam. Fourteen out of twenty-one province seats in Cochinchina were designated chau thanh, an archaic name for city.28 From late 1939 the Gouvernement Général began to order a wide range of wartime restrictions and controls, which put unprecedented pressure on local officials and multiplied the encounters between the state and ordinary people. When a terrible famine swept Tonkin and northern Annam in the early months of 1945, the entire functioning of government and society was thrown into question.29 Following the Japanese coup de force of 9 March 1945, high-level French officials were placed under house arrest, while middle- and lower-echelon French personnel were instructed to remain on the job. Within three months, however, almost all Europeans had fled to the main cities in the wake of Vietnamese independence demonstrations and physical threats. The Japanese had permitted Emperor Bao Dai to proclaim the independence of Vietnam within the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, and a new royal government convened in Hue in early May, but it had little impact beyond the central region (Trung Ky; Annam). In the southern region (Nam Ky; Cochinchina), the Japanese excluded royal government authority until early August, preferring instead to encourage the Vanguard Youth (Thanh Nien Tien Phong) paramilitary organization, which increasingly took on quasi-government functions as well. In Hanoi, the Northern Imperial Delegate, Phan Ke Toai, often made his own decisions without reference to Hue, to include establishing informal contacts with the Vietnam Independence League (Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh), headed by Ho Chi Minh. Province mandarins reported a general upsurge in armed robbery and pillaging, and from June the Independence League was repeatedly identified as seizing tax rice, cowing village heads, and abducting district magistrates. Already in six mountain provinces the Viet Minh had formed village- and district-level

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revolutionary People’s Committees (uy ban nhan dan cach mang), and Ho Chi Minh had taken up residence in the quasi-capital of Tan Trao, a cluster of hamlets inhabited by Tay people, 85 kilometres northwest of Hanoi.30 The Democratic Republic of Vietnam Word of Japan’s capitulation to the Allies on 15 August spread quickly throughout Vietnam, triggering a largely spontaneous upheaval that was limited only by Japanese insistence on retaining their own weapons to be turned over to arriving Allied forces, and by the desire of Ho Chi Minh and his lieutenants to focus people’s attention on state formation and national defence rather than internecine social revolution. Nonetheless, thousands of revenge killings did occur in subsequent weeks, including a number of village heads, notables, policemen, alleged spies, landlords, and plantation managers. Many more were abducted, incarcerated and — if lucky — released later. Revolutionary committees cropped up by the hundreds, usually composed of teachers, high school students, government employees, former political prisoners and respected elders. News of the Viet Minh seizure of power in Hanoi on 19 August was communicated by telegraph and telephone to most provinces and districts, giving local Viet Minh supporters the opportunity to direct popular attention towards the Viet Minh flag, slogans and alleged Allied credentials. Viet Minh takeovers followed in Haiphong on the 21st, Hue on the 23rd and Saigon on the 25th.31 However, revolutionary committees not dominated by the Viet Minh continued to operate in scores of locations for months thereafter. On 2 September, Ho Chi Minh’s declaration of independence and establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (Viet Nam Dan Chu Cong Hoa) gave non-Viet Minh activists the chance to affirm allegiance to a national government and seek recognition for their continuing local mobilization efforts. In many villages and towns, different committees competed vigorously for authority, occasionally coming to blows. Relations between local committees and local militia leaders could be troublesome as well. The arrival of several thousand members of the Vietnam Nationalist Party (Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang) together with Chinese Nationalist troops, resulted in a number of DRVaffiliated committees being ejected from towns north of Hanoi. The outbreak of fighting with British-French troops in the south in late

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September also led Hoa Hao and Cao Dai religious adherents to organize independently of the communist-dominated Southern Provisional Executive Committee, while not necessarily rejecting allegiance to the DRV.32 Immediately on taking power in early September, the provisional government of the DRV instructed all state employees (cong chuc) to remain on the job unless notified differently, and the vast majority complied. The provisional government abolished several mandarinal corps (ngach quan), telling members that they might be re-employed elsewhere.33 In practice, very few mandarins made the transition to DRV service, while some mandarins were denounced and punished for past actions. Quasi-government corporate groups (nghiep doan) for agriculture, industry, mining, commerce, transport and banking were disbanded and their assets confiscated.34 The Indochina General Services were parcelled out to new DRV ministries, deferring questions about operations relating to Laos or Cambodia.35 The colonial distinction between “European” and “Native” staff ranks was annulled, although Vietnamese in the favoured “European” category only had their benefits reduced, not eliminated.36 As it became apparent that the government lacked sufficient piastres or rice to pay state employees, thousands of individuals applied for and received leave without pay, as distinct from early retirement or outright dismissal. It became common for personnel (both state employees and volunteers) to eat and sometimes sleep at their job sites, relying on periodic food allocations or donations from local support groups. In November 1945, the provisional government issued a decree on formation of People’s Councils (hoi dong nhan dan) and Administrative Committees (uy ban hanh chinh) which has continued to shape local government in Vietnam to the present day.37 At commune and province levels, People’s Councils were to be established by popular direct election, with power to issue resolutions (quyet nghi), choose the Administrative Committee at the same level, set a budget and associated fees, own or rent property, and participate in enterprises of public benefit. Administrative Committees would function at commune, district, province and regional (ky) levels — thus eliminating the canton and prefectural levels of local government.38 The special designation for upland districts (chau) was also dropped. Serving military and state employees could not be elected to Administrative Committees, although three months later state employees were allowed to be “temporarily”

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seconded and continued to receive their prior salary and benefits.39 Relatives were forbidden to sit on the same Administrative Committee, while it was not required for members to come from the territory being administered. The public had the right to attend People’s Council meetings but not raise questions. Administrative Committees normally met behind closed doors. Although the November 1945 decree clearly intended for People’s Councils and Administrative Committees to serve the interests of the inhabitants of their respective territories, it simultaneously placed each unit under extensive scrutiny from higher echelons and provided punishments for contradicting decrees or instructions from above. The results of council and committee elections had to be ratified. Budgets had to be submitted and approved, as did any proposals to buy or sell property, set new fees, borrow money, let contracts or initiate lawsuits. If a People’s Council issued a resolution contrary to higher authority, it would be told to rescind or correct the document. If it refused, the council could be dissolved and new elections ordered. As for Administrative Committees, they were instructed to “carry out the orders (menh lenh) of higher echelons”; if they did not, the committee could be discharged and everyone removed from council membership as well. By the end of 1945, thousands of existing commune and district People’s Committees or Revolutionary Committees had changed their name to Administrative Committee.40 From the point of view of the central government they were only provisional organizations, pending People’s Council elections that would then lead to election of proper Administrative Committees. These elections did gradually take place during 1946, at least in northern and central Vietnam.41 Often by that time, however, the Administrative Committees were in a position to manipulate the council elections or ignore displeasing results. Committees also had developed working relations with higher echelons, and used this to pull rank on People’s Councils when necessary. After full-scale war broke out in December 1946, it was impossible for People’s Councils to convene in many areas. To the degree that People’s Councils represented local legislative potential in the fledgling DRV, the November 1945 decree had given them scant powers, and the Anti-French Resistance ensured that even those powers could not be tested. In the early 1950s, as the Workers’ Party insisted on greater class struggle, attempts were made to increase the number of poor peasants on People’s Councils and

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to reduce the number of landlords and former notables. For almost four years from October 1953, the DRV suspended commune People’s Councils entirely. Once land reform had eliminated the landlords, new elections were held in 1959 and a politically correct class composition achieved. Yet the central authorities continued to conduct what Alexander Woodside nicely calls “homilectic autopsies” on the many village People’s Councils that failed to exercise their legal responsibilities.42 DRV government at province and district levels included not only the Administrative Committees but also a number of local offices responsible for security, customs and indirect taxes, finance, transport, justice, education and health. This was a continuation of the colonial parallel hierarchies, mentioned earlier. Each of these specialized offices was now expected to interact routinely with same-level Administrative Committees while taking orders from its ministerial headquarters. A large proportion of these offices disappeared amidst budget stringencies and wartime disruptions, only to reappear north of the 17th parallel following the 1954 Geneva Accords. Although the DRV possessed a Ministry of Justice from its September 1945 inception, the court system remained a shambles throughout the Anti-French Resistance period. Military courts (toa an quan su) were established urgently to try individuals accused of endangering the independence of the DRV.43 After some discussion, the Provisional Government decreed continuation of all colonial laws and regulations pending promulgation of new national codes. This meant the persistence of three different judicial systems for northern, central, and southern Vietnam. The decree promised rapid distribution of copies of these laws and regulations to all province and city Administrative Committees, who would then be responsible for notifying the population at large. There was one escape clause: no legal clauses contrary to the “principles of Vietnam’s independence and democratic republican form of government” were to be implemented.44 It took months to reconstitute even a few civilian courts in the main cities, and they do not appear to have accomplished much before the outbreak of full-scale war in December 1946.45 Many colonial-era judicial personnel preferred to find work that was less unpopular. In any event, the Ministry of Justice lacked sufficient funds to pay them. Local Administrative Committees preferred to mete out justice themselves, and various government edicts soon gave them the power to do so. Prisoners increasingly were

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dispatched to “internal exile camps” (trai an tri), where conditions ranged from primitive to deadly. For Communist Party members, and not a few non-communist intellectuals, to separate the judicial branch from the executive was to fall into a bourgeois trap. Not until four decades later would Vietnam possess criminal and civil codes. In November 1946, the DRV government divided the entire country into twelve administrative-military zones (khu) and foreshadowed dissolution of the three regional Administrative Committees. The Northern Region Administrative Committee (Uy Ban Hanh Chinh Bac Bo) ceased to exist in the wake of forced evacuation from Hanoi, and the Central Region Administrative Committee did likewise in 1947. However, the Southern Region Resistance and Administrative Committee (Uy Ban Khang Chien Hanh Chanh Nam Bo) continued to operate throughout the 1st Indochina War. In 1947–48, amidst French attacks and general disruption, Viet Minh Resistance Committees and DRV Administrative Committees issued different instructions, duplicated roles and sometimes criticized each other, which led the government to order consolidated Resistance and Administrative Committees (uy ban khang chien hanh chinh) at every level. The twelve zones were reorganized into ten Interzones (lien khu), the most notable being Interzone I (Viet Bac) north of Hanoi, and Interzones III, IV and V extending from the lower Red River delta down to Phu Yen province. For tactical purposes, all of Vietnam also came to be divided into: “free areas” (vung tu do) more-or-less controlled by DRV institutions; contested “guerrilla areas” (vung du kich); and “areas temporarily seized by the enemy” (vung dich tam chiem). The three largest, most persistent, free areas were located in the Viet Bac, Thanh HoaNghe An-Ha Tinh, and Quang Ngai-Binh Dinh-Phu Yen. Local government in free areas tried to project the full range of DRV functions to inhabitants, despite minimal resources. In guerrilla and enemycontrolled areas, most operations had to be clandestine, and DRV personnel often lost touch with higher echelons for months at a time.46 During the Anti-French Resistance, it was not uncommon for a number of existing communes to be combined into a single megacommune, sometimes approximating a colonial-era canton (tong) in size. Touted by higher-level cadres as revolutionary progress and modernization, such reorganizations were sometimes designed to finesse the continuing influence of notables and former village heads, sometimes simply due to the departure of young People’s Committee members in

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favour of army service. From 1954 many of these mega-communes disbanded. As Pham Quang Minh describes in Chapter 8 of this book, local government was further disrupted north of the 17th parallel by the land reform followed by agricultural collectivization. The role of the commune People’s Committee declined precipitously as cooperative management committees were encouraged by the party to take over more and more responsibilities. Significantly, the communes which contained a single village (nhat xa nhat thon) were far more likely to survive the upheavals and emerge operational. Elsewhere, villagers sustained some of their practices in confidence, like “hidden pulses” (mach ngam).47 Many villages (lang, ap) that had formed their own revolutionary committees in 1945 apparently managed to keep them going informally, whatever the repeated administrative alterations occurring at communal level and above. Following the central DRV government’s victorious return to Hanoi in late 1954, the interzones (lien khu) north of the 17th parallel were dismantled, but two autonomous zones (khu tu tri) were introduced to the north and west of Hanoi in recognition of non-Kinh population majorities in those areas.48 During the 1960s, a number of provinces north of the 17th parallel were amalgamated into mega-provinces, in line with socialist development principles of the day. Following the unification of Vietnam in 1975, this policy was applied to some south-central and southern provinces. The SRV reversed itself later, so that today’s province configurations and names appear remarkably similar to the late colonial period. During both the 1st Indochina War (1945–54) and the 2nd Indochina War (1960–75), anti-DRV administrations also functioned down to the commune level, which often thrust ordinary people into perilous circumstances, compelled to make vital decisions based on the ebb-andflow of combat as well as their own political or moral preferences. The French fostered a Republic of Cochinchina in 1946, which mutated to the State of Vietnam in 1950, complete with ministries, province and district chiefs, and communal councils that pledged loyalty to the Indochina Federation within the French Union. The communal councils, disparagingly labelled hoi te by DRV adherents, tended to be dominated by notables and former commune heads (ly truong). Following establishment of the Republic of Vietnam in 1955, Ngo Dinh Diem harkened back to 15th century precedents and insisted that commune

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leaders be selected by the government. He ordered commune leaders to organize everyone into “five family inter-protection” units (ngu gia lien bao), following an ancient Chinese precedent. President Diem also redivided provinces for perceived tactical benefit, and assigned military officers as province chiefs.49 Meanwhile, underground Workers’ Party cadres retained colonial-era territorial demarcations, and from 1960 were able to rebuild a local administrative hierarchy that was one crucial ingredient in eventual military victory.50 The Interzone V apparatus was restored in central Vietnam by 1st Indochina War veterans, who soon challenged the RVN for control of vast inland areas. Alongside the DRV civil administration since September 1945 stood three equally significant institutions: the Army; the Viet Minh/Fatherland Front; and the Communist Party. The DRV Army had to be built from scratch and found itself tested harshly in the south within weeks of independence. Almost all units were formed at district or province level, and continued to depend on local supplies and recruits until moved elsewhere. In the darkest days of the Anti-French Resistance (1947–48), small units depended entirely on local support and learned guerrilla tactics through trial-and-error. Subsequently it was possible to form regular battalions, regiments and eventually the divisions which defeated the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and went on to fight in the 2nd Indochina War. The Army’s command system became highly centralized and dependent on modern communications for effective control. Simultaneously, however, every village took responsibility for its own militia group, and district and province military cadres did not wait for top-level instructions to train and maintain company or battalion size units. Since the late 1980s, the Army has become involved in a wide range of business ventures, to include some at province level. The Viet Minh mass organizations fulfilled many state tasks that the DRV civil administration and the army were unwilling or unable to do, to include political campaigning, collection of “donations”, mobilizing labour brigades, standing guard, collecting information and isolating or sometimes punishing opponents. In the countryside, the associations of farmers, youth and women were most active, while in cities and towns associations of workers, merchants, writers, students, Buddhists, Catholics and overseas Chinese could be found too. Two non-communist political parties played significant roles in the Viet Minh until the early 1950s.51 Every citizen was expected to belong to at least one mass organization.

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Although the degree of involvement and motivation varied greatly from one place or time to another, overall it was the Viet Minh (aka Lien Viet, and later Fatherland Front) psychological impact and mobilization of resources that made the Vietnamese revolution work and enabled society to withstand three decades of war. By the 1970s, however, the mass organizations had lost most of their élan, and the cadres were indistinguishable from party or civil administrative personnel. In late 1945, to avoid Chinese army suppression of the nascent DRV, the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) dissolved itself publicly, while continuing to function behind the scene. Much ICP activity until 1950 focused on the evaluation, promotion or removal of personnel within the Viet Minh, the army and the civil administration. The party developed elaborate procedures for collecting and processing data to go into individual personnel records (ly lich). In 1951, the ICP re-emerged publicly as the Vietnam Workers’ Party (renamed the Vietnam Communist Party in 1976). Party cells were established in every imaginable social group in the country, and the party hierarchy soon paralleled and penetrated all other organizational hierarchies. Members were expected to put the interests of the party ahead of self, family, friends, workmates or any additional organizational affiliation. Party branches made all significant decisions and conveyed them to local government units, which in any event came to be composed largely of party members. An incredible amount of duplicated effort resulted, which the party Politburo routinely decried without being able to resolve. By the 1970s, a variety of sectoral interests had become entrenched within the party, each of which needed to be taken into consideration when making major decisions, not least of all the selection of Politburo and Central Committee members.

Conclusion Since at least the 15th century, one dominant political ideology after another in Vietnam has insisted upon a vertical governing hierarchy extending from the capital down to every village in the land. This can be contrasted with Southeast Asian “mandala” ideologies in which central power radiates horizontally in concentric circles, or with European ‘federal’ concepts by which power is shared among discreet entities. Vietnam has certainly undergone its share of political upheavals during the past 550 years, and the nomenclature of local government has changed

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on many occasions, yet the determination of ruling elites to demarcate large, medium, and small territorial units and to assign precise responsibilities to officials at each echelon has never wavered. We have also seen how ambitious new rulers tried to use this hierarchy to concentrate even more power at the centre, whether it was Le Thanh Ton in the late 15th century, Minh Mang in the 1830s, Paul Doumer at the turn of the 20th century, or the DRV leadership from the late 1940s. In each case the centre’s capacity to govern was enhanced, but at the price of major problems being bestowed to successor generations. Boldly stated, the governing system proved too grand for a poor, geographically fragile country. It proved impossible to institutionalize many of the enhancements, or they came to be utilized in ways never intended by the initiators. Central attempts to control village elite behavior were repeatedly deflected. District or province elites found ways to use the governing hierarchy to their own advantage, preferably in quiet alliance with someone at the centre. The Communist Party succeeded in penetrating the village to a degree impossible under former rulers, yet the consequences for local government remain unclear today. It is possible to plot a story of formal local government standardization and simplification over time. The plethora of royal estates and properties granted to relatives, retainers or officials (complete with resident farmers and artisans) gradually decreased in significance. The sheer variety of village-type settlements also diminished. Minh Mang’s reorganizations were an important watershed, although royal estates persisted and came to be appropriated by the French. Colonial plantations functioned to some degree outside the local government hierarchy, as did state farms (nong truong) under the DRV/SRV. As we look at the four-tier (centre, province, district, commune) governing system which has prevailed in Vietnam since 1945, it is easy to forget the prior existence of prefectures, upland districts (chau), cantons, fishing villages (van), artisan clusters (so) and the like. Lest we assume that standardization and simplication equal historical progress, however, it is worth pointing out how 20th century urbanization has resulted in a number of new categories for cities and towns (thanh pho, thi xa, thi tran). And, as David Koh’s chapter shows, the local governing hierarchy for these urban conglomerations has been the object of considerable debate and modification. Meanwhile, some rural communities are suddenly faced with problems of land transfer, building approvals, utilities, road

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building and environmental degradation that commune People’s Committees are quite ill-equipped to handle.52 With urban sprawl already consuming not only rural communes, but entire districts and even provinces, it seems certain that pressures to restructure local government will increase.

Notes I would like to thank Ben Kerkvliet, Nguyen The Anh, Oscar Salemink, Martin Grossheim, Li Tana and Andrew Hardy for reading earlier drafts of this chapter. 1 For an admirable exploration of pre-15th century administrative geography, if not local government, see Dao Duy Anh, Dat Nuoc Viet Nam, pp. 17–162. 2 Cao Huy Giu, translator, Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu, 1972, vol. 3, p. 306. 3 Buu Cam, Truong Buu Lam, et al., Hong Duc Ban Do, pp. 203–10. Woodside, Vietnam and the Chinese Model, pp. 141–43. 4 Demographic estimates remain controversial. I am positing a population of 2.25 million in the early 15th century and nine million in the mid-19th century. See Li Tana, Nguyen Cochinchina, pp. 159–72. Phan Dai Doan and Nguyen Quang Ngoc, Kinh nghiem to chuc, pp. 105–6. Vu Huy Phuc, Tim hieu che do ruong dat, pp. 379–86. 5 A recent study of stone tablets (stelae) offers a fascinating glimpse into local government (e.g. public works, land management, disputes, security, taxes, corvée). See Pham Thi Thuy Vinh, Van Bia Thoi Le Xu Kinh Bac, pp. 166–87 (Vietnamese), pp. 345–70 (English). 6 Women were excluded from the council of notables and the village headship. Indeed, Vietnamese officialdom was entirely male, except occasionally at court level. 7 Vu Huy Phuc, Tim hieu che do ruong dat, pp. 65–82. 8 Li Tana, Nguyen Cochinchina, pp. 37–40, 56–57. 9 For a recent contribution, see Insun Yu, “The Changing Nature”, pp. 151–72. 10 The original meaning of the word bau was ‘to choose’. Only in the 20th century do we see the emergence of ‘bau cu’ (election), ‘bau cho’ (to vote for), etc. 11 Nguyen The Anh, “Village versus State” pp. 103–4. Phan Dai Doan and Nguyen Quang Ngoc, Kinh nghiem to chuc, pp. 10–18. 12 Nguyen Van Huyen, Dia Ly Hanh Chinh Kinh Bac. Kinh Bac included the presentday provinces of Bac Ninh and Bac Giang, plus portions of Vinh Phuc and Hung Yen. See also, Insun Yu, “The Changing Nature”, pp. 151–58. 13 For example, figures recorded for Thanh Hoa province went from 566 communes in 1490 to 1596 communes in 1810. During that same period,

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14

15

16 17 18 19 20 21

22

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29 30 31 32 33

Nghe An increased from 380 to 1165 communes. Thanks to Li Tana for sharing these and other figures with me. Li Tana, Nguyen Cochinchina, pp. 160–72, explores commune sizes and numbers as a way of estimating overall population. Nguyen The Anh, pp. 105–6. Phan Dai Doan and Nguyen Quang Ngoc, Kinh nghiem to chuc, pp. 35–40. Woodside, Vietnam and the Chinese Model, pp. 153–55, 157–58, 163–67. Nguyen Tu Chi, “The Traditional Viet Village”, pp. 61–67. The literature contains considerable confusion in delineating lang and xa, which I think is a measure of confused reality, not poor scholarship. For example, ly truong is applied to both village and commune heads. Nguyen Van Huyen, canton listings. Hong Duc Ban Do, p. xix. Nguyen The Anh, pp. 79–80. Woodside, Vietnam and the Chinese Model, p. 143. For a helpful diagram of the Le-Trinh governmental hierarchy in the 18th century, see Langlet, L’ancienne historiographie d’etat, Vol. II, Annex 1. Buu Cam, Truong Buu Lam et al., Hong Duc Ban Do, pp. 205–10. Woodside, Vietnam and the Chinese Model, pp. 149–52. Phan Dai Doan and Nguyen Quang Ngoc, Kinh nghiem to chuc, pp. 99–107. Woodside, Vietnam and the Chinese Model, pp. 72–73, 150. Woodside, Vietnam and the Chinese Model, pp. 79–80. Osborne, The French Presence in Cochinchina pp. 59–60, 75, 84–88, 120–26, 144– 55. Brocheux, The Mekong Delta, pp. 118–19, 159. Doumer, L’Indo-Chine Française. Buttinger, Vietnam: A Dragon Embattled, pp. 7–35. Nguyen Van Huyen, La Civilisation Annamite, pp. 131–39. For a heroic attempt to depict the entire colonial government schematically, see Nguyen Khanh Toan, Lich Su Viet Nam, p. 92. A more substantial effort is Duong Kinh Quoc, Chinh Quyen Thuoc Dia o Viet Nam. Perhaps the best English description can be found in Stuttard, Indo-China, pp. 189–210. Poisson, “L’infrabureaucratie Vietnamienne au Bac Ky, pp. 7–24. The 1937 census reported 19 million inhabitants. Robequain, The Economic Development, pp. 32–49. However, it is likely that at least one million people avoided being counted. Buu Cam, Truong Buu Lam et al. Hong Duc Ban Do, pp. 211–16. Nguyen Van Huyen, La Civilisation Annamite, pp. 138–39. Papin, “Who has Power in the Village?” pp. 21-60. Buu Cam, Truong Buu Lam, et al., Hong Duc Ban Do, pp. 211–16. Nguyen Dinh Dau, Viet Nam Quoc Hieu & Cuong Vuc, 93–94. Marr, Vietnam 1945, pp. 29–41, 72–75, 96–107. Marr, Vietnam 1945, pp. 61–68, 107–49, 207–40. Marr, Vietnam 1945, pp. 346–472. Marr, Vietnam 1945, pp. 473–539. SL 18 (8-9-45) and SL 33 (13-9-45), in CB 1945, pp. 9, 11.

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SL 22-9-45, CB 1945, p. 9. SL 3-10-45, CB 1945, pp. 33–34. Listed for transfer are 57 different offices, bureaus, courts, school systems and institutes. Bo Tai Chinh ND 34-TC(1-11-45), CB 1945, pp. 99–100. SL 63 (22-11-45), CB 1945, pp. 85–92. See also the discussion of this decree in Nguyen To Uyen, Cong cuoc bao ve, pp. 145–51. District Administrative Committees were to be elected by commune council members, and regional Administrative Committees by province/city council members. Districts were granted People’s Councils in the 1959 Constitution. The term Administrative Committee was changed to People’s Committee (uy ban nhan dan) in the 1960s. SL 22A (18-2-46), CB 1946, p. 116. A list of DRV province/city administrative divisions, prepared in preparation for the 6 January 1946 National Assembly elections, can be found in CB 1945, 41–45. Districts in Bac Bo provinces can be found in CB 1946, 29–31. I have not been able to locate a list of Trung Bo and Nam Bo districts for this period, much less lists of communes. Not until 1948 were People’s Council elections accomplished in some localities in the south. Phan Dai Doan and Nguyen Quang Ngoc, Kinh nghiem to chuc, pp. 168-69. Woodside, Community and Revolution, pp. 252–54. SL 13-9-45; SL 26-9-45; SL 29-9-45, CB 1945, pp. 18, 19–20, 27. Ten regional military courts were mandated, but it is unclear if all took shape and functioned subsequently. SL 10-10-45, CB 1945, pp. 35–36. The overall design is spelled out in SL 13 (24-1-46), CB 1945, pp. 63–71. Phan Dai Doan and Nguyen Quang Ngoc, Kinh nghiem to chuc, pp. 169–78. Nguyen to Uyen, pp. 145. Phan Dai Doan and Nguyen Quang Ngoc, Kinh nghiem to chuc, pp. 31–32, 44–45, 54–55, 58–59. These were the Khu Tu Tri Viet Bac (6 provinces) and Khu Tu Tri Thai Meo (2 provinces), drawing on Soviet precedent, and discontinued in the late 1970s. A 1959 list of RVN provinces and districts, together with numbers of cantons, communes and villages (ap), can be found in Buu Cam, Truong Buu Lam et al., Hong Duc Ban Do, pp. 217–36. Gerald C. Hickey, Village in Vietnam, pp. 181–213, examines in some detail the administration of Khanh Hau commune (xa), 55 kilometres south of Saigon, during the period 1953–62. Elliott, The Vietnamese War, pp. 137–48, 188–95, 243–70, 524–609. These were the Vietnam Democratic Party (Viet Nam Dan Chu Dang), and the Vietnam Socialist Party (Viet Nam Xa Hoi Dang). The Democratic Party

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in particular had gained a loyal following during the August 1945 Revolution, and its leaders continued to show a degree of freedom until eventually brought to heel by the Communist Party. Both parties were allowed to survive without new members being permitted until “voluntarily disbanding” in 1988. Diep Van Son, “Giua xa va phuong la cai gi?” [What’s in between the Commune and the Ward?], Tuoi Tre, 26 August 03.

Bibliography Brocheux, Pierre. The Mekong Delta: Ecology, Economy and Revolution, 1860–1960. Madison: University of Wisconsin Center for Southeast Asian Studies, 1995. Buttinger, Joseph. Vietnam: A Dragon Embattled. Vol. 1: From Colonialism to the Vietminh. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1967. Buu Cam, Truong Buu Lam, et al., (compilers). Hong Duc Ban Do [Hong Duc Era Map]. Saigon: Bo Quoc Gia Giao Duc, 1962. Cao Huy Giu, translator. Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu [Complete Historical Record of Greater Viet]. Hanoi: NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1972. Duong Kinh Quoc. Chinh Quyen Thuoc Dia o Viet Nam truoc Cach Mang Thang Tam Nam 1945 [Colonial Government in Vietnam before the August 1945 Revolution]. Hanoi: NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1988. Dao Duy Anh. Dat Nuoc Viet Nam qua cac doi [The Land of Vietnam across the Ages]. Hue: NXB Thuan Hoa, 1994. Doumer, Paul. L’Indo-Chine Française: Souvenirs. Paris: Vuibert et Nouy, 1905. Elliott, David W.P. The Vietnamese War: Revolution and Social Change in the Mekong Delta 1930–1975. Two volumes. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2003. Hickey, Gerald Cannon. Village in Vietnam. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1964. Langlet, Philippe. L’ancienne Historiographie d’etat au Vietnam. Two volumes. Paris: École Française d’Extrême-Orient, 1985 and 1990. Li Tana. Nguyen Cochinchina: Southern Vietnam in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Southeast Asia Program, 1998. Marr, David G. Vietnam 1945: The Quest for Power. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. Nguyen Dinh Dau. Viet Nam Quoc Hieu & Cuong Vuc qua cac thoi dai [Vietnam’s State Names and Territorial Demarcations across the Ages]. Ho Chi Minh City: NXB Tre, 2003. Nguyen Khanh Toan, ed. Lich Su Viet Nam [History of Vietnam]. Vol. 2. Hanoi: NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1985. Nguyen The Anh. “Village versus State: The Evolution of State-Local Relations in Vietnam until 1945”. Tonan Ajia Kenkyu (Southeast Asian Studies) 41, no. 1 (June 2003): 101–23.

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Nguyen To Uyen. Cong cuoc bao ve va xay dung chinh quyen Nhan Dan Viet Nam trong nhung nam 1945–1946. [The Work of Protecting and Building People’s Government in Vietnam during 1945–1946]. Hanoi, NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1999. Nguyen Tu Chi. “The Traditional Viet Village in Bac Bo: Its Organizational Structure and Problems”, Vietnamese Studies, no. 61 (1970): 61–67. Nguyen Van Huyen. Dia Ly Hanh Chinh Kinh Bac/Tableau de Geographie Administrative d’une Ancienne Province Vietnamienne. Hanoi: EFEO, 1996. Nguyen Van Huyen. La Civilisation Annamite. Hanoi: Direction de l’Instruction Publique de l’Indochine, 1944. Osborne, Milton E. The French Presence in Cochinchina and Cambodia: Rule and Response (1859–1905). Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1969. Papin, Philippe. “Who has Power in the Village? Political Process and Social Reality in Vietnam”. In Vietnam Exposé: French Scholarship in Twentieth Century Vietnamese Society, edited by Gisele Bousquet and Pierre Brocheux. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002. Pham Thi Thuy Vinh, Van Bia Thoi Le Xu Kinh Bac va su phan anh sinh hoat lang xa [Stelae of the Kinh Bac Region during the Le period: Reflections of Village Life]. Hanoi: NXB Van Hoa Thong Tin and Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient, 2003. Vietnamese and English texts. Phan Dai Doan and Nguyen Quang Ngoc, eds. Kinh nghiem to chuc quan ly nong thon Vietnam trong lich su [Historical Experiences in Organizing Vietnamese Rural Administration]. Hanoi: NXB Chinh Tri Quoc Gia, 1994. Poisson, Emmanuel. “L’infrabureaucratie vietnamienne au Bac Ky (Tonkin) de l’independance au Protectorate (fin du XIXe Siecle–debut du XXe siecle)”. Le Mouvement Social, no. 194 (January–March 2001): 7–24. Robequain, Charles. The Economic Development of French Indochina. London: Oxford University Press, 1944. Stuttard, J.C., ed. Indo-China. London: Naval Intelligence Division, 1943. Vu Huy Phuc. Tim hieu che do ruong dat Viet Nam nua dau the ky XIX [Understanding the Vietnamese Land System in the Early 19th Century]. Hanoi: NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1979. Woodside, Alexander B. Community and Revolution in Modern Vietnam. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976. Woodside, Alexander B. Vietnam and the Chinese Model: A Comparative Study of Nguyen and Ch’ing Civil Government in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971. Yu Insun. “The Changing Nature of the Red River Delta Villages during the Le Period (1428–1788)”. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 32, no. 2 (2002): 151–72.

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Reproduced from Beyond Hanoi: Local Government in Vietnam, edited by Benedict J Tria Kerkvliet and David G Marr (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http:// bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

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3 Village Government in Pre-colonial and Colonial Vietnam Martin Grossheim

When the French established their colonial regime in Vietnam in the second half of the nineteenth century they were confronted with villages that had reached a comparably high degree of autonomy towards the central administration. Many French observers were impressed by what they called “small republics” where the “equality of the citizens is absolute”.1 The system of village self-administration seemed to be advantageous for the colonial administration and to guarantee stability in the countryside. In 1875 a French colonial officer praised “the Vietnamese village”: “The instrument is old, it is good, it fits to the people. What interest should we have to change it?”2 At the turn of the century, however, the initial admiration of Vietnamese villages mixed with criticism of the omnipotence of notables and with demands that counter-measures should be taken against that situation. The French first tried to introduce a stricter tax system and change the way local authorities collected taxes. In the following years, the French launched several ambitious reforms to make local government and finance more transparent and to change the recruitment mechanisms of officials to enhance their accountability.

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Vietnam was divided into three parts under French rule. Northern Vietnam was Tonkin; central Vietnam, Annam; and southern Vietnam Cochinchina. This chapter focuses on the reform of village administration in Tonkin that the French launched in three consecutive steps after 1921. The reforms of village administration (cai luong huong chinh) and village customs (cai luong huong tuc) were a test-case for the French to make local officials accountable and introduce the electoral principle. I will not discuss developments in Annam because the French did not attempt to reform the system of village administration and the recruitment of local officials there. In Annam, it was only in 1942 that the French started to interfere with the formation of village councils of notables.3 In Cochinchina, the French tried to reform local village administration much earlier (at the beginning of the 20th century). However, at the beginning of the French colonial period, villages in southern Vietnam, especially in the Mekong delta, differed fundamentally from villages in northern Vietnam: they were much more “open” and lacked the strong community institutions like the public land system that characterized villages in the north.4 Therefore, under French colonial domination, villages in Cochinchina underwent a specific development that is barely comparable to that of villages in northern Vietnam.5 In the following section I review the development of village government in pre-colonial Vietnam. I focus on the way local officials, namely notables, were recruited. Village Government in Pre-colonial Vietnam In pre-colonial Vietnam, the court did not administer villages directly, but relied on local officials. The relationship between the court and these local officials and the institutions of village administration changed in the course of history. In 907 the term xa (commune) was used for the first time in annals when the country was divided into different administrative levels. The Ly dynasty (1010–1225) tried to put the villages under the control of the central administration by appointing mandarins (xa quan) at the village level. Their most important tasks were to collect taxes, and to recruit villagers for corvée and military service.6 Under the Tran dynasty the xa quan were replaced by so-called dai tu xa and tieu tu xa, but these local officials were still mainly concerned with matters of taxation.7 In 1280, for the first time the annals mentioned councils of notables (hoi dong ky muc), a council that was established in all villages and that the above-mentioned officials had to consult.

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During the Ming occupation at the beginning of the 15th century the administrative system was fundamentally transformed: the lowest administrative level was made up of groups of households (ly), led by a ly truong. The Chinese household system was never fully put into practice, but the term ly truong was still used when the Le dynasty came to power and started to rebuild the country.8 Under the Le dynasty villages were again administered by xa quan, who like before, were directly appointed by the court.9 The Le dynasty also decided on a redistribution of public land (cong dien). Henceforth, the xa quan had to make sure that public land was regularly distributed. The Le Code “… definitely established the preeminence of the State’s rights on public land”.10 At the end of the 15th century the Le dynasty had reached the zenith of its power, but then came under the influence of other powerful families. From the 16th century onwards Vietnam was ruled by the Trinh in the north and by the Nguyen in the south. The weakness of the Le dynasty and the rule of two hostile families who plunged Vietnam into a devastating civil war (1627–72) led to an erosion of the power of the central administration. The villages, however, became more and more autonomous. In the 17th and 18th century the Trinh tried several times to update tax lists and carry out a census, but met with the fierce resistance of the villages. 11 Likewise, the central administration was no longer able to prevent the occupation of public land by village authorities. In a decree in 1711, for example, the Trinh tried to revive old principles about the inalienability of public land. Those villages, however, where the purchase and sale of cong dien had become common practice were exempted from this stipulation.12 Henceforth, public land was mainly controlled by the villages themselves. In reality, this meant that the notables could manipulate the public land system and occupy the best ricefields themselves. The central administration was less and less able to guarantee strict control of local officials. In 1732 the Trinh conceded that, from that date onwards, communes had the right to appoint the xa truong (xa quan) themselves, those who had been formerly appointed by the court.13 The emancipation of the villages from the central administration was accompanied by a social crisis in the countryside that at the end of the 18th century culminated in the Tay Son rebellion.

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When Gia Long established the Nguyen dynasty in 1802 he tried to consolidate his power by setting up a centralized administrative system with village communes at the lowest level and ensuring social stability in the countryside.14 The Nguyen urged villages to acknowledge the inalienability of public land and to redistribute it to villagers on a regular basis. This policy was unsuccessful: the Nguyen could not prevent local officials from illegally occupying land.15 At the same time, they tried to put the tax system on a more solid basis by carrying out a census. In practice, however, they had to rely on “lists of registered villagers” (dinh bo) — that did not reflect the real number of village inhabitants, but were manipulated by the authorities. In other words — the central authorities did not have exact information on the number of taxpayers. Therefore, in pre-colonial Vietnam, villagers were not taxed individually but villages paid a certain amount and assessed the tax internally.16 Villages were still administered by councils of notables (hoi dong ky muc or hao muc). They were recruited from registered villagers (dan noi) who fulfilled certain criteria: age, a mandarinate degree, competence in administrative matters, prestige and property. It is not clear whether and which one of these different criteria was decisive, but it is obvious that landownership alone was not sufficient to become a notable.17 The council of notables was headed by the tien chi who, due to his age and education, enjoyed special prestige in the village. The notables who did not have specified tasks were divided into two groups, the “main” notables (ky muc) and the “small” notables (dich muc). The ly truong belonged to the latter group, he only had a low position in the village hierarchy. Before the 18th century he had still been appointed by the court and served as a representative of the central administration at the village level. During the 18th century onwards he had to act as an intermediary between villages and higher authorities while mainly serving the interests of the village. This fundamental transformation of the role of the ly truong in village government reflects a basic change of Vietnamese villages since the 16th century: their transformation from centrally-controlled administrative units into ones that enjoyed a higher degree of autonomy than in previous times and independently managed their communal resources like cong dien. By saying this, however, I do not subscribe to romantic and uncritical notions of “village democracy” and assessments of an almost absolute

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village autonomy in pre-colonial Vietnam.18 On the other hand, it is obvious that in the 19th century the efforts of villages to keep a certain autonomy from state interference were quite successful. At the same time, this relatively high degree of autonomy also had negative sideeffects: corruption and the misuse of communal property in the villages became widespread. These negative phenomena were targeted by reforms of local government that the colonial administration carried out from the beginning of the 20th century. Local authorities and the colonial tax system The tax system in pre-colonial Vietnam distinguished “registered” and “non-registered” villagers. Only the former group of villagers was supposed to pay taxes. As mentioned above, villages paid head taxes on a collective basis. Taxes were collected by the notables and passed on to higher authorities by the local ly truong. The tax lists that local officials used for assessment were far from correct and did not reflect the actual number of taxable villagers in northern Vietnam. French administrators in Nam Dinh province, for example, frequently complained about this phenomenon. In 1889 the French resident stated: “ … the lists are so incorrect that one could throw them into the fire”.19 According to French estimates, in 1884 the number of registered villagers only amounted to one-third of contributable villagers.20 In order to increase the number of taxpayers, in 1897 the colonial administration ordered that henceforth non-registered villagers as well had to pay taxes, albeit at a lower rate.21 This reform, however, did not result in the transformation of villagers into individual taxpayers. Due to the lack of French administrative personnel, the colonial power still had to rely on local notables, who assessed and collected taxes without being effectively controlled. In 1897, the French introduced tax cards that every contributable villager had to show upon request. In case of non-compliance, the colonial authorities could arrest him and inflict a collective punishment on his native village.22 This tax card system turned out to be an effective method against tax evasion in the Vietnamese countryside.23 On the other hand, local authorities misused the introduction of tax cards and of two different tax rates (for registered and non-registered villagers) to enrich themselves. For example, they did not issue tax cards although the obligatory head tax had been paid, or they demanded more taxes than stipulated in the colonial decrees.24

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The arbitrary behaviour of notables was often mentioned in reports submitted by the provinces. The résident of Nam Dinh, for example, complained in a report of 1902 that, in matters of taxation, villagers were at the mercy of local authorities who usually embezzled a certain portion of the taxes paid.25 A few years later, in 1910, the résident of the same province claimed that the collection of taxes proceeded smoothly, but he had received many complaints about embezzlement of taxes by notables and ly truong.26 In 1914, the Chambre Consultative Indigène du Tonkin also emphasized that the tax lists provided by villages were still absolutely fictitious.27 In the same session, the Chambre discussed whether the difference between registered and non-registered villagers should be eliminated. Several members pleaded against such a step, but a few years later the dual tax system was indeed put into practice.28 The same Chambre Consultative had discussed the problem of village administration and village finances in much more general terms. It was from this institution and the Conseil Provinciaux de Notables that the initiative for an overall reform of village administration emanated.29 This reform was closely interrelated with the reform of the tax system. Reform of local government in Tonkin The administrative reform of 1921 From 1908 on, the French intensified their fight against corrupt notables and reform of village finances. In his opening address of the December 1908 session, Gouverneur Général Klobukowski emphasized that the “village” institution had to be protected. At the same time, however, he demanded a reform of village finances to bring greater transparency to the revenues and expenditures of the notables and to lessen the financial burden on villagers.30 The commission welcomed the idea and, for its own part, put forward the proposal that the budgets should be set up by a council of family representatives.31 After trial runs in several provinces, the French were convinced they had sufficient information on village administration and that the attitude of villagers toward future reforms was positive.32 In his speech to the consultative commission, Résident Supérieur Destenay emphasized that a reform of village administration was still absolutely necessary to create the preconditions for an overall reform of Vietnamese society.33 In order to curb the endemic corruption of notables,

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councils of family representatives had to take the place of the councils of notables. In contrast to the council of notables, the new council would be “a strong power regularly established, but which is not arbitrary”.34 The consultative commission welcomed the French reform proposals and prepared detailed regulations for the setting up of councils of family representatives. Nevertheless, it took several years for the colonial administration to put into practice the proposal to reorganize the administrative structure in the villages and to set up budgets. This was mainly due to the fact that during World War I the French had to set new priorities and a part of the administrative staff was sent back to the motherland.35 From the beginning of the 1920s, the colonial administration increasingly adopted the view that the resistance of the old notables could only be broken if a common, binding legal basis for implementation of village reform was set up. Résident Supérieur au Tonkin Monguillot emphasized that the reform would certainly fail if the French continued to rely on the old notables. For lack of control, the council of notables has stopped being a real administrative council and become a simple group of persons without any proper mandate and who run the affairs of the village without the bulk of the population being able to ever make themselves heard. The taxes that are allegedly imposed for the benefit of the village commune are assessed and spent arbitrarily, and the taxpayers cannot discuss their utility nor check on their use.36

Therefore, in August 1921 Monguillot issued two decrees that represented the first comprehensive village reform in Tonkin.37 One dealt with administrative reform, the other contained detailed regulations on how to set up a budget. It should be emphasized that the decrees applied to villages (lang, thon), not to communes (xa).38 From this period on, villages in Tonkin were to be administered by councils of family representatives. 39 Every lineage had the right to elect its own representatives. The council was to consist of four members at least and twenty at the most. All male villagers of at least eighteen years of age without criminal records were allowed to vote. Men who were at least twenty-five years old who had property in the village could run for elections. The decree and the instruction explained how many representatives each lineage was allowed to elect, but they did not clarify how votes were cast or how they were counted. They only stipulated

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that local mandarins had to be informed in case of contestation concerning the elections.40 After the election, the list of prospective council members had to be submitted to the province chief for approval. To ensure better control, a secretary (thu ky) had to keep a record of all the sessions of the new council and send them to the office of the provincial governor. The council of lineage representatives was in charge of all important village affairs, in particular the establishment of a budget. These budgets were to be set up gradually. The insufficient number of personnel in the colonial administration meant control of the budgets in all the villages in Tonkin (approximately 6,500) would have been impossible. Therefore, the résident proclaimed that in an initial phase only villages with more than 500 taxpayers had to set up a budget. At the end of the year the budgets for the coming year had to be prepared and forwarded to the province chief for approval. After it had been accepted, the budget was binding for the relevant period of time. The main purpose of the reform of village finances was “ … to bring some order and clarity into the chaos of the finances of a Vietnamese village.”41 However, this aim was two-fold: on the one hand, the reform was supposed to make village officials more accountable to higher authorities; on the other hand, reforms would give villagers a better insight into village finances. In his instruction to the decree, Monguillot argued that in Vietnamese villages the local authorities usually were in charge of collecting taxes and spending that money. The villagers, however, who have to pay those taxes had no control over how these taxes are assessed, or in which way and for what purposes the money is spent by village authorities.42 Therefore, the decree stipulated that the council of lineage representatives also had to set up a detailed list of taxes and to post it up at the communal house so that every villager could see the amount of taxes he and the other villagers had to pay. If a villager thought that his taxes were not correctly assessed, he could complain to the chair of the council.43 However, the decrees did not stipulate that the whole budget was also to be made known to the villagers. Any modifications to the budget, especially additional expenditures, had to be approved by the provincial administration. The council of family representatives had to reach decisions by a majority vote. The socalled chanh huong hoi acted as the council’s chair: he convened meetings, chaired them and had to ensure that decisions were implemented. In

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financial matters he was assisted by a treasurer (thu quy) who supervised the village funds. A secretary (thu ky) had to keep records of the council meetings and keep the registers for births and so on. Both treasurer and secretary were appointed by the council.44 The ly truong had to serve as an intermediary between village and central bureaucracy and make sure that orders from higher-level administrative bodies were carried out in the village and collect taxes. The French hoped that they had thereby created “ … a real council with clearly prescribed competences.”45 Even though the reform decrees did not stipulate the abolition of the old councils of notables, their elimination resulted from the establishment of new councils of lineage representatives (hoi dong toc bieu). Although many old notables had boycotted the initial reforms in Ha Dong and Son Tay in 1920, the colonial bureaucracy assumed that they could be integrated into the reform without major problems by being elected as members of the newly established council of lineage representatives.46 At the same time the French were highly convinced that the new councils would really serve the interests of the whole village population. As each family would delegate members to the new council, a system of checks-and-balances would materialize, preventing the monopolization of power in the hands of one family and endemic interfamily quarrels.47 In Ha Dong province, as early as February 1921, a school was opened where future village secretaries (thu ky) were trained in administration, book-keeping and other matters like hygiene, geography and quoc ngu (national script). The French hoped that, after having attended these courses, the secretaries would return to the villages fully equipped to do a proper job of faithfully implementing the reform decree of 1921, and widely propagate the reform ideas.48 Starting at the end of 1921, provinces like Hai Duong, Nam Dinh, and Phu Tho offered courses in administrative matters as well.49 According to the reports of the province chiefs, the courses proceeded successfully.50 Following the important reform decrees of 1921, the rules for the election of the ly truong were revised as well.51 Only persons between twenty-four and fifty years of age who had a complete command of quoc ngu, had a good reputation, showed a positive attitude toward the colonial power, and possessed property were eligible. The election of the ly truong only became valid with the assent of the French résident. The most important change, however, was that the ly truong would only

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be elected by members of the council of lineage representatives and those villagers who held other positions, not by all registered villagers, as before. In the first years, the whole reform seemed to proceed to the satisfaction of the colonial bureaucracy. Successes were reported from many provinces.52 In the 1923 session of the Chambre Consultative Indigène, Monguillot stated that the reform had been a complete success. Almost all villages had already elected new councils, and more than 2,000 villages had set up a budget.53 In the mid-twenties, however, it became increasingly obvious that the optimism of the first years had been unfounded. More and more evidence came to light indicating that the first attempt to introduce more centralized authority in the villages of northern Vietnam by setting up a new administrative system of “order and democracy” had failed. In 1927, for example, the French résident of Nam Dinh, one the largest delta provinces, had to admit that so far the results of the reform had only been mediocre and that therefore a new reform should be launched.54 The reform failed for several reasons.55 The competence and the intellectual level of many members of the new councils, especially of the village secretaries and treasurers (thu ky and thu quy), left much to be desired as they were not able to understand and apply the relatively complicated instructions to keep a record or set up a budget — in spite of all French efforts to provide them with the necessary knowledge in special training courses.56 Many of the village secretaries did not have a good command of quoc ngu, either.57 However, the backward thinking, the indifference and sometimes the resistance to village reform was most prominent among the old authorities, who were struggling to retain power. In contrast to the hopes of the colonial administration, most of them refused to run for election to the new councils — mainly because they rejected the electoral principle. “ … The notables don’t care to throw themselves into electoral squabbles where they run the risk of ‘losing face’ (mat the dien)”.58 Besides this, they refused to exercise special functions (secretary, or treasurer, for example) in the new councils.59 They tried to sabotage the work and the decisions of the new toc bieu council and to undermine the authority of its members. In some cases, they managed to put straw men in the main positions in the council. In this way they could still hold the reins of power without having to assume responsibility themselves.60

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It was a simple matter for the old authorities to undermine the reputation of the chanh huong hoi and his colleagues in the new council. The French had assumed that solely by being elected, the new village councils would gain enough legitimacy to be accepted by the whole village community.61 The colonial administration was thinking in purely rational bureaucratic terms, and therefore pushed the villages to replace the obligatory lavish feasts with a monetary contribution.62 This scheme, however, was in blatant contrast to the principle “without arranging a feast, you don’t become a mandarin” (vo vong bat thanh quan). The French had underestimated the importance of the fact that rising to a higher level in the village hierarchy also had to be manifested in public ceremonies, and a mere position of power without ritual confirmation would be worthless.63 As most of the members of the council of lineage representatives were usually quite young, and before their election had only rarely held a prominent position in the village hierarchy, they did not have enough authority to assert themselves. The opponents of the reform project immediately spotted this weak point and could easily ridicule the members of the new council by just calling attention to their subordinate place in the seating-order in the communal hall.64 In villages that were more “progressive” and committed to reform the situation was different: those villagers who had acquired a French diploma were granted the same honours as those only enjoyed in previous times by the newly-qualified mandarins returning to their native village after having passed the (highest) mandarin exam (vinh qui). In these villages there was still at least a chance that the “new authorities” could legitimize their leading position by appropriating traditional, but slightly modified rituals, push the reform ahead and fight against corruption. A successful fight against corruption, however, required that the new members be committed to implementing the reform and that the different families keep each other in check through their respective representatives in the council. This assumption, however, proved illusory. In general, the members of the new council regarded their position as a source of income for themselves and their families. They did not feel obliged to work for the benefit of the village community, but instead made wide use of their power to enrich themselves.65 Many families used all kinds of tricks to gain influence in the council, with the chairs embezzling money, or illegally confiscating public land, to name a few.66 The fact that after 1921 additional village officials had been appointed to ensure

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that order and transparency should prevail in the communal administration had actually aggravated the whole problem: now there were even more officials who wanted to have a piece of the cake and used their power for personal benefit.67 Although in the twenties the number of village officials was increased, because of the inadequate number of administrative personnel, the Résidence Supérieure could still not guarantee that the implementation of the reform at village level was continuously and systematically controlled. In addition, some colonial administrators were reluctant to depart the relative luxury of the provincial towns and only sporadically left their desks to gather first-hand information in the villages under their jurisdiction.68 This had a fatal impact on the performance of the reform project, especially the setting up of village budgets. In order to ensure effective budget control, the Résident Supérieure had ordered that only villages with more than 500 taxpayers should set up budgets.69 In reality, however, things looked different.70 In Nam Dinh province, for example, 650 villages already had a budget by the mid-twenties, although only about 250 of them had more than 500 taxpayers.71 The main problem, therefore, was that in non-compliance with Résident Supérieure’s orders, villages with less than 500 taxpayers also set up budgets. The French did not have the administration to control such a huge number of budgets. Therefore, statistics indicating that a great number of villages did actually establish budgets did not mean that the administrative reform had been sucessfully implemented.72 The introduction of budgets, the heart of the reform, had failed.73 The French had to realize that they could not dissolve the old council of notables and thereby undermine the authority of the traditional authorities with the stroke of a pen.74 In theory, the reform decrees offered the colonial bureaucracy enough possibilities to subject the councils of lineage representatives to strict control, to permeate authority to the village level, and to introduce more centralized control. In practical terms, however, this attack on village autonomy failed because French and Vietnamese administrators did not manage to guarantee control of all villages in Tonkin. From the mid-twenties, the Résidence Supérieure realized that the decrees of 1921 were based on the wrong premises. In 1927, after an

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analysis of shortcomings, the French launched a second overall attempt to reform village administration in Tonkin. The administrative reform of 1927 According to the new reform decree of February 1927 the council of lineage representatives that had been introduced in 1921 was retained.75 In future, however, it was to be assisted by the re-established council of notables. The colonial bureaucracy wanted to reintegrate the old village authorities into village administration.76 The colonial administration changed the composition of the council of notables slightly. Besides persons who had a mandarin degree or had occupied a position in the village or district administration,77 those villagers who had passed exams within the new French educational system were to be accepted as members as well.78 Thereby, the French hoped to mobilize the “new intellectuals” and the younger generation for village administration.79 The council of notables (hoi dong ky muc) was to be heard in all decisions of the council of lineage representatives; however, it only had a consultative function.80 If the council of notables rejected a decision made by the other council, it was to be submitted to the latter a second time. If still no agreement could be reached, the Résident de Provence had to make the final decision. The council of notables was not to have any influence on the implementation of decisions. The colonial administration modified the council of lineage representatives also: its term was extended from three to six years in order to ensure greater continuity. The duties of the chanh huong hoi were once more delimited from those of the ly truong, who had to restrict himself to his role as intermediary between village and higher administrative levels.81 As far as the setting up of budgets was concerned, the new decree mainly adopted the regulations of 1921. However, the French administration specified further the criteria for villages to establish budgets. In the future, those villages with 500 or more taxpayers and those with a budget of at least 500 piastres had to put their finances in order. Moreover, villages were given detailed instructions on how to replace the obligatory feasts with a monetary contribution that had to be paid to the village funds. In order to ensure better and regular control, a bureau de réformes communales was to be set up in every province.82 In 1928, the colonial administration first took stock of the new reform. The initial results gave reason for hope: the number of budgets had

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dropped to 3,000. Many small villages that did not meet the criteria of taxpayer numbers or budget size abolished their budgets. In Nam Dinh, the number of budgets was reduced from 660 to a mere 280 the following year.83 The Résident Supérieure had hoped that, with a smaller number of budgets, it would be easier to ensure an effective system of monitoring. To obtain a view of progress made, he instructed province chiefs to draw up a report on financial administration in the villages. Unfortunately, these reports showed that the colonial bureaucracy was still facing problems controlling budgets. Therefore, the province chief of Thai Binh suggested restricting monitoring to a few villages per district.84 In view of bad news like this, the Résidence Supérieure in Hanoi had to admit that despite all efforts after 1927, most budgets still only existed on paper and did not reflect the real financial situation in villages. Moreover, there were still some notables who seemed to have difficulties in understanding the content and the objective of the reform.85 In 1932, the Résident Supérieure issued a new decree, whereby only villages with a budget of more than 2,000 piastres (before 500 piastres) were to set up a budget; smaller villages were only to keep a very simplified “account”, listing their revenues and expenditures. The aim was clear: to reduce the number of villages provided with a budget and thereby to make it easier for understaffed provincial administrations to ensure more effective budgetary control.86 In fact, the number of villages provided with a budget did drop significantly. In 1933 in Nam Dinh province, for example, only 22 villages still had a budget.87 This, however, meant that a large number of villages in Tonkin were not covered by the principal item of the administrative reform anymore, the straightening out of finances. According to surveys in 1937 and 1938, for example, not more than 235 and 247 villages respectively in the whole of Tonkin were provided with budgets, which corresponded to approximately 2.5 per cent of all original villages.88 The target group of the reform had thus been reduced to a minimum. The province chiefs who had to comment on the progress of the reforms emphasized that the success of the reform very much depended on the availability of dynamic, competent and upright notables.89 This, however, only seemed to have been the case in a few villages.90 Members of the toc bieu council did not refuse to set up budgets, but just followed the reform decrees of the colonial administration for form’s sake. They kept on embezzling and spending money as they saw fit, without

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applying for the obligatory permission of the province.91 This applied in particular to expenditures for village feasts and ceremonies that should have been reduced substantially and monetarized. Meanwhile, notables skillfully manipulated the budget so that it looked impeccable. At the same time, local authorities misappropriated public land on a large scale — although in the thirties the colonial administration had initiated a series of measures to prevent further privatization. The failure of the colonial public land policy was not only reflected in French reports, but also in complaints that villagers submitted to the provincial authorities and in proposals that Vietnamese administrative officers sent to the Commission Guernut in the 1930s. These documents illustrate that the occupation of cong dien by local officials in North Vietnam was widespread.92 French attempts to make tax assessments in the countryside more equitable and transparent proved difficult as well. In the 1930s colonial administrators complained that in spite of French efforts and the overall rise in taxes collected, the head tax was still collected by local authorities in an arbitrary manner. In fiscal matters, the French still had to rely on notables as intermediaries, they had not yet managed to get hold of individual taxpayers.93 It was only in 1937 that the whole tax system was fundamentally reformed. Head tax and land tax were merged to an “income tax” that took into account the landholdings of villagers when assessing taxes.94 However, the reform came too late to have a lasting impact. The huge group of smallholders that dominated in northern villages did not profit. In addition, due to the lack of competent personnel the actual assessment of taxes was still carried out by local authorities.95 They continued to misuse their position to embezzle money. The “overcollection” of taxes remained widespread in Vietnamese villages.96 French public land policy and taxation were interconnected with the reform of village administration. It was obvious that the French had not managed to make the management of village resources and taxes more transparent. The introduction of the electoral principle did not lead to a higher level of performance in village administration. In particular, the French had hoped that the “new intellectuals”, offspring of the newly established French educational system, would volunteer in droves to stand as candidates for the council of lineage representatives, thereby carrying new “progressive” ideas into their native villages and replacing the “backward-looking” notables.97 These hopes proved illusory. In the

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thirties, the major part of the “new intellectuals”, on whom the French had pinned high hopes, turned away from their native villages and flocked to the cities.98 Even if young, “progressive”, people returned to their native villages in order to make a contribution to the reform, they could not assert themselves against the old notables because their status (danh vong) in the village was too low. As Nguyen Van Vinh complained, “A Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Paris is nothing against a simple tu tai [mandarin grade] achieved at the examinations in Nam Dinh.”99 The colonial bureaucracy was quite aware of this problem and managed to persuade the court in Hue first that Vietnamese working in high-level positions in the colonial bureaucracy, and later on, holders of certain diplomas, would be granted honorary mandarin degrees putting them at the same level with representatives of the old Confucian system.100 However, it soon became apparent that the reputation of the new elite could not be raised by the sheer force of a decree.101 As the efforts of the colonial power did not go beyond the administrative level, the old notables could still expose the lack of authority and legitimacy of their competitors with a few remarks: if they did not arrange a big feast on promotion or could not produce a royal diploma, for example, they were discredited.102 The notables still had to be heard at all important decisions, although the decree of 1927 did not provide for this.103 After the initial enthusiasm of the colonial bureaucracy for reform had given way to disillusionment, criticism of the second village reform in Tonkin became more and more fundamental. The “democratization” of village administration, the guiding principle of the ambitious reform project, was now associated with the incompetent and corrupt performance of the reformed administrative bodies and called into question. In the second half of the 1930s, complaints about the incompetence of toc bieu members and village officials like the ly truong did not subside. Many of them did not even have a sufficient command of quoc ngu or were not able to make a simple record of a meeting.104 In addition, due to the obvious inability of the colonial bureaucracy to keep village finances under control, corruption and embezzlement of public money was still rampant in the countryside. Like the case of the ly truong, many villagers “invested” money to be elected onto the council of lineage

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representatives. Villagers who wanted to be elected ly truong literally bought votes.105 Subsequently, they did their utmost to reap the profits of their investments and to create a lucrative source of income out of their position.106 After analysing all the petitions that had been submitted in 1937, the Commission Guernut concluded that the introduction of the electoral principle in Tonkin had been premature, because notables were not “politically mature” enough “ … to exercise their right to vote with dignity”.107 Since posts were usually “sold to the highest bidder”, more competent, but less financially, strong villagers had slim chance of being elected into the council of lineage representatives.108 As the Résident of Bac Giang concluded, elections only led to discord in the village community.109 Some families tried deliberately to accumulate posts to establish a dominant position in the village.110 Therefore, members of the Commission Guernut posed the basic question of whether the electoral principle should be applied in Vietnam at all.111 However, the second reform attempt of 1927 failed because, although the council of notables had been re-established, the old authorities were still not committed to the reform. They opposed the council of village representatives and tried to sabotage its work by making use of their power of veto. Theoretically, the council of notables should have restricted itself to a purely consultative function and allowed the council of family representatives to make the important decisions. In reality, however, the old council of notables had taken over the reins of power again.112 The coexistence of two councils and the immense number of new posts (chuong ba, ho lai, thu ky to name a few) made administration even more chaotic, especially in the smaller villages.113 Instead of order, the reform of 1927 had brought chaos to the villages. At the end of the thirties, it was obvious that the second overall attempt to reform village administration in Tonkin had failed. Most of the French province chiefs and their Vietnamese staff members who had to comment on this and other proposals agreed on the need to dissolve the council of lineage representatives.114 The administrative reform of 1941 At the beginning of 1941, after the Résident Supérieure had assessed the failure of the two village reforms of 1921 and 1927, he sent questionnaires on possible future reforms to the province chiefs.115 The tendency of the

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proposals was clear: reduction of the number of village officials, and transfer of village affairs to a single body, dissolution of the council of lineage representatives, and abolition of elections.116 After the majority of province chiefs had endorsed these proposals, the third reform decree was issued in May 1941.117 The councils of lineage representatives were removed and the council of notables charged with overall administration at village level. The council of notables was not to be elected, but instead established by way of co-option.118 The colonial bureaucracy put an end to its ambitious reform project. From now on, more rigid eligibility criteria applied for membership of the council of notables. Only villagers who had received a degree in the traditional or the new educational system or held certain civilian or military posts were eligible. Like before 1921, the council of notables was now the only administrative body in charge of village affairs. If a council had more than twenty members, an administrative commission consisting of seven members had to be established. As the highest notable and chair of the council, the tien chi occupied a prominent position. Tien chi alone were responsible for distributing public land. Members of the council were still charged with special tasks. However, in smaller villages the same person could be entrusted with several tasks at the same time. Theoretically, the colonial administration was provided with a means of control: the list of members of the council of notables (hoi dong ky hao) now had to be available for inspection in the office of the district mandarin. Their appointment of an administrative commission was contingent on approval by the provincial mandarin.119 The colonial administration described the reform of 1941 as a “return to tradition” and a necessary concession to a society that for many centuries had possessed a hierarchical foundation, and therefore “could not understand” the electoral principle.120 However, if one takes a closer look at the wording of the decree of 1941, it would be a simplification to present it under the heading of “restoration of the status quo ante as existing before 1941”. This applies in particular to composition of the hoi dong ky hao. The “new notables”, whose claim to power rested upon the degree they had obtained in the new educational system or on their position in the colonial army or bureaucracy, were seated next to the “traditional notables”.112 It was not only the abolition of elections, but also the increased inclusion of “new scholars”, that was welcomed by those Vietnamese

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intellectuals who wanted to push forward reform of village administration. In an article in Thanh Nghi, Vu Dinh Hoe called upon the group of tan hoc [new learning] intellectuals to show more interest in their native problems.122 One year after the 1941 decree had come into effect the colonial bureaucracy came to a positive conclusion.123 The reform had already brought about good results and in general many village councils were now made up of more qualified villagers.124 In contrast to some initial positive statements, however, the position of Vietnamese with a Western educational background could not be reinforced as had been expected. According to estimates by a Vietnamese observer, only in three or four out of forty villages, could representatives of the tan hoc group be found. In the other villages the old notables still occupied key positions in the village administration.125Only in provinces in the vicinity of Hanoi did the situation look less bleak.126 A further problem was that in many places, not enough villagers met the criteria for acceptance as members of the council of notables.127 Even though the decree of 1941 was not as backward-looking as suggested by some official French announcements, on the whole it was still an attempt to restore the power of the old notables.128 On the other hand, in the decree, the colonial bureaucracy implicitly admitted that communes in Tonkin had undergone a gradual social change since the beginning of the twentieth century. If the new decree also gave villagers who had obtained a degree outside the traditional educational system access to the village council, then the conflict between “old” and “new scholars” was cemented. In this context it seems crucial that, as far as questions of status were concerned, the decree left great latitude or was not very specific, but just referred to the different customs of the respective village.129 In pre-colonial times, quarrels about a better place in the community hall also had been quite common, but in general there was agreement on who could become a member of the village council. The subsequent colonial administrative reforms, however, had thrown villages into disorder. Alongside the old village elite, other villagers had climbed to the top of the village hierarchy — notably between 1921 and 1941, when the electoral system was in force in the northern countryside. As mentioned previously, they had only served as straw men for the old notables or they were quite powerless because of the inadequate

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ceremonial validation of their position. On the other hand, in the course of the reforms the feeling of uncertainty about who were the rightful leaders of the village had become more pronounced.130 That traditional principles had lost their binding force was also due to the fact that in some villages the “new elite”, representatives of “new professions”, civil servants in the colonial bureaucracy, doctors, engineers, and businessmen, made their claims and came knocking on the door of the community hall. Who could claim to be tien chi, the first notable of the village, for example, had become a matter of dispute. Who deserved to be “first officer” of the village council of notables more — a Vietnamese with a Western style bachelor of arts degree, or a degreeholder from the old Confucian examinations, a man with a grade in the Vietnamese mandarinate or a more modern law clerk or medical officer?131

It was nothing more than wishful thinking on the part of the French that they could restore the status quo of before 1921 by a mere administrative act to stop intra-village power struggles and to stabilize the situation in the countryside. In other words, attempts to artificially restore traditions that, due to shifts in the village hierarchy, had already become an issue of fierce debate, were doomed to failure from the beginning. The old authorities had thwarted the reforms of 1921 and 1927, but these were Pyrrhic victories without lasting impact.

Conclusion On the whole, attempts of the French colonial administration to make local government and finance more transparent, and to enhance the accountability of local authorities by changing their recruitment mechanism, failed. First, the French lacked sufficient administrative personnel who could have made sure that local officials properly carried out the ambitious reforms. This applied to budgets that the colonial administration considered a means of greater financial transparency and a measure against corruption among notables. In practice, the budgets never reflected the real financial situation in the villages. French efforts to reform the tax system and to stop the common practice of overtaxation by local officials were only partly successful. The total number of taxpayers did increase considerably during the colonial period, and certainly the tax load was heavier than in pre-colonial times. On the other hand, the colonial administration had not reached individual

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taxpayers. Taxes were still assessed by notables in a arbitrary manner. Second, while carrying out their reforms the French met with fierce resistance from the old notables, whose resilience they had underestimated. The old authorities continued to control village affairs and succeeded in undermining the authority of newly established councils of family representatives. The elections that the French had introduced in northern Vietnamese villages did not provide the new local authorities with sufficient legitimacy. At the same time, French hopes that members of the new councils would guarantee a more just management of village finances and other village funds were not fulfilled. In sum, French colonial power did not manage to reform village administration fundamentally, or to make local authorities fully accountable to higher administrative levels. One underlying reason for this failure was that the French reforms were too moderate to undermine effectively the power of the “traditional” authorities. It is no coincidence that in November 1945 an early decree of the government of the independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam replaced the councils of notables with Administrative Committees and People’s Councils.132 During the war against the French (1946–54), however, due to the united front policy, reforms of village administration were still quite moderate. It was only during the land reform campaign (1953–56) that villages in northern and central Vietnam underwent radical changes and the position of old local authorities was fundamentally undermined.133

Notes 1 2 3

4

5

Ory, La Commune, p. 136. Luro, Cours d’Administration, p. 158. For French reforms in Annam, see Woodside, Community and Revolution, pp. 132–35. For the specific character of South Vietnamese villages, see the classic study by Hickey, Village in Vietnam; Cotter, “Towards a Social History”; Nguyen Phuong Thao, “Lang Viet Nam Bo”; and Phan Dai Doan, “Lang Viet,” p. 12. For the reform of villages in Cochinchina, see Woodside, Community and Revolution, pp. 135–36; Kresser, La Commune, pp. 34–59, 67–109; and Hickey, Village in Vietnam, pp. 179–80.

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See Nguyen Huu Khang, La Commune Annamite, pp. 30–31. Nguyen Huu Khang, La Commune Annamite, pp. 32–33. Nguyen Huu Khang, La Commune Annamite, p. 34, and Whitmore, “Vietnamese Historical Sources”, pp. 374–75. In 1466 the xa quan were renamed xa truong. See Nguyen Ngoc Huy and Ta Van Tan, The Le Code, p. 238. Vu Van Hien, Communal Property, p. 28. See Nguyen Huu Khang, La Commune Annamite, p. 42; Nguyen Thanh Nha, Tableau Économique, p. 31; and Dang Phuong Nghi, Les Institutions Publique, p. 112. See Deloustal, “Ressources Financières”, p. 288. See Nguyen Thanh Nha, Tableau Économique, p. 67; and Vu Van Hien, Communal Property, p. 36. For this aspect, see Woodside, Vietnam and the Chinese Model. See Vu Huy Phuc, “Che do cong dien cong”. For the pre-colonial tax system, see Vu Van Hien, “Les Institutions”; and Pham Cao Duong, Vietnamese Peasants, pp. 95–96. Some Vietnamese authors, like Toan Anh, Nep cu: Lang xom Viet Nam, tend to exaggerate the significance of education as a criterion. For the recruitment of notables, see Truong Buu Lam, “L’Autorités”; and for a contemporary French view, Luro, Cours d’Administration, p. 165. For the relationship between property and positions within the village hierarchy, see Ngo Kim Chung and Nguyen Duc Nghinh, Propriété Privée. This assessment was especially propogated by Paul Mus and his disciples. See Mus, “The Role of the Village”. For an overview on “Vietnamese village studies” and the contested notion of “village autonomy”, see Kleinen, Facing the Future, pp. 7–8. Résident Nam Dinh, “Lettre au Résident Supérieur du Tonkin”, 28 November 1889 (RSTK 27653, AOM). See also Gouvernement Général, Secrétaire Générale, 4e bureau, “Circulaire aux Résidents Chefs de Province, A.S. de l’assiette des impôts annamites,” [1894]? (FP ND 4178, NA1). See Vu Van Hien, “Les Institutions”, p. 89. See Vu Van Hien, “Les Institutions”, p. 91; Pham Cao Duong, Vietnamese Peasants, p. 96; and Ngo Vinh long, Before the Revolution, p. 63. See Vu Van Hien, “Les Institutions”, pp. 92–93; Mau, “The Political Evolution”, pp. 130–33; and Popkin, The Rational Peasant, p. 144. For the increase in taxpayers, See Pinto, “Le Réforme”, p. 440; Vu Van Hien, “Les Institutions”, p. 93; and Mau, “The Political Evolution”, p. 131. See Mau, “The Political Evolution”, pp. 131–33. See Adamalle, Résident Nam Dinh, “Rapport Politique et Économique, Mars 1902”, 4 April 1902 (RSTK 27653, AOM).

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27

28

29

30

31 32

33

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Quennec, Résident Nam Dinh, “Rapport Politique Générale, 1909”, 7 January 1910 (RSTK 27653, AOM). The Résident of Phuc Yen province reports that non-registered villagers protested against their unfair treatment: they had to pay the same tax rate as the registered villagers, but did not enjoy the same rights. Résident Phuc Yen, “Rapport Politique et Économique. Mai & Juin 1907”, 29 June 1907 (RSTK 27652, AOM). Chambre Consultative Indigène du Tonkin, “Procès-verbal de la séance du 19 Novembre 1914”, 1914, p. 57 (Papiers Sarraut, SOM 9 PA, D 5, AOM). As its name indicates, the Chambre Consultative Indigène du Tonkin had only consultative functions. Its main task was to issue statements on questions that the French colonial administration had put on the agenda. For further information, see Vu Quoc Thuc, L’Économie Communaliste, pp. 178–84, 221–31. See Vu Van Hien, “Les Institutions”, pp. 91–92; Mau, “The Political Evolution”, pp. 167–70; and Pham Cao Duong, Vietnamese Peasants, pp. 96–97. The Conseil provinciaux de notables had consultative functions as well. See Résident Nam Dinh, “Conseils provinciaux de notables indigènes et Chambre indigène du Tonkin. Pièces de Principe” (FP ND 1103, NA1). “Compte rendu détaillé de la première session de la Commission Consultative, 8–14 Dec. 1908” (IC NF Ct 232, Dossier 1910, AOM). For further details, see Baugher, “The Contradictions of”, pp. 373–88; and Tran Trong Mach “Mot vai nhan xet ve chu”, p. 30. See IC NF 232, 1910 AOM. “Chambre consultative indigène du Tonkin (session ordinaire de 1914), ProcèsVerbal de la séance du 19 Novembre 1913, Note au sujet de l’organisation communale”, p. 43 (SOM, 9 PA, Papiers Sarraut 5, AOM). The trial runs were carried out in Ha Dong, Nam Dinh, Phuc Yen, and Thai Binh. See Résident Ha Dong, “Rapport Ha Dong, 1e et 3e trim. 1910” (RSTK 27645, AOM); “Chambre Consultative Indigène du Tonkin. Voeux émis. Procès-verbaux des délibérations. Rapport sur les voeux émis”, 1914 (RSTK 55476, NA1); Résident Ha Dong, “L’Administrateur de 1ère classe M. le Vaure, Résident de France à Ha Dong à RSTK”, 1 August 1912 (RSTK 57175, NA1); Résident Nam Dinh, “A.S. Voeux émis par la Commission Consultative indigène relatifs à l’organisation (avis des autorités provinciales de Nam Dinh)”, 1912 (FP ND 1101, NA1); and Baugher, “The Contradictions of”, p. 377; and Delamarre, “La Réforme”, p. 206. Destenay’s speech is reprinted in the proceedings of the session of 14 November 1914 (SOM, 9 PA, Papiers Sarraut 5, AOM). See the proceedings of the session of 14 November 1914 (SOM, 9 PA, Papiers Sarraut 5, AOM). See Baugher, “The Contradictions”, pp. 386–87; and Tran Trong Mach, “Mot vai nhan”, p. 30.

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39 40

41

42 43

44 45 46

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“Circulaire au sujet de la réforme communale, Monguillot”, 26 August 1921, BATK 17 1921, p. 1818. “Arrêté No. 1949 portant réorganisation du Conseil Administratif des Communes annamites du Tonkin, 12.8.1921”, BATK 16 1921, pp. 1–8; “Instruction”, pp. 9–13; “Arrêté No. 1950 portant organisation des budgets des communes annamites du Tonkin, 12.8.1921”, BATK, 16, 1921, pp. 14–19, “Instruction”, pp. 19–21, and pp. 67-89. For a contemporary Vietnamese translation, see Nghi Dinh chinh don lai Huong hoi cac xa o Bac Ky bang chu quoc ngu, traduit en chu Nom par Hoang Tung [Decree Concerning the Reorganization of Village Councils in Tonkin in Vietnamese, translated into Nom by Hoang Tuong]. Hanoi: Impr. Kim Duc Giang. This is also true for all the reforms that the French colonial administration subsequently launched in 1927 and 1941. “Instruction”, BATK 16 1921, p. 9. BATK 16 1921, pp. 1–2, 9–13. For a discussion of the reform decrees see also Delamarre, “La Réforme”, pp. 207–16; Baugher, “The Contradictions”, pp. 388– 97; Duong Trung Quoc, “Bo may quan”, pp. 272–78; Nguyen Van Khanh, “Phac qua phuong”, pp. 131–32; Vu Quoc Thong, La Decentralisation, pp. 106– 08, 140–42; and “Che do xa thon”. “Instruction”, p. 88. For the chaotic situation of village finances before the start of the reform, see also the speech of Rivet, Résident Supérieur of Tonkin, “Chambre Consultative Indigène. Session Ordinaire de 1920. Procès-verbaux, Ha Noi 1921”, 30 September 1920, p. 6 (RSTK 55483, NA1). See “Instruction”, BATK 16 1921, pp. 9, 67. See “Arrêté”, BATK, 16, 1921, pp. 16, 19, and “Instruction”, BATK, 16, 1921, p. 82. See BATK 16 1921, p. 4. H.G. “L’évolution des Institutions”, p. 248. See Delamarre, “La Réforme”, p. 213; Baugher, “The Contradictions”, pp. 397–98; Note sur les institutions communales en Annam, 25 June 1938, CG 25 Bi, 17; and “La Réforme communale au Tonkin”, L’Asie française, 196, November 1921, p. 434. See Delamarre, “La Réforme”, p. 207; and H.G., “L’évolution des Institutions”, p. 248. See Delamarre, “La Réforme”, pp. 217–18. For the school in Ha Dong, see the letter of Delamarre to the Résident Supérieur of Tonkin, “Resultats de l’examen de Sortie de l’Ecole des Secretaires communaux à Hadong”, 23 September 1921 (RSTK 57263, NA1). For general comments see Baugher, “The Contradictions”, pp. 395–96. See “Lettre Résident à Nam Dinh, Graffeuil, au RSTK”, 27 October 1921 (RSTK 57265, NA1); “Lettre Résident de France à Bac Ninh à RSTK”,

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14 August 1922 (RSTK 57267, NA1); “Lettre Résident de France à Hai Duong à RSTK”, 27 June 1924 (RSTK 57286, NA1); and “Lettre Résident de France à Phu Tho, Herbinet, à RSTK, 3 July 1923, a.s. Examen de sortie de l’Ecole des secrétaires communaux de Phu Tho”, 3 July 1923 (RSTK 57280, NA1). Tinh uy Ha Tay, Lich su Dang, p. 31; Résident Ha Dong, “Rapport général du 30.6.1923–30.6.1924” (FP HD 683, NA1); Résident Nam Dinh, “Rapport sur la situation générale de la province, 1924–1925” (FP ND 685, NA1); and Résident in Ha Dong, “Rapport général annuel de 1929” (FP HD 691, NA1). “Arrêté du 25.6.1922”, BATK, 1922, pp. 1361–67. For more details see Nguyen Van Tuy (c), “Un peu d’administration”, p. 1; Cao Van Bien, “Bo may hanh chinh”, pp. 151–53; and Nguyen Van Khanh, “Phac qua phuong”, pp. 136– 38. Résident in Ha Dong, “Rapport sur la Situation générale de la province”, 1924–25, p. 10 (FP HD 685, NA1). See also different reports from the districts, in “Rapports mensuels des phu et huyen”, 1924 (FP HD 684, NA1); the assessment of Graffeuil, Résident Nam Dinh, in: “Conseil provincial de Nam Dinh, Procès-verbal de la session ordinaire de 1922”, 16 October 1922 (FP ND 338, NA1); and Résident in Nam Dinh, “Liste de villages réformés en 1924”, 1923–24 (FP ND 349, NA1). “Chambre Consultative Indigène au Tonkin. Procès-verbaux des Séances”, 1923, p. 7 (RSTK 55490, NA1). For a similar enthusiastic view of a Vietnamese member, see (RSTK 55490, NA1), p. 15. See also, Ha Dong dia chi, p. 32. Résident in Nam Dinh, “Conseil provincial de Nam Dinh. Procès-verbal des délibérations. Session ordinaire de 1927”, 1927 (FP ND 342, NA1). See also the report of the Commission Guernut (CG), “Note sur les institutions communales en Annam”, 25 July 1938, p. 17 (CG 25 Bi, AOM). The Commission Guernut had been set up in the nineteen-thirties to examine the situation in the French colonies. See “Circulaire relative à l’organisation des conseils communaux du Tonkin (Robin), 25.2.1927”, BATK No. special, Fevrier 1927, pp. 82–83; the reprint of “Article paru dans ‘France Indochine’ sur les réformes communales” (France Indochine, 20 November 1926) (RSTK 57300, NA1); the report of the Résident in Thai Binh, “Rapport Thai Binh”, 19 March 1940 (RSTK 1368, AOM); the assessment in Commission Guernut, “Note d’ensemble sur les problèmes évoqués par les voeux politiques au Tonkin”, pp. 47, 80 (CG 26 Bk, AOM); and Nguyen Van Vinh (a) (g), “Le Village Annamite”, 1931a, 1931g, “Quelque Lacunes”, 1934a; Nguyen Van Tuy, “Un peu d’administration”, 1938b; Nguyen Trong Thuat, Nguyen Don Phuc, “Dieu trai ve tinh”, pp. 42, 47. For a further discussion, see Baugher, “The Contradictions of Colonialism”, pp. 399–408; Bui Xuan Dinh, “Le lang phep nuoc”, p. 88; Duong Trung Quoc “Bo may quan ly”, pp. 276–78; and H.G., “L’évolution des Institutions”, pp. 248–49.

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See Résident in Nam Dinh, Lotzer, “Rapport Nam Dinh”, 15 March 1940 (RSTK 1368, AOM). For the inadequate qualifications of the members of the council of lineage representatives in general, see Do Thanh, “Cai luong huong”, pp. 220–21; Nguyen Trong Thuat, p. 548; and Nguyen Don Phuc, “Dieu trai ve tinh”, p. 43. See, for example, the retrospective report of the Résident of Kien An, Ferlande, “Rapport Kien An”, 26 February 1940 (RSTK 1368, AOM); the report of the tong doc of Ha Dong, “Rapport Ha Dong”, 10 April 1940, (RSTK 1368, AOM); Résident Ha Dong, “Rapport My Duc”, 24 Aug. 1927 (FP HD 588, NA1); and “Protestation faite par les Nes Nghi et consorts contre les élections des Présidents et Vices Présidents du Conseil Communal”, January 1925 (FP ND 2069, NA1). Nguyen Van Tuy (b), “Un peu d’administration”, p. 2. See also the speech of Nguyen Huu Thu, Président de la Chambre, “Chambre Consultative Indigène au Tonkin, Session 1925. Séances du 14 October Procès-verbaux”, 1925 (RSTK 55492, NA1). For the rejection of the electoral principle because of fear of a “loss of face”, see also Dao Duy Anh (b), Viet Nam van hoc, pp. 147–48; Boudarel, “Sciences Sociales”, p. 155; Kresser, La Commune Annamite, p. 127; and Vu Quoc Thong, “Che do xa thon”, p. VII. See Nguyen Don Phuc, “Dieu trai ve tinh”, p. 42; and Woodside, Community and Revolution, p. 139. Résident in Kien An, Ferlande, “Rapport Kien An”, 26 Feb. 1940 (RSTK 1368, AOM). See also the report of the Résident in Thai Binh, “Rapport Thai Binh”, 19 March 1940 (RSTK 1368, AOM); and in particular the assessment in CG 26 Bk, AOM, p. 80. See also Nguyen Van Vinh (d) and (e), “La Village Annamite”; and Varet, Au pays d’Annam, p. 214. For this aspect see Baugher, “The Contradictions”, pp. 402–4. See the above-mentioned article from France Indochine (endnote 55) that analyses the failure of the reform (RSTK 57300, NA1); and Baugher, “The Contradictions”, p. 402. See also the comments in Nguyen Van Tuy (d) “Un peu d’administration”, and “Voeux de M. Bui Huy Canh, Secrétaire en Retraite à Hai Duong” (CG 31 Bt., AOM). Nguyen Van Vinh, “Coutumes et Institutions”, p. 4, “Le Village Annamite” 1931d, p. 4; 1931e, p. 4. See also Nguyen Van Tuy, “Un peu d’administration” 1938b, p. 2. For the low “reputation” (danh vong) and inadequate ceremonial validation of young council members, see also the “Voeu de Hoang Huan Trung”, 5 November 1937 (= Voeux No. 103) (CG 104 D11 AOM). See Baugher, “The Contradictions”, pp. 404–6. See, for example, Résident in Nam Dinh, “Liste des Villages Réformés en 1924”, 1923–24 (FP ND 349, NA1). For general comments on the embezzlement of money, see Do Thanh, “Cai luong”, pp. 220–21.

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See Nguyen Van Vinh (a), “Le Village Annamite”, p. 4. For a criticism of the work attitude, see Paul Monet, Français et Annamites, p. 77, cited in Baugher, “The Contradictions”, pp. 399–400. “Art. 20, Budget portant organisation des budgets”, BATK 16 1921, p. 19. CG 25 Bi, AOM, p. 20. See also “Circulaire relative à l’organisation des conseils communaux, 25.2.1927”, BATK No. spécial Février 1927, p. 98. For the number of budgets, see FP ND 351; for the number of taxpayers in the different villages, FP ND 349. See Nguyen Van Tuy (a), “Un peu d’administration”, p. 1. A good example of a superficial analysis is Ha Dong dia chi. In this monograph the alleged success of the village reform is illustrated with diagrams showing the rapid increase in the number of budgets between 1922 and 1924. On the lack of reliability of the budgets see also Nguyen Trong Thuat (1932), p. 550; and Varet Au Pays d’Annam, p. 218. See RSTK 57300, NA1. For irregularities in the intial reform phase see Résident Ha Dong, “Rapport Général du 30.6.23–30.6.24”, 1923–24 (FP HD 683, NA1); District Chief, Hai Hau, Nam Dinh Province, “Ve cac so chi thu cua 8 lang hat Hai Hau, Le Tong Doc”, 5 January 1922 (FP ND 348, NA1); and “Voeux de M. Bui Huy Canh, Secrétaire en Retraite à Hai Duong”, Date? (CG 31 Bt, Voeux 102, AOM). Nguyen Van Vinh (a), “Quelque lacunes”, p. 1. “Arrêté portant réorganisation des budgets des communes annamites du Tonkin (Robin), 25.2.1927”, BATK No. spécial Février 1927, pp. 61–68 (henceforth cited as BATK 1927); “Arrêté portant réorganisation du Conseil administratif des communes annamites du Tonkin (Robin) 27.2.1927”, BATK No. Special, Fevrier 1927, pp. 69–81; and “Circulaire relative à L’organisation des conseils communaux de Tonkin (Robin), 27–2–1927”, BATK No. Special, Fevrier 1927, pp. 82–101. For the contents of decrees, see H.G., L’évolution, pp. 249–51; Nguyen Huu Khang, La Commune, pp. 54–55; Duong Trung Quoc, “Bo may quan ly”, pp. 278–80; and Vu Quoc Thong “Che do xa thon”, pp. VIII–X. See Chambre des Représentants du Peuple du Tonkin 1929, pp. 14–15. Former district and district vice-chiefs, chairs and vice-chairs of the council of lineage representatives, and former ly truong. See Art. 9, BATK 1927, p. 72. This educational system was called “tan hoc” (new learning), in contrast to the old Confucianist system (cuu hoc). For this aim see Nguyen Van Tuy (d), “Un peu d’administration”, p. 2. See Art. 24, 25, BATK 1927, pp. 76–77. See Art. 24 and 27, BATK 1927. See Art. 19, 24, 27, BATK 1927.

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In the whole of Tonkin this applied to 1,559 budgets. See RSTK, 2e bureau, “Relevé récapitulatif des Budgets communaux du Tonkin maintenus en 1928 par application des arrêtés No. 748-i du 25.2.1927 et de la Circulaire No. 98i du Juin 1927”, 1927 (RSTK 1349, AOM). Bary, Résident Thai Binh, “A.S. des budgets communaux à Thai Binh”, 6 March 1930 (RSTK 1349, AOM). See RSTK, “Lettre au Résident Supérieur en Annam”, 15 November 1938 (RSTK 1365, AOM). According to Nguyen Van Tuy, who was in charge of a bureau des communes and often went on tour of the villages, “ … almost all of these budgets, which are undernourished like our unfortunate nha que, only exist on paper”. Nguyen Van Tuy (a), “Un peu d’administration”, p. 1. BATK 11, 1 June 1932. See also Tholance, RSTK, “Bilan de la réforme communale, Circulaire du 29 Août 1931”, 1931 (RSTK 1365, Pièce 35, AOM). Résident Nam Dinh, “Notice sur la province de Nam Dinh établie par le Mandarin Provincial”, 1933, p. 15 (RSTK 54766, NA1). RSTK, “Liste des villages réformés dotés de budgets communaux”, 1935– 1938 (RSTK 1367, AOM). RSTK, Ha Dong Province, “Liste des villages réformés dotés de budgets communaux”, 30 June 1938 (RSTK 1367, AOM); RSTK, Kien An Province, “Liste des villages réformés dotés de budgets communaux”, 6 July 1938 (RSTK 1367, AOM); and RSTK, Hung Yen Province, “Liste des villages réformés dotés de budgets communaux”, 23 June 1938 (RSTK 1367, AOM). See, for example, RSTK, Ha Dong Province, “Liste des villages….”, (RSTK 1367, AOM). “Voeu de M. Dao Van Phuong, Conseiller provincial de Y Yen (Nam Dinh)”, [1937]? (CG 31 Bt [= Voeu No. 106], AOM). For a discussion of the tranformation of the public land system and description of the misappropriation of public land by local authorities between the midtwenties and 1945, see Grossheim, “The Communal Land System”, and in particular, pp. 52–68. See Chambre des Représentants, Session Ordinaire de 1931, p. 35; Session Ordinaire de 1932, p. 30; Session Ordinaire de 1935, p. 22; Session Ordinaire de 1937, p. 21; and Anon, “Note sur l’impôt personnel”, 1938 (CG Ct. 31 BU, AOM). In sum, the colonial administration issued three decrees. For details, see Pinto, “La Réforme”, pp. 434–36; Baugher, “The Contradictions”, pp. 546– 48; and G. Colombon, “Rapport sur la Réforme de l’Impôt personnel indigène”, 23 April 1938 (CG Ct.31 BU, AOM). See Pinto, “La Réforme”, pp. 437–38; Nguyen Huu Khang, La Commune Annamite, pp. 146, 149; and Baugher, “The Contradictions”, pp. 532–33. For the poor numbers of French administrative personnel at the local level, see Baugher, “The Contradictions”, pp. 203–37.

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See Baugher, “The Contradictions”, pp. 256–68. These hopes had been formulated by Nguyen Van Vinh. See Nguyen Van Vinh (b), “Le Village”, p. 2; and (c), “Les Intellectuels”, pp. 1–2. See Nguyen Van Tuy (d), “Un peu d’administration”, p. 2; and Le Thang, “Seuls les comprennent”, p. 1. Nguyen Van Vinh, “Le Village Annamite”, p. 4. See also Nguyen Van Vinh (c), “Le Village Annamite”. The tu tai-degree was granted to those who had passed the exams at province level. See Nguyen Van Vinh (a) and (b), “Rangs de Préséance”. See Nguyen Van Vinh (a), “Rangs de Préséance”, p. 2. See Tan Phong (b), “Viec cai luong”; and Woodside, Community and Revolution, p. 142. See also the complaint about the authority of toc bieu councils in the report of Lotzer, province chief of Nam Dinh, “Rapport Lotzer”, 15 March 1940 (RSTK 1368, AOM). For the lasting resistance of notables, see Nguyen Huu Khang, La Commune Annamite, p. 56. See Ferlande, Résident in Kien An, “Rapport”, 26 February 1940 (RSTK 1368, AOM). See “Cahier des Voeux présentés par les Conseillers Provinciaux de Hai Duong”, 29 October 1937 (CG 104 D 11, Voeu No. 84, AOM); “Voeu de M. Dao Van Phuong, Conseiller provincial de Y Yen (Nam Dinh)” [1937]? (CG 31 Bt, Voeu No. 106, AOM); “Voeu: Aspiration de la population, Thai Binh”, 5 November 1937 (CG 104 D 11, Voeu No. 29, AOM); “Voeu Hoang Van Mau, Hoi Vien Huyen Cam Khue, Phu Tho province”, 7 November 1937 (CG 104 D 11, Voeu No. 70, AOM); “Voeu Hoang Huan Trung, Tuan Phu en retraite, village de Dong Ngac, Ha Dong province”, 5 November 1937 (CG 104 D 11, Voeu No. 103, AOM); “Voeu Bui Huy Canh, Secrétaire retraité à Hai Duong”, 10 November 1937 (CG 105 D 12, Voeu No. 85, AOM); Resident Nam Dinh, “Rapport sur la situation générale de la province de Nam Dinh du 30 Juin 1937 au 30 Juin 1938”, 1938, p. 11 (RSTK 68649, NA1); RSTK, “Réformes de la Commune annamite du Tonkin, 1941, Note pour une ‘Conférence de presse’ et pour la ‘Revue Indochine”, A.S. de la Réforme de la Commune Annamite consacrée par Ordonnance Royale du 23 Mai 1941 sur la proposition du M. le RSTK”, [1941]? p. 1 (RSTK 81417, NA1); and Vi Van Dinh, Tong Doc, Ha Dong “Rapport”, 10 April 1940 (RSTK 1368, AOM). Bui Huy Canh, 10 November 1937 (CG 105 D 12, AOM). See also a similar comment in “Tonkin — Note d’ensemble de reponse des voeux d’ordre administratif”, 18 February 1938, p. 100 (CG Ct.30 D 32, AOM); and Résident Bac Giang, Pettelat, “Réforme Communale. Avis des Provinces, 1940”, 16 March 1940 (RSTK 1368, AOM). See RSTK, “Rapport sur la situation générale de la province de Nam Dinh de 30 Juin 1937 au 30 Juin 1938”, 1938, p. 11 (RSTK 68649, NA1). For the

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problem of corruption, see “Procès-Verbal de Réunion du Conseil Privé, Séances des 6, 13 et 20 Mars 1941”, 1941 (RSTK 81417, NA1); “Détournement de fonds communaux du village de Duong Lai, huyen de Vu Ban, Nam Dinh”, 1933 (RSTK 56691, NA1); “Voeu: Aspiration de la population, Thai Binh”, 5 November 1937 (CG 104 D 11, Voeu 29, AOM); Résident Phuc Yen, Cyprès, “Rapport Phuc Yen”, 13 February 1940 (RSTK 1368, AOM); and “Voeu de Dao Van Phuong, Conseiller provincial de Y Yen, Nam Dinh”, 1937 (CG 31 D Bt., AOM). RSTK, “Tonkin. Note d’ensemble de réponses aux voeux d’ordre administratif”, 18 February 1938, p. 100 (CG Ct. 30 D 32, AOM). A report of the 2e bureau summed this up: “ … the elections in the countryside always prove that the person elected is not the most meritorious; on the contrary, it is he who has spent the most money”, 2e bureau , RSTK, “Résumé. Note pour le M. le RSTK, Analyse des Rapports des Chefs de Provinces sur les Réformes Communales”, 1940, p. 5 (RSTK 1368, AOM). Résident Bac Giang, Pettelat, “Réforme Communale. Avis des Provinces, 1940”, 16 March 1940 (RSTK 1368, AOM). See, for example, “Plainte formulée par les habitants inscrits du village de An Liem, h. de Y Yen contre l’ancien chanh hoi Pham Van Long, chargé cumulativement des fonctions de chuong ba, pour accaparement de terrains communaux et détournement de fonds communaux”, 8 May 1936 (RSTK 80604, NA1). See also, “Réclamation faite par les habitants et notables du hameau Doai Thon, village An Trach, tg. My Trong, h. My Loc, t. Nam Dinh”, 18 September 1936 (RSTK 80604, NA1). “Tonkin — Note d’ensemble de response des voeux d’ardre administratif”, 18 February 1938, p. 100 (CG Ct. 30 D 32, AOM). For a similar comment, see Tan Phong, “Viec cai luong huong”, “Nhan xet nho”, p. 5; and L’A.N., “La Nouvelle Réforme”. H.G., “L’évolution des Institutions”, p. 251. See also “Note pour une ‘Conférence de presse’”, (RSTK 81417, NA1); the critical comments of the Résident Supérieur au Tonkin in “Procès-Verbal de Réunion du Conseil Privé”, 1941 (RSTK 81417, NA1); and the report of the province chief of Quang Yen, 14 February 1940, (RSTK 1368). See Résident Thai Binh, “Réforme Communale. Avis des Provinces, 1940”, 19 March 1940 (RSTK 1368, AOM). See also the assessment of RSTK, Grandjeau, “Procès-verbal de réunion du Conseil Privé”, 1941, p. 2 (RSTK 81417, NA1). See RSTK, “Réforme Communale. Avis des Provinces”, 1940 (RSTK 1368, AOM). The proposals of the Chambre can also be found in RSTK, “Circulaire No. 82/i, Ha Noi, 22 January 1940, RSTK aux MM. les Chefs de Province et les Commandants de Territoire Militaire”, 1940 (RSTK 1368, AOM). Only the Résidents of Bac Can (16 February 1940), Ha Dong (13 April 1940), and Hung

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Yen (21 February 1940) were in favour of maintaining the toc bieu council (RSTK 1368, AOM). For a useful summary of replies, see RSTK, 2e bureau, “Résumé, Note pour M. le RSTK. Analyse des Rapports des Chefs de Provinces sur les Réformes Communales”, 1940, (RSTK 1368, AOM). See also the responses of the Résidents of Kien An (26 February 1940), Bac Giang (16 March 1940), and Quang Yen (14 February 1940) (RSTK 1368, AOM). RSTK, “Circulaire”, Hanoi, 26 November 1940 (RSTK 1368, AOM). See H.G., “L’évolution des Institutions”, pp. 252–53; and Vu Quoc Thong, La Decentralisation, p. 114. “DU du 23 Mai 1941”, Journal Officiel de l’Indochine Française 46, 4 June (1941): 1683–87. For a detailed discussion of the reform decree of 1941, see Woodside, Community and Revolution, pp. 139–42; Toan Anh, Nep cu: Lang xom Viet Nam, pp. 114–16; Tan Phong (b), “Viec cai luong”; L’A.N., “La Nouvelle Réforme”; and RSTK, “Réformes de la Commune annamite du Tonkin”, 1940 (RSTK 81417, NA1). See Art. 4 and 9, Journal Officiel de l’Indochine Française 46, 4 June (1941): 1684. RSTK, “Note pour une ‘Conférence de presse’”, p. 5 (RSTK 81417, NA1). See Art. 3., Journal Officiel de l’Indochine Française 46, 4 June (1941): 1683. Vu Dinh Hoe, “Anh em thanh”, and Tan Phong, “Viec cai tri”, p. 118. RSTK, “Note sur la réforme communale au Tonkin”, 10 June 1942 (RSTK 81417, NA1). RSTK, “Réforme Communale à Ha Dong, Vinh Yen et Nam Dinh, 1942, Le RSTK à MM. les Résidents de France à Ha Dong, Vinh Yen et le RésidentMaire à Nam Dinh”, 30 September 1942 (RSTK 1366, AOM). Tan Phong, “Viec cai tri”, p. 118. Tan Phong, “Nhan xet nho”, p. 26. Tan Phong, “Viec cai luong”, p. 6, and Woodside, Community and Revolution, p. 140. In contrast, H.G., “L’évolution des Institutions”, p. 256, emphasizes that the requirements for admittance to the council had been less strict. See RSTK, “Note pour une ‘Conférence de presse’”, 1941 (RSTK 81417, NA1). See Art. 4., Journal Officiel de l’Indochine Française 46, 4 June (1941): 1684, and Woodside, Community and Revolution, p. 142. See Tan Phong (1941a), “Van de ngoi”, and Woodside, Community and Revolution, who mainly relies on Tan Phong’s article. Woodside, Community and Revolution, pp. 141–42. “Sac lenh so 63 to chuc hoi dong nhan dan va uy ban hanh chinh” [Decree no. 63 on the organisation of People’s Councils and administrative committees]. Cong Bao, 30 November (1945), pp. 131–97. For a further discussion, see Pham Quang Minh’s chapter.

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Bibliography Archival Collections National Archives Centre No. 1 (NA1) (Trung tam Luu Tru Quoc Gia-1), Hanoi/ Vietnam • Fonds de la Résidence Supérieure du Tonkin: Série D: Administration Générale, Série E: Administration Provinciale, Série M: Travail, Colonisation et Régime Foncier. • Fonds des Provinces: Nam Dinh et Ha Dong: Série E: Administration Provinciale. • Fonds du Service du Cadastre et de la Topographie. Archives d’Outre-Mer, Aix-en-Provence, France (AOM) • Archives Privées: Papiers Sarraut. • Fonds de l’Agence Économique de la France d’Outre-Mer. • Fonds des Amiraux et du Gouvernement Général: Série D: Administration Générale, Série F: Affaires Politiques. • Série D: Administration Générale, Série E: Administration Provinciale, Série M: Travail, Colonisation et Régime Foncier. • Fonds de la Commission d’enquête dans les Territoires d’Outre-Mer (= Commission Guernut).

References Baugher, Peter F. “The Contradictions of Colonialism: The French Experience in Indochina, 1860–1940.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1980. Boudarel, Georges. “Sciences Sociales et Contre-Insurrection au Vietnam”. Cahiers Jussieu (Le Mal de Voir: Ethnologie et Orientalisme: Politique et epistémologie, critique ét autocritique), no. 2 (1976): 136–97. Bui Xuan Dinh. Le lang phep nuoc [Village Customs and State Law]. Hanoi: NXB Phap Ly, 1985. Cao Van Bien. “Bo may hanh chinh lang xa Bac Ky theo quy che cai luong huong chinh duoi thoi Phap thuoc” [The Administrative Machinery according to the Regulations of the Reform of Northern Village Administration in the French Colonial Period]. In Kinh nghem to chuc quan ly nong thon Viet Nam trong lich su [Experiences in the Organization of the Administration in the Vietnamese Countryside through History], edited by Phan Dai Doan and Nguyen Quang Ngoc. Hanoi: NXB Chinh tri Quoc Gia, 1994. Chambre des Représentants du Peuple du Tonkin. Session ordinaire de 1929. Discours prononcé le 24 Septembre 1929 par M.R. Robin (RSTK). Hanoi/Hai Phong: Publisher, 1929.

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———. Session ordinaire de 1931, Discours prononcé le 14 Sept. 1931 par M. Auguste Tholance, Gouv. des Colonies. RS p.i. au Tonkin. Hanoi/Hai Phong: Imprimerie d’Extrême-Orient, 1931. ———. Session de 1932. Discours prononcé le 4 Nov. 1932 par M. Pierre-Andre Pagès, RS p.i. au Tonkin. Hanoi/Hai Phong: Imprimerie d’Extrême-Orient, 1932. ———. Session ordinaire de 1935. Discours prononcé le 7 Oct. 1935 par M. Auguste Tholance RSTK. Hanoi/Hai Phong: Imprimerie d’Extrême-Orient, 1935. ———. Session ordinaire de 1937. Discours prononcé le 3 Nov. 1937 par le RSTK Yves Châtel. Hanoi/Hai Phong: Imprimerie d’Extrême-Orient, 1937. Cotter, Michael G. “Towards a Social History of the Vietnamese Southward Movement”. Journal of Southeast Asian History 9, no. 1 (1968): 12–24. Dang Phuong Nghi. Les Institutions Publiques du Viet Nam au XVIIIe siècle. Paris: Ecole Française d’Extrême Orient, 1968. Dao Duy Anh. Viet Nam van hoa su cuong [History of Vietnamese Culture]. Ho Chi Minh-City: NXB TP Ho Chi Minh (1st ed. 1938), 1992. Delamarre, Emille. “La Réforme Communale au Tonkin”. La Revue du Pacifique March (1924): 200–219. Deloustal, Raymond. “Ressources financières et économiques de l’Etat dans l’Ancien Annam”. Revue Indochinoise no. 2 (1924): 281–303. Do Than. “Cai luong huong chinh” [The Reform of Village Administration]. Nam Phong no. 99, September (1925): 217–25. Duong Trung Quoc. “Bo may quan ly lang xa Viet Nam thoi can dai qua van ban cai luong huong chinhcua chinh quyen thuc dan Phap” [The Administrative Apparatus in Vietnamese Villages in Modern Times According to the Decrees on the ‘Reform of Village Administration’ by the French Colonial Regime]. In Nong dan va nong thon Viet Nam thoi can dai [Vietnamese Peasants and the Countryside in Modern Times], edited by Vien Su Hoc. Hanoi: Social Sciences Publishing House, 1990. Grossheim, Martin. “The Public land System in Tonkin during the French Colonial Period”, In Liber Amicorum. Mélanges offerts au Professeur Phan Huy Le, edited by John Kleinen and Philippe Papin. Hanoi: NXB Thanh Nien, CASA, Ecole Française d’Extrême Orient, 1999. H.G. “L’évolution des Institutions Communales au Tonkin, 1921–41”. Revue Indochinoise Juridique et Economique 1 (1942): 244–47. Ha Dong dia chi [Socio-Geographical Description of Ha Dong]. n.p., 1935. Hickey, Gerald. Village in Vietnam. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1967. Kleinen, John. Facing the Future, Reviving the Past: A Study of Social Change in a Northern Vietnamese Village. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1999. Kresser, P. La Commune Annamite en Cochinchine. Le Recrutement des Notables. Paris: F. Loviton, 1935.

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L’A.N. “La Nouvelle Réforme Communale”. AN no. 1036, 15 June (1941): 1. Le Thang. “Seuls les comprennent ceux qui les approchent”. AN no. 797, 30 October (1938): 1–2. Luro, J.B. Cours d’Administration Annamite. Saigon: n.p., 1875. ———. Le Pays d’Annam. Etude sur l’Organisation politique et sociale des Annamites. Paris: n.p., 1878. Mau, Michael P. “The Political Evolution of the Village-Commune in North Vietnam, 1802–1970”. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1977. Monet, Paul. Français et Annamites. Paris: PUF, 1925. Mus, Paul. “The Role of the Village in Vietnamese Politics”. Pacific Affairs 22 (1949): 265–71. Nghi Dinh chinh don lai Huong hoi cac xa o Bac Ky bang chu quoc ngu, traduit en chu Nom par Hoang Tung [Decree Concerning the Reorganization of Village Councils in Tonkin in Vietnamese, translated into Nom by Hoang Tuong]. Hanoi: Impr. Kim Duc Giang, 1922. Ngo Kim Chung and Nguyen Duc Nghinh. Propriété Privée et Propiété Collective. Paris: L’Harmattan, 1987. Ngo Vinh Long. Before the Revolution: The Vietnamese Peasants under the French. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1973. Nguyen Don Phuc. “Dieu tra ve tinh trang huong thon” [An Investigation of the Situation of the Villages]. N Ph no. 113, January (1927): 41–48. Nguyen Huu Khang. La Commune Annamite, Étude Historique, Juridique et Économique. Paris: Librairie du Recueil Sirey and Impr. Tépac, 1946. Nguyen Ngoc Huy and Ta Van Tan. The Le Code: Law in Traditional Vietnam. A Comparative Sino-Vietnamese Legal Study with Historical-Juridical Analysis and Annotations, 3 vols. Athens and London: Ohio University Press, 1987. Nguyen Phuong Thao. “Lang Viet Nam Bo va van hoa dan gian cua nguoi Viet tren dong bang song Cuu Long” [The Southern Vietnamese Village and Folk Culture of the Vietnamese in the Mekong Delta]. T/c NCDNA 2 (1991): 20–32. Nguyen Thanh Nha. Tableau Éonomique du Viet-Nam au XVIIe et XVIIIe Siècles. Paris: Cujas, 1970. Nguyen Trong Thuat. “Van de huong chinh o Bac-Ky ngay nay” [The Question of Village Administration in Tonkin Nowadays]. N Ph, no. 112, December (1926): 545–54. Nguyen Van Khanh. “Phac qua phuong thuc to chuc va quan ly nong thon duoi thoi Phap thuoc” [Outline of the Methods of Organization and Administration in the Countryside in the French Colonial Period]. In Kinh nghiem to chuc quan ly nong thon Viet Nam trong lich su [Experiences in the Organization of the Administration in the Vietnamese Countryside through History], edited by Phan Dai Doan and Nguyen Quang Ngoc. Hanoi: NXB Chinh tri Quoc Gia, 1994.

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Nguyen Van To. “Thanh nien doi voi lang” [Youth with Regard to the Work in the Village]. Thanh Nien, 1 March (1943): 21–22. Nguyen Van Tuy (a). “Un Peu d’administration Communale”. AN no. 721, 10 February (1938): 1, 4. ——— (b). “Un Peu d’administration Communale”. AN no. 722, 27 January (1938): 2–3. ——— (c). “Un Peu d’administration Communale”. AN no. 728, 24 February (1938): 1, 4. ——— (d.) “Un Peu d’administration Communale”. AN no. 732, 10 March (1938): 1–2. Nguyen Van Vinh (a). “Le Village Annamite”. AN no. 8, 22 February (1931): 4. ——— (b). “Coutumes et Institutions Annamites III: Le Village Annamite”. AN no. 13, 12 March (1931): 4. ——— (c). “Le Village Annamite”. AN no. 14, 15 March (1931): 4. ——— (d). “Le Village Annamite”. AN no. 15, 19 March (1931): 4. ——— (e). “Le Village Annamite”. AN no. 16, 22 March (1931): 4. ——— (f). “Le Village Annamite”. AN no. 18, 29 March (1931): 4. ——— (g). “Le Village Annamite”. AN no. 53, 30 July (1931): 4. ——— (h). “Quelques Lacunes dans la Réforme Communale”. AN no. 321, 8 March (1934): 1–2. ——— (i). “Le Village et la Cité”. AN no. 326, 25 March (1934): 1–2. ——— (j). “Les Intellectuels au Village”. AN no. 327, 29 March (1934): 1–2. ——— (k). “Rangs de Préséance”. AN no. 429, 24 March (1935): 1–2. ——— (l). “Rangs de Préséance”. AN no. 430, 28 March (1935): 1–2. Ory, Pascal. La Commune Annamite au Tonkin. Paris: A. Challamel, 1894. Pham Cao Duong. Vietnamese Peasants under French Domination, 1861–1945. Lanham: University Press of America, 1985. Phan Dai Doan. Lang Viet. Mot so van de kinh te xa hoi (The Vietnamese Village. Some Social and Economic Issues). Ca Mau: NXB Ca Mau, 1992. Pinto, Roger. “Le Réforme des impôts personnels dans les pays de l’Union Indochinoise”. Revue Indochinoise Juridique et Economique 10 (1939): 426–46. Popkin, Samuel L. The Rational Peasant. The Political Economy of Rural Society in Vietnam. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979. Protectorat du Tonkin. Manuel l’usage de l’Etat-Civil indigène au Tonkin. Hanoi: Publishers, 1924. Tan Phong. “Van de ngoi thu o huong thon va du ngay 23 Mai 1941” [The Question of Rank in the Villages and the Edict of May 23, 1941]. Thanh Nghi September (1941a): 6, 15. ———. “Viec cai luong huong chinh o Bac Ky” [The Work of Reforming Village Administration in Tonkin]. Thanh Nghi, August (1941b): 5–6. ——— “Nhan xet nho ve dan que Bac Ky” [Brief Comments on the Peasants in Tonkin]. Thanh Nghi no. 90, 4 November (1944): 4–5, 26.

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——— “Viec cai tri o thon que” [The Work of Administration in the Countryside] Thanh Nghi [Special Issue: Some Problems of Indochina], nos. 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 5 February (1945): 116–21. Tinh Uy Ha Tay. Lich su Dang bo Ha Tay, Tap I, 1926–1945 [History of Ha Tay Party Organization], vol. 1, 1926–1945). Ha Tay, 1992. Toan Anh. Nep cu: Lang xom Viet Nam (Old Ways: Vietnamese Villages). Sai Gon: Nha in Phuong Quynh, 1968. Tran Trong Mach. “Mot vai nhan xet ve chu truong cai luong huong chinh o Bac Ky nam 1921 cua thuc dan Phap” [Some Comments on the Policy of the French Colonialists on the Reform of Village Administration in Tonkin in 1921]. T/c DTH 2 (1982): 28–33. Truong Buu Lam. “L’Autorité dans les Villages Vietnamiens au XIXe siècle”. In Leadership and Authority: A Symposium, edited by Gehan Wijeywardene. Singapore: University of Malaya Press, 1968. Varet, Pierre. Au Pays d’Annam — les Dieux qui Meurent. Paris: Ed. E. Figuière, 1932. Vu Dinh Hoe. “Anh em thanh nien nay den luc tham gia viec lang” [Now it is Time for the Youth to Get Involved in Village Affairs]. Thanh Nghi, 23 May (1941). Vu Huy Phuc. “Che do cong dien cong tho o Bac Ky duoi thoi Phap thong tri” [The Public land System in Tonkin in Northern Vietnam under French Domination]. NCLS 87, no. 6 (1966): 26–37. Vu Quoc Thong. La Décentralisation Administrative au Viet-Nam. Etude Historique du Problème de la Décentralisation et Esquisse d’un Plan de Réforme Administrative. 2nd ed. Paris: PUF, 1952. ——— “Che do xa thon tu tri duoi Phap thuoc” [The System of Village SelfGovernment in the French Colonial Period]. NCHC (Saigon), September– October (1962): I–XXXIV. Vu Quoc Thuc. L’Economie Communaliste du Viet-Nam. Hanoi: Presses Universitaires du Vietnam, 1951. Vu Van Hien. “Les Institutions Annamites depuis l’arrivée des Français: L’impôt Personnel et les Corvées de 1862 à 1936”. Revue Indochinoise Juridique et Economique 13 (1940): 84–107. ——— Communal Property in Vietnam. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955. Whitmore, John K. “Vietnamese Historical Sources for the Reign of Le Thanh Tong (1460–1497)”. Journal of Asian Studies 29, no. 2 (1970): 373–94. Woodside, Alexander B. Vietnam and the Chinese Model. A Comparative Study of Nguyen and Chi’ng Civil Government in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971. ——— Community and Revolution in Modern Vietnam. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976.

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Reproduced from Beyond Hanoi: Local Government in Vietnam, edited by Benedict J Tria Kerkvliet and David G Marr (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http:// bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

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4 Caught in the Middle: Local Cadres in Hai Duong Province Pham Quang Minh

Introduction Since the Vietnamese communists carried out the August Revolution of 1945, they have attempted to establish an administrative system from central government through provinces and districts to villages, to gain a firm foothold across the whole country.1 Such a multi-level structure was particularly important for the construction of socialism and to strengthen the support of the rural population in the wars against France and the United States. This chapter examines the role of Communist Party government local cadres in Hai Duong province in the Red River delta over three broad periods of Vietnam’s recent history: land reform in the 1950s; collectivization from the late 1950s–80s; and decollectivization (from the 1980s) onwards. The term “local cadres” refers to officials within the commune, including members of the People’s Councils (Hoi Dong Nhan Dan), the People’s Committees (Uy Ban Nhan Dan), party cells (chi bo), agrarian cooperatives (hop tac xa nong nghiep), mass organizations (to chuc quan chung) and heads of villages (truong thon).

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The central questions of this study are: how has the Vietnamese Communist Party leadership dealt with problems regarding local cadres in Hai Duong; how well have local cadres fulfilled their duties; and what have relations between commune cadres and residents been like? I argue that there is a big gap between central and local government in the realization of party policy on local cadres. Unlike officials at higher levels, local cadres in Hai Duong have to carry out central government policies while also representing their communities. Having to fulfill these two functions at the same time, cadres are often in conflict with local people. “Classism” — Local Cadres during the Land Reform of the 1950s The land reform campaign of the 1950s was the first attempt by the Communist Party to establish local government in the Hai Duong countryside.2 The initial step towards land reform was to create a local government compatible with the party’s objectives. To do so the party leadership launched a “cadre rectification” campaign (chinh huan can bo), in 1952. Le Van Luong, chief of the party’s organizational affairs and responsible for the campaign, said that its aim was to clarify which cadres did not understand party policies.3 As the campaign proceeded, party leaders emphasized people’s class backgrounds. In that regard the party issued in March 1953 “The regulation on classification of the agrarian population”.4 It also issued a number of decrees on agrarian policy in order to punish people who had acted against the party’s line.5 Classification was not based on economic factors primarily but more on political background. The party divided not only landlords, but everyone else into groups, with the aim of weakening those hostile to it. The slogan “Rely on poor peasants and agricultural labourers, unite closely with middle farmers and ally with rich farmers, and gradually and differentially abolish the regime of feudal exploitation”, expressed the major thrust of the land reform campaign.6 The reconstruction of local government also encompassed a number of wide-ranging measures to put an end to organizations that had been involved in the war against France. Many cadres and other people in those groups were under some suspicion because of their class backgrounds or previous political activities. The communist government replaced suspicious cadres and created a new administrative system for implementing party decisions.

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Like the Vietnamese traditional state, the Communist Party officially recognized the role and position of the xa (commune) in the political system of the 1950s: Xa is the basis of our state. Xa is the lowest administrative unit. The power of xa is the basic power and foundation of the whole system of democratic people’s power … Xa is the place where the masses, which mostly consists of farmers, directly takes part in the work of the government … In a single word: the administration on the xa level is the pillar of our power apparatus.7

To help local government cover the population, the party divided many xa into new ones according to size and number of inhabitants.8 The central government divided communes mechanically without consideration of factors such as local history, culture or tradition, and without consultation with inhabitants. Dividing communes to create new ones met with sharp opposition in many places.9 A bigger problem, however, was recruiting local cadres to govern the communes of the Communist Party government. According to the Central Land Reform Committee, many existing cadres from the earlier years were not sufficiently “clean” (trong sach) to carry out the programmes to reduce landlord rents and then redistribute land.10 Therefore the government aimed to remove local cadres who were landlords, rich farmers, better off middle farmers, “bad elements” (phan tu xau) and other people who had “complicated personal records” (ly lich phuc tap). The communist government would replace them with people who could show a “clear and pure personal course”.11 That is, those who took part in the fight against the landlord class, who had close relations with, and the confidence of, the working population would be chosen.12 Party leaders formed land reform teams that determined who were “activists” (cot can) in local governments, based on so-called “classism” (chu nghia thanh phan). Most cot can were young poor farmers and agricultural labourers. Often they did not have any standing among other villagers. In many cases, land reform teams’ organized special people’s court (toa an nhan dan dac biet) sessions to force villagers to denounce other inhabitants. Land reform teams viewed such denunciations as evidence of a person’s high “class consciousness” and participation in the fight against the landlord class. Those who made denunciations were guaranteed promotion in local government and an allocation of confiscated properties.

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The land reform campaign victimized tens of thousands of innocent people, especially loyal party members. 13 Some were killed. The percentage of landlords who were executed in Hai Duong province was probably much higher than elsewhere. One reason is that this province had been occupied by the French army during the war, and the struggle between Viet Minh and French supporters continued until 1955. Second, Hai Duong was one of the provinces that carried out the last wave of land reform (25 December 1955–30 July 1956), during which the excesses of “classism” peaked. Finally, distrust between party leaders and local government officials was deepest during the last wave.14 Replacing old cadres with new ones caused chaos and political instability in the countryside. The worst period was September–October 1956, after withdrawal of the land reform teams. There were hundreds of fights in Hai Duong province. The main victims were the new cadre activists who had given land reform teams information detrimental to old cadres and other villagers during land redistribution. In Kim Thanh district, for instance, old cadres forced new cadre activists to kneel down in front of village inhabitants and “criticize” themselves. Officials required them to return documents about those punished during land reform and return confiscated property to previous owners.15 In Hong Thai commune, Ninh Giang district, three defendants threatened top officials with knives and sticks and stole four booklets in order to find out who had made accusations against them during land reform.16 In Toan Thang commune, Gia Loc district, there were even shootings between old and new cadres. Some people were hurt. In most cases, villagers supported old cadres. They helped them by organizing demonstrations that went to the district authorities. Many people said that new cadres had accused nearly everyone in their villages of being members of the Vietnam Nationalist Party (VNQDD), which had been a bitter rival of the Communist Party.17 In the early stages, conflict between old and new cadres limited the authority of local governments. In the eyes of many people the new cadres had no legitimacy. At meetings people did not listen to them. One said to the new cadres, “Off with the title of party member. You have not deserved it. We do not agree with it. We find that the old cadres were true party members. The new cadres lie a lot”.18 The dissatisfaction with new cadres turned into hatred and reprisals. It spread from one district to another and extended throughout the province. In

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Tu Ky district, people not only attacked new cadres but also required them to abolish recent changes and return to previous owners the property taken away during land reform.19 By the end of 1956, antipathy and fighting between new cadres and local people virtually paralysed local government in Hai Duong province. District officials received many reports about the crisis in the villages. Yet they had no solution. They sent these reports to the provincial level and waited for directions. Higher authorities, meanwhile, faced a dilemma. If they used harsh measures, armed conflict in villages might worsen. If, on the other hand, they did not take steps, the “bad elements” (phan tu xau) might attack the government. The victims of this chaotic situation were usually innocent peasants. They were very confused because they did not know whom they should believe: the old cadres or the new ones. This uncertainty had a negative influence on many rural people. They wanted things to settle down. Some villagers in Ninh Giang district, for instance, complained that: The higher administration acts indecisively. If we wait until the perpetrators [of this confusion] are punished, then we will be dead. If the new cadres cannot work, then we cannot finish the paperwork in order to move somewhere else to earn a living.20

“Revolutionary Morality”: Local Cadres during Collectivization With considerable effort the central government re-established order in the countryside. The tenth plenum of the Communist Party that took place in October 1956 pointed to the mistakes committed during land reform and prepared corrective action. The correction campaign from October 1956 to 1958 amounted to a compromise between the party and the dissatisfied rural population. To bring peace, party authorities had to call upon prestigious cadres to help, and upon villagers to unite.21 By the late 1950s, according to communist leaders, the party had handed power over to poor farmers and agricultural labourers in rural areas. The Communist Party, by means of land reform, had overthrown the “exploiter class”. The countryside now belonged to poor farmers. From the position of “slave” they had risen to the position of masters in social, economic, and political life.22 From the late 1950s to early 1960s the central government in northern Vietnam proceeded to implement agrarian collectivization.

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With collectivization came another change in local government. The agricultural cooperatives became very important governing institutions. They dimmed the administrative role of communes. Within the cooperatives, local units of the Communist Party played the dominant roles. Additionally, during this period, the party had considerable legitimacy due to its fight for national independence and the emerging conflict with the United States.23 There was a special policy to have local party members run the agricultural cooperatives. Data from a 1972 study of 95 cooperatives in Hai Duong province illustrate the result. Every cooperative had a party cell. Key cooperative leaders were mostly from the party, even though party members comprised less than 3 per cent of the population.24 The most important positions in the cooperatives included members of the managing board (ban quan tri), the supervisory board (ban kiem soat), and leaders of production brigades (doi san xuat). In the study of those 95 cooperatives, 66 per cent of the 1,042 people on managing boards were party members. Among the 316 chairs and deputy chairs of those boards, 93 per cent were party members.25 According to official reports, these cooperative leaders lacked sufficient education to manage them.26 Nevertheless, the party assessed these leaders not only according to their education but also on the basis of their revolutionary morality. They were supposed to be both “red and expert” (vua hong vua chuyen). Revolutionary morality, according to Ho Chi Minh, meant loyalty to the party, piety towards the people, and readiness to sacrifice oneself for revolutionary work. Party members were usually loyal to the ideology and policy of their organization. Too many, however, exploited membership privileges. The party’s 1972 study of 95 cooperatives of Hai Duong province revealed that many party members who held important positions embezzled cooperative resources. Leaders of production brigades embezzled, on average, 119 VND.27 Treasurers and warehouse managers embezzled four times that amount, 447 VND. The largest embezzlers, however, were the chairs of cooperatives, who averaged 600 VND.28 Being party members and occupying important positions in local government, some officials misused their power in other ways. For example, when building his house, the party secretary of Cong Hoa cooperative, My Hao district, required that workers from seven villages give him “assistance”. For this each person received only lunch.29

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Embezzlement and other abuses of power by cadres and the erosion of their “revolutionary morality” resulted in widespread animosity towards the Workers’ Party collectivization policy . According to an official report, from 1958 to 1970, 274 “protests” against collectivization occurred in 47 of Hai Duong province’s agricultural cooperatives. Examples included people destroying crops, leaving cooperatives, and “misappropriation of collective property”.30 The dissatisfaction with local cadres was expressed in a poem that was very popular among peasants during the collectivization period: Everyone works as two, in order to help the cadres buy radios and bicycles. Everyone works as three, in order to help cadres build up their houses and courtyard.31

Caught between Top and Bottom Since the mid-1980s the renovation policy of the Communist Party has exerted enormous influence on the development of the whole country, especially in rural areas. In particular, decollectivization in the late 1980s meant that cooperatives no longer had a role in governing villagers. In Hai Duong province, the party revived local units of administration as provided for in the nation’s 1992 Constitution and subsequent laws and decrees.32 By the late 1990s Communist Party rule had consolidated local administration as never before. The province had 262 local administration units — communes (xa), wards (phuong), and small towns (thi tran). There were 5,169 members of People’s Councils and 1,246 members of People’s Committees.33 Most of these cadres were men. For instance, only 19 per cent of cadres in People’s Councils were women; less than 5 per cent of cadres on People’s Committees were women. The age of the members was fairly high. More than 50 per cent of members of both institutions were 40–50 years old. Less than 2 per cent were under 30 years of age.34 Most cadres in both People’s Councils and Committees were former soldiers. They were numerous for several reasons. First, they had gained experience in administration work while serving in the army. Second, they were disciplined. Third, they were considered to be loyal to the party and the regime. In the People’s Councils of Hai Duong province, 54 per cent had been soldiers. Among the 1,777 members in the People’s Committees, 70 per cent had been in the army.35

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Hai Duong cadres who were former soldiers often held the key positions.36 Former soldiers commanded the militia in 58 per cent of the 48 communes examined in a 1997 study. The same study found that 38 per cent of vice chairs of People’s Committees and 33 per cent of officials in charge of administrative affairs were ex-soldiers. Nearly 30 per cent of party branch leaders in charge of personnel were also former military men.37 A second important source of local government cadres were those who previously had been officials at higher levels, often in the cities, and had returned to their home communes. This pattern has a long history. To many villagers, these cadres possessed more education and relevant experience than most. In the late 1990s former high level officials constituted about 2–6 per cent of members of commune People’s Councils and People’s Committees.38 In the 48 communes studied, the most common position occupied by such cadres was secretary of the party branch (6 and 14.1 per cent respectively). They also accounted for about 14 per cent of the chairs of Fatherland Front and Women’s Union branches, and about 8 per cent of those in charge of personnel for the local party branch.39 There were too few sustained efforts in Hai Duong to recruit and train commune cadres. Most cadres held their positions for a few years and had little experience. Among the 45 chairs of commune People’s Committees I questioned, only three had served more than 10 years, 17 had worked between 5 and 10 years, and 25 had held their positions between one and four years.40 Frequent turnover of local officials gave many people the opportunity to hold office. The downside, however, was insecurity for those in office and discontinuity between one set of officials and the next. The educational levels of local cadres has remained inadequate. Most members of People’s Councils and People’s Committees in Hai Duong communes had some theoretical training, but less than 20 per cent of Council members and only 30 per cent of Committee members had any training in administration or management.41 According to official reports and interviews I conducted in Hai Duong, education is considered to enhance the quality of local cadres’ work. In the opinion of the vice chair of the office for personal affairs of Hai Duong province, commune cadres who had a university education might initially encounter difficulties but soon played a decisive role in economic

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development. In a commune in Binh Giang district, for example, six local cadres had university qualifications in agriculture and technical areas. This commune achieved admirable economic development.42 The implementation of government policies, especially in the countryside, requires not only technical and scientific, but also historical and cultural knowledge of villages. Without this background, administrative measures cannot deliver the required results. The quality of local cadres depends on the training programmes of the central government. Yet, according to my research, opportunities for information were scarce. Hai Duong province had only one school for cadre training. The school had different programmes serving both longand short-term purposes. With only about 30 faculty members, it could not meet demand.43 Also, many local cadres did not have the resources to study. Communes often did not have the funds to send cadres for training. Cadres also had difficulties going away to study because their families needed them at home. Other local cadres who did enroll complained that the training programmes were inappropriate. The training, they said, was more about party ideology and party decrees than about problems that they had to solve everyday.44 Some steps were being taken to address these shortcomings. Ninh Giang district, for example, was planning to open a school in 2005 for local cadres to study agriculture, economics, and politics. Some of the “young and promising” cadres will be sent to similar schools in the province or to Hanoi for further training.45 Some communes tried to attract graduate students funded by central and provincial governments to return to their home villages.46 According to my research, however, the biggest source of local cadres would continue to be local people. The Communist Party continued to influence the appointment of local government cadres from recruiting to training. Any promotion or removal of local cadres required consultation with the local party branch. Sometimes party intervention from higher up, directly or indirectly, resulted in complications. For example, in La Khe, Ninh Giang district, higher-level party leaders sent a directive to vote for Mr. C to be village head because he was a party member. Villagers, however, preferred Mr. S. Even though Mr. S was not a party member, he had a good reputation among the villagers.47 The Communist Party implemented the “structural” (co cau) sharing of power, a most important principle, to prevent conflict between villages

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and family lineages within a commune.48 This “structural” principle is expressed in the organizational framework of Ninh Thanh commune. The four most important positions — party branch secretary, chair of the People’s Committee, head of the party’s personnel affairs office, and vice chair of the People’s Committee — are divided among the four biggest villages of the commune. No single village can hold two positions at the same time. The remaining two smaller and weaker villages must be satisfied with less powerful or “vice” positions.49 Decollectivization of agriculture has contributed to a revival of the family as an economic unit and enhanced the village as a political entity.50 In Ninh Thanh commune in 2002, for example, the most powerful families were those that had not been in the agrarian cooperatives. During the collectivization period their economic situation was not much worse than that of families in the cooperatives. Their political position was restricted because they had not followed party policy. By 2002, however, their position had consolidated economically as well as politically. They were wealthy because they had prior experience dealing with the private economy. Their economic strength, in turn, gave them confidence and influence in political life. In some places, such as the above-mentioned La Khe village in Ninh Giang district, powerful families of this type shared the village head position.51 The revival of the position of the village head (truong thon) has caused considerable debate.52 Nobody, not even members of the party’s Central Committee, denies this position’s importance in rural life.53 During the land reform campaign of the 1950s there were also attempts to build up the village as an administrative unit.54 However, it was not allowed because the political system of the DRV was supposed to consist of only three local levels: province, district, and commune. Yet, since 1993, the position of village head has re-emerged in most provinces.55 The village head is the person most likely to have direct contact with villagers. Though their roles are important, their privileges are modest in comparison to commune cadres. They are not trained, have no social and health insurance and are given only about 100,000 VND per month allowance.56 As of 2002, many villages in Hai Duong province had heads. Often, in fact, the heads were party members. Nearly all, at least in Ninh Giang district, were men.57 An ongoing problem for local government is inadequate monetary compensation to officials. In one effort to address this, the central

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government issued decree ND-09/CP on 23 January 1998. The decree specified those commune cadres entitled to allowances from the state budget. Those allowances ranged from between 154,000 VND and 270,000 VND monthly.58 Other cadres received compensation from the local budget.59 For both groups, the allowances were too low. This is one reason why commune officials often did not fulfill their duties.60 Cadres complained that they were not paid enough to do all that is expected of them. Low pay may also contribute to cadres misusing their authority. As in the past, some have used their positions for personal gain. According to a 2001 report of the party committee of Ninh Giang district, for example, only 30 per cent of commune governments met the criteria for being “clean and strong” (trong sach va vung manh).61 Corruption was one of the reasons for this assessment. Insufficient training also contributes to local officials’ inability to deal with serious issues that arise in rural society. One of the most important problems since decollectivization has been land disputes. Between 1988 and 1990, the years when most farm land was redistributed to housholds, Hai Duong province had 26 extreme disputes characterized as “hot points” (diem nong) over land. Often they involved a “resistance group”, acting in the name of local people, who demanded that certain lands be returned to them.62 The organizers in several cases were former city and local government cadres. In some instances their discontent was so intense that they tried to take over local government. Some disputes lingered long into the 1990s. An example is the 1998 dispute in Dong Xuyen commune, which has two villages, Xuyen Hu and Dong Cao, in Ninh Giang district. Xuyen Hu required its neighbour Dong Cao to return 85 mau (30.6 hectares) of ricefields that Xuyen Hu had brought into the shared cooperative in 1975. After the cooperative was dissolved, however, Dong Cao had retained the land. In protest, Xuyen Hu villagers sent petitions to the district offices. Among the signatures was the Xuyen Hu village head. Tired of waiting for authorities to resolve the problem, thousands of people from both villages tried to do it with force. The result was a bloody fight without a clear outcome.63 On 23 October 1998, a group of officials from the Hai Duong province and Ninh Giang district went to Dong Xuyen commune. They announced that the chair of the Hai Duong People’s Committee had ruled that the 85 mau belonged to Dong Cao village. Immediately 200 Xuyen Hu

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villagers met in the village kindergarten and decided to reject the decision of the province, contribute 1,000 VND each in order to deliver their complaint to the authorities in Hanoi, refuse to receive delegations from district and provincial offices, and continue to fight for the 85 mau of fields.64 Meanwhile, Dong Xuyen commune’s government was in a shambles. Cadres favouring Xuyen Hu village’s position were so numerous and outspoken that they were able to remove the chair of the Dong Xuyen People’s Committee. Even the commune’s party secretary was removed. Xuyen Hu supporters also took over the commune’s radio station and formed a “blitz group” (doi cuc nhanh) to act as security to protect the village from outside forces.65 The police chief of Hai Duong province eventually intervened. On 15 December 1998, police forces moved against the “ringleaders” (dau so) and the extremists who, the chief said, had broken the law during the land dispute in Dong Xuyen village.66 Also, the Central Mass Agitation Commission (Ban dan van trung uong) sent a representative to the village from Hanoi. Only with these stepped-up, forceful measures was order restored to Dong Xuyen commune. Ultimately the police disciplined 19 people, including the commune’s party secretary and People’s Committee chair, and arrested and sentenced to prison six “ringleaders” of Xuyen Hu. The conflict, however, continue to smoulder even after the People’s Committee of Hai Duong province awarded the 85 mau to Dong Cao village.

Conclusion From the 1950s to the 1990s, commune cadres in Hai Duong province have been responsible for carrying out policies of the national government, such as establishing a new administrative structure, implementing land reform, forming agricultural cooperatives for collective farming, and redistributing land to households when cooperatives were dismantled. But often these cadres were not able to do a very good job. One reason was lack of training. Those implementing land reform, for instance, were often unprepared and inappropriately instructed. Many commune cadres during the 1990s also lacked sufficient education and experience to serve the local people well. Another reason

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was dishonesty and lack of commitment to their job, either as a conveyers of national policy or in serving the interests of the community. Embezzlement and other forms of corruption have been problems since at least the time of agricultural cooperatives. Also, the village (thon) has begun to re-emerge as a locus of government. Since the 1950s, the Communist Party has insisted that the commune (xa) is the most basic unit of local government. But in 2002 numerous villages in Hai Duong had village heads, many of whom were closer to, and interacted more with, residents than commune cadres did.

Notes 1

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I collected most of the material used in this study on two field trips to Vietnam, December 2000 to April 2001 and August–September 2002. I would like to thank the staff of Vietnam’s National Archive in Hanoi, the archival staff of the People’s Committee of Hai Duong province, and the People’s Committee of Ninh Giang district. I also would like to thank the farmers I interviewed. I am grateful to Prof. David Marr and Prof. Benedict Kerkvliet and my dissertation adviser, Prof. Dr. Vincent J.H. Houben, for their comments and encouragement. For correcting my English, I am grateful to Almut Roessner and Lon Wehrle. Georg Ginsburgs, “Local Government and Administration”, pp. 174–202; and Georg Ginsburgs, “Local Government and Administration, Part II”, pp. 195– 211. At that time, the Communist Party was called the Vietnam Workers’ Party (Dang Lao Dong Viet Nam). Cuoc Khang chien Than thanh, pp. 294–303. Cong bao, 30 June 1953, pp. 62–67; and Cole, Conflict in Indochina, pp. 139–48. Cong bao, 30 June 1953, p. 51. See also White, “Agrarian Reform”, pp. 164– 65; and Tran Nhu Trang, “The Transformation”, pp. 244–51. BNV, “Chi thi ve phat dong quan chung trong nam 1953” [Directive about the mass mobilization in 1953], 24 April 1953, p. 1 (P. BNV, hs. 349, vv, NA3). BNV, “Van de chinh don to chuc va le loi lam viec cua chinh quyen xa sau khi F.D.Q.C” [Problem of reorganization and improvement of working style of village government after mass mobilization], date unclear, p. 48 (P. BNV, hs. 436, vv, NA3). A commune in the delta was meant to have between 2,000 and 3,500 inhabitants and encompass no more than 3,000 square metres of land. In

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highland and mountain communes, populations were to be 1,000–2,000 in the highlands and 400–1,000 in the mountains, and encompass no more than 4,000 and 6,000 square metres respectively. See Cong Bao, 30 June 1953, p. 70. Pham Quang Minh, “Die Entwicklung der Agrarpolitik”, pp. 217–27. BNV, “Bao cao tinh hinh tien hanh chinh don chinh quyen trong phat dong quan chung giam to”, [Report about the situation of the reconstruction of government during the campaign for rent reduction], date unclear, p. 12–13 (P. BNV, hs. 436, vv, NA3). The directive from the Minister for the Interior, Phan Ke Toai, on 29 November 1954 defined it as follows: “A clear personnel record means everything what one person has done up to this moment, what kind of relations with imperialism, feudalism, relatives and friends he has had, all must be clear. An unclean record means cooperation with imperialism and feudalism or practice of dishonorable occupation like rowdiness and prostitution”. See Phan Ke Toai, Bo truong Bo Noi vu, “Ve tieu chuan chon can bo xa trong phat dong quan chung”, [About the criteria for selecting local cadres during the mass mobilization], 29 November 1954, p. 23 (P. BNV, hs. 435, vv, NA3). BNV, “Ban huong dan cong tac chinh don chinh quyen trong phat dong quan chung cai cach ruong dat”, [Guiding directive about the reconstruction of government during mass mobilization to carry out the land reform], date unclear, p. 11 (P. BNV, hs. 435, vv, NA3). There is still no agreement among scholars on the question of how many people were killed during the land reform of the 1950s. Numbers vary between 10,000 and 500,000 persons. An extreme opinion came from Hoang Van Chi, who believed that about 5 per cent of the North Vietnamese population (i.e. 675,000 persons) was executed. See Hoang Van Chi, From Colonialism to Communism, p. 212. As a witness of the land reform in Thanh Hoa province, Hoang Van Chi influenced the disscusion and played an important role in forming the “bloodbath thesis”. Based on a statement by Hoang Quoc Viet, President of the Vietnam Labour Association, reproduced on 2 September 1954 in Renmin Ribao, Edwin Moise extrapolated the number to 5,000 killed. See Moise, Land Reform in China and North Vietnam, pp. 200–22. The reconstruction of local government accelerated in 1955 during the fifth wave, through a policy of the Central Land Reform Committee to “basically destroy the reactionary organizations.” See UBCCRDTW, “Bien ban Hoi nghi Uy ban Cai cach Ruong dat Trung uong lan thu 8”, [Protocol of the Eight meeting of the Central Land Reform Committee], 5 May 1956, p. 36 (P. UBCCRDTW, hs. 716, vv, NA3). UBHC huyen Kim Thanh, “Bao cao ve tinh hinh nong thon” [Report on situation in countryside], 3 November 1956, pp. 1–2 (P. BNN, hs. 1954–1975, TTLTTUHD).

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UBHC huyen Ninh Giang, “Bao cao ve tinh hinh nong thon tu khi doi rut” [Report on the situation in the countryside after withdrawal of (land reform) teams], 21 October 1956, pp. 23–24 (P. BNN, hs. 1954–1975, TTLTTUHD). In Bai Tang village there were 78 families of a total number of 85 families that were accused of being members of VNQDD. In another village, 42 of 45 families were accused of belonging to VNQDD. The older cadres and many innocent people were arrested and tortured because of a suspected connection to the VNQDD. See UBHC huyen Gia Loc, “Bao cao tinh hinh cua huyen Gia Loc” [Report on the situation of Gia Loc district], 5 November 1956, p. 10 (P. BNN, hs. 1954–1975, TTLTTUHD). UBHC huyen Ninh Giang, “Bao cao tiep ve tinh hinh nong thon cua huyen Ninh Giang” [Further Report on the situation in countryside of Ninh Giang district], 30 September 1956, pp. 27–28 (P. BNN, hs. 1954–1975, TTLTTUHD). UBHC huyen Tu Ky, “Bao cao ve tinh hinh cua huyen Tu Ky” [Report on the situation of Tu Ky district], 11 November 1956, p. 15 (P. BNN, hs. 1954–1975, TTLTTUHD). UBHC huyen Ninh Giang, “Bao cao ve tinh hinh huyen Ninh Giang” [Report on the situation of Ninh Giang district], 15 October 1956, p. 33 (P. BNN, hs. 1954–1975, TTLTTUHD). BNV, “Chi thi huong dan cong tac sua chua sai lam ve cai cach ruong dat va chinh don to chuc o xa” [Direction on correction of the mistakes committed during the land reform and organizational reconstruction in communes], date unclear, pp. 13–15 (P. BNV, hs. 2126, vv, NA3). See also Ha The Chau, Dai bieu Quoc hoi tinh Ha Nam, “Tham luan ve chinh sach sua sai cua chinh phu tai ky hop thu 6 cua Quoc hoi” [Speech about the government’s correction policy at the Sixth meeting of National Assembly], December 1956, pp. 55– 57 (P. QH, hs. 19, vv, NA3). Tieu ban Tong ket hop tac hoa nong nghiep, Bao cao tong ket, p. 3. Thaveeporn Vasavakul, “Vietnam — The Changing Models”, pp. 268–69. Nguyen Van Tho, Thuong truc BDTQL HTXNN Tinh Hai Hung, “Bao cao chuyen de to chuc dang, chinh quyen, cac doan the quan chung o co so doi voi cong tac quan ly hop tac xa san xuat nong nghiep” [Special report about the party, government and mass organisations on the local level by managing the agrarian cooperatives], 1 March 1972, p. 1 (P. BNN, hs. 06 BCDT, TTLTUBNDHD). Nguyen Van Tho, Thuong truc BDTQL HTXNN, “Bao cao tinh hinh doi ngu can bo quan ly va can bo cong nhan ky thuat trong cuoc dieu tra quan ly hop tac xa nong nghiep” [Report about the contingent of managing cadres and technicial workers during the study on management of the agrarian cooperatives], 20 April 1972, p. 44 (P. BNN, hs. 07 BCDT, TTLTUBNDHD).

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Seventy per cent of managing board members had primary school education. See Nguyen Van Tho, Thuong truc BDTQL HTXNN, “Bao cao tinh hinh doi ngu can bo quan ly va can bo cong nhan ky thuat trong cuoc dieu tra quan ly hop tac xa nong nghiep” [Report about the contingent of managing cadres and technicial workers during the study on management of the agrarian cooperatives], 20 April 1972, p. 46 (P. BNN, hs. 07 BCDT, TTLTUBNDHD). According to the above mentioned report, 119 VND in 1972 could buy about 395 kilograms of paddy (thoc, unhusked rice) or 280 kilograms of rice (gao). That is 0.3 VND per kilogram of paddy. This estimation also appeared in a Ministry of Agriculture report in 1976, which Prof. Kerkvliet pointed out to me. I would like to thank him for sharing that information. Nguyen Van Tho, Thuong truc BDTQL HTXNN, “Bao cao chuyen de to chuc dang, chinh quyen, cac doan the quan chung o co so doi voi cong tac quan ly hop tac xa san xuat nong nghiep” [Special report on the party, government and mass organizations at the local level in the work of managing the agrarian cooperatives] P. BNN, hs. 06 BCDT, TTLTUBNDHD, 1 March 1972, p. 10. Nguyen Van Tho, Thuong truc BDTQL HTXNN, “Bao cao chuyen de mot so van de khac” [Special report about some other problems], 6 April 1972, (P. BNN, hs. 08 BCDT, TLTUBNDHD), p. 31. Nguyen Van Tho, Thuong truc BDTQL HTXNN, “Bao cao chuyen de mot so van de khac” [Special report about some other problems], 6 April 1972, (P. BNN, hs. 08 BCDT, TLTUBNDHD), p. 35. Interview with farmers in Bac Ninh province in September 1996. Hien phap cua nuoc CHXHCNVN 1992 [The Constitution of the SRV 1992]; Luat to chuc hoi dong nhan dan va uy ban nhan dan (sua doi) 1994 [Law on organisation of People’s Councils and People’s Committees (revised) 1994]; Nghi dinh so 174/CP ngay 29. 9. 1994 cua chinh phu ve quy dinh co cau thanh vien uy ban nhan dan va so pho chu tich uy ban nhan dan cac cap [Decree Nr. 174/CP on 29 September 1994 of the government about regulations on members of the People’s Committees and the number of vice-chairs of People’s Committees]; Nghi dinh so 09/1998/QD-CP ngay 23. 1. 1998 cua chinh phu sua doi bo sung nghi dinh 50/CP ngay 26.7.1995 cua chinh phu ve che do sinh hoat phi doi voi can bo xa, phuong, thi tran [Decree Nr. 09/ 1998/QD-CP on 23 January 1998 of the government about the revival of Decree Nr. 50/CP on 26 July 1995 of the Government about allowances for local cadres]; Nghi dinh so 29/1998/ND-CP ngay 11. 5. 1998 cua chinh phu ve viec ban hanh quy che thuc hien dan chu o xa [Decree Nr. 29/1998/NDCP on 11 May 1998 of the government about the regulations for enforcement of democracy in villages]. VNCKHTCNN, “Bao cao ket qua dieu tra”, pp. 41–42.

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38 39 40 41 42 43 44

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49 50

51 52

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VNCKHTCNN, “Bao cao ket qua dieu tra”, p. 45. VNCKHTCNN, “Bao cao ket qua dieu tra”, pp. 42–43. There are 15 key positions: secretary of party branch; chair of the People’s Council; member for personal affairs in the party branch; vice-chair of the People’s Council; chair of the People’s Committee; vice-chair of the People’s Committee, members of People’s Committee in charge of socio-culture affairs, budget, cadastral affairs, militia, and administration; chair of the local branch of the Fatherland Front; secretary of the local Ho Chi Minh Youth organisation; chair of the Women’s Union; and chair of the the Peasants’ Association. Pham Van Tham, “Bao cao ket qua”, p. 23. VNCKHTCNN, “Bao cao ket qua dieu tra”, p. 41–43. Pham Van Tham, “Bao cao ket qua”, p. 23. Interviews with local cadres on 25 September 2002. VNCKHTCNN, “Bao cao ket qua dieu tra”, p. 41–42. Interview, 20 September 2002. Interviews with cadres of the political school of Hai Duong province on 22 September 2002. Interviews with students of the political school of Hai Duong province on 22 September 2002. Nguyen Thi Duyen, Pho bi thu thuong truc Ban thuong vu Huyen uy huyen Ninh Giang, “Chuong trinh hanh dong thuc hien nghi quyet hoi nghi trung uong 5 (khoa IX) ve doi moi va nang cao chat luong he thong chinh tri o co so xa, phuong, thi tran” [Working programme to carry out the resolutions of the Fifth plenum of the Central Committee (Section IX) about the renovation and promotion of quality of the political system on the level of communes, wards and small towns], 17 June 2002, p. 7 (HUNG). To solve this problem the government has a policy of giving examination credits and scholarships to local students. Other provinces sign contracts with local students guaranteeing employment. Interview with members of People’s Committee of Ninh Thanh commune, Ninh Giang district on 23 September 2002. Vu Van Quan, “Nhung bien doi cua quan he”, pp. 305–29. Interview with farmers of Ninh Thanh commune, Ninh Giang district on 22 September 2002. Nguyen Quang Ngoc, “Lang-Thon”, pp. 86–87. Interview with farmers of La Khe hamlet, Ninh Thanh commune, Ninh Giang district on 19 September 2002. Nguyen Quang Ngoc, “Lang-Thon”, pp. 88–94. DCSVN, “Nghi quyet Hoi nghi lan thu 5”, pp. 172–73.

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BNV, “Bao cao tong ket ve tinh hinh to chuc can bo va le loi lam viec o nhung xa da F.D.Q.C. o Thai Nguyen” [Final report about the situation of cadres and working style in the villages that carried out mass mobilization in Thai Nguyen], date unclear 1954, pp. 31–33, (P. BNV, hs. 436, vv, NA3). Nhan Dan, 30 June 1995. Interview on 20 September 2002 with farmers in Ninh Thanh commune. 100,000 VND was equivalent to US$6.60 at the time. UBNDNG, “Bang tong hop chung can bo xa, thi tran tinh den ngay 31. 08. 2002” [A summary table of the local cadres as of 31 August 2002]. The number of local cadres allowed to receive everyday expenses from the state budget included not only administrative but also party and mass organization personnel. This number varies between 17 and 25 and depends on the population of the village (communes with less than 10,000 people have 17–19 cadres, communes with 10,000 to 20,000 have 19–21 cadres, and communes with more than 20.000 cadres could have up to 25 cadres). See Ban To chuc-can bo chinh phu, Chinh quyen cap xa, pp. 344–48. The vice chairs of the Fatherland Front and mass organizations (women, youth, peasants union and veterans). Nguyen Van Khanh and Thang Van Phuc, “Bo may quyen luc”, p. 121. Nguyen Thi Duyen, Pho bi thu thuong truc Ban thuong vu Huyen uy huyen Ninh Giang, “Chuong trinh hanh dong thuc hien nghi quyet hoi nghi trung uong 5 (khoa IX) ve doi moi va nang cao chat luong he thong chinh tri o co so xa, phuong, thi tran” [Working programme to carry out the resolutions of the Fifth plenum of the Central Committee (Section IX) about the renovation and promotion of quality of the political system on the level of communes, wards and small towns], 17 June 2002, p. 2 (HUNG). UBNDNG, “Bao cao ve tinh hinh xa Dong Xuyen” [Report on situation of Dong Xuyen commune], 18 October 1998, p. 2. TTLTTUHD, “Bao cao ngay 10.9.1990 cua Ban Nong Nghiep tinh Hai Hung ve tinh hinh va ket qua buoc dau trong xu ly cac diem nong ve khieu kien kinh te va tranh chap dat dai khu vuc nong thon” [Report on September 10th 1990 of Agricultural Committee of Hai Hung province about the situation and first results in solution of “hot points” about the economic claims and land dispute in the countryside]. UBNDNG, “Bao cao tiep ve tinh hinh o xa Dong Xuyen” [Further report on situation in Dong Xuyen commune], 12 November 1998, p. 3. UBNDNG, “Bao cao ve tinh hinh xa Dong Xuyen” [Report on situation of Dong Xuyen commune], 30 November 1998, p. 5. Cong an huyen Ninh Giang, “Bao cao ve tinh hinh an ninh xa Dong Xuyen” [Report on security situation of Dong Xuyen commune], 20 December 1998, p. 9.

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Bibliography Cole, Allan. Conflict in Indochina and International Repercussions: A Documentary History 1945–1955. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1956. Ginsburgs, Georg. “Local Government and Administration in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam 1945–1954, Part I”. China Quarterly 10, April–June (1962): 174–202. ———. “Local Government and Administration in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam since 1954, Part II”. China Quarterly 14 (1963): 195–211. Hoang Van Chi. From Colonialism to Communism. New York: F.A. Praeger, 1964. Moise, Edwin. Land Reform in China and North Vietnam: Consolidating Revolution on the Village Level. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983. Nguyen Quang Ngoc. “Lang-Thon trong he thong thiet che chinh tri-xa hoi nong thon” [Commune-village in Socio-Political System in the Countryside]. In Quan ly xa hoi nong thon nuoc ta hien nay — Mot so van de va giai phap [Managing Rural Society of our Country Today — Some Problems and Solutions], edited by Phan Dai Doan. Hanoi: Nha Xuat ban Chinh tri Quoc gia, 1996, pp. 68–109. Nguyen Van Khanh and Thang Van Phuc. “Bo may quyen luc cap xa: Co cau to chuc va phuong thuc van hanh” [Authority Apparatus at the Commune Level: Structure and Activities]. In Quan ly xa hoi nong thon nuoc ta hien nay — Mot so van de va giai phap [Managing Rural Society of our Country Today — Some Problems and Solutions], edited by Phan Dai Doan. Hanoi: Nha Xuat ban Chinh tri Quoc gia, 1996: 110–146. Pham Quang Minh. “Die Entwicklung der Agrarpolitik der Kommunistischen Partei Vietnams (KPV) von der Landreform der 50er Jahre bis zur Erneuerungspolitik der 90er Jahre in Theorie und Praxis” [The Development of the Agrarian Policy of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), Covering the Period from the Land Reform in the 1950s to the Renovation Policy of the 1990s, in Theory and Practice]. Doktorarbeit, Humboldt Universitaet zu Berlin, 2002. Pham Van Tham. “Bao Cao Ket Qua De Tai Nghien Cuu Khoa Hoc: Nghien cuu de xuat mot so giai phap va noi dung dao tao boi duong can bo xa phuong trong qua trinh thuc hien cong nghiep hoa, hien dai hoa nong nghiep va nong thon tinh Hai Duong” [Report on the results of a scientific research project: Research proposal for some solutions and contents of training and development of local cadres during the process of industrialization and modernization of agriculture and the countryside in Hai Duong province]. Hai Duong, 1997. Tran Nhu Trang. “The Transformation of the Peasantry in North Vietnam”. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pittsburg, 1972.

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Vasavakul, Thaveeporn. “Vietnam — The Changing Models of Legitimation”. In Political Legitimacy in Southeast Asia: The Quest for Moral Authority, edited by Muthiah Alagappa. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1995, pp. 257–89. Viet Nam. Ban To chuc — Can bo Chinh phu (Committee for Government Personnel Management). Chinh quyen cap xa va quan ly nha nuoc o cap xa [Commune government and state management at the commune level]. Hanoi: Nha Xuat ban Chinh tri Quoc gia, 2000. ———. Cuoc Khang chien Than thanh cua Nhan dan Viet Nam — Nhung bai viet trong thoi ky khang chien tren cac bao dang [The Sacred Resistance of Vietnamese people — Articles from the Party’s Newspapers during the Time of the Resistance], Vol. III. Hanoi, 1960. Viet Nam, Dang Cong San. “Nghi quyet Hoi nghi lan thu 5 Ban chap hanh trung uong Dang khoa IX ngay 18.3.2002 ve doi moi va nang cao chat luong he thong chinh tri o co so xa phuong thi tran” [Resolution of the Fifth Plenum of the Central Committee of the Party (Section IX) on 18 March 2002 about renovation and improvement of quality for political system on the local level of village and town]. In Van kien Hoi nghi lan thu 5 Ban chap hanh Trung uong khoa IX [Documents of the Fifth Plenum of the Central Committee of the Party (Section IX)] (Hanoi: Nha Xuat ban Chinh tri Quoc gia, 2002), pp. 165– 82. ———. Tieu ban Tong ket Hop tac hoa Nong nghiep [The subcommittee for summing up agricultural collectivization]. Bao cao tong ket hop tac hoa nong nghiep 1958–1990 [The final report on agricultural collectivization 1958–1990]. Hanoi, 1991. ———. VNCKHTCNN. “Bao cao ket qua dieu tra co ban chat luong can bo chinh quyen co so” [Report on results of the basic study about the quality of local government cadres]. Hanoi, 1999. Vu Van Quan. “Nhung bien doi cua quan he dong ho o Ninh Hiep” [Changes in Family Lineage relationships in Ninh Hiep”]. In Lang o vung chau tho song Hong: Van de con bo ngo [The Village in the Red River delta: Questions Left Open], edited by P. Papin and O. Tessier. Hanoi: Trung tam Khoa hoc Xa hoi va Nhan van Quoc gia, 2002, pp. 305–32. White, Christine. “Agrarian Reform and National Liberation in the Vietnamese Revolution: 1920–1957”. Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University, 1981.

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Reproduced from Beyond Hanoi: Local Government in Vietnam, edited by Benedict J Tria Kerkvliet and David G Marr (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http:// bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

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5 Winter Crop and Spring Festival: the Contestations of Local Government in a Red River delta commune Truong Huyen Chi

For nearly two decades, the Vietnamese countryside has experienced momentous socio-economic change. Decollectivization in agriculture has given rise to the household economy as well as the increasing participation of people in the political process at the local level. The countryside has witnessed not only improvements in material living conditions but also a revival of religious rituals and communal activities. These economic, social and cultural changes have attracted scholarly interest across a wide range of disciplines, from political science and economics to history and anthropology.1 There are additional scholarly works that focus on the relations between the government and its citizens at the national, regional and local levels. While some scholars look at the impact of renovation on socio-economic life,2 others search for ways in which the dynamics of life at the local level contribute to changing

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policy.3 Other scholars look at different arenas of contestation, such as land conflicts between villages or between households. 4 Some ethnographers pay special attention to the ways in which local governments incorporate cultural norms and meanings into the political process whereby leaders are selected.5 In this chapter, I discuss the interaction between local government and authority and local people by providing an ethnographic case study of Dong Vang village (Hoang Long commune, Phu Xuyen district, Ha Tay province). The chapter focuses on two major Hoang Long projects that occurred during the past four decades: an attempt to boost agricultural production through the enforcement of winter crop yields; and the control of religious practice in villages. By showing that intracommune differentiations embed these two projects in history, I demonstrate how these policies fall into two arenas of contestation between local governments and their people. Based on extended research in the village in 1998–99, I argue that the relations between Dong Vang villagers and Hoang Long authorities have been contentious, at times even hostile, not only because authorities attempted to implement central policies that were not well received among villagers but also due to deeply rooted prejudice of commune authorities against Dong Vang.6 I suggest that an in-depth understanding of specific local history and culture is crucial for understanding the interaction between local governments and the people. Local Culture, Village Identity, and the Interactions between Local Authorities and People Since the 1990s, a large number of international scholarly works on Vietnam from different disciplines have shared several common themes: the interaction between government and people, socio-economic differentiation, and the increasing salience of “culture”. The notion of “culture” and the way scholars recast it in contemporary Vietnamese politics is closely linked to the discussion on state–society interaction. Some focus exclusively on rituals and explore the state’s strategies regarding “culture”.7 Others extend to thorough historical inquiries by situating the revival of rituals in the changing political and socio-economic context.8 In this chapter, I emphasize that it is not sufficient to identify symbolic contradictions in Vietnamese culture, which individuals express in daily life and in their interaction with the state.

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One also needs to visualize how these cultural contradictions are linked to other contradictory forms of livelihood, and how these in turn serve as sources of the dynamics which reproduce and transform society. It is insufficient to show how the increasing salience of “culture” — intensifying calls upon idioms of kinship, neighbourhood, community and nationality — results from economic reform; one must demonstrate as well how the increasing heterogeneity of a local culture gives specific forms and ways of reproducing in social relations in that locale. Yet, scholars need to demonstrate the prominence of culture while not losing sight of the fact that contemporary life is deeply rooted in the past. The task also includes uncovering how perpetually and inextricably history merges the past into the present. My understanding of “culture” emphasizes that it is inextricably linked to the livelihood and political life of the local people. Acknowledging that norms, values, and meanings are crucial contents of “culture”, I believe that culture does not mean just these things. Instead, if we take “culture” as ongoing selective processes being lived and practiced, and hence reproduced and transformed, this will help us visualize its dynamic and shaping forces.9 Keeping in mind the notion of culture as processes of selective reproduction of meanings, I uncover the dynamics resulting from the unfolding of cultural contradictions, those within the local tradition (that of multi-occupation versus agriculture, for instance) as well as those between the local culture and the state (regarding religious rituals, for instance). I suggest that contradictions serve as sources of meanings, which people making their livelihoods call forth. I show how local people debate and negotiate, solve and dissolve those contradictory meanings of culture, and thereby how people play an important role in shaping the specific forms of social interactions, conflicts, and resistance. The discussion in this chapter shares with other contributors the conceptualization of governance that includes “the complex mechanism, processes, relationships and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their rights and obligations and mediate their differences”. 10 I highlight the processes by which individuals’ lived experiences, the interactions between different interest groups within the community, and the interplay between state projects and local initiatives, are dialectically interrelated and thereby reformulate collective actions and identities. In other words, I attempt to discover

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particular ways in which the local governments and people of Dong Vang interact over time, and how these interactions in turn shape the specific forms of response and resistance of the villagers. To achieve this goal, I call forth a better understanding of both local governments and local people. For the latter, an understanding of the heterogeneity and differentiation of the peasantry allows us to learn more about the nature of debate, disagreement and negotiation among peasants while they interact with the state. For the former, local governments include relationships and processes, a changing series of actions through moments of history. Moreover, as I show in the case of Dong Vang, and similar to cases presented by Tran Thi Thu Trang and Thomas Sikor (this volume), the agents of local government are those interacting directly with villagers, and in some cases they come from kinship and village networks. In this light, I suggest that the state consists not only of institutions and policies, but also norms and values — its morality or cultural legitimacy — with which it appeals to its citizens.11 To comprehend the interaction between local governments and people, one also needs to ask how the norms and values of the state contradict and/ or corroborate local norms and values, and how they are turned into claims of local people and the responsibilities with which they identify themselves in their own local language.12 Dong Vang village In 1998, with 1,197 inhabitants, 293 households, and 269 mau of cultivated land, Dong Vang was fourth largest among nine villages (thon) within the Hoang Long commune. In 1999, Dong Vang villagers earned the highest income and enjoyed the most prosperous living standard of villages within the entire commune. This resulted from the fact that close to two-thirds of households in the village had at least one person engaged in a non-agricultural activity of some kind, either in Hanoi (26 kilometers from the village) or in Ha Dong (22 kilometres). Before 1945, Dong Vang was one of two villages that comprised the Hoang Trung commune (xa) in the Hoang Trung canton (tong). Early in the twentieth century, a good portion of Dong Vang households practiced different kinds of handicrafts and engaged in intra-region migration and commerce. From 1954 to the early 1980s, the socialist state aimed to transform Dong Vang’s heterogeneous population into a homogeneous entity of collective peasants. The central conflict in this process of

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restructuring the political economy lay between the collective economy and the household economy in terms of resource and labour management.13 Dong Vang villagers, despite the increasingly tightened control over labour by the cooperatives, managed to continue many of their non-agricultural activities through which they earned substantial, sometimes crucial, income. Decollectivization in the Red River delta began in 1981, when the state issued the product-based contract system (Khoan 100).14 After land was allocated to households for the first time, productivity reportedly increased from 2.8 tons per hectare/crop in 1981 to 5 tons per hectare/ crop in 1989. A significant reduction in poverty and considerable improvement of material living conditions were evident among households in Dong Vang. Since reform, however, the increase of opportunities and diversification in livelihood activities has resulted in increasing socio-economic differentiation within households in the village. Seasonal migration to urban and market centres is by no means a new phenomenon in the Red River delta (Gourou 1936). It continued in a submerged way during the collective era and re-emerged as soon as doi moi began.15 Due to the seasonal migration of Dong Vang men and women to Hanoi during the 1990s, pre-existing multiple occupations again became the distinctive socio-economic feature of the village. In 1998, 60 per cent of Dong Vang households had at least one person engaged in seasonal migration to Hanoi or Ha Dong. Approximately 40 per cent of the Dong Vang workforce participated in migratory trades and/or wage-earning jobs. Once again, the combination of agriculture and various non-agricultural occupations brought prosperity to Dong Vang villagers. The discussion that follows is divided into two parts. The first reconstructs the history of geo-political relations between nine villages since they were merged into Hoang Long commune in 1946. I describe how inter-village tensions intensified through various phases of collectivization, and how conflicts were brought to the fore, especially in the large-scale socialist production (1975–81), while commune leadership was unevenly distributed across villages. Through an examination of the winter-crop policy and its implementation in this commune, I demonstrate how the structural contradictions of cooperatives manifested themselves in confrontations between small traders, mostly women, and the cooperative cadres.

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The latter part examines the continuous struggle over ritual space, during which time people contested local government. I show how this struggle occurred parallel to the uneven reaction to agricultural policies discussed previously. I suggest that the reclaiming of ritual space and remaking of village ritual in some upstream villages represented collective actions against unfair treatment by the commune leadership. Winter Crop or Smuggling? In 1997, Dong Vang regained its original name after the state had merely numbered it as a cooperative production brigade for more than three decades, as was also the case with Hoang Long commune’s eight other villages (see Map 1). A distinction continued between the “people of MAP 1 Hoang Long Commune in 1997

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the upstream” (dan mien tren) and the “people of the downstream” (dan mien duoi), terminology that people within the commune used in daily conversation. The “upstream” consisted of four villages — Van Hoang, Dong Vang, Co Hoang and Dao Xa — all located in the north of Hoang Long commune. The five southern villages made up the “downstream”. In 1999, upstream villagers seemed to practice a more diverse economy than downstream ones. Besides agriculture, they undertook confectionmaking or bamboo and rattan weaving, and even migratory trading and services in towns. For those who lived downstream, agriculture was their major source of income, supplemented by piecemeal wages from seasonal migrant jobs within and outside the commune. As indicated in the preceding section, in the early twentieth century two handicrafts — paddy processing and silkworm egg raising — brought in significant, if not major, income for many Dong Vang families. Moreover, some family members or entire household enterprises migrated (short term and long term, close and distant), taking their handicraft skills with them. This occupational character, in turn, led to different ways in which the family division of labour was arranged. Furthermore, Dong Vang villagers’ engagement in migration, manufacture and trade helped to foster their dynamic mobility and adaptability — crucial assets as they responded to turbulent political and socio-economic changes during the remainder of the twentieth century. For more than sixty years under the French Protectorate (1883–1945), the Red River delta went through significant transformations as foreign rule incorporated it into the capitalism of Indochina. Dong Vang’s preexisting multiple occupational structure and its proximity to market centres provided different options for its villagers in changing economic conditions. After the anti-French resistance (1945–54), the Vietnamese socialist state often overlooked the dynamics of Dong Vang’s livelihood during collectivization and the establishment of cooperatives in Hoang Long. Two years after the 1955–56 land reform, the new regime merged Dong Vang with eight other villages to form Hoang Long commune.16 This merger was based on the official definition of area and size of a commune and the role of communes in the new political system.17 For inhabitants of Hoang Long, the merger marked more than an administrative reorganization; it exemplified the beginning of a thorough political and economic restructuring. First, the nine constituent villages

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of the Hoang Long commune differed in terms of historical and economic conditions. Before 1945, the majority of the population from the five downstream villages based their livelihood almost entirely on agriculture, and therefore lived in poorer conditions than upstream villagers.18 The latter, including the people of Dong Vang, had a more diverse occupational structure than mixed agriculture and handicraft commodity production. Second, the class struggle within downstream villages during land reform was more intense than in upstream villages. Moreover, Workers Party (Dang Lao Dong) members completed the collectivization process sooner in the downstream agricultural villages, while they were slowed down by simple commodity producers in the upstream villages. Party members downstream, consequently, had better reputations for motivating the masses. This resulted in one of the most important characteristics of the administrative structure in Hoang Long: most of the commune’s key leaders came from downstream villages. The process of establishing cooperatives in the villages of Hoang Long commune in the 1960s was contentious. Tensions and struggles were common within village-based production brigades, and between them and the commune’s leadership. The commune’s government — dominated by downstream cadres — aimed at expanding its public space by uprooting the pre-existing, village-based, decision-making mechanisms.19 In 1959, each village had its own cooperative. By 1963, however, most of these cooperatives were required to merge with one or two others to form inter-village cooperatives. As the number of cooperatives in Hoang Long decreased, the size of each increased (see Table 1). During the 1960s and mid-1970s, the four inter-village cooperatives in Hoang Long commune operated separately from one another (see Table 2). Immediate local needs and concerns influenced the decision-making process. Neighbourhood-based or village-based brigades remained relatively autonomous. The brigades were in charge of a wide range of social functions that went beyond economic operations. Daily matters were handled well as long as the brigades made decisions with ultimate reference to the local community. In this situation, as Pham Quang Minh puts it (elsewhere in this volume), when caught between the responsibility of implementing government policies and the duty to protect the interests of the local population, cadres in the Thanh Hoang cooperative, which

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TABLE 1 Production Brigades in Dong Vang during Various Cooperatives (1959–89) Time Period

Average size of cooperative hh

Cooperative scale

No. of brigades in cooperative

No. of brigades in Dong Vang

15 40–60 80 80–100

One village Inter-village One-commune Inter-village

6–8 14 20 12

6–8 4–6 2–4 4

1959–63 1963–75 1975–81 1981–89

Source: Field research in Dong Vang (1997–98) conducted by Truong Huyen Chi.

TABLE 2 Productivity, Labour Day Value of Inter-village Cooperative (1963–74) Name of Cooperative

No. of villages

No. of brigades

Productivity ton/ha

Value of work-point/ labour day value (maximum-minimum) kg/day

Kim Thuong Thanh Hoang Song Hoang Kim Nhi

1 3 2 3

6 14 12 12

3.5 3.5 3.5 3

2–1.5 1.7–1 1.8–1.2 1–0.8

Source: Field research in Dong Vang (1997–98) conducted by Truong Huyen Chi.

included Dong Vang village, tended to orient themselves towards serving the public.20 Taking public to refer to one’s immediate neighbourhood and village, one elderly Dong Vang man who had been a brigade leader in Thanh Hoang cooperative in early 1960s recalls that To be a brigade leader meant to know how to care about the living of your brigade member households. When I was the leader of brigade No. 7, I had to know how to hide some paddy to feed those households in need. I arranged for the funeral of the deceased, I asked for extra subsidies from the Cooperative for families in difficulty. That was why people in the neighbourhood trusted and respected my leadership.

Hoang Long villages did not welcome the amalgamation of inter-village and village-based cooperatives into the commune-wide Phu Long cooperative towards the end of the American war. One way of resisting the amalgamation was to dissolve inter-village cooperatives properties.

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Many villagers disassembled and hid away these smaller cooperatives buildings and facilities. They applied the same tactic to paddy in their granaries. Not all villages undertook these strategies, however. A sixtyeight-year-old Dong Vang man, who was one of the brigade leaders before amalgamation, expressed to me his regret that Dong Vang had missed the chance to act collectively not only as members of their cooperative but also as villagers of a single community We did not manage to disassemble and hide away our Temple of Confucius (Van Chi). It was an ironwood three-compartment building, located south of the village pagoda. After the Revolution (1945), it was turned into the village primary school. Soon after establishment of the Phu Long Cooperative, the commune’s militia came and disassembled the building. They brought its woods, bricks and titles downstream to build a clinic. On that day none of our elderly dared to protect our Temple. We did worse than our neighbours, the villagers of Van Hoang. When the commune’s leaders wanted to cut down their kapok trees, Van Hoang men and women sat all day around their bases. They succeeded in deterring the commune bullies. Yet, Dong Vang villagers missed a chance to fight against them.

Negative reactions from former cooperatives could not prevent the amalgamation from being completed in September 1975. Local people implemented the new management system in the Phu Long cooperative, aimed at centralizing management and redistributing power into the hands of the commune-based management committee. 21 A rigid hierarchical structure subsumed former brigades that once enjoyed partial autonomy. Local leadership, which once had been based on kinship and neighbourhood ties, became directly subject to the top-down plan. Moreover, in order to increase its surveillance capacity, the cooperative management enlarged and strengthened the supervisory board. One of the most noteworthy achievements — in the eyes of the leaders — during the operation of Phu Long cooperative was its third crop campaign. Members of the former Kim Thuong cooperative (1961–75) succeeded in planting potatoes in the wet ground. Phu Long’s leaders, most of them from downstream villages, believed that one way to boost agriculture was to increase land utilization. Cultivation of a third crop became the goal whereby Phu Long could compete for political achievement across the district. Cooperative members in the commune were required to learn the techniques to cultivate potatoes in the damp ground. Planting the third crop of potatoes became a political movement

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(phong trao). However, the actual profit of this cultivation was not very high, sometimes even negative, as Dong, former brigade leader, and a holder of a degree in agriculture, recalled. It was true that the third crop of the Phu Long cooperative was widely lauded across the province. However, a careful calculation revealed its poor quality and low productivity. For instance, one sao devoted to potatoes required twenty-five kilograms of seeds. In addition, five kilograms of nitrogen fertilizer, 500 kilograms of manure, and at least twenty labour days were needed for each sao of potatoes. Maximal gain might reach 400 kilograms, half of which had to be left aside to exchange for the next crop variety, twenty per cent was fit only for livestock, while the remaining thirty per cent could be consumed or sold.

An elderly woman remembers that It was extremely hard to plant potatoes in the damp ground. It took me nights and nights under the moonlight to grind dried mud from the bed of the home pond into fine soil to top the prepared furrows. Only this type of soil could best absorb the water without holding it, leaving the ground dry enough for potatoes to grow. It then took many days for my ten-year-old son, the eldest of my three children, to take care of the plants by putting more dry and fine grain soil around them to make sure the water would never get in. Yet, one day when the harvest was approaching we discovered that all the young potatoes were rotten because of water. They could not even be used to feed the pigs! Hopelessly, I hugged my son into my arms and we both cried. A flash came to my mind: I must go back to the market again so that my children had something to warm up their empty stomachs.

However, the cooperative leader at the time blamed Dong Vang villagers for the setbacks: Upstream people, who traditionally had been neither hardworking nor accustomed to manual jobs, became bored with the third crop, hence ran away again to the market. Frankly, we [cooperative leaders] were never successful at labour control in the upstream region: people kept running away from the cooperative, leaving us with a bad headache. (Tung, first director of the Phu Long cooperative, 1976–81).

One of the most important goals of the new management system was to strengthen the cooperative’s control over labour in order to utilize “surplus labour”.22 As a result, conflict between the cooperative’s central management and the production brigades was soon brought to the fore. It was a time when the historical “upstream-downstream” distinction underlay conflicts within the internal structure of the cooperative. The

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six years of large-scale socialist production in Hoang Long (1975–81) were indeed the period of the greatest tension, which exploded in many different confrontations. The confrontations revolved around two foci. First was the struggle between Dong Vang small traders, mostly women, and the cooperative apparatus. Second was the struggle between the Dong Vang village as a whole against the commune’s enforced dislocation of the Dong Vang marketplace. The continuity of rice processing and trading by the women of Dong Vang during the 1960s and 1970s violated the socialist production framework in two ways. First, by regularly leaving the countryside, Dong Vang women disregarded the cooperative’s labour allocation. Second, their smuggling of rice, duck eggs and other agricultural products into the hungry city of Hanoi created disorder in the state-controlled consumption market. As a result, Dong Vang women traders became the target of the labour control team and trade tax department. Virtually every woman in Dong Vang aged from 45 to 70 with whom I had conversations in 1998 had been involved in this dangerous smuggling. The state arrested, detained and harassed many of them at least once; and it over-taxed, fined in cash, destroyed or confiscated their rice and eggs. Doi, a seventy-two-year-old woman, recalled one of her trading trips: It was still very dark when I woke up, lifted two heavily loaded baskets up to my shoulder and walked to the railway station. The day before, I had purchased twenty kilograms of snails and shellfish from the downstream to put on top of four or five kilograms of carefully wrapped rice and two dozen duck eggs. Today I am surprised how strong I was then, to be able to carry such a heavy load and walk eleven kilometers in the dark. I did not dare take the earth road but took instead the mud road across the rice fields. I did not dare to call any of my friends to accompany me, either, for if we talked along the road, “Team” men would discover us. Alone on the wide and empty field, and in the thick darkness, I prayed not to encounter any of those “Pol-Pot” faces on my way. The previous week my neighbour had lost all her rice to the Tax department, although she begged and cried and then cursed them hard. On the train to Ha Noi, every time when the Tax man pierced a bamboo stick through my baskets and asked “What’s this?”, my heart jumped when I answered in a naïve voice “Just snails and shellfish, sir.” Luckily, only four eggs were broken. All day, peddling from street to street, I managed to empty both baskets. I purchased twenty kilograms of noodles, a few loaves of bread — my kids were typically fond of bread — sometimes a container

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of sweet black bean desert (che), and walked home. It was almost midnight when I arrived; the kids were still waiting. I realized that for the whole day I had only few spoons of cold plain rice and a handful of water from public taps on the street. The week after I would make another trip, hopefully a smooth one.

Officials of Phu Long cooperative, however, took measures to stop such behaviour. Tung, the cooperatives director, 1975–81, said: Too many of the Dong Vang people, living near the Dong Vang marketplace and having a bad habit of smuggling, broke away from their labour obligations. Therefore we [commune’s leaders] in 1977 decided to abandon the Dong Vang marketplace and moved it to the central T-juncture of the commune. Its former location was only convenient when waterways were popular. But the new and present location is much more convenient for most people in the commune, especially villages along the east-west road. I know that Dong Vang people hate me for many reasons, and taking their marketplace away was perhaps the worst of all.

The irony was that the cooperative relocated the rural marketplace as retaliation for its failure in preventing the Dong Vang people from running to the urban market. The cooperative — the major power holder in the commune — could only exercise its power in terms of geographical location. Nevertheless, the people of Dong Vang continued to sell and purchase agricultural products at the original location through 1982, when the commune’s authority finally allocated that land to households, first as gardens and then as residential allotments. Dong Vang’s resistance to the growing dominance of downstreamoriginated leadership of the cooperative went beyond the daily practice of smuggling to the urban market. In the harvest of the 1980 summer crop, Dong Vang villagers came together in collective theft of cooperative grain. As mentioned earlier, before amalgamation, it was common practice for brigade leaders to ignore members leaving extra paddy on the straw after threshing. One brigade leader recalls that “people lived mostly on the leftover paddy on the straw. Once the [new] cooperative applied the threshing machine, paddy was threshed thoroughly and people were not happy”. A double-entry plan (phuong an hai me) was another strategy through which the brigade retained portions of paddy for their own use before stating total output to the official cooperative records.23 Under the centralized regime, brigade secretaries had to write down daily harvest

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records under the direct watch of a representative of the supervisory board. In a special arrangement, leaders and secretaries of the two brigades in Dong Vang managed to leave 40 tons of paddy outside the record book. Just after this large amount of paddy was divided among brigade members, the cheating was leaked to the cooperative board, who confiscated the stolen paddy and dismissed the two brigade secretaries and leaders, including a Communist Party member. This scandal added another shame — from an outsiders’ viewpoint — to the bad reputation of Dong Vang villagers. Although it was unsuccessful, the theft was indeed a collective effort by Dong Vang villagers to fight against the commune-wide cooperative and its hostile “downstream” leadership.24 Economic disintegration soon revealed the deficiencies of the new management system after three or four crops.25 The growing disinterest of peasants in collective farming pushed the collective economy of Hoang Long to the brink of collapse. Conflicts and hatred between villages within the cooperative deepened. In 1981, six years after its establishment, the Phu Long cooperative redivided into four former constituent intervillage and village-based cooperatives. Interestingly enough, the breakup of the Phu Long cooperative occurred under the leadership of a woman from Dong Vang, named Vui. Indeed, as of 2003, she is the only female ever to have been secretary of the commune’s Communist Party unit. Her rising career and reputation as a diligent and benevolent female leader were associated with rural transformation in the entire Hoang Long commune of the 1980s.26 Soon after the party issued the Central Committee Directive 100/ CT/TW in the spring of 1981,27 the Contract 100 referred to in Hoang Long as the “end-product contract” (khoan san), was applied to the reborn Thanh Hoang cooperative. The four brigades of Dong Vang within the Thanh Hoang cooperative were operating in a comfortable atmosphere under Vui’s leadership. Most Dong Vang men and women viewed her personal political achievement as their own. Although Vui had never made smuggling trips to Hanoi herself, she represented her kin and fellow villagers, many of whom were smugglers. Vui’s success was taken as a triumph over male dictatorship and oppression from “downstream”. Vui’s leadership marked a period of Dong Vang’s diversification of livelihood activity and, as a result, enhanced its reputation for prosperity.

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The Revival of Rituals in Dong Vang One of the major characteristics of the socialist transformation (1954–86) and decollectivization (1986–99) in Hoang Long was the tension between Dong Vang village and the commune’s leadership on agricultural matters, highlighted in the preceding section. In what follows, I turn to exploring another — yet closely related — arena of confrontation between the Dong Vang community and Hoang Long’s leadership, religious ritual. I take the intensification of village rituals in Dong Vang not as a cultural phenomenon per se, but rather as one specific form of collective response to the state’s changing political, economic and cultural policies. I suggest that the increasing salience of the Dong Vang collective identity involves the frequent interaction between Dong Vang villagers and the local government. Before 1945, major religious structures in Dong Vang included a village communal house (dinh), a Buddhist pagoda (chua), a temple of Confucius (Van Chi), two temples (den), a couple of shrines (mieu) and some other smaller outdoor places (cau). Locals did not place the two village deities inside the village communal house but worshipped them in two separate buildings: the shrine, where Nguyen Do is worshipped, is situated north of the village; and the upper temple (Den Thuong), where Nguyen Phuc is worshipped, is located next to the pagoda.28 Viec Lang was the most important public ritual. This event consisted of a series of formal procedures and ceremonies held from the 6th to 12th of the third lunar month. During the procession (ruoc), villagers took statues of the two deities from their separate buildings and seated them together in the village communal house, where six neighbourhood and lineage groups (giap) would then take turns presenting special offerings to them. Prior to the 1990s, the last Viec Lang held in Dong Vang was in the Spring of 1945. Five years later, in 1950, the village communal house was burnt down by French troops while they were marching across the Dong Vang rice fields. The turbulent events of land reform in 1955–56 created such antagonism in the village that no one could possibly have thought of resuming Viec Lang. For about three decades after land reform, under the Attack of Ritual reform campaigns, no public rituals were resumed in Dong Vang. As elsewhere in the Red River delta,29 commune authorities secularized most sacred places in Dong Vang. For instance, the pagoda became the cooperative warehouse, the upper temple became a cooperative workshop

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to produce tofu, while the front and back areas of the shrine were turned into livestock pens. Unlike elsewhere in the Red River delta, the elimination of sacred places in Dong Vang occurred not during land reform (1955–56) but under the regime of a highly centralized economy (1975–81). As described in the previous part of this chapter, during those five years conflicts between Dong Vang villagers, especially women traders, and non-Dong Vang cooperative leadership, came to the fore. In the year of cooperative amalgamation, commune militia disassembled the Dong Vang temple of Confucius into construction materials used to build a primary school in the native village of the new cooperative’s director.30 I believe that, at least in the case of Dong Vang, ritual reform was a part of the total effort of the socialist state to undermine the private economy. It was during the centralized economy period that the antagonism between Dong Vang villagers and those of neighbouring villages deepened, the consequences of which would be seen in numerous public events more than two decades later. Moreover, Dong Vang villagers experienced the same antagonism, which in turn would unite them in a collective effort to change the course of events. During the decade after the start of doi moi (1986), these conflicts underpinned various claims that Dong Vang villagers and outsiders had against each other. The commune authority’s practice of agricultural productivity assessment and the politically-inspired campaigns on the one hand, and the growing prosperity of multi-occupational Dong Vang villagers on the other, continued to increase the tension between Dong Vang and surrounding villages. This intensified antagonism formed the context in which Dong Vang villagers remade their rituals. The revival of rituals in Dong Vang started with the campaign to obtain the “certification of a ranked historical and cultural relic” (bang di tich lich su van hoa duoc xep hang) for Dong Vang pagoda. Not until 1995, six years after Dong Vang elderly people initiated the campaign, was the certification signed by the Ministry of Culture in Hanoi and granted to the village.31 The campaign involved enormous effort by many individuals to compile the application as well as use personal connections with “cadres of cultural affairs” (can bo van hoa) at different levels of authority. It cost a considerable amount of money to hire professional historians and writers to compose the proposal and to arrange receptions every time officials visited.

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At almost every step along the way to achieving certification, Dong Vang villagers had to interact with the state which imposed regulations and requirements for certification. In addition, these villagers had to associate with state agents at every hierarchical level. Moreover, the certification itself was a creation of the state, which sought to legitimize its control over certain cultural artifacts at the local level. In this sense, the state was involved in the reclaiming of ritual space, as well as the remaking of associated rituals by Dong Vang villagers. The certification effort involved both men and women. The Dong Vang pagoda itself is a sacred realm that conventionally has been considered a ritual space for elderly women. Parallel to this certification pursuit were two other processes: the campaign to raise donations for renovation of the Dong Vang pagoda; and the institutionalization of Dong Vang women’s ritual groups. Due to the space limits of this chapter, I cannot elaborate here how both men and women were engaged in these activities.32 In the spring of 1999, I attended Viec Lang in Dong Vang, at which villagers demonstrated their collective response to the enduring (mis)treatments of local governments. An event that preceded the festival triggered their quest: the Hoang Long commune competition of martial arts for the elderly. The Dong Vang elderly association operates according to the guidance and ideological framework of the commune’s office of the National Front (Mat Tran To Quoc).33 Employing the language of the command economy by analogy, there were “quotas” according to the state’s plan (ke hoach), assigned from the top down the hierarchical order, that were to be “met” (hoan thanh) and/or “exceeded” (vuot muc) by each party-guided mass organization. The Vietnamese state, following the United Nations, declared 1999 as the “International Year of Older Persons” and accordingly organized nation-wide sport and cultural activities geared toward the International Day of Older Persons (1st October). In Hoang Long commune, the National Front scheduled a martial arts competition (hoi thi the duc duong sinh) between elderly teams from nine villages. Dong Vang elderly men and women had long prepared for this competition. The fact that they had for a long time practiced under the guidance of a skilled Dong Vang native, who had subsequently retired from Hanoi, inspired Dong Vang team members to think they could win the contest.

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Despite Dong Vang team efforts on the day of the contest, the Referee Board (Ban Giam khao), which had no Dong Vang representatives, ranked the team fourth. The major reason was that Dong Vang’s performance differed in movements from those of the others. The announcement of the winner deeply upset everyone on the team. Simultaneously, the crowd cheered while ridiculing Dong Vang’s defeat. Feeling deeply humiliated, the Dong Vang team quit the contest ground before the prize-giving ceremony. In the rear hall of the village pagoda, where a small reception (lien hoan) was prepared to celebrate an expected victory, furious team members gathered. Some of them blamed the team leader for teaching the wrong movements. “We should have adapted to where we belonged to”, one team member criticized. “Had we accepted to follow their rules we would have won the Gold Medal”. Most team members, however, directed their criticism at the referee board, which, they argued, had discriminated against the Dong Vang team. For almost two hours they talked about how, for too long, the commune had mistreated and wronged the Dong Vang people. “They [the commune] took our temple of Confucius. They destroyed our marketplace. They [have] hated us for so long. They hated us going to the market”, furious team members concluded. A week, a month, even several months later, on almost every social occasion — be it a wedding or death anniversary, or simply a gathering of family or friends — Dong Vang villagers, elderly and young alike, kept analysing the martial arts competition. Some blamed the team for “trying to show off” (choi troi) and “being subjective and arrogant” (chu quan va tinh vi).34 Many pointed out to me that their defeat resulted from being both different and better than their neighbours. Clearly the loss was taken as a defeat for the whole village. Villagers of all ages and genders shared the feeling of being mistreated, not only this time but too many other times in the recallable past. From this strong feeling of defeat and hatred came the determination “to remake Viec Lang this time real big” (to chuc Viec Lang that to nam nay). However, it would be misleading to suggest that this defeat alone accounts for the reason why the majority — but not the entirety — of Dong Vang villagers thought that the Viec Lang in 1999 should be organized in a more elaborate way than commune regulations allowed. On the contrary, villagers debated issues regarding the upcoming Viec Lang in every village meeting, as well as in casual talks between friends

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and family members in Hanoi. Despite disagreement between individuals and groups, the preparation of Viec Lang gathered pace. The three days and nights of the Viec Lang in the spring of 1999 presented a truly hectic time of awe-inspiring activities. It was a time of great demand on one’s own presence in one’s community. Viec Lang occurred in the public domain, whereas Tet (Lunar New Year) took place primarily in domestic circles. Viec Lang was perhaps the best occasion for one to realize the social nature of living. Most participants celebrated the three days and nights of Viec Lang in Dong Vang in 1999 with joy and pride. Perhaps the most common feeling was the pride the Dong Vang villagers expressed toward others, including invited guests and casual spectators. The most common greeting during those days was, “Have you seen how great our Viec Lang this year is?” By “truly big and grand” (that to va hoanh trang) Dong Vang villagers meant “prosperous” and “crowded”, two words that taken together implied that prosperity and strength had developed through coordination of a large number of people in many activities, thereby through village solidarity. Dong Vang villagers felt solidarity vis-à-vis others. Moreover, Dong Vang’s “others” were clearly identifiable, as the event organizers listed: residents from other neighbouring villagers (dan cac lang), visitors from further distances (khach thap phuong) and commune leaders of all types (cac ong xa). While the first two groups of outsiders were welcome to tour the pagoda (van canh Chua) and to join the procession (tray hoi), the third group of guests required both special attention and treatment. According to regulations on cultural matters and festivals, 35 organizers of a public event must submit a written application. The office to which this application is sent depends on how many days the organizers plan the festival to proceed. The commune office can only grant permission for a one-day festival. A permit for a three-day festival like that of Dong Vang must be obtained from the district, which, of course, would take longer to approve. For these reasons, the village head of Dong Vang decided to apply for a permit for a one-day festival at the commune office, while in practice the Viec Lang lasted for three days. The village head visited the commune’s cadre of cultural affairs to report on plans for the event. The cadre warned him against backward customs (hu tuc), such as shaman rituals (dong bong), and social evils (te nan xa hoi) like gambling. The village head promised

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that such events, including public eating or drinking, would never occur in Dong Vang. As soon as the permit was approved, invitation letters were delivered to major figures in the commune People’s Committee and the Communist Party, in addition to the village heads of eight neighbouring villages. On the first day of Viec Lang, guests were invited to attend a memorial service for Dong Vang soldiers who had been killed during both the anti-French and anti-American wars. After the national anthem in the village square, the village head stood in front of an altar for Ho Chi Minh and gave a short speech, highlighting the achievements of Dong Vang in agricultural production and in the construction of a new rural lifestyle, then stated the meaning of Viec Lang. The chair of the commune People’s Committee was also invited to address the crowd; he complimented the achievements of Dong Vang villagers and endorsed more preservation of their traditional culture. The event organizers designed Viec Lang to make it a more official occasion (trang trong) as well as demonstrating that Dong Vang complied with the Vietnamese state. However, the presence of the state went well beyond ceremonies and speeches. The Dong Vang organizers of Viec Lang not only aimed at the central state but also, and perhaps of more importance, at the local state. It was an attempt by Dong Vang to regain recognition from this particular commune leadership, which along with its predecessors had been at odds with Dong Vang for more than fifty years. On a joyful occasion like Viec Lang, no one would mention how the local state — the current representative of which now praised Dong Vang for its achievement in preserving “culture” — had on different occasions sent commune militia (tu ve xa) to disassemble Dong Vang’s Confucius temple, arrested and humiliated Dong Vang women traders, displaced Dong Vang’s marketplace, confiscated the videotape of a “traditional” opera that was played in the village for public entertainment, and most recently voted against the Dong Vang elderly team in the martial arts competition. Nevertheless, silence did not mean forgetting. Viec Lang was a collective response to years of explicit or implicit misjudgment and mistreatment by the local state toward the village. Dong Vang villagers, together, made a statement of their prosperity and social strength. Their dominant present answered their oppressed past and claimed prospective growth and future development for their entire village.

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Conclusion By examining the Dong Vang villagers response to Hoang Long commune’s policies in terms of agriculture and religious rituals, I have highlighted the importance of historical and ethnographic understanding in conceptualizing local governance. The struggle of Dong Vang villagers, mostly women, to continue their trading tradition during the cooperative years, as well as the more recent ritual remaking, are two among many examples of the dynamics of interaction between local governments and their people. My suggestion is that, insofar as scholars need to conceptualize the peasantry as heterogeneous and differentiated, they also need to reconsider the state as more than institutions and policies, but also as a cultural sphere.37 Moreover, as stories of the half-a-century of interaction between Dong Vang villagers and cooperative and commune leaders show, the government was not simply an abstract and distant entity that reached its population via military conscription, tax collection, school curriculum, mass media and national iconography. This chapter emphasizes the ways in which local agents of the state act upon its citizens, whose personal and group experiences in a specific historical, local context serve to colour their lens.38 Indeed, I have shown that the antagonism and confrontation between Dong Vang villagers and the Hoang Long commune’s authority developed from the unequal distribution of leadership deeply rooted in the particular geo-political history of Hoang Long. Only by seeing the relationships and interactions of local government and ordinary people as an ongoing process, embedded in specific historical power structures and ideological frameworks in each locale, is one able to visualize the mutual constitutiveness of the local and citizenry communities, and the ways in which clusters of local people unite in collective action that leads to structural changes. It is fruitful to think of governance as processes, in which the claims and responsibilities of one kind of cultural membership (that of the state) involve and overlap, contradict and constrain, and thereby constitute and transform, claims and responsibilities of the other kinds of cultural membership (that of the family, lineage, community of neighbours, fellow villagers, religious adherents, alumni, colleagues, etc.), and vice versa.39 An in-depth historical understanding of the process of reproduction and transformation of the cultures specific to each locale, therefore, is crucial for the study of the interaction between local government and its people.

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Notes I would like to thank Ben Kerkvliet, David Marr and participants at the Vietnam Update conference for their comments on earlier drafts of this chapter. The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Harvard-Yenching Institute, and a Travel Grant from the University of Toronto, funded research for this chapter. 1

2 3 4

5 6 7 8 9 10 11

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19 20

See: Gough, Political Economy in Vietnam; Womack, “Reform in Vietnam”; Turley, “Party, State and People”; Fforde and Seneque, “The Economy and the Countryside”; Hy Van Luong, Revolution in the Village; Malarney, “Ritual and Revolution”; Gammeltoft, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Worries; and Kleinen, Facing the Future, Reviving the Past. Womack, “Reform in Vietnam”; and Turley “Party, State and People”. Kerkvliet, “Rural Society”. Watts, “Agrarian Thermidor”; Kerkvliet, “Rural Society”; and Sikor, this volume. Malarny, “Culture, Virtue, and Political Transformation”. This chapter is derived from my dissertation, “Changing Processes”. Malarney, Ritual and Revolution. Luong, “The Marxist State”; and Kleinen, Facing the Future. Williams, Marxism and Literature, p. 115. UNDP, “Reconceptualizing Governance”, p. 9. Luong, “Local Community”; Verdery, What was Socialism; and Pham Quang Minh, this volume. Luong, Revolution in the Village, and “Local Community”; and Smith, Confronting the Present, p. 198. White, “Socialist Transformation”; and Fforde, The Agrarian Question. Ngo Vinh Long, “Reform and Rural Development”, p. 174; and Dao The Tuan, Kinh te Ho Nong Dan. DiGregorio, Urban Harvest; and Li, Peasants on the Move. After the first merger in 1946, Hoang Long was divided into two communes during land reform, according to the elderly cadres, “in order to facilitate the Team’s work”, that is to identify the number and target of landlords, rich and middle peasants. Nine villages were merged into the Hoang Long commune again after the land reform. See Truong, “Changing Processes”, p. 51. Pham Quang Minh, this volume. Downstream villages used to belong to the former Thinh Duc Thuong canton. See Ngo Vi Lien, “Reform and Rural Development”, p. 47. Luong, “The Marxist state”. Thanh Hoang is the name of the inter-village cooperative that included those brigades in Dong Vang and the other two upstream villages. It lasted from

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1963 through 1975, and again from 1981 through 1989. The size and constituents of this cooperative changed over time: at its maximum there were 14 brigades in Thanh Hoang cooperative, six of which were from Dong Vang (see Table 1). Antagonisms, sometimes even conflicts over leadership and resource allocation between these four inter-village cooperatives, occurred fairly often before the amalgamation. For further details of these conflicts, please refer to Truong “Changing Processes”. Fforde, The Agrarian Question, p. 85. Fforde, The Agrarian Question, p. 118. The brigade leader had to report anticipated productivity to the cooperative to calculate the total output and work-point distribution after the harvest. To set up a “double plan”, the brigade leader gave a low productivity estimate. The balance between the actual harvest and reported output would then be divided secretly among member households. This “double plan” was only possible as long as every household member agreed with it. Such crop underestimation also happened before 1945 in Annam and Tonkin (Ory, La Commune, cited in Kleinen, “The Village”, p. 362). For details of village leaders’ manipulating their budgets and the difficulties the central government had controlling them in French colonial Tonkin, see Grossheim (this volume). Dong Vang interviewees recalled this incident, with considerable caution. They narrated the event, which occurred nearly twenty years ago, in the contemporary language of “corruption” (tham nhung) and “negative phenomena” (hien tuong tieu cuc). Yet, towards the end of the conversation with village elders, including former brigade leaders, I sensed a tone of regret over the deed being unsuccessful. Since it had been solved internally (xu ly noi bo) within the Communist Party unit (chi bo) of Hoang Long, there was nothing in the local newspaper. Nor was I able to locate any material that related to this case at the Phu Xuyen District archive. Due to the reactionary strategies of cooperative members and brigade leaders, there was a sharp decrease in the labour day value, from 2.2 kilograms in the early years of large scale production to 0.3 kilograms in 1980. Collective livestock and poultry farms could no longer compete with household contracted pig raising and duck tending. Agricultural productivity decreased from 150 kilograms per sao (4.2 tons/hectare) per crop in 1976 to 100 kilograms per sao (2.8 tons/hectare) per crop in 1981, below average productivity before amalgamation (123 kilograms/sao or 3.4 tons/hectare). Vui was not the only woman who served as a commune cadre. During the late 1950s, key women activists (cot can, compare with Pham Quang Minh, this volume) were promoted to administrative positions. During the war against France more women were sent to short-term training sessions, mostly in accountancy or production management. Vui served as secretary of the

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Thanh Hoang cooperative for years before she was promoted to secretary of the commune’s Communist Party unit in 1981, when she also took over the leadership of agricultural production in Hoang Long. Villagers knew her as a woman who endured hardship, raised three children while her husband was in the frontline, and participated in numerous collective tasks. She did not start rice trading until after her period in office, and eventually moved to Hanoi to open a rice retail shop in the mid-1990s. Some downstream officials explained Vui’s rise to the commune’s office as a “chance” (an may) occurrence, since at the time of the election other possible candidates were either ill or under party investigation (co van de dang xem xet), and she was the only qualified candidate. Ngo Vinh Long, “Reform and Rural Development”, p. 174; Vo Tong Xuan, “Rice Production”, p. 188. Vu Ngoc Khanh, Tin Nguong Lang Xa, p. 49. Malarney, “Ritual and Revolution”; Kleinen, Facing the Future, p. 163. Similarly, Kim Ninh points out that the failure of the Ministry of Culture’s “cultural house” (nha van hoa) project (1950–60) in northern Vietnam was partly due to it being based on the commune (xa) instead of the village (thon). There were reports that villagers were less interested in the cultural house project that was distant, in both spatial and symbolic terms, from their immediate local concerns. The project was later forced to refocus on smaller and more familiar administrative units. See Kim Ninh, “Revolution, Politics and Culture”, p. 319–23. The Ministry of Culture’s policies in selecting and approving certification across the country needs further inquiry. As Le Hong Ly has suggested (personal communication), I assume this process of applying for and granting certification involves the interplay of movements of local people, cultural officials at different administrative levels, and professional historians and folklorists. Further, certification, one of the most powerful symbols of a recognized local “culture”, is ultimately as relevant for local people as for state and academic agents. See also Kleinen, Facing the Future, p. 163. Moreover, the particular way in which the central state exerts control over village religion is by no means an invention of the modern socialist state. For example, the Vietnamese Royal Court granted its “stamp of approval” (sac phong) to select village god(s) (Ho Tai, “Religion in Vietnam”, p. 132). Today there are four sac phong kept in Dong Vang, of which the earliest was signed by Gia Long in 1817 and the latest by Khai Dinh in 1925. For this point, I thank Martin Grossheim for his suggestions during discussions at the Vietnam Update conference. For discussion of the revival of ritual in Dong Vang and the involvement of women, see Truong Huyen Chi “Changing Processes”. In my dissertation, I

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discuss how the heterogeneity of Dong Vang women traders and non-traders shapes the ways in which they participate in ritual events, which in turn reinforces the symbolic differentiation among them. The revival of ritual in Dong Vang continues. The latest development is construction of the community house (dinh), which was inaugurated in April 2003. The National Front (sometimes translated into English as Motherland or Fatherland Front) consists of various mass organizations which are subsumed to the leadership of the Communist Party. It has a hierarchical structure, from the centre, through provincial and district levels, to the commune level. While the word “chu quan” literally means “subjective” and “tinh vi” “sophisticated”, in this speech they refer to Dong Vang’s arrogance. Bo Van Hoa Thong Tin, “Quy che le hoi”, Quyet dinh cua Bo truong Bo Van Hoa Thong Tin, 636 QD-DC, 21 May 1994. Luong, Revolution in the Village, and “Local Community”; and Verdery, What was Socialism. Also see Sikor, this volume; and Shue, The Reach of the State. Smith, Confronting the Present.

Bibliography Bo Van hoa Thong tin. “Quy che le hoi. Quyet dinh cua Bo truong Bo Van hoa Thong tin ve viec ban hanh Quy che le hoi” [Festival Regulations. Decision of the Ministry of Culture and Information on implementing Festival Regulations]. 636/QD-QC, 21/05/1994. Dao The Tuan. Kinh te Ho Nong dan [Rural Household Economy]. Hanoi: Chinh tri Quoc gia, 1997. DiGregorio, Michael. Urban Harvest: Recycling as a Peasant Industry in Northern Vietnam. East-West Center Occasional Papers, Environment Series, 17 Honolulu, Hawaii: East-West Center, 1994. Gammeltoft, Tine. Women’s Bodies, Women’s Worries: Health and Family Planning in a Vietnamese Rural Community. Richmond: Curzon Press, 1999. Gough, Kathleen. Political Economy in Vietnam. Berkeley: Folklore Institute, 1990. Gourou, Pierre. The Peasants of the Tonkin Delta: a Study of Human Geography. New Haven: Human Relations Area Files, 1955 [orig. 1936]. Fforde, Adam. The Agrarian Question in North Vietnam, 1974–1979. Armonk, NY.: M.E. Sharpe, 1989. Fforde Adam and Steve Seneque. “The Economy and the Countryside: The Relevance of Rural Development Policies”. In Vietnam’s Rural Transformation, edited by B.T.J. Kerkvliet and D.J. Porter. Boulder: Westview Press, 1995. Ho Tai, Hue-Tam. “Religion in Vietnam: a World of Gods and Spirits”. Vietnam Forum 10 (1987): 113–45.

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Kerkvliet, Benedict J. Tria. “Rural Society and State Relations”. In Vietnam’s Rural Transformation, edited by B.J.T. Kervliet and Doug J. Porter. Boulder: Westview Press, 1995. Kim Ninh. “Revolution, Politics and Culture in Socialist Vietnam, 1945–1965”. Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University, 1996. Kleinen, John. “The transformation of Rural Social Organization in Northern Vietnam and the Debate on the Asian Village”. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Boston, 1994. ———. “The Village as Pretext: Ethnographic Praxis and the Colonial State in Vietnam”. In The Village in Asia Revisited, edited by Jan Breman et al. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997. ———. Facing the Future, Reviving the Past: a Study of Social Change in a Northern Vietnamese Village. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1999. Li Tana. Peasants on the Move: Rural-Urban Migration in the Hanoi Region. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1996. Luong, Hy Van. Revolution in the Village: Tradition and Transformation in North Vietnam, 1925-1988. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1992a. ———. “Local Community and Economic Reform: a Microscopic Perspective from Two Northern Villages”. The Reconstruction of Vietnam: Challenges and Issues, edited by N. Jamieson, M.H. Nguyen and T.A. Rambo. Fairfax: East and West Center and George Mason University, 1992b. ———. “The Marxist State and the Dialogic Re-Structuration of Culture in Rural Vietnam”. In Indochina: Social and Cultural Change, edited by D.W.P. Elliott. The Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies, Monograph Series, no. 7 (1994). Malarney, Shaun K. “Ritual and Revolution in Vietnam”. Ph.D. dissertation, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1993. ———. “Culture, Virtue, and Political Transformation in Contemporary Northern Vietnam”. The Journal of Asian Countries 56 (1997): 889–920. Ngo Vinh Long. “Reform and Rural Development: Impact on Class, Sectoral, and Regional Inequalities”. In Reinventing Vietnamese Socialism, edited by W.S. Turley and M. Selden. Boulder: Westview Press, 1993. Ory, Paul. La Commune Annamite au Tonkin. HRAF, no. 130. Paris: Augustin Challamel, 1894. Shue, Vivienne. The Reach of the State: Sketches of the Chinese Body Politic. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988. Smith, Gavin A. Confronting the Present, Towards a Politically Engaged Anthropology. Oxford, New York: Berg, 1999. Truong Chi Huyen. “Changing Processes of Social Reproduction in the Northern Vietnamese Countryside”. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Toronto, 2001.

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Turley, William S. “Party, State, and People: Political Structure and Economic Prospects”. In Reinventing Vietnamese Socialism, edited by W. Turley and M. Selden. Boulder: Westview Press, 1993. UNDP, Management Development and Governance Division. “Reconceptualizing Governance”. Discussion Paper 2, January 1997. Verdery, Katherine. What Was Socialism, and What Comes Next? Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996. Vo Tong Xuan. “Rice Production, Agricultural Research, and the Environment”. In Vietnam’s Rural Transformation, edited by B.J.T. Kervliet and D.J. Porter. Westview Press, 1995. Vu Ngoc Khanh.Tin Nguong Lang Xa [Village Religions]. Hanoi: Van Hoa Dan Toc, 1994. Watts, Michael. “Agrarian Thermidor: State, Decollectivization, and the Peasant Question in Vietnam”. In Privatizing the Land, Rural Political Economy in PostCommunist Society, edited by I. Szelenyi. London: Routledge, 1999. White, Christine Pelzer. “Socialist Transformation of Agriculture and Gender Relations: the Vietnamese Case”. Bulletin of Institute of Development Studies 13 (1983): 97–114. Williams, Raymond. Marxism and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977. Womack, Brantly. “Reform in Vietnam: Backward Toward Future”. Government and Opposition 27 (1992): 177–89.

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Reproduced from Beyond Hanoi: Local Government in Vietnam, edited by Benedict J Tria Kerkvliet and David G Marr (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http:// bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

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6 Local Politics and Democracy in a Muong Ethnic Community Tran Thi Thu Trang

From the 1990s and into the new millennium, the issue of governance has gained substantial attention from research institutions and development agencies. Democratic governance is one of the main components of assistance programmes of multilateral and bilateral donors to developing countries. The United Nations Development Program’s 2002 Human Development Report considered democratic governance a basic condition for human development. In the Vietnamese context, development agencies consider democratic governance crucial for sustaining the economic performance achieved since the 1986 economic reform, and to ensure the development of human well-being.1 Resources allocated to this sector reflect multilateral agencies’ promotion of political reforms, in particular, democratization and decentralization. “As at mid-August 1999, the total approved budgets for Governance projects [in Viet Nam] stood at US$30.54 million, or about 37% of UNDP’s approved programme resources”.2

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In this broad context of the prominence of governance and, at the grassroots, rural protest against local authorities’ abuse of power in Vietnam, as in Thai Binh province in 1997, the government launched Decree 29 on local democracy. The decree promotes citizens’ rights to be informed and to participate in local decision-making. 3 Also the government made efforts to decentralize its political structure, granting local authorities more decision-making power. This chapter assesses whether these government initiatives have succeeded in enhancing local democracy. It does not examine the motivations for such reforms but studies the relationships between central and local politics that have influenced attempts at democratization. The study examines how local cadres obtain political positions, how they wield and maintain power, and how the local population perceives them. Based on the available literature and extensive fieldwork conducted in 2001 in a Muong ethnic village, given the pseudonym “Chieng Hoa”, this chapter assesses three political institutions: village elections, meetings, and grievance procedures.4 These three are referred to as representation, participation, and accountability of democratization.5 The chapter then argues that, despite their formal existence, these elements contribute little to local democracy because they are trapped in unequal power structures. The analysis demonstrates that such structures are the outcome of: a) the concentration of power in commune executives; and b) the local population’s differential access to information. Approaches to Democratic Governance Some donors define governance as “the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels”.6 Democratic governance implies the transparency and accountability of such process. There are two main views on how to achieve democratic governance at the local level. One uses technical assistance to improve the management skills and working conditions of cadres, and assumes that the lack of both training and incentives are reasons for ineffective and opaque governance. This approach avoids addressing power relations within the governing system, for they are considered politically sensitive.7 The other approach views governance as “complex mechanisms, processes, relationships and institutions through which citizens and

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groups articulate their interests, exercise their rights and obligations and mediate their differences”.8 It is therefore not sufficient to improve only the management capacity of cadres. The state needs to establish mechanisms for decision-making and accountability at the local level.9 Moreover, as the central government often fails to provide adequate services to rural areas, governance means increased autonomy for local authorities. This approach therefore promotes the establishment of democratic institutions, and the decentralization of power and responsibility to local cadres. UNDP defines democratic institutions as: • A system of representation, with well-functioning political parties and interest associations; • An electoral system that guarantees free and fair elections as well as universal suffrage; • A system of checks and balances based on separation of powers, with independent judicial and legislative branches; • A vibrant civil society, able to monitor government and private business — and provide alternative forms of political participation; • A free, independent media; and • Effective civilian control over the military and other security forces.10 This article uses this definition as a reference only, considering that if one applies these minimum conditions consistently, then the conventional dichotomy between authoritarian and democratic regimes is no longer useful. There is a growing category of regimes that hold elections but fall short of one or more of these minimum conditions, where authoritarian ruling parties dominate important segments of their electorates through undemocratic means, included limits on freedom of expression and association.11

This problem also applies to liberal democracies in which effective participation in decision-making is still hard, despite the existence of democratic institutions. This definition of democracy can nevertheless be used to locate a political system in the authoritarian-democratic continuum, and to assess political manoeuvres that impede the democratization process. In turn, assessing democracy also requires more qualitative analysis. At the local level, for instance, democracy should be made of “mechanisms for resident involvement in municipal

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administration [which] actually have a binding moral if not yet legal authority over municipal councils”.12 Decentralization, in turn, is defined as the transfer of public responsibility and power to local governments or the private sector.13 There are four major forms of decentralization, namely deconcentration, delegation, devolution, and deregulation.14 UNDP defines them as follows: • Deconcentration “involves shifting the workload from a central government ministry or agency headquarters to field staff; creating a system of field administration through which some decisionmaking discretion is transferred to field staff within the guidelines set by the centre; and developing local administration, where all subordinate levels of government within the country are agents of the central authority”.15 • Delegation “involves deciding which functions to shift from the central government to semiautonomous or parastatal organizations, which implies the transfer or creation of a broad authority to plan and implement decisions concerning specifically defined activities”.16 • Devolution “implies granting authority (decision-making power) to local governments that have clear and geographically recognised boundaries, and have the power to secure resources to perform their functions”.17 • Deregulation involves the participation of the private sector in the provision of public services. In Vietnam, Article 6 of the 1992 Constitution defines the governing principle of all state agencies as “democratic centralism”.18 According to the Resolution of the Seventh Party Congress, “centralism” rests on party supervision of macroeconomic decisions, ensuring they conform to socialist principles. “Democratic” implies increased power and responsibility of sectors and local governments as well as citizen participation in decision-making.19 For the Vietnamese authorities, there is no contradiction between the two concepts of centralism and democracy. In fact, they believe that “Centralism without democracy leads to bureaucratic, authoritarian and dictatorial centralism. Democracy with the lack of centralism leads to a kind of indiscriminate democracy and anarchism”.20

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However, democratic centralism fails to establish a transparent and accountable system of government, especially at the local level. Since the mid-1990s, there have been rural disturbances against local corruption and the abuse of power in some localities of Vietnam. Furthermore, since entering the global economy, international market forces have weakened the central government’s implementation of national economic policies. In order to survive, local authorities need to deal with markets independently.21 The preceding problems have affected the legitimacy of the SRV government and the Communist Party. As a result, authorities have taken measures to restore credibility. Among the steps are: Decree 29, Promulgating the Regulation on Exercise of Democracy in Communes issued in 1998; and the 1996 Ordinance on the Tasks and Powers of People’s Councils and People’s Committees.22 Decree 29 asserts that democracy is the main objective and principle of the Vietnamese state. It emphasizes people’s rights to be informed and consulted, to participate in the planning and implementation of local affairs, and to supervise the performance of local cadres. The ordinance deconcentrates decision-making to local cadres with guidelines from the central government. It attempts to clarify the authority, power and responsibilities of People’s Councils and People’s Committees at different levels. “The aim is therefore to provide more transparency and uniformity in the application and enforcement of decisions”.23 However, a study conducted by the Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy in 2001 found that after several years of implementing the reforms, “there has been no great change brought into these institutions [party apparatus, government agencies, and social organizations]”.24 The reforms failed largely because cadres were not qualified, not adequately paid, undemocratically selected, and the division of power between the People’s Council, the People’s Committee and the party was ambiguous. The foregoing explanation is systemic. It emphasizes institutional characteristics over a better understanding of power relations at the local level.25 Yet, throughout Vietnamese history, power relations have been crucial to the success or failure of various government policies.26 The remaining sections in this chapter analyse the actual process of democratization and decentralization in Chieng Hoa by looking at power relations that have created opportunities for autocratic rule.

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Democratic institutions and democracy Elections A free and fair election is a key condition of democracy, ensuring cadres represent the local population. In Chieng Hoa, however, local cadres often manipulate the elections to eliminate rivals and establish favourable alliances. The 2001 election of hamlet chiefs in the village illustrates these manoeuvres. I witnessed the election process for the chief of hamlet 2, one of two hamlets in the village. Two controversial matters arose: the selection of candidates, and the voting procedure. In principle, residents can propose their own candidates. In practice, commune and village cadres are usually the ones who nominate candidates, and use various rules to disqualify other people from being considered. After fifteen minutes of discussion, cadres succeeded in having only their candidate nominated, who was already the incumbent. They also legitimized the process by arguing that he was the most suitable candidate. As the popular saying goes, y dang long dan (the party proposes, villagers approve). Actually, behind the scenes, the real source of the nomination was not the village party cell but the commune People’s Committee, which had met earlier with village party members to decide who they wanted as chief of hamlet 2. The chair of the People’s Committee, himself a resident of hamlet 2, did not attend the election. He however sent out two commune cadres, also residents of the hamlet, to argue if necessary in favour of the People’s Committee’s candidate. Once the issue of candidacy was settled, the next matter was voting procedure. Because there was only a single candidate for the post, commune and village cadres succeeded in having the vote taken by show of hands instead of casting anonymous ballots. About one-third of villagers voted in favour of the only candidate while nobody opposed him.27 Cadres then concluded that the meeting had unanimously reelected the incumbent chief. All elections of village and hamlet chiefs in the commune in 2001 had been handled in a similar way and those elected were candidates whom the chair of the commune People’s Committee and village party cell members had wanted. A show of hands restricts electoral processes, intimidating participants by forcing them to display their positions openly. In fact, this form of vote dissuades many adult men from attending elections altogether, for fear of being caught between the

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interests of cadres and other villagers. Since local cadres require election attendance by all households, and provide a 5,000 dong incentive (in the form of pork meat), wives and children represent many households. Unlike male heads of households, women and youth are not expected to necessarily participate in the discussion and therefore cannot be blamed either by cadres or other villagers for not expressing clear positions. Therefore the turnout is usually high, but the number of people debating remains low. At the election for the chief of Hamlet 2, about sixty people attended. Two-thirds of the participants were women and teenagers, who took back seats on the balcony while cadres sat in the centre, surrounded by adult men. Cadres use the show of hands and secret ballot selectively, depending on the importance of the election and the nature of the electorate. A show of hands is chosen for the election of key posts. Secret ballot is used for less important matters, or when voters have sufficient power to claim their civic rights.28 In short, the raising of hands is not procedural sloppiness, but is a local authority power management strategy.

Village meetings Decree 29 on local democracy stresses the importance of local people being informed and participating in decision-making. The decree also specifies different levels of participation, ranging from being informed or consulted, to discussing and deciding, and supervising and controlling. According to Chieng Hoa local authorities, meetings and loudspeakers serve those stated purposes. The authorities use meetings to discuss issues and come to consensus among peasants, while loudspeakers inform people of events, decisions and policies. Using these two mediums would seem to favour democracy. In reality, however, the meetings and use of loudspeakers fail to enhance democracy. Although village and commune leaders claim that they organized meetings to inform peasants of Decree 29, most villagers cannot remember the meeting, let alone the decree itself. Village and hamlet heads confirmed that residents do not pay attention to information on government policies. They are only interested when issues arise, and then turn to local authorities. As information gatekeepers, cadres influence decision-making by screening information. In addition, many village meetings, even the village-level plenary assembly with People’s Council representatives, do not include all

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households. Cadres often invite only well-off peasants and exclude the poor. The latter are often considered khong biet gi (ignorant) or khong noi duoc (inarticulate).29 Moreover, as a drink or a meal often accompanies village meetings, the cost limits the number of attendees. Those who are not invited are reluctant to grumble, despite their bitterness at being excluded, for fear of being perceived as desperate. This selective participation explains the difference in opinions on the effectiveness of meetings: the rich and outspoken tend to appreciate them, but poorer groups do not. Third, even when villagers attend meetings, not all can have their say. Those who are more knowledgeable dominate the assemblies. The rich are more outspoken than the poor, men more than women, and middle-aged adults more than youngsters. This is reflected in the seating arrangements of meetings: the rich and men sit at the centre, while the poor, women, and younger ones remain on the outside. The latter attend meetings to fulfil local cadres’ requirements, but are only marginally interested in the issues. Some women prefer to stay away from discussions, on the periphery or outside. This women’s lack of interest in local affairs results from household power relations, usually dominated by the male head.30 Fourth, as mentioned above, cadres often exert power over peasants through better-informed arguments, pretending familiarity with formal procedures. Technical jargon and expert prerogatives safeguard their arguments. I attended a hamlet meeting in which the secretary did not record a participant’s statement in the minutes. When questioned, a cadre explained that as the person did not make his statement during the time assigned for debate, it was against the procedure, and therefore could only be acknowledged, not recorded. Residents feel more at ease expressing their opinions at hamlet meetings than at village ones. However, not all issues of relevance to peasants are discussed there. During a hamlet meeting for instance, a person wanted to complain about the forest land allocation policy, but local cadres told him that it had already been covered at an earlier village meeting. Thus, lack of sophistication combined with unequal power relations serve to constrain peasants’ participation in decision-making. Furthermore, limitations in Decree 29 enable local cadres to manipulate the decision-making process. The decree does not provide democratic mechanisms to involve residents in decision-making, relying

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instead on the goodwill of local authorities. This is problematic and contradictory, for it implies the weakening of cadre elites and the decline of their social privileges.31 Cadres do not necessarily seek to maintain their control over decision-making for their sole material self-interest. They consider themselves more knowledgeable, better decision-makers, and enjoy the prestige of authority. Many cadres are nostalgic for the cooperative period, when villagers were de bao (docile) and could exercise exclusive power over local affairs. The chair of the commune People’s Committee said that peasants’ relative autonomy over land use and production after decollectivization created obstacles to efficient collective planning, as anyone’s opposition could obstruct the process.

Grievance procedures Formal grievance procedures exist at the local level, allowing villagers to complain about matters of concern. Cadres install a mailbox in the village to receive anonymous letters, and the commune People’s Committee assigns staff to deal with legal issues. Many villagers expressed their dissatisfaction with local cadres for their misappropriation of resources and soliciting bribes and undeserved benefits.32 Cadres allocated commodities such as mosquito nets or television sets, among themselves or their families as part of poverty alleviation programmes. Petty rent-seeking in relation to administrative paperwork was widespread. Villagers often have to bribe cadres with meals, drinks, or money for the measurement of their lands, issuance of red books, or approval of loans. Bigger cases of corruption were also reported. According to Articles 65 and 70 of the Ordinance on the Tasks and Powers of People’s Councils and People’s Committees issued in 1996, the People’s Committee is able to mobilize resources from the local population for, among other enterprises, the maintenance of the primary school in its jurisdiction. At the commune in question, the People’s Committee collected VND 8,000 per household annually for three years to repair the commune primary school in 1997. Yet, after a year and a half, work was discontinued, leaving the school only partially renovated. Officials claimed that not all households had paid the required amount, leading to a shortage of funds. However, villagers suspect that commune authorities misappropriated the funds. The school administration confronted commune cadres, requesting a transparent account of expenditures. None was forthcoming. In the end,

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the school successfully requested funding from the district education department to finish the renovation. Peasants supported their criticisms by observing that most commune cadres became rich once they acquired political positions.33 However, they did not submit any of these complaints to the delegated officer at the People’s Committee. They prefer to express their discontent through gossip, humour, and insults.34 As a result, the village grievance mailbox only receives information on petty crimes, while the legal officer of the People’s Committee issues marriage and birth certificates, and deals with the occasional divorce case. There are several reasons for this reluctance to use formal grievance procedures. First, for most villagers, the grievance system is not independent enough to play an intermediary role between complainants and defendants. In fact, the power structure at the commune level does not separate executive and judiciary bodies. The chair of the People’s Committee selects the legal officer, who then becomes part of the People’s Committee. For villagers, this officer is part of the local elite, not an independent ombudsperson. Second, associations of peasants, women, veterans, youths, and the elderly, offer avenues for grievances, concerns and defence of interests through collective action. In practice, however, these organizations are under the control of the party and have little control over their own agendas. They are instruments of top-down control, despite paying lip service to representing interest groups. Furthermore, commune cadres intimidate many villagers, even the most outspoken. As discussed, peasants are more comfortable in small meetings, but are much less confident when addressing commune authorities, especially on the premises of the People’s Committee. In fact, for paperwork, poor farmers often go through their kinship networks to avoid the People’s Committee. Respondents suggested that contact with the People’s Committee office made them feel guilty.35 Although unfounded, this fear was pervasive and indicated a widespread reserve towards commune authorities. Some respondents said there was extensive discontent in Chieng Hoa and that residents openly discussed commune cadres’ abuses of power. Yet, the lack of faith in the grievance process prevented peasants from formalizing such complaints. Low levels of education, the absence of grassroots leaders or intellectuals in the community, and the lack of

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contact with political figures beyond the village have all hampered expressions of grievance, in contrast, for example, to the situation in Thai Binh province in 1997. Villagers have made some official complaints. However, these have had little impact on commune authorities, who simply manipulate the political system to remove unwanted complainants, as the next few paragraphs describe. Between 1991 and 2001, the chair of the People’s Committee and the former head of Chieng Hoa village were in conflict. A significant confrontation occurred in 2001 when the chair undertook to bar the head from political activities. In June of that year, the chair and his commune cadres submitted to the district People’s Committee a proposal to reform the village political structure. Until then, villages used to be called xom, while hamlets were called thon. The proposal suggested swapping the names of these administrative areas to conform to the Kinh village denomination to simplify management. In fact, the change in names meant re-staffing village and hamlet cadres. The proposal required the head of the village to be the head of the village party cell also. In so doing, the chair succeeded in forcing the then head of the village out of political activities. The chair and his cadres also lobbied respected villagers to obtain a smooth transition to the new management system. The timing and content of the proposal showed astute political manoeuvring, and its implementation was bordering on autocratic. How is this? First, despite implementing Decree 29 on local democracy and paying lip service to the rights of peasants to be informed and participate in local affairs, the chair and his cadres secretly drafted and submitted the proposal to district authorities without consulting the local population, nor the heads of villages and hamlets, as required in Article 9 of Decree 29. Second, since the head of the village also had to be head of the village party cell, and since the latter is elected by a mere nine party members, this de facto prevents villagers from choosing their leader, allowing the chair to manage activities within his small elite group. This rule violates Article 15 of Decree 29, which requires local people to elect heads of villages and hamlets, and the chair of the People’s Committee to approve. The village head resisted this manoeuvre by the chair. In the nine other villages of the commune, elections for the post of village and

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hamlet heads were organized within a month after approval of the proposal. In Chieng Hoa, the process was delayed for four months, as the head refused to close village accounts. Five families, among them the village head’s, prevented the closure by refusing to sign a certificate confirming a disputed debt with the cooperative dating back to the late 1980s.36 The then head of Chieng Hoa tried to use this issue against the chair, mobilizing four other households in opposition. However, the chair sent cadres to those households to convince them to sign. Eventually, the village head became isolated and the election went ahead. He filed a formal complaint to district authorities through his cousin, deputy secretary of the district party, and a veteran friend, secretary of the commune party. District investigators, friends of the chair, took on the case. The investigation was non-confrontational, resolved with sumptuous meals and drinks. The chair was cleared of any wrongdoing, and the district authorities advised the village head against further action. This case shows that people can make their grievances through informal avenues to officials. However, the process is not transparent and the outcome far from certain, as issues continue to be resolved within the political elites and for their mutual interest. In conclusion, while democratic institutions such as universal suffrage, village meetings, and formal grievance procedures exist, the state rarely upholds democratic rights. While this situation is quite common in rural Vietnam, the point is that implementation of Decree 29 and decentralization policies has not yet ameliorated undemocratic processes. This is due to existing power relations between peasants and local authorities and among peasants themselves. Power is manifested through both the formal political structure and informal relations, which prevent villagers from exercising their rights equally. Efforts to transfer power and responsibility to local government and establish democratic institutions to make local government more accountable and transparent cannot be done without taking into account power relations between different stakeholders. Failing to address this issue may turn localities into autocratic authorities largely independent from central government and accountable to no one. The next section analyses the political system, its policies, and the role of information in shaping power relations, as an attempt to understand the failure of democratic reforms in Chieng Hoa.

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Authority relations — ‘Statization’, Decentralization, and Matrix Accountability Since independence in 1945, Vietnam has maintained a political system composed of the Communist Party, the government, and the National Assembly. While the state encompasses the government and National Assembly, the party stands in parallel with ambiguous functions.37 Article 4 of the 1992 Constitution is the only reference to the party’s role as “the force leading the State and society”.38 This definition is quite vague, leaving room for power struggles among political elites. Dang Phong and Beresford describe the relationship between the party, the government and the National Assembly in three historical periods. During the first period (1945–54), the party played a discreet role while the government managed national affairs rather autonomously. Although key positions in the government belonged to party members, non-party members dominated this body. This reflected the reconciliation and solidarity of the nation, crucial to mobilizing different classes within Vietnam and gaining international support. Moreover, this allowed the new government to make use of experts and intellectuals outside the party, a valuable resource considering the shortage of governance expertise among party members.39 “Partification” of the state characterized the second period, between 1954 and 1986. Under pressure from China and the Soviet Union to take a hard line on socialism, the Vietnamese Communist Party started intervening directly in state affairs: It [the Party] slowly came to decide not only the strategic goals of economic policy, but the concrete work of implementation. The government apparatus slowly lost its independence and people administering the state machinery took on a rather different role and position.40

The “establishment of central planning and expanding state ownership and control of the means of production” typified this period also.41 The party general secretary, Politbureau, Central Committee, and other specialized committees were the most powerful organs: The President of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister, chair of the SPC [State Planning Committee], Foreign Minister, Ministers for Interior and Defence and, usually, the Party secretaries of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (after 1975) were all members of this élite organization.42

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In addition, the party, or more precisely, its Central Party Organization Committee, controlled personnel decisions for the National Assembly and the government, from the central to provincial levels, despite such powers being formally vested in the Prime Minister. Moreover, the party had specialized committees that covered the most important areas of state affairs. These committees: were mainly responsible for research and analysis in their economic field and for developing policy proposals. […] While they did not have executive powers or the authority to issue decrees, they played a very important role in preparation of decrees and in deciding the contents of Party resolutions to be put before meetings of the Central Committee or Politbureau. Only the decisions of the latter bodies and the Secretariat had “legislative” authority.43

During this period, party resolutions and directives held legislative power, while the National Assembly was rather formal, processing party decisions into legal documents. “The National Assembly did not conduct any real debates: at its meetings, which were short and infrequent, representatives gave their unanimous approval without actually knowing the details of the decrees they were passing”.44 In turn, the government did not have sufficient autonomy. It implemented party decisions and was accountable to the party.45 Criticisms of the party’s intervention in state affairs came from both inside and outside the Politbureau, especially following the 1970s failure of central planning.46 The 1986 reform marked an important change in power relations between the party and the state, characterized as the “statization” process. Complex economic changes have reduced the party’s intervention in state affairs and its staffing authority over state organs. As Dang Phong and Beresford put it: Partly this reflects the increasing complexity of the market economy and much larger role of the private sector. Partly it is the result of the transformation of the economic mechanism: management is no longer carried out by state directives, but by indirect levers (incentives and sanctions).47

Increasingly, the government and the National Assembly manage economic activities according to a “rule by law” principle, instead of political influence. Consequently they have gained significant autonomy and power.48 Meetings of the National Assembly have become places for debate and criticism of government activities. The National Assembly

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also participates more actively in appointments for the central government and the formulation of policies.49 Another characteristic of this period was the effort to have a clear division of power and responsibilities between state organs: Since 1994, the Prime Minister has asked some government ministers not to run for the National Assembly, the idea being gradually to create a separation of legislature and executive and overcome the situation known as “both player and referee” (vua da bong vua thoi coi).50

According to Dang Phong and Melanie Beresford, the changes indicate a step forward in the democratization process, as the involvement of the National Assembly exposes government practices to public debate and examination.51 The power structure of the commune of which Chieng Hoa is a part duplicates that of the national level, consisting of the People’s Council (legislative body), the People’s Committee (executive body), and the party. The process at the central level influences the relationship between these organs. In the late 1980s, the commune party branch was in crisis. For some members, holding party membership did not bring any benefits, as agricultural land was already distributed. It might even have been detrimental, as opposition to communist parties in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union was rising. As a result, from 1986 to 1988, four out of seventy members of the commune party branch left the organization, while from 1988 to 1994, no new members were admitted. Many soldiers who were already members of the party did not register with the commune party branch upon their return, thus declining de facto their membership. In Chieng Hoa village, there were nine party members in 2001. Half of them were more than sixty years old and had become members in the 1960s. The rest were admitted in the 1980s, with only one new member since. This indicated that the party had become less attractive to locals as a means of pursuing a political career. After 1998 the commune party branch regained some of its influence, however, but its actual power has diminished compared to the pre-reform period. In principle, the commune party branch is responsible for the development of resolutions that serve as guidelines to the People’s Committee. However, since the chair of the People’s Committee is also deputy head of the commune party branch, he is able to influence party decisions.

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While the preceding discussion reflects a “statization” process similar to that of the central government, in relative terms the commune People’s Committee has regained its authority while the People’s Council remains in the shadows. The commune party branch controls the staffing of the People’s Council by proposing to villagers a list of candidates for election to the People’s Council. The Fatherland Front, one of the political organizations of the party, is then responsible for the negotiation, organization, and propaganda of the actual election.52 However, control over staffing by the commune party branch is only nominal for the chair of the commune People’s Committee, also deputy of commune party branch, has decision-making power. On the other hand, according to the 1996 Ordinance on the Tasks and Powers of People’s Councils and People’s Committees, the commune People’s Committee is subordinate to both the district People’s Committee and the commune People’s Council, and therefore responsible for implementation of policies issued by those authorities. In practice, however, the commune People’s Committee has been able to manipulate the commune People’s Council because the latter does not have its own budget and therefore no effective power over the allocation of resources. Instead of implementing decisions from the council, the committee sends the council proposals for rubber-stamping. This was confirmed by the chair of the commune People’s Committee, as the council has never refused any initiative from the committee. Thus, as the People’s Committee is behind most of the regulations and resolutions issued by the party and People’s Council, the formal process only pays lip service to decision-making at the communal level. The chair of the People’s Committee controls the committee’s staffing procedure. While cadres of the People’s Committee have to be members of the People’s Council and elected by the latter, the chair recommends the nomination and promotion of some of those cadres. This has allowed the chair to remove his rivals from office and to favour his close friends and family. In fact, half of the personnel of the People’s Committee come from the two villages of the chair’s family, while the other half come from the eight remaining villages. The chair has also positioned his son as retailer of electricity to the commune, which is a lucrative arrangement.53 In the past, the chair of the People’s Committee has made changes to the village administrative system without effective participation of the People’s Council or mass organizations. He is also

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the most important person in selecting village and hamlet cadres by reserving the right to screen candidates for election. Decentralization policies have granted the chair more autonomy over local affairs. Higher authorities refer to the chair of the People’s Committee for almost all issues related to the commune. He has extended his authority by approving or refusing projects in his commune. In particular, commune cadres report to the chair, not directly to line ministries — appointments from ministries end at the district level.54 Furthermore, commune cadres often criticize district officials for their lack of qualifications and experience, and for merely serving as intermediaries between provincial authorities and the commune. Commune cadres tend to further rely on the chair of the People’s Committee to perform their jobs. Hence, the chair has become the centre of the decision-making process. While there are attempts at the central level to distinguish the party, government, and National Assembly, this study found that at the commune level, the division of authority between organs is unclear.55 Some commune cadres hold two positions at the same time. For instance, the chair of the People’s Committee is also the deputy chief of the commune party branch, while the head of the commune party branch is also the deputy chair of the People’s Council. Furthermore, cadres often make arrangements to swap positions at the end of a term, circumventing limitations on the renewal of mandates. In fact, over the last thirty years, political power has been in the hands of a small elite group with long careers involving different positions in various offices. In 2001, the chair of the commune’s People’s Committee, nearing the end of his term, and the party secretary were negotiating a job swap. If the reshuffle went ahead, villagers believed that the outgoing chair would still be influential in local affairs. This indicates that despite “statization” at the central level and government policies on decentralization granting decision-making power to the executive body, control over local politics also depends on cadres’ personalities and their established influence in local affairs. This is where central and local politics intersect with outcomes cannot be generalized. The case of Chieng Hoa village has shown that results of “statization” and decentralization are very different from official intentions. The ineffective system of dual accountability at the local level has led to concentration of power within the People’s Committee, especially its

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chair. This has not contributed to local democracy, rather it has shifted power from a centralized party-led government to individual authoritarianism at the local level. Media and Information A free media is a forum in which citizens can express their opinions and be informed. Media disseminates information on government practices, which is a condition of accountability and transparency. Media is both a manifestation of, and a means for, the exercise of democracy.56 Since the 1986 economic reforms, the amount of published material and broadcast programmes in Vietnam has increased remarkably. However, as the media can no longer rely on state subsidies and has to be economically viable, it often addresses popular subjects such as crime, sports, the private lives of celebrities, lifestyles and the like.57 State agencies still manage all media and communications services under tight control of the Ministry of Culture and Information. As Benedict Kerkvliet observes: Compared with rules regarding housing, traffic, and residency requirements, which people in many parts of the country often ignore with near impunity, rules against unauthorized outlets of media are rarely breached and when they are, the law enforcement agencies respond quickly to respond to stop the infraction and often punish the violators.58

Even the Internet, which many consider a democratic communication tool, has undergone severe scrutiny.59 In the process of linking up Vietnam to global information infrastructure, the government has faced an acute contradiction, between its eagerness to facilitate knowledge of a business nature, and its obsession to maintain control over information flows within and outside Vietnam. The government addressed this inconsistency with technical measures and policies that provided space for business-related information and communication, but supervised and restricted content of a social and political character. It requires certification for all levels of Internet access, service, and information providers, as well as for individual users. In addition, it calls for Internet Access Providers to operate secure gateways, amounting to national firewalls and proxies that prevent accessing from Vietnam Internet sites deemed unsuitable. In the new millennium, the government has hardened its control, arresting three suspects accused of using the Internet to circulate so-called anti-government information, and closing down a website

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exchanging political information. The government also blocks access to Yahoo’s GeoCities and other electronic discussion forums. Authorities are now holding owners of Internet cafes accountable to monitor and restrict their clients access to information.60 Authorities’ actions suggest a tightening of press censorship and management controls. Not surprisingly, information disseminated by the media mostly features mainstream discourses.61 While the state censors political information at the national level, a history of isolation and parochialism has restricted Chieng Hoa and its commune’s access to even mainstream information. Before the 1954 democratic reforms, the Muong population functioned as a rather independent territory with its own governance and social rules. This system was referred to as nha lang (lang family), with a clear division between a ruling family (lang), several administrators (au), and ordinary peasants (mol). This structure was maintained for generations, receiving little outside influence. Agricultural techniques and practices, as well as other social behaviour, also experienced little interference from other societies.62 In the early 1960s, Chieng Hoa village was incorporated into the process of collectivization and the creation of production cooperatives. This brought the village closer to other communities, especially to the Kinh majority. The same period saw many villagers mobilized for the American war engage in fighting in the then southern Republic of Vietnam. This had a significant impact on villagers’ access to information. Soldiers who fought during the American, and later the Chinese and Khmer Rouge wars, had travelled extensively and were taught selfsufficiency. They were expected to grow their own food, raise animals, and identify edible wild plants. While remaining mobile, soldiers needed to integrate into local communities in order to receive material support and protection. Even a decade after the wars, Vietnam still “had one of the largest armies in Asia, with an active force strength estimated at 1.26 million [… which] developed substantial production installations of its own, and grew a significant proportion of its own food”.63 Having served as a soldier therefore implied experience of different agricultural techniques. In addition, the state, through the Association of Veterans, supports soldiers through extended networks of peers. The association often organizes meetings and training sessions on agricultural techniques for

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members. The village chapter of the association receives monthly newsletters that provide information on the national political and economic situation, as well as science and agricultural techniques. The association is also the most active organization in the village, with its own budget and credit programme. It benefits from commune and district support for several economic activities. Another advantage of the network is the informal ties among members, which allows frequent travelling and horizontal information flows. In terms of links with the outside world, it is solders who, upon return to the village, have brought with them external influences to village activities. They were often the first to introduce new agricultural techniques to the village, were more willing to experiment, and went so far as to challenge traditional cultural rules and dominant discourses. For instance, the chair of the commune People’s Committee, one of the richest men in the village, was the first to adopt Kinh pig-raising techniques in the early 1970s, which he learned while serving in the army. This involved cloistering the animals into stables, as opposed to leaving them to roam in gardens, thus promoting lower caloric losses and making them grow much more quickly. Being exposed to other cultures also led him to abandon the traditional Muong wooden house, requiring regular maintenance, in favour of a brick structure. His initiatives, although opposed by his family and the larger community, were quickly followed by others, mostly veterans themselves. In fact, veterans are now among the richest groups in the village. Their better knowledge of economic activities gives them influence in village decision-making. In addition, veterans’ knowledge gives them the opportunity to participate to local political activities. Villagers perceived them as heroes who had risked their lives for the nation. They were more respected than local cadres who had not served in the army. Veterans were then often elected to official positions to replace old cadres. As at 2002, about ninety per cent of commune cadres were veterans. In turn, political positions allow veterans to strengthen their access to media and political networks, and thus gain information on government policies. For instance, commune cadres often receive books on technical issues or advice from district extension services during meetings. The commune also subscribes to newspapers, which then only circulate among cadres. In addition, officials have easier access to television sets, as a result of a post-1995 government programme aimed

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at facilitating information broadcasting to remote communities. Until now, the commune has received twelve colour televisions: one is kept at the office of the Peoples’ Committee, while the rest have been appropriated by cadres for private use. This privileged access to information makes local cadres more knowledgeable than others, if only for being able to intimidate them. This also allows cadres to seek economic benefits from various government agricultural incentive programmes. On the other hand, villagers, especially the poor, have limited access to media.64 Most villagers cannot afford to subscribe to newspapers and thirty-eight per cent of village households in 2001 did not have access to television. It is true that since 1990 rural infrastructure, telecommunication, and media services have greatly improved. The government established a cultural and information centre at the commune post office, which provides telephone and postal services, and free access to books and newspapers dealing with topics such as agricultural techniques and rural marketing. Yet, these initiatives have largely failed to assess peasant needs and to provide them with relevant information. On the other hand, television broadcasting is addressed at a national or provincial audience, with content of little relevance to villagers. Furthermore, local television is poorly designed, and broadcasters lack the skills and financial resources to identify peasant needs. Additionally, the occasional television programmes relevant to village economic activities get little attention, since young people prefer entertainment shows at the expense of other materials. This suggests that local people are unaware of the importance of information in economic and political arenas. Peasants tend to be reactive, requiring information only when they have to solve problems. Also, there has been some passive expectation from them that local authorities would provide information. This is a legacy of the cooperative period, when knowledge and decisionmaking on production was centralized. On many occasions, local cadres have repeatedly stated that their advice is key to the various activities of peasants. This justifies their information gatekeeper position but has done little to improve peasants’ access to information. As a result, formal information channels remain underused or used for purposes other than acquiring agricultural knowledge. In contrast, local cadres are conscious of the benefits of information. Several local officials have stated that, despite low-ranking positions,

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the working conditions and nominal compensation, the benefits to them come from access to information. Some seek information away from mainstream national media, including foreign shortwave broadcasts in Vietnamese, such as Radio France Internationale. Others enrol their children for the military service. This is advantageous to most villagers, as opportunities to travel and gain education or migrant work are rare. Although in principle all men from 18 to 35 years old have to serve in the army for two years, in the countryside only those who complete secondary school are considered. Villagers have to use informal channels to get their children into the army. The differentiated access to information and knowledge reinforce unequal power relations between peasants and cadres, and among peasants themselves. Generally uninformed on the benefits of knowledge, unaware of their democratic right to information, peasants are unlikely to respond to central government efforts to inform them on anything, including local governance. Economic and Political Strategy of Commune Cadres Despite being criticized for abusing power and instigating autocratic local government, the People’s Committee and especially its chair have remained in office. This is due to the solid political network that commune cadres maintain with their superiors through various social events and corruption. However, the main reason for the stability of this commune’s regime lies in the cadres’ economic and political strategy that preserves legitimacy among villagers and support from higher authorities. Since coming to power as deputy chair of the People’s Committee in 1991, the chair and his cadres have been investing in infrastructure for social services, namely primary and secondary schools, a commune clinic, and three football fields. In particular, cadres constructed intra-village roads and a local market to integrate the commune into the market economy. In 2000, the commune received an award from the Ministry of Communications for their roads, which allow heavy trucks and other means of transport to reach households. This has been one of the keys to large-scale production of violet sugarcane, a crop that generated economic development in the commune. Similarly, village cadres have mobilized peasant resources by investing in public works. As described, most households had unpaid debts with the cooperative. In 2001, local cadres and villagers agreed that they

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would use those debts to invest in infrastructure. The first investment was the construction of a new village kindergarten. Aside from the economic and social benefits, public works have also increased the prestige of commune cadres. The district authorities often send delegations to this commune, the most developed within its jurisdiction. This exposes the commune to different authorities which, in turn, generates funding. When the district has funds for trial projects, for instance agricultural development, it often channels such resources to this commune. Good reputation allows commune cadres and the chair to challenge district authorities, and indeed the commune chair is considered the most outspoken among his colleagues in the district. In 2000, he succeeded in obtaining district funding for the construction of a secondary school, crucial for improving the commune’s education levels. The work of the chair and People’s Committee cadres has generated feelings of both disapproval and admiration. Most agree, however, that no one else in the commune can defend the commune’s interests to higher authorities. This contributes to the chair’s and the People’s Committee’s legitimacy, but their autocratic leadership has hampered local democratic practices. Nevertheless, the politics of Chieng Hoa and its commune have shown that the relationship between democracy and economic development is ambiguous. While undemocratic practices of power management are widespread, economically the commune is the most developed in the district.

Conclusion This chapter has shown that central government efforts to implement democratization have failed in Chieng Hoa village and its commune. Democratic institutions, namely elections, village meetings, and grievance procedures nominally exist, but in practice remain ineffective in promoting democracy at the local level. Over the last decade, power has been concentrated in the hands of People’s Committee cadres and especially their chair as a result of the “statization” and decentralization processes, the absence of checks and balances at the communal level, and their privileged access to information. These factors have favoured autocratic rule at the expense of grassroots participation. Yet, this undemocratic system is stable due to local authorities’ investment in

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public works, which brings economic benefit to the community and legitimacy to leaders. If the state does not establish democratic processes, however, this autocratic system could lose legitimacy and generate rural unrest, as a result of growing inequalities.

Notes 1 2 3

4

5

Litvack and Rondinelli, “Preface”, p. vii. UNDP Viet Nam, Fact Sheet Governance. Nghi dinh so 29/1998 ND-CP ngay 11-5-1998 cua Chinh Phu ve viec ban hanh Quy che thuc hien dan chu o xa (Government Decree 29/1998/ND-CP, 11 May 1998, Promulgating the Regulation on Implementing Democracy in Communes). The village’s real name is withheld to protect respondents. Chieng Hoa is located in the province of Hoa Binh. It is made of two hamlets, 1 and 2. During the years of collective farming, each hamlet was a production brigade in the cooperative. In 1998, years after the demise of the collective farming cooperative, the two former production brigades became hamlets under a single village authority. The political structure includes a village chief, two hamlet chiefs, and an accountant. According to this new management system, village authorities are mostly responsible for administrative issues. They do, however, provide agricultural services such as irrigation or procurement of fertilizers, seeds, and pesticides, although with intense competition from private traders. The village has a party cell of nine members and representatives of five mass organizations (Women, Veterans, Youth, the Elderly, and Farmers), and the Fatherland Front. The chief of the village party cell and representatives of each mass organization are elected by their respective members. The village has 106 households. Most are of Muong ethnicity: one household is Chinese and three have couples who are Muong and Kinh. Unlike other ethnic groups, the Muong are culturally and geographically similar to the Kinh and likely share the same historical roots (Tran Tu, Nguoi Muong o Hoa Binh; Bui Tuyet Mai, Les Muong au Vietnam). While the chapter examines democratic practices at the village level, its explanation draws from the analysis of power relations within and beyond the village, especially between peasants and cadres and between village and commune authorities. In this study, commune cadres are much closer to village chiefs than higher authorities, partly due to their affiliation to the village through family connections. Three commune cadres, including the chair of the People’s Committee, reside in the village, in which their private interests lie. Commune

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7 8 9 10

11 12 13 14

15 16 17 18 19

20 21

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cadres therefore strongly influence village politics (Truong Huyen Chi and Thomas Sikor in this volume make similar observations). UNDP, “Governance for Sustainable Human Development”; see also World Bank, Governance and Development. McCarty, “Governance Institutions”, p. 20. UNDP, “Governance for Sustainable Human Development”. Blair, “Participation and Accountability”, p. 22. UNDP, Human Development Report, p. 4; see also Fox, “Governance and Rural Development”, p. 2; and Blair; “Participation and Accountability”, p. 23. Fox, “Governance and Rural Development”, pp. 2–3. Cameron, “Municipal Decentralization”, p. 8. UNDP, “Governance for Sustainable Human Development”. Ascher and Rondinelly, “Restructuring the Administration”, p. 145; and UNDP, “Governance for Sustainable Human Development”. UNDP, “Governance for Sustainable Human Development”. UNDP, “Governance for Sustainable Human Development”. UNDP, “Governance for Sustainable Human Development”. Vietnamese National Assembly, Constitution. Bui Gia Thinh, “Social Sector Decentralization”, Jørgensen et al., An Uphill Voyage, p. 12. Ascher and Rondinelly, “Restructuring the Administration”, p. 135. In the past, especially during the cooperative period when central planning was in crisis, local authorities were able to adapt central policies to local contexts. However, such initiatives were only allowed within state parameters. Attempts to go beyond those often resulted in harsh punishment. Human Rights Watch, “Rural Unrest in Vietnam”; Ascher and Rondinelly, “Restructuring the Administration”, pp. 133–34; Nguyen Van Sau and Ho Van Thong, Vietnam Village, p. 11. Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, p. 96; see also Ascher and Rondinelly, “Restructuring the Administration”, p. 135; Bui Gia Thinh, “Social Sector Decentralization”. Nguyen Van Sau and Ho Van Thong, Vietnam Village, p. 14. See Fox, “Governance for Sustainable Human Development”, p. 11, and Cameron, “Municipal Decentralization”, p. 3 for the cases of Mexico and Ecuador respectively. Martin Grossheim’s, Pham Quang Minh’s, and Thomas Sikor’s chapters in this book. I estimated this number during the election, as there was no actual counting of hands. This was the case in the election of the chief of the village veteran’s chapter in 2001, when members proposed their own candidates and used a secret

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29

30

31

32

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ballot. This presumably more democratic practice was used because the position did not involve the management of production resources. Furthermore, veterans are generally middle-aged men who are settled, and belong to the rich and middle strata of the village, that is to say the ruling group itself. They are therefore able to resist the imposition of candidates and agenda. When outsiders such as district cadres, census workers, and journalists want to speak to peasants, local authorities often omit the poor for the same reasons. Kinh men usually take responsibility for social relations while Kinh women control household affairs. By contrast, in Chieng Hoa, Muong men assume control of everything. Muong women participate in family productive activities, take care of children and other household work, but without decision-making power. Unlike Kinh women who have some freedom in managing household affairs by having access to family income, Muong women do not even have money for their daily shopping and have to ask their husbands for cash whenever needed. There are only two households in the village where women instead of men manage the family cash flows. In both cases, the men are seen as hien (tender) or it noi (talk little), while the women noi nhieu (talk a lot). For the Muong, the hien or it noi metaphors applied to a man mean cham (slow) or khong nang dong (not dynamic), while noi nhieu for a woman means danh da (sharp-tongued) and they are not well regarded by fellow villagers, especially the women. For example, the daughter of one of the above-mentioned two couples is embarrassed by her mother’s behaviour and on many occasions called out for the latter to be quiet. Similar arguments in Tandon, “Poverty, Processes of Impoverishment”, p. 32; Deutchman, “The Politics of Empowerment”, p. 5; O’Brien, Island of Tears, p. 30. Most complaints or descriptions of cadre behaviour in this chapter come from the middle-class and outspoken groups, not from poor peasants. This is because the former are more involved in local politics, enjoy socializing and have a wider network of peers. They are financially more independent vis-à-vis local cadres. The poor are excluded from local affairs. Since most of them are young couples who live in designated areas in the outskirts of the village, they tend to socialize among themselves and therefore have little information on local politics. In particular, they are dependent on local cadres, for example for credit, and therefore often feel obliged to them. Villagers compare commune cadres’ wealth with villagers’, using house quality and motorbike ownership as references. Local people become rich through knowledge and hard work, and rarely take part in the political circus. Villagers respect such achievement, but have no explanation for

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commune cadres’ wealth except political position. The household production activities of commune cadres are no different. Yet, villagers observe that the chair of the commune People’s Committee is the only one in the village who has two Chinese motorbikes and a two-storey house that costs about forty million dong. Another commune cadre changed his old German Simson motorbike for a Chinese Honda just after being elected. For instance, when a commune cadre was invited to a meal with a peasant family, he requested some qua ca dai (wild white aubergine). The wife of the household joked that as a cadre he already eats too much meat and therefore fancies vegetables. This comment insinuates that commune and village cadres have meals whenever they have meetings. An old notebook of the head of hamlet 2 showed that cadres had six meals in the month of October 1998 alone, at the cost of VND 345,000. This is quite significant considering the monthly salary of village cadres ranges from VND 80,000 to 120,000. The author witnessed fear once, when a young peasant accompanied her to the commune People’s Committee. Once inside the compound, she suddenly panicked and wanted to jump off the vehicle, then tried to carry the motorbike out of the People’s Committee compound. Most households had debts for different reasons, many for buying buffaloes from the cooperative, following the Contract 10 policies. In the early 1990s, however, the only rice milling machine of the cooperative was stolen, a theft for which villagers held cooperative leaders responsible. The theft was never explained and, in protest, villagers refused to pay their debts. The cooperative and party cell then issued a resolution that applied high interest rates on the debt. This also failed because the relevant accounting books had disappeared. By the late 1990s, the authorities requested households to sign the debt certificate, which remains largely unpaid to this day. The high interest rate multiplied the original debt of some households ten-fold, however, and 60 percent of village households now share a cumulated debt of 105 million dong. Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, p. 46. Jørgensen et al., An Uphill Voyage, p. 12. Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, pp. 15–23. Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, p. 27. Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, p. 33. Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, p. 40. Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, p. 44. Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, p. 73. Thayer, “Renovation and Vietnamese Society”, pp. 21–22; Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, p. 47; Jørgensen et al., An Uphill Voyage, p. 12;

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Litvack and Rondinelli, “Preface”, p. 7; McCarty, “Governance Institutions”, p. 4. Thayer, “Renovation and Vietnamese Society”, pp. 22–23. Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, p. 88. Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, p. 95; see also McCarty, “Governance Institutions”, p. 5; UNDP Viet Nam, Modernizing Governance, pp. 7, 9. Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, p. 92; UNDP Viet Nam Modernizing Governance, p. 9. Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, p. 92. Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, p. 92. Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, p. 94; Ascher and Rondinelly, “Restructuring the Administration”, pp. 135, 137. An indication of the potential for benefits is the fact that the price of electricity in the village is 900 dong/KWh in 2001, double the official national price. This is also true for cadres at district and provincial levels. Public Administration Reform staff at the Ministry of Agriculture Rural Development said reorganization should address matrix management of staff. Local authorities appoint civil servants from district to provincial level, who are thus more accountable to local authorities then to line ministries in Hanoi. Although Ministry officials have a say on professional issues at district and provincial offices, and are a major source of funding, they complain of limited influence on actual activities, leading to distortion of central policies. See also Ascher and Rondinelly, “Restructuring the Administration”, pp. 135– 37; Dang Phong and Beresford Authority Relations, pp. 38–51. Blair, “Participation and Accountability”, p. 29. Heng, “Media Negotiating the State”, pp. 214–15. Kerkvliet, “An Approach for Analyzing”, p. 252. Kerkvliet, “An Approach for Analyzing”, p. 253. Vnit – 1 Discussion Group. Kerkvliet, “An Approach for Analyzing”, p. 252. Cuisinier, Les Muong, p. 41. Fforde and de Vylder, From Plan to Market, p. 83. Language is not a problem for this Muong community in accessing media. Most villagers, except the very old, speak fluent Vietnamese. As mentioned, the Muong and the Kinh probably share the same roots, and their languages are very similar. They, however, have some difficulties understanding scientific technical vocabulary.

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Bibliography Ascher, W. and D.A. Rondineli. “Restructuring the Administration of Service Delivery in Vietnam: Decentralization as Institution Building”. In Market Reform in Vietnam: Building Institutions for Development, edited by J.I. Litvack and D.A. Rondinelli. Westport, Connecticut, London: Quorum Books, 1999. Blair, H. “Participation and Accountability at the Periphery: Democratic Local Governance in Six Countries”. World Development 28, no. 1 (2000): 21–39. Bui Gia Thinh. “Social Sector Decentralization: The Case of Vietnam”. , July 1997. Bui Tuyet Mai and Vu Duc Tan, eds. Les Muong au Vietnam [The Muong in Vietnam]. Hanoi: Cultural Publishing House, 1999. Cameron, J.D. Municipal Decentralization and Peasant Organization in Ecuador: A Political Opportunity for Democracy and Development?. Paper presented to the Latin American Studies Association. Hyatt Regency Miami, March 16– l8, 2000. Cuisinier, J. Les Muong: Geographie Humaine et Sociologie [The Muong: Human Geography and Sociology]. Paris: Institut d’Ethnologie, Université de Paris, 1948. Dang Phong and M. Beresford. Authority Relations and Economic Decision-Making in Vietnam: An Historical Perspective. Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 1998. Deutchman, I.E. “The Politics of Empowerment”. Women & Politics 11, no. 2 (1991): 1–18. Fforde, A. and S. de Vylder. From Plan to Market: The Economic Transition in Vietnam. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1996. Fox, J. “Governance and Rural Development in Mexico: State Intervention and Public Accountability”. The Journal of Development Studies 32, no. 1 (1995): 1–30. Heng, R.H.K. “Media Negotiating the State: In the Name of the Law in Anticipation”, Sojourn 16, no. 2 (2001): 213–37. Human Rights Watch. “Rural Unrest in Vietnam”, Human Rights Watch 9, no. 11 (December 1997). . Jørgensen, B.D., C. Bergstedt, Nguyen Quang Dung and Do Thi Phuong Thao. An Uphill Voyage: Decentralization and Natural Resource Management in Phu Tho province, Northern Uplands of Vietnam. Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute, 2001. Kerkvliet, B.J.T. “An Approach for Analysing State-Society Relations in Vietnam”, Sojourn 16, no. 2 (2001): 238–78. Litvack, J.I., and D.A. Rondinelli. “Preface”. In Market Reform in Vietnam: Building Institutions for Development, edited by J.I. Litvack and D.A. Rondinelli. Westport, Connecticut, London: Quorum Books, 1999.

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McCarty, A. “Governance Institutions and Incentive Structures in Vietnam”.

2001. Menike, K. “People’s Empowerment from the People’s Perspective”. Development in Practice 3, no. 3 (1993): 176–83. Nguyen, Van Sau and Ho Van Thong. Vietnam Village-Commune Community Today. Hanoi: National Political Publishing House, 2001. O’Brien, N. Island of Tears, Island of Hope: Living the Gospel in a Revolutionary Situation. New York: Orbis Books, 1993. Tandon, Y. “Poverty, Processes of Impoverishment and Empowerment: A Review of Current Thinking and Action”. In Empowerment: Towards Sustainable Development, edited by N. Singh and V. Titi. Halifax and London: Fernwood and Zed Books, 1995. Thayer, C.A. “Renovation and Vietnamese Society: The Changing Role of Government and Administration”. In Doi Moi: Vietnam’s Renovation Policy and Performance, edited by D.K. Forbes et al. Canberra: The Australian National University, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Department of Political and Social Change, 1991. Tran Tu. Nguoi Muong o Hoa Binh, [The Muong in Hoa Binh]. Hanoi: Vietnamese Historical Association, 1996. Vietnamese National Assembly. Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. 1992. United Nations Development Program. Governance for Sustainable Human Development, Policy Paper Series, January 1997. . ———. Human Development Report 2002: Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World. New York: UNDP, 2002. ———. Viet Nam. Fact Sheet Governance. Hanoi: UNDP, August 1999. . ———. Modernizing Governance. Hanoi: UNDP Viet Nam, December 2001. Vnit-l Discussion Group. . World Bank. Governance and Development. Washington DC: World Bank, 1992.

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Reproduced from Beyond Hanoi: Local Government in Vietnam, edited by Benedict J Tria Kerkvliet and David G Marr (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http:// bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

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7 Local Government in the Exercise of State Power: the Politics of Land Allocation in Black Thai Villages Thomas Sikor

Vietnam’s National Assembly passed a new land law in July 1993. The government and western observers heralded the law as cornerstone of a new rural policy. In the past, collective and state units had legal control over land, the primary productive resource in rural areas. The land law provided the basis for households to receive legal land use titles for land. Furthermore, the law mandated the state to implement the legal change through a nation-wide process of land allocation, including registration and certification of land holdings. The expectation was that land allocation would be finished within a few years — a formidable task considering Vietnam’s total area of thirty-three million hectares. So far, land allocation has produced a diversity of outcomes. It proceeded smoothly in some areas, but has not been completed in others.1 Where the state has implemented land allocation, it followed different practices. In some areas, local authorities reassigned land to historical

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owners. For example, Tay people in Bac Can province successfully reclaimed wet rice fields that they had cultivated up to the 1960s. Dao and Kinh people ended up without wet rice fields, even though they had received those in the course of state-sponsored sedentarization and resettlement programmes in the 1960s and 1970s.2 Local authorities in other areas distributed land to households currently living in a village. Yet they applied different formulae for dividing agricultural fields to households, including distribution on a per capita basis, distribution based on household labour capacity, allocation to economically strong households, and various types of bidding systems.3 These are just a few examples to illustrate a general point: land allocation has witnessed a perplexing diversity of local processes and outcomes. Three explanations come to mind as to why the Vietnamese state has not been able to implement land allocation and enforce new land legislation in a uniform manner. First, the state may not possess sufficient means of enforcement. Financial constraints and low-skilled cadres prevent consistent implementation of national directives. Second, the implementation of land allocation may suffer from inter-ministerial differences, as it involves the cooperation of several line agencies. Depending on which agency is in charge, allocation may follow different procedures. Third, variation in land allocation may be due to cleavages between the central government and local authorities. This is the explanation that I want to explore in this chapter. It resonates with the significant level of influence attributed to local forces in Vietnam studies. For example, Adam Fforde (1989) finds that villagers turned statesponsored agricultural cooperatives into protective layers shielding them from central government intervention. Benedict Kerkvliet (1995) suggests that local resistance against collective agriculture was a primary cause of decollectivization. I use the findings of in-depth research on land allocation in Black Thai villages of northwestern Vietnam to explore the relations between central and local governments. My inquiry into local–central state relations was prompted by the observation that land allocation had exerted virtually no effect on land relations in the villages. Villagers had resisted land allocation vigorously, employing various forms of everyday and open resistance.4 They wanted to retain the land distribution that they had developed locally in the early 1990s, in the wake of decollectivization. District cadres had in response

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accommodated their demands, not only by ignoring apparent discrepancies between land legislation and local practice, but also by not implementing key elements of the new policy. My findings suggest that cadres had accommodated villagers’ requests because horizontal linkages within the district were stronger than the vertical linkages between district and central authorities. Also, district cadres shared ethnic identity and notions of legitimate authority over land with local villagers. Finally, villagers and cadres had prior historical experience of significant levels of Thai autonomy within the Vietnamese state. My findings therefore directed my attention to the role of local governments in the exercise of state power. This study proceeds as follows. I begin with a brief review of historical authority relations in Black Thai villages, integration into the Vietnamese nation-state, and decollectivization. I then provide an account of land allocation in Chieng Dong commune (Yen Chau district, Son La province). This leads me to examine the outcomes of land allocation in Chieng Dong, looking at villagers’ initial reactions and cadres’ responses. I conclude the chapter with implications for our understanding of local governments in Vietnam. State formation in the northwestern mountains Historical authority relations among the Black Thai In the first few centuries AD, Tai people moved into the mountains of what is today northwestern Vietnam.5 They began to live in the valleys of the Da river and numerous secondary and tertiary streams flowing into the Da (see Figure 1). The valleys provided good conditions for wet rice agriculture on the valley bottom and dry land cultivation on the lower slopes. Over the course of centuries, the region became dotted with small Black Thai principalities (muong).6 A typical muong included several Black Thai villages and possibly villages of other ethnic groups, who had either resided in the region before the Tai migration or came after them.8 It was ruled by a phia, whose title remained within certain noble Black Thai families. The phia and a few notables appointed by the phia enjoyed rights to labour services provided by households or whole villages. Each muong was relatively autonomous in relation to its neighbours and the surrounding powers. The rugged mountain topography and lack of communication infrastructure protected the principalities from any significant control by outsiders.

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170 FIGURE 1 Chieng Dong in Northern Vietnam

Da River

Hanoi Son La

Chieng Dong

Compiled by Dao Minh Truong

Villages enjoyed significant autonomy within a muong.8 Villages resolved most administrative and judicial matters internally. They allocated labour duties among households and collected tax obligations from them. As for land, the rights held by the phia over all paddy fields within a muong were largely symbolic. They entitled the phia to a share of output produced on those fields, yet his rights to use paddy land were limited to specific fields. Collectively, villagers oversaw the allocation of the remaining wet rice fields to households. All households in a village had the right to receive part of the village paddy. In return, they had to pay state taxes and perform labour duties. The village

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collectives maintained the right to reallocate fields periodically. In contrast, the villages’ control over land did not extend into the uplands. Households were free to open up new fields and retained use rights to the land thereafter. The fields were exempted from tax or corvée obligations. Historical land relations in Black Thai villages thus consisted of several nested layers of social control and use rights. The French colonial regime, which incorporated the northwestern mountains into Tonkin in 1888, did not change that.9 The land reforms following the departure of the Thai nobility in the early 1950s reflected the historical notion of authority over land among the Black Thai. Vietnamese liberation forces took control over most of the northwestern mountains from the French in 1952. Their advance caused most Black Thai notables to flee to Laos and France. In response, Black Thai villages redistributed wet rice lands. Though redistribution was generally encouraged by the liberation forces, it was independently conducted by the villages.10 The villages reasserted their role as the primary units of control over paddy land. Integration into the Vietnamese nation-state My account of specific villages begins at this point, as knowledge of them dramatically improves after 1950. At that time, the villages had existed for many generations as part of the tiny Black Thai principality Chieng Dong (see Figure 1). Aerial photographs taken by the French indicate that villagers worked wet rice fields around the Vat stream, a tributary of the Da river, and used the slopes of its upper watershed for upland farming and livestock grazing. Village elders today recall that their parents held use rights to a share of the village paddy. They contributed taxes and labour services to the local phia. After the phia fled to Laos in 1952, the villages redistributed paddy land, allocating the fields on the basis of household size. After independence, the Vietnamese state initiated efforts to integrate Black Thai villages into the nation-state.11 The central government mandated the expansion of the territorially structured administrative system into the mountains. Villages (ban) were grouped into communes (xa), the lowest-level unit of state administration. Several communes formed a district (huyen). In 1962, the central government also reestablished the province (tinh) of Son La, including around ten districts. Chieng Dong became a commune in Yen Chau district of Son La province.

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The central government also enlisted cadres from the Red River delta to work in the newly established district authorities. They came to support cadres recruited in local Black Thai villages. However, staff and officials active at the commune level were exclusively Black Thai. Black Thai played a predominant role because they formed a majority of the population in the district, because their leaders had historically ruled over the other ethnic groups, and because parts of the Black Thai had supported the Vietnamese liberation forces in the war against the French.12 In 1960, the Vietnamese state expanded its drive to collectivize farming to the mountains.13 The resulting cooperatives established in Chieng Dong in 1961 and 1962 resembled those in lowland areas. Yet in Chieng Dong, collective control remained limited to rice and parts of cassava cultivation, as well as buffalo husbandry.14 Households continued to grow corn and some additional cassava and raise pigs and poultry individually, using the ample upland slopes surrounding the villages. Thus, land tenure relations under collective agriculture differed from historical land relations, but they maintained the primary social layers. Cooperative leaderships exercised strong control rights over wet rice land but not the uplands. Brigades became the primary production units in wet rice production, receiving use rights to wet rice land and parts of the uplands for cassava cultivation. Households enjoyed use rights to parts of the uplands for individual production. The state, now represented by the district authorities, claimed formal control over the land and levied tax, labour and conscription obligations on villages, but did not interfere with the distribution of use rights within villages. State policy did intend to alter the historical notions of authority over the uplands, however. A decree in 1955 declared forest to be a national asset, to be managed by state units. “Forestry land” was supposed to include all land with a slope above 20 degrees.15 A large part of the uplands in Chieng Dong was demarcated as forestry land. The land became subject to legal control by the Agricultural Office (Phong Nong Nghiep) of the district administration, with technical guidance by the Ministry of Forestry (Bo Lam Nghiep). In 1973, the district authorities additionally established a Forest Protection Unit (Hat Kiem Lam), following national directives. Cooperatives had to seek the permission of the district authorities for the location and area of upland fields each year. The district also required people to get permits before cutting timber for house construction. The only formal rights retained by villagers were

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those to collect firewood and other forest products. In practice, however, villagers had no problem securing access to sufficient land and timber for their subsistence needs.

De-collectivization In the late 1970s and 1980s, collective control over production eroded rapidly in Chieng Dong. By the mid-1980s, households were in charge of all productive activities with the exception of irrigation and pest control. The cooperatives sold most water buffaloes and cattle to households. They abandoned any attempt to control upland cultivation. The brigades’ control over wet rice land persisted, however. The only change was that brigades changed the duration of allocation from one to three or four years. Authority over paddy land thus resembled historical land relations in Black Thai villages. Control over the uplands reverted back to households. The district authorities could not enforce people’s exclusion from forestry land any longer. Villagers rapidly expanded rice swiddens up the slopes. The district’s Forest Protection Unit reacted with repeated attempts to enforce restrictions on upland farming, but these efforts were not successful. There were too many violations for the unit to prosecute all. In addition, people often convinced forest protection officers not to report illegal clearing. In many cases when officers levied fines, households refused to pay. As a result, villagers cultivated fields on much of the land that should have been protected as forestry land according to national regulations.16 District cadres were quick to take advantage of the widening crevices in legal control over forest resources. The timber company of the district went together with a neighbouring army unit to exploit the rich forest in the upper watershed of Chieng Dong. Logging teams and trucks went up the Vat stream for several months in 1987 and 1988 to extract timber. The army unit thanked the timber company by constructing the first two-story house in the district centre. Villagers took their turn to get timber for new houses and other purposes. After all, access to upland resources had always been open to everybody.17 The erosion of collective and state control in Chieng Dong paralleled broader trends in Son La province, and at the national level.18 Provincial surveys indicated in 1985 and 1986 that very few cooperatives maintained collective control over production as mandated by national policy.19 The

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provincial newspaper abounded with reports from villages, communes, and districts in which people expanded their fields far up the slopes.20 The provincial authorities reacted by acknowledging household control over production, endorsing experiments with household-based production relations in 37 cooperatives in January 1988.21 They expanded the experiments to 200 cooperatives in June, and called for a full-scale shift towards household agriculture in September.22 The central authorities eventually followed suit. The party Central Committee issued Resolution 10 on cooperative reform in April 1988. Resolution 10 did not specify guidelines for the implementation of the new policy, however. Instead, it was kept in general terms and provided various options for cooperatives to shift control over production from the collective to households. The central government did not provide specific guidelines for new production relations until November of the same year. By then, many cooperatives in Son La province had already reorganized production relations. They had done so under the guidelines issued by provincial authorities. Land allocation in Chieng Dong: implementation and “implementers” The National Assembly passed the new land law in July 1993. The land law mandated the state to allocate land under long-term lease arrangements. Allocation entitled land holders to use land with annual agricultural crops for a period of 20 years and expanded the range of associated rights. In return, landholders had to follow the land use prescribed by government land classification and pay a land use tax. The law also established the legal basis for creation of a new specialized government agency in land administration, the General Department of Land Administration (Tong Cuc Dia Chinh) at the central level, with branch offices and officers at all other levels. The department was put in charge of land allocation, land use planning, the administration of cadastral records, and arbitration of land disputes. The new central directives on land allocation significantly differed from local land relations. The new legislation did not recognize any layer of control over land between land receiving units and the state, represented by district land administration offices. The new land law did not provide any role for village communities in control over wet rice land. In that connection, the land law called for allocation of wet rice

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land for a twenty-year period. Yet in Chieng Dong, villages had just reallocated the use rights to wet rice fields in the early 1990s, following historical practice. In the uplands, the new legislation and local practice were just as far apart. The uplands had remained under a constantly shifting and overlapping patchwork of cultivation, grazing, and extractive uses for many generations. Villagers had adjusted their use of the uplands in flexible response to changing needs, climatic conditions, and biophysical micro-conditions. Land use classification intended to terminate that flexibility of use, replacing it by fixed zones for single uses. In addition, forest regulations severely restricted villagers’ legal rights to forest resources, in stark contrast to the strong individual rights granted to upland resources in previous years. Villagers did not receive use rights for forested areas but had to sign protection contracts, in which they committed to protect forest resources in return for meagre rights to fuelwood and small forest products. The campaign: land allocation in Son La and Chieng Dong When central government funds became available for land allocation in late 1993, the People’s Committee (Uy Ban Nhan Dan) of Son La province seized the opportunity to orient the central project towards one of its own primary goals: forest protection. The provincial authorities were concerned about forest protection because Son La had become the location of Vietnam’s largest hydro-power reservoir in the late 1980s. In the first years of the Hoa Binh facility’s operation, the reservoir experienced high rates of siltation, reducing its expected lifetime.23 The central government called for action to protect the watershed feeding into the reservoir and set aside considerable funds to support tree planting and forest protection in the watershed, of which Son La province made up a large part. The provincial authorities were serious in their efforts to protect forests. They were not shy to compare the forest protection campaign with the climactic national liberation battle against the French army in 1954: The Party, the Army, and the people of Son La are determined to execute successfully the forest protection campaign, following the spirit of the victorious battle at Dien Bien Phu. (Slogan printed on a poster advertising the forest protection campaign.)

The provincial authorities instituted strict criteria for the demarcation of forestry land. In particular, the top third of each hill and mountain in

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the province had to be demarcated as forestry land, as well as 80 metrewide protection belts on each side of national and provincial roads (see Figure 2). The provincial authorities limited upland holdings to 2,000 square metres per person in a household and a maximum of one and a half hectares for each household, even though national directives allowed three hectares. They initiated additional measures to protect forests, including tree planting, the formation of village forest protection and fire prevention groups, and the mandate to restrict rice swiddening severely. Finally, the People’s Committee assigned district-level Forest Protection Units a primary role in execution of the campaign. The newly established Cadastral Offices (Phong Dia Chinh) at the district level and newly appointed commune cadastral officer (can bo dia chinh) played secondary roles only. FIGURE 2 Son La’s model for land use

MO HINH LAM NONG KET HOP Rung 1/3 QUA DOI SXN2 bang rong 50 m Rung 15 m Hanh lang rung 50 m

HAY LAM THEO MO HINH NAY!

Source: So Lam Nong Thuy Son La 1993.

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The campaign gained rapid momentum in the first half of 1994. Within a few weeks, district and commune people’s committees had established steering committees to guide the implementation of the campaign. Numerous district cadres participated in training sessions at the provincial headquarters. The provincial print shop put out 10,000 booklets containing campaign guidelines. Finally, the campaign kicked off with tree planting on May 19, Ho Chi Minh’s birthday. The provincial newspaper reported that people had planted more than 100,000 trees in one day. Thereafter, more than one thousand cadres set out to implement the campaign in 70 communes. The People’s Committee of Yen Chau district modified the provincial guidelines in subtle though important ways. Most importantly, the guidelines for Yen Chau district provided a way to get around the land ceiling mandated by the provincial authorities. They granted villages a large area of “agricultural reserve land”. Households would be allowed to “borrow” part of the reserve land, if their land holdings exceeded the land ceiling mandated by the provincial authorities. The district guidelines also ruled out allocation of agricultural land in a village to people who did not reside in the village. The campaign reached Chieng Dong in late June, when a task force of district and commune cadres initiated forest demarcation and land allocation. The task force organized meetings with villagers to explain the upcoming activities and request households to report their land holdings to village officials. It went out into the field to demarcate forestry land, including sizable areas on which villagers had previously worked agricultural fields. Due to Chieng Dong’s location in an upper watershed, it zoned all forestry land as protected forest. The task force assigned the forestry land to the villages for protection and required households with fields on the land to abandon them after the current cropping season. As a next step, it sent the commune cadastral officer and village officials into the field to inspect reported fields and estimate their sizes. Finally, the task force and households formalized the preliminary allocation in a “land application” and a “preliminary allocation form”, which included information on the shape, size, and general location of each allocated field. By the end of July, the task force had completed land allocation in Chieng Dong. Just as in Chieng Dong commune, the campaign was largely considered finished in Yen Chau district by the end of July. In early

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August, the district’s Steering Committee published its final report. The report advertised impressive numbers about the outcome of the campaign. The campaign had zoned 15,000 hectares as forestry land and assigned them to villages for protection. The campaign’s task forces had detected more than 2,000 cases of violations against forest protection. Also, they had allocated agricultural land to more than 6,000 households in 60 villages. The district administration’s final report read as an impressive record of state capacity. The campaign’s outcomes appeared even more successful considering that it had taken place in the midst of the agricultural season, when villagers were very busy and heavy rainfall made travel to more remote villages and upland areas difficult. Despite these difficulties, the district People’s Committee reported to provincial authorities that the campaign’s outcomes had met national and provincial objectives. Above all, thousands of households now held land use certificates, the so-called Red Books, as visible indicators of the campaign’s success. How did the district authorities achieve this remarkable feat in such a short time? The “implementers”: cadres at the intersection of villages and state Before examining the outcomes of land allocation in Chieng Dong commune, it is useful to have a closer look at the local cadres in terms of their relations with villagers and positioning within the state. The People’s Committee of Yen Chau district and its cadres were in charge of allocation. Yet they relied on village officials and commune cadres to implement their tasks. Village officials typically included the village head (truong ban), party secretary (bi thu), and various cooperative officials. Villagers decided on and formally elected the cooperative officials, including a chair (chu nhiem), accountant (can bo ke toan), treasurer (thu quy thu kho) and brigade heads (doi truong). The cooperative officials’ salaries derived from the fees paid to the cooperative by village households. Villagers chose the village head and party secretary, selecting those who had proven their leadership capacity as cooperative officials. The village head and party secretary were then formally appointed by the commune’s People’s Committee and party branch, respectively, and received monthly salaries from them.

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Village officials differed little from other villagers. They continued to work in agriculture full time. Most of them served in official positions for a few years only. Their exposure to the world beyond the village boundaries was limited. Very few of them had ever left Son La province. There were a few differences, though. Village officials were typically at least 35 years old and had gained a reputation as hard workers and successful farmers. They had gained a good understanding of state policy relevant to their village, as they periodically attended meetings at the commune and district levels, read the monthly booklet published by the province, and followed radio or television programmes. When meeting cadres and other visitors from outside they proved quite fluent in the developmentalist discourse dominating state policy toward the highlands. Some even appeared to have taken it to heart, seeing themselves as the avant-garde for technological advance and moral progress.24 Chieng Dong commune cadres included the chair of the People’s Committee, several other members of the People’s Committee, and the commune’s party secretary. The commune’s People’s Council (Hoi Dong Nhan Dan), an elected assembly that met on a biannual basis, elected the People’s Committee chair, while the district’s party branch formally appointed the party secretary. Just as in the village, the party branch only appointed those who had been nominated by commune leaders on the basis of their experience in the commune’s administration. The chair and secretary recruited the remaining cadres in the commune administration, among them a cadastral cadre. The commune’s cadres had usually served as village officials and received salaries from the People’s Committee. They had participated in some short-term training courses held by the provincial People’s Committee. Like village officials, commune cadres continued to work in agriculture full time, with the exception of the chairs of the People’s Committee, who had significantly reduced his involvement in agricultural production since beginning his term. Again, exposure to the world beyond Chieng Dong was limited to information conveyed by radio or TV, plus occasional information brochures sent by the provincial authorities. At district level, cadres in lower-level positions of the administration came from two backgrounds. As with village officials and commune cadres, a large number of district cadres came from agricultural households in local villages. They had chosen to work for the district administration because of the stable salary, the prestige, and the

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comparatively light work. In contrast to commune cadres, they usually left their villages while working for the district and lived in the town. They abandoned agricultural production and typically worked for the district during their whole professional life. They were exposed to outside influences through short-term training courses at provincial and possibly national levels, and via extensive access to national media (newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, video). At the same time, most Black Thai cadres maintained a house in their village and visited home frequently. They spent their entire professional careers in the district and expected to return to their village after retirement. Very few had any interest in or chance of being promoted to a job outside the district.25 The remaining district cadres were ethnic Vietnamese, or Kinh, and distinguished themselves from the predominantly Black Thai population. Kinh cadres had worked in the district administration since the late 1950s, when the national government sent cadres up from the lowlands to help extend the state system into the mountains. In addition, Kinh migrants from the Red River delta had settled in Yen Chau under statesponsored resettlement programmes since the 1960s. Most Kinh cadres were not able to converse in Thai. They kept an orientation toward the Red River delta and Hanoi through periodic visits and the media. Yet many stayed in the district after retirement. The leadership of Yen Chau district was mostly Black Thai who maintained close relations with their home villages. The top two leadership positions, the chair of the People’s Committee (chu tich uy ban nhan dan huyen) and the party secretary (bi thu huyen uy), were Black Thai who had grown up in villages near the district town. Though receiving extensive training at provincial and national levels, they had spent their entire professional careers in the district. A few other district leaders had taken up appointments at the provincial level for a few years, but returned to their villages thereafter. Thus, most commune and district cadres came from local villages and remained within the district throughout their careers. The shared background and absence of professional advancement to positions outside the district created strong linkages between cadres and the local population. In addition, the relevant local authorities not only recruited local cadres, but were also the entities to which those cadres were primarily accountable. Commune officers reported to the commune chair, not the relevant district offices. District cadres were accountable to the

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district People’s Committee, not the relevant line departments at the provincial and national level. The district People’s Committee approved staff appointments, annual plans of operation, and budget allocations for district offices. National and provincial line departments provided technical guidance and sometimes sent funds for special programmes to the relevant district offices, but they did not have a direct mandate over them. Land allocation serves as a prime example: the district authorities were in charge of the campaign in Yen Chau, though the central and provincial authorities sent down instructions and budgetary resources. The district authorities established the allocation task force, they issued their own instructions for the implementation of the campaign, and their staff implemented the campaign. Upon completion of the campaign, the allocation task force reported to the district authorities, which in turn informed the provincial People’s Committee. The outcomes of land allocation In this section I revisit the district authorities’ claim of successful land allocation. To what degree did district cadres enforce the directives sent down by higher-level authorities and documented in Red Books, cadastral records, land allocation maps, land use planning maps, and forest protection contracts? I will examine the outcomes of land allocation, first for the village paddy fields and then for the uplands.

Collective control over wet rice fields The Red Books issued by the district People’s Committee did not include wet rice fields. Nor did the land allocation maps show individual fields. The district’s People’s Committee had decided to exclude the paddy from formal allocation. The People’s Committee left out the paddy in order to avoid open confrontation with villages. Initially, the allocation task force had requested villagers to declare wet rice fields. Village officials had protested formal allocation, because it conflicted with the practice of periodic reallocation. In response, the district leadership instructed the cadastral office to leave the wet rice fields out of the Red Books. Control over wet rice fields remained with the village collectives. While the district’s People’s Committee ceded to village demands, it was still able to report successful completion of the forest protection campaign to the provincial authorities. Following the provincial mandate, the People’s Committee had allocated agricultural land to

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thousands of households and issued Red Books. The report did not mention that the Red Books only included upland fields, not paddy fields. By excluding wet rice fields the district found a way to accommodate both villagers’ interests and the agenda set by the central and provincial authorities, though they appeared in direct conflict. Its report demonstrated compliance with higher-level requests, hiding opposed practices. In the years following land allocation, all villages in Chieng Dong commune re-allocated paddy fields. Villagers’ need to distribute access to precious wet rice fields equally, stimulated the reallocation. Periodic reallocations of paddy were a common phenomenon in Black Thai villages of Son La province in 1997, despite large-scale land allocation in 1994. The administration of Yen Chau district refrained from the formal allocation of paddy in many villages. The provincial cadastral department also suggested that many other Black Thai villages in Son La province continue to reallocate paddy every three to five years. In 1997, district cadres justified the continuing reallocation of paddy with the rationale usually given by villagers. They welcomed periodic reallocations for its contribution to “equity”. It provided a means to create equal opportunities for all households to meet their subsistence requirements. They pointed out that the rapidly growing population demanded periodic reallocations to ensure an egalitarian distribution. In addition, they claimed that wet rice fields were not linked as closely to the overall campaign goal, forest protection. They depicted upland cultivation as the main threat to forest protection and assumed that they had more flexibility when deciding on wet rice fields. While expressing sympathy toward periodic reallocation, each cadre was careful to point out that he did not carry the responsibility for the decision to exclude the fields from formal allocation. Cadres in the provincial and district administration emphasized that it was the decision of each village to continue reallocation. One district cadre, who had been in charge of land allocation for the whole district, claimed that the district authorities had not been aware of the national guidelines at the time of the campaign. Their justification mirrored the existing relations of authority over wet rice land: village collectives were the primary layers of control over distribution of paddy land within villages.

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The multiple uses of forestry land In 1994, the state undertook a massive effort to set aside large parts of the watershed as forestry land, and it continued the endeavour in 1995. Just as in the previous year, central and provincial authorities instructions and resources induced action by the district authorities and renewed their focus on forest protection. The Ministry of Forestry and the provincial authorities selected Yen Chau district as a pilot site for the implementation of a bilateral watershed protection project.26 International support allowed the district authorities to develop a more sophisticated approach to forest protection. District cadres returned to Chieng Dong commune to prepare detailed maps depicting current land use, future land use and household landholdings. They established a database that matched plots with the names of the household that had received the land. Most importantly, district cadres set out to divide the uplands into individual parcels. Resource use in the uplands had resembled a shifting patchwork of overlapping uses for generations. Yet in 1995, district officers assigned specific parcels to households for cultivation or forest protection. For each parcel with existing forest, the district authorities concluded protection contracts with an individual household or group of households. The contracts promised the households financial compensation for their protection activity and exclusive rights to dry firewood and minor forest products on the land. In return, the households had to commit to protecting the land from any other kind of use. Livestock grazing was not allowed on protected land and was instead confined to an area of bare land set aside as grazing land. It should not come as a surprise, therefore, that villagers proved reluctant to sign the contracts with the district’s Forest Protection Unit. Very few households signed contracts, most of them only under pressure from village officials and district cadres. In addition to the financial incentives, the district’s Forest Protection Unit used several legal measures to enforce forest protection. First, it fined around ninety households because they had continued to work agricultural fields on land zoned for forest protection. Second, the Forest Protection Unit established codes in villages. The codes included fines for illegal cultivation, hunting, collection of small forest products, and animal grazing. Third, the villages were told to organize forest protection teams to enforce the codes. Thus, by the end of 1995 the

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district authorities had put a full-fledged enforcement system into place. Despite this massive effort, the amount of land used for agriculture continued to expand in following years. The area under cultivation increased by one quarter from 1993 to 1996/97.27 In 1996/97, it also exceeded the area allocated in 1994 by more than seventy per cent. Villagers continued to use forestry land for cultivation, animal grazing and the collection of forest products. In particular, the rule that the top third of hills be protected as forestry land was easy to circumvent, as villagers extended their fields gradually up the slopes. The state was unable to arrest the expansion of upland cultivation and could not enforce its legal authority over forestry land. The forest protection contracts had little effect in practice. Despite this lack of control, district authorities abstained from drastic action in 1996 and 1997. The district’s Forest Protection Unit virtually stopped enforcing forest protection regulations after the provincial campaign and the watershed protection project had terminated. The unit only fined two households in two years. It paid out the full amount of protection payments, though many parcels of forestry land showed evidence of having been used for cultivation or grazing. In consequence, protection contracts became very popular after the Forest Protection Unit disbursed the first payments in 1996. Most households without protection contracts requested to participate in the protection activities and teamed up with households already holding contracts. The district cadres reacted to the loss of control in three ways. First, they ignored the discrepancy between policy and practice and continued their work. The forest protection officers disbursed the protection payments to villagers and only prosecuted those violations they could not ignore. The land administration officers introduced a more sophisticated land management system and sent out another team to measure the rapidly changing fields of households. The district authorities even sent out a team to evaluate land allocation. The team did not attempt to compare actual land use in the uplands with that documented in land certificates and maps. Instead, the team’s work focused on the question of whether or not the land allocation process had been properly formalized. The focus on formalization not only helped the district authorities to ignore the discrepancy between policy and practice, but also allowed cadres to continue their work as directed by the centre.

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Second, the district and provincial authorities sought ways to accommodate villagers’ interests. Already in 1994, the district authorities had expanded the amount of agricultural land that could be allocated to households. The provincial People’s Committee followed suit at the end of 1994 when it raised the ceiling to two hectares. In 1997, the director of the provincial cadastral department indicated that the provincial authorities would no longer enforce the land ceilings announced in 1994. District and provincial authorities thus created regulations that justified the widespread use of the uplands for cultivation in practice. Third, district and commune cadres and village officials seized on the financial opportunities the forest protection’s tree planting programme offered. District cadres established large tree nurseries that supplied the seedlings for afforestation activities in the villages. Every year tree nurseries expanded and shrunk with the planting cycle in the backyards of the district centre. Raw materials were always likely to arrive at cadres’ backyards before they got to the tree nurseries established by participating villages. Village officials also supported tree planting enthusiastically. Participation in tree planting yielded access to significant financial subsidies, not only for the initial planting, but also tree management in subsequent years. Tree planting was so lucrative that one village official who had already planted trees on all his own land began to plant trees on the fallowed upland field of another household. He did not mind that he might never enjoy the woody fruits of his labour: it was the cash payments that he was after.

The shrinking upland fields of Ban Nhom Land allocation produced a wealth of statistical data on land use in Chieng Dong. District cadres descended on the commune several times in 1994 and 1995 to measure the land used by villagers and allocated to them. The measurements were important because they determined the villages’ agricultural tax loads and the subsidies paid for forest protection. Yet, every time district cadres went to Chieng Dong they came back with different numbers. The differences were not random. The fuzziness in land statistics reflected contestations between the state and villagers about control over land and product. The state had an interest in zoning a large part of the uplands as forestry land and levying taxes on the remaining part used for agricultural production. Villagers wanted to minimize protected area

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186 FIGURE 3 Upland Fields in Ban Nhom (in ha)

90

60

30

0 land overview 1994

sum of all. fields 1994

tax assessment 1994

cadastral survey 1995

Source: Land Management and Tax Offices of Yen Chau district.

and tax obligations. The underlying contestations came to surface in the land statistics on Ban Nhom, one village in Chieng Dong commune. The total area of upland fields reported for Ban Nhom shrunk by one quarter within the course of only one year (see Figure 3). District cadres came up with the first measurement of upland fields in June 1994. The allocation task force requested villages to report the total upland area under agricultural crops. The villages reported a large area (see the first column in Figure 3), exceeding all later measurements. The village officials reported 86 hectares, the maximum area that the village was entitled to be allocated. They had quickly understood that Ban Nhom, with its population of 430, could claim allocation of a maximum of 86 hectares by the allocation criterion of 2,000 square metres per capita. The village officials thus claimed the largest possible area to maintain villagers’ control over the uplands. Being fully aware of the campaign’s overall goal of forest protection, they wanted to pre-empt attempts by the task force to limit the agricultural use of the uplands. The same allocation task force arrived at a lower measurement just a few days later, when it allocated upland fields to individual households (see the second column in Figure 3). The reported area contracted because

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individual households asked village officials and the commune’s cadastral officer to underestimate the size of their fields. Like the village officials a few days before, households claimed as many plots as possible to secure control over the land. Yet in contrast to the village officials, they were interested in minimizing the reported area in order to reduce their tax obligations. The sum of upland fields allocated to individual households thus turned out to be smaller than the areas claimed initially by the village officials. Later in the year, the district’s tax office assessed the upland areas in consultation with the villages. The assessment again produced area data that were lower than the previous assessments (see the third column in Figure 3). The village officials had tried to keep their tax load as low as possible, bargaining down the land area taken as the basis for the calculation of the tax load. Ban Nhom’s upland fields therefore shrank once more, this time to defend villagers’ claims on agricultural produce. District cadres returned to Chieng Dong commune another time in 1995. With technical support from the bilateral development project, they prepared a land allocation map. When they calculated the area of total upland fields from the map, the measurement was again lower than the previous measurements (see the fourth column in Figure 3). The area of upland fields declined because villagers reported fewer fields than in the previous year to reduce their tax obligations. For the first time in their memory they had been obliged to pay taxes on fallowed land, a practice they resented. Therefore, unlike the previous year, they were not concerned any longer to claim control over as many fields as possible. They understood that the new cadastral survey would not lead to any changes in practice, as it was intended simply to improve cadastral records. Villagers informed the mapping team only about the fields that they actually worked in 1995. Each household on the average reported two plots less than claimed in 1994. The shrinking upland fields in Ban Nhom illustrated villagers successful contestations of state control. Within one year, the people of Ban Nhom managed to reduce the reported area of upland fields from 86 to 63 hectares. The vanishing upland fields also demonstrated how district cadres accommodated villagers’ demands. The land statistics produced by the cadres were the product of negotiations with villagers and village officials. In the end, both sides were happy. The villagers had fended off some of the state’s actual or perceived demands, and

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the cadres could keep up a facade of compliance with higher-level directives.

Conclusions: Local Government at the Intersection of State and Villages The land allocation directives set out in the new land law failed in Chieng Dong commune. Though district cadres descended on the villages to implement the new policy in 1994, local land relations continued to display significant discrepancies with national legislation. The district authorities tolerated collectively organized reallocations of wet rice fields in 1997 and 1998, though the land law granted households twenty-year use rights. District cadres also looked away from villagers continuing to use the uplands for cultivation and animal grazing, despite the demarcation of large parts as forestry land. Land allocation had virtually no effect on local land relations because villagers resisted the implementation of land legislation. The cadres reacted by accommodating villagers’ demands. The nature of people’s resistance to the state project sets Chieng Dong apart from the other contributions to this volume and the emphasis on everyday forms of resistance in the literature on resource politics in Southeast and South Asia.28 In Chieng Dong, people not only used everyday forms of resistance, but they expressed their resistance openly towards the district authorities. Even more importantly, their opposition to the new land regulations met with success. District cadres’ reactions to villagers’ demands went far beyond the tendency to ignore differences between law and practice. The cadres opened space for local practice in opposition to the new legislation. They refrained from implementing key elements of the new legislation and sought ways to hide local practices that contradicted the directions sent down by the central authorities. A few years earlier, in the late 1980s, district and provincial cadres had even “made” land policy by encouraging changes in land relations that predated reforms in national legislation. Cadres’ responsiveness to local demands raises the question of what political conditions facilitated the open expression of people’s resistance and its success.29 My historical account has emphasized the authority that villages have enjoyed over land both towards outsiders and individual villagers. In addition, villagers and most district cadres shared an ethnic identity that set them apart from the predominantly Kinh

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central authorities. Yet the shared ethnic difference with the central state was not the sole cause of close relations between villagers and local cadres. District cadres of a different background also felt tied to local interests, because the internal organization of the state strengthened horizontal ties within the district authorities in relation to vertical linkages between district and higher-level authorities. I thus suggest that analysts look at local power relations, and the internal organization of political and administrative control within the state, to be able to locate the causes producing variation in the processes and outcomes of land allocation. At a broader level, I have emphasized the significance of cleavages between the state and villages. I do not suggest that these cleavages are the only or the primary axis of rural politics in Vietnam. Yet I want to argue that rural people are likely to respond to state directives as “local corporate groups”,30 if they act collectively. Vietnamese villages react to state intervention collectively because they have been treated as “local corporate bodies” by government policy for the past decades and continue to be treated as such. The longer villages have been exposed to such “corporate” government intervention, and the more contemporary state interventions treat villages as corporate bodies, the more likely are rural people to react to state action as village collectives. My argument finds support in the account of Truong Huyen Chi in this volume, which emphasizes the collective nature of villagers’ reactions to agricultural and cultural policy. The cleavages I have discussed locate local governments at the intersection of state and villages. Local governments and local cadres play out the relations between villages and the state. They are exposed to demands by the central government and local villagers. Their tasks are relatively easy when central directives match village interests. Their tasks become more difficult when central directives conflict with villagers’ concerns. Facing opposite demands, local cadres may implement national policy and enforce legal regulations, such as in the case of the winter crop described by Truong Huyen Chi in this volume. Yet they may also accommodate local practices in various ways, by modifying policy in the process of implementation, selectively enforcing national regulations, ignoring apparent discrepancies between law and practice, hiding controversial local practices from the view of outsiders, and even “making” policy. Their orientation towards local interests may even create a sense of societal ownership, as in the case of Long An extensionists

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examined by Natalie Hicks in this volume. Thus, local cadres’ practices may be quite different from central state formal procedures, as highlighted by Tran Thi Thu Trang in this volume. Local cadres may feel squeezed between the directives sent down by higher authorities and villagers’ demands. Yet their position between central state and local villages also gives them significant leverage on the use of authority and resources. Local cadres interpret central directives according to their own priorities. They “concretize” (cu the hoa) central policy instructions to match the conditions of their locality. They also “make” policy that matches perceived local interests. In a similar vein, local cadres are likely to pursue personal objectives of professional advancement and private gain. Cadres may seek to identify, create, and expand spaces that do not conflict with strong central or local interests and thus open the possibility for personal gain. The embezzlement of funds and other power abuses are persistent themes in the study of local government, from the colonial period to collective agriculture and contemporary times (see Martin Grossheim, Pham Quang Minh, and Tran Thi Thu Trang in this volume). The state’s central authorities have a variety of strategies at hand to control local cadres, but two appear most important. The authority to collect and allocate revenue is the primary means of control. Local authorities in rural areas depend on transfers from higher-level authorities, through the regular budgetary process and special central government programmes.31 Special programmes, such as forest protection and poverty alleviation, finance a large part of state operations. The central government also directs local governments through technical guidelines accompanying new laws and policies. Central ministries instruct line agencies at district and provincial levels on the proper implementation of new policy and enforcement of existing law. Thus, through their control over budget resources and authority to issue technical directions, central authorities shape what local government can do. Yet the financial and technical means of central control may not exercise sufficient leverage on how local governments do what the centre requires them to do. My account suggests two elements in the organization of political and administrative control within the state that strengthen horizontal linkages within local governments. First, specialized technical officers and officers at provincial, district, and commune levels

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report primarily to the people’s committees at their respective levels. The systems of accountability and supervision, therefore, strengthen the integration of cadres into local structures of authority. Second, human resource management may tie cadres to local interests. Practices such as recruiting local people as new cadres, limiting cadres’ training to short courses or on-the-job training, confining their opportunities for promotion to the locality, and restricting the duration of their appointments, strengthens their ties with local interests. Training, in particular, seems to fall desperately short of the ambition to create a body of skilled local bureaucrats, as suggested by Natalie Hicks and Pham Quang Minh in this volume. In addition, local cadres commonly hold two or three positions at the same time, as noted by Pham Quang Minh. Crossappointments create local systems of checks-and-balances that further reduce the leverage of central directives on local governments. Local cadres, therefore, are likely to be embedded in strong horizontal ties, which motivate them to accommodate local interests when implementing and enforcing central directives. My account suggests two elements in local political contexts that shape villagers’ demands on cadres and cadres’ reactions: the relations among villagers; and the relations between villagers and local governments. The level of collective authority in villages, the perceived unity of political interests, and the degree of political organization shape the nature and forms of state operations and villagers’ reaction to them. Similarly, the match or mismatch between local cadres’ and villagers’ backgrounds, economic and social aspirations, political interests, and notions of legitimate authority, all influence practices among cadres. This becomes particularly clear in the discussion by Truong Huyen Chi in this volume, when she locates the negotiations of authority between villagers and the local government within the larger “geo-political” relations in the commune under investigation. I want to conclude with a note on the “local nature” of local governments. In my own account, I have focused on the role of district authorities, with some attention to village officials, commune cadres, and the provincial government. Other contributions to this volume concentrate on village officials and commune authorities (Martin Grossheim, Pham Quang Minh, Tran Thi Thu Trang, Truong Huyen Chi) or provincial governments (Martin Gainsborough, Edmund Malesky). Every contribution attests to the location of these local governments at

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the intersection of state and society, as local governments are exposed to the demands of the central state and local society. Yet which constituency does local governments serve primarily? Also, do commune authorities orient themselves towards local interests more strongly than those at the district and provincial levels? A comparison of contributions in this book suggests that the orientation of local governments towards local or central interests cannot be tied easily to levels of government. Provincial cadres in Son La acted “local” when they satisfied local interests in decollectivization against central directives that continued to mandate collective agriculture. On the other hand, commune cadres acted against local interests when they enforced central directives for a winter crop despite local opposition (see Truong Huyen Chi in this volume). The orientation of local governments towards local or central interests depends on local political contexts and the organization of administrative and political control within the state.

Notes I would like to thank Ben Kerkvliet, David Marr, and participants of the Vietnam Update conference 2002 for comments. I am also grateful to the Ford Foundation for financial support for the fieldwork on which this article is based. 1 2 3

4 5 6

7

8

See Bo Nong Nghiep va Phat Trien Nong Thon, Ho So Nganh Lam Nghiep. See Mellac, “Accès aux Resources Naturelles”. For example: Bergeret, “Land Policy”; Donovan et al., Development Trends; Grossheim “Doi Moi”; Le Thi Van Hue, “Institutional Arrangements”; Vuong Xuan Tinh, “So Huu va Su Dung Dat Dai”. Compare with Scott, “Weapons of the Weak”. See Wyatt, Thailand: A Short History, pp. 6–36. From here on, I use the term “Black Thai” [Thai den] to refer to one of the two major Tai groups that remain in what is northwestern Vietnam. In 2003 the Black Thai were the majority population in Son La province. For details, see: Wyatt, Thailand: A Short History, pp. 18–19, 83–84; Steinberg, 1987, pp. 5, 34, 178–80; Winichakul, Siam Mapped, pp. 98–104. This paragraph draws on: Sevenier, “Commissariat du Gouvernement”, pp. 210–14; Silvestre, “Les Thai Blanc”, p. 18; Lebar et al., Ethnic Groups of Mainland Southeast Asia, p. 224; Cam and Huu, “Che Do Ruong Cong”, pp. 50–57; Dang Nghiem Van et al., Tu Lieu ve Lich Su, pp. 269–341, 350–51; Cam, Nguoi

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10

11

12 13

14

15

16

17

193

Thai, pp. 172, 183, 229–37, 286–94, 304–76; and Wyatt, Thailand: A Short History, pp. 7–8. I do not have the space here to justify this rather sweeping conclusion, which is based on a review of monthly and yearly reports by the French administrator in Son La between 1904 and 1944, archived in Ancien Fonds (dossier 27675) and Noveau Fonds (dossiers 1540, 1544, 6098, 6283, 6956–8, 7016) of the Résident Superieur de Tonkin, Fonds Locaux, Centre de Archives de Outre-Mer, Aix-en-Provence, France. See Chu Van Tan, Mot Bien Doi Cach Mang, p. 6; Tran Phuong, Cach Mang Ruong Dat, pp. 226–27; Ban Chap Hanh Dang Bo Dang Cong San Viet Nam Tinh Son La, Lich Su Dang Bo Tinh Son La, pp. 34–35. Chu Van Tan, Mot Bien Doi Cach Mang, p. 6; Tran Phuong, Cach Mang Ruong Dat, pp. 226–27; Ban Chap Hanh Dang Bo Dang Cong San Viet Nam Tinh Son La, Lich Su Dang Bo, pp. 34–35, 51, 65–66, 162. McAlister, “Mountain Minorities”. Chu Van Tan, Mot Bien Doi Cach Mang, pp. 3–4; Tran Phuong, Cach Mang Ruong Dat, pp. 226–27. I use the term “collective” (as opposed to “individual”) to refer to a distribution of authority centred on the village community. The noun “cooperative” refers to the formal organization promoted by the Vietnamese state to achieve “collective” control over production and social life. I find it crucial to keep the two notions apart, as the following discussion will show. The actual distribution of authority between individual villagers and the village community may display significant differences from the formal organization. Thus, the presence of a “cooperative” may say little about the actual location of authority. I use the term “forestry land” in contrast to “forest land” to indicate the legal character of the classification. The state mandated that the land, forested or not, had to be used for forestry. The Vietnamese terms dat lam nghiep (forestry land) and dat rung (forested land) express the difference. This number derives from analysis conducted by my colleague Dao Minh Truong, who compared land use in 1989, as depicted on a SPOT satellite image, with mandated land use, which was calculated by applying the land use criteria to Chieng Dong (see Sikor and Dao Minh Truong, Sticky Rice, Collective Fields). Also, this timber rush evaded the attention of higher-level authorities, in contrast to a case in a neighbouring commune. Illegal logging in that commune had received coverage in the provincial newspaper. Yet, despite its public exposure, stopping the illegal activity took repeated exhortations by the paper. The loggers reportedly received protection from a district party official. Son La, 19 January 1988, p. 3; 15 April 1988, p. 3

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21 22 23 24

25

26

27

28

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Ban Bien Tap, “Ve Khoan San Pham”. Son La, 10 December 1985, p. 2; 6 May 1986, p. 2. Son La, 14 May 1985, p. 2; 29 May 1985, p.2 ; 19 July 1985, p. 2; 10 July 1987, p. 3; 27 July 1987, p. 1; 5 January 1988, p. 2; 19 January 1988, p. 2; 23 February 1988, p. 2. See also Ngo Duc Thinh and Cam Trong, “He Sinh Thai”. Son La, 31 May 1988, p. 2; 14 June 1988, p. 1. Son La, 14 June 1988, p. 1, 20 September 1988, p. 1, 23 September 1988, p. 1. World Bank, Viet Nam: Energy Sector. For example, cooperative officials in one village introduced hybrid rice varieties to their own fields first to demonstrate the advantages of the new technology to their fellow villagers. They were convinced that the expected higher yields would materialize and that their fellow villagers would eventually follow suit. An official in another village went on a personal crusade to fight social drinking, deploring the custom as “backward” in resonance with state policy. I knew of two men only, who were from Chieng Dong commune and worked for the district administration. One assumed a management position in the post office, and the other one had just retired from a position with the Forest Protection Unit. Vietnam had a separate Ministry of Forestry until 1995, when it became part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. This number is derived from the interpretation of SPOT satellite images by my colleague Dao Minh Truong. Sikor and Dao Minh Truong, Sticky Rice, Collective Fields. For example, see: Guha, The Unquiet Woods; Peluso, Rich Forests; Bryant, The Political Ecology of Forestry. Compare with Brosius, “Prior Transcripts, Divergent Paths”. Oi, State andPeasant, p. 30. See World Bank, Viet Nam: Fiscal Decentralization; and Tran Thi Thu Trang, this volume.

Bibliography Ban Bien Tap. “Ve Khoan San Pham Trong Nong Nghiep” [About the Product Contract in Agriculture]. Tap Chi Cong San 12 (1987): 53–8. Ban Chap Hanh Dang Bo Dang Cong San Viet Nam Tinh Son La. Lich Su Dang Bo Tinh Son La, Tap II 1954–1975 [History of the Son La Party Cell, Volume II 1954–1975]. Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Chinh Tri Quoc Gia, 1994. Bergeret, Pascal. “Land Policy in Vietnam”. Vietnamese Studies 45, no. 1 (1995): 31–45.

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Bo Nong Nghiep va Phat Trien Nong Thon. Ho So Nganh Lam Nghiep [Information about the Forestry Branch]. Hanoi: Bo Nong Nghiep va Phat Trien Nong Thon, 2000. Brosius, Peter J. “Prior Transcripts, Divergent Paths: Resistance and Acquiescence to Logging in Sarawak, East Malaysia”. Comparative Studies of Society and History 39, no. 3 (1997): 468–510. Bryant, Raymond L. The Political Ecology of Forestry in Burma. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997. Cam Trong. Nguoi Thai o Tay Bac Viet Nam [The Thai People of Northwestern Vietnam]. Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1978. Cam Trong and Huu Ung. “Che Do Ruong Cong va Hinh Thai Xa Hoi cua Nguoi Thai Tay-Bac Truoc Day” [The Previous System of Communal Wet Rice Land and the Social Organization of Thai People in the Northwest]. Nghien Cuu Lich Su 155 (1973): 50–57. Chu Van Tan. Mot Bien Doi Cach Mang To Lon o Mien Nui [A Large-scale Revolutionary Change in the Mountains]. Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Su That, 1962. Dang Nghiem Van, Cam Trong, Kha Van Tien, and Tong Kim An. Tu Lieu ve Lich Su va Xa Hoi Dan Toc Thai [Materials on the History and Society of the Thai]. Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1977. Donovan, Deanna, A. Terry Rambo, Jefferson Fox, Le Trong Cuc, and Tran Duc Vien. Development Trends in Vietnam’s Northern Mountain Region. Hanoi: National Political Publishing House, 1997. Fforde, Adam. The Agrarian Question in North Vietnam. 1974–1979: A Study of Cooperator Resistance to State Policy. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 1989. Grossheim, Martin. “Doi Moi in the Rice Fields: A Historical Perspective”. Paper presented at the Euroviet III Conference, Amsterdam, 2–4 July 1997. Guha, Ramachandra. The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989. Kerkvliet, Benedict Tria. “Village-State Relations in Vietnam: The Effect of Everyday Politics on Decollectivization”. The Journal of Asian Studies 54, no. 2 (1995): 396–418. Le Thi Van Hue. “Institutional Arrangements for Community-based Mangrove Forest Management in Giao Lac Village, Giao Thuy District, Nam Dinh Province, Vietnam”. IDS Bulletin 32, no. 4 (2001): 71–77. Lebar, Frank M., Gerald C. Hickey, and John K. Musgrave. Ethnic Groups of Mainland Southeast Asia. New Haven: Human Relations Area Files Press, 1964. McAlister, John T. Jr. “Mountain Minorities and the Viet Minh: A Key to the Indochina War”. In Southeast Asian Tribes, Minorities, and Nations, edited by P. Kunstadter. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967.

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Mellac, Marie. “Accès aux Ressources Naturelles et Distribution des Terres dans un District de Montagne du Nord Viêt Nam”. Paper presented at the Euroviet III Conference, Amsterdam, 1997. Ngo Duc Thinh and Cam Trong. “He Sinh Thai voi Kinh Te va Xa Hoi Dan Toc Thai” [“Ecology, Economy and Society of the Thai”]. Tap Chi Dan Toc Hoc 4 (1982): 28–37. Oi, Jean C. State and Peasant in Contemporary China: The Political Economy of Village Government. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989. Peluso, Nancy. Rich Forests, Poor People. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. Scott, James C. Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985. Sevenier. “Commissariat du Gouvernement de Van-Bu (Suite)”. Revue IndoChinoise 3, no. 3 (1905): 209–220. Sikor, Thomas and Dao Minh Truong. Sticky Rice, Collective Fields: CommunityBased Development among the Black Thai. Hanoi: Agricultural Publishing House, 2000. Silvestre (Le Capitaine). “Les Thai Blancs de Phong-Tho”. Bulletin de L’Ecole Française D’Extrême-Orient 18, no. 4 (1918): 1–56. So Lam Nong Thuy Son La. Quy Trinh: Ky Thuat Xay Dung Rung Phong Ho Dau Nguon Song Da Tinh Son La [Decision on Technology for the Development of Protection Forestry in the Da River Watershed of Son La Province]. Son La: Xi Nghiep in Son La, 1993. Steinberg, David J. ed. In Search of Southeast Asia: A Modern History. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987. Winichakul Thongchai. Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-Body of a Nation. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994. Tran Phuong. Cach Mang Ruong Dat o Viet-Nam [Land Revolution in Vietnam]. Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1968. Vuong Xuan Tinh. “So Huu va Su Dung Dat Dai Truyen Thong cua cac Dan Toc Thieu So o Viet Nam” [Traditional Land Ownership and Use of Ethnic Minorities in Vietnam]. In Proceedings of Conference on Khuon Kho Chinh Sach Ho Tro Quan Ly Rung Cong Dong o Viet Nam, edited by Nguyen Hai Nam. Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Lao Dong, 2002. World Bank. Viet Nam: Energy Sector and Investment Priorities Review. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 1993. ———. Viet Nam: Fiscal Decentralization and the Delivery of Rural Services. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 1996. Wyatt, David K. Thailand: A Short History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984.

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

Reproduced from Beyond Hanoi: Local Government in Vietnam, edited by Benedict J Tria Kerkvliet and David G Marr (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http:// bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

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8 Urban Government: Ward-level Administration in Hanoi David Koh

Wards (phuong) are the urban contact points between the state and ordinary people in Vietnam. Ward officials implement state policies and enforce the law. This chapter examines how effective the ward is in achieving state objectives. I argue that the ward, set up to mobilize party and state goals, is also an agent for mediation and negotiation of state policies. Ward organization and operation, this study will show, make mediation possible. First, I analyse the ward’s structure and the informal networks beneath the ward. Analysis of the ward’s organization forms the first section of this chapter. The second section examines the ward model of urban neighbourhood administration in Hanoi, in particular highlighting the many approaches and obstacles wards have faced since their establishment. Much of the research for this chapter was done in Hanoi, in 1997–98. Then, as now, the top level of local administration was the Hanoi People’s Council and People’s Committee. At the next level downwards are the districts: quan in urban areas; and huyen in rural areas. In 2002, Hanoi had

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six urban districts. Each urban district was divided into smaller units, called wards, the third and lowest level of urban government. Hanoi had 85 wards in 1997 and the number of wards has increased since then. Putting this number in context, in October 1997, Vietnam had 8,823 communes (xa), 520 small towns (thi tran), and 949 wards. The country’s wards administered around fifteen per cent of the population, even though they covered only about one to two per cent of national territory.1 Each ward in Vietnam has three administrative and governing components: People’s Council (hoi dong nhan dan), People’s Committee (uy ban nhan dan), and ward branch (dong uy phuong) of the Communist Party. The People’s Council (a resident-elected assembly representing the people and the state) and the People’s Committee (executive agent of the state and of the People’s Council) are part of the state apparatus outlined in the nation’s Constitution. The ward communist party branch, technically speaking, is separate from the state structure, but in practice distinguishing the party from the state is very difficult. The party’s funding is from the state and party members direct the state apparatus. Within the ward, the party branch is the master of all administrative matters. The People’s Committee has more political impact than the council, although the council is above the committee in protocol status. The ward does not have its own court or procurator, unlike the levels above it. Below the ward, party cells and resident clusters (cum dan cu) at one level, and resident groups (to dan pho) at a level below, informally represent the party and the state, respectively. In the following sections I analyse the Communist Party’s organization at the ward level, then proceed to the People’s Committee and People’s Council, and finally evaluate informal resident organizations. The Communist Party in the Ward The Communist Party in the ward comprises two tiers. The upper tier is the ward party branch (WPB), the lower tier is the party cell (chi bo). The WPB holds a congress every thirty months and elects a fifteenmember executive committee. The WPB executive committee elects a ward party standing committee (WPSC) and the party inspectorate. The WPSC normally has six members: the ward party secretary (who is usually chairman of the ward’s People’s Council); ward deputy party secretary (who is usually head of the ward’s People’s Committee); head

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of the party inspectorate (or party inspector); a member from the Permanent Committee of the WPB (a subcommittee of the WPSC); a member who is usually the chief of ward police; and another member who is usually the leader of the ward branch of a mass organization. The party inspectorate usually has five members: an inspector, a deputy inspector, and three other members. The WPSC must elect as one of its members the party inspector, because this person checks on the executives of the WPB. If the relationship between the inspectorate and party/government leaders is friendly, however, the inspector may have difficulty checking on close associates in the WPSC. Party and ward-level meetings are not open to higher levels of state authority, making external supervision of the WPSC difficult. The permanent committee (ban thuong truc) oversees the day-to-day affairs of the WPB. It usually has only one or two members, one of whom is the party inspector. The core leadership of the WPB is the ward party secretary, the permanent committee, and the chairperson of the ward’s People’s Committee. These persons hold the reins of party and state power within the ward. Thus the party supervises state activities within the ward through the presence of the party secretary and the WPB permanent committee members; the state has not fixed the post distribution pattern for the ward party secretary and the ward’s People’s Committee chairperson. The ward’s People’s Committee The ward’s People’s Committee is the second component of ward administration. It runs ward affairs and manages community relations. It “organizes and directs the implementation of the Constitution, laws, directives of upper level state organs as well as the resolutions of the People’s Council of the same level.”2 Table 1 shows the functions of the People’s Committee delineated by different versions of the Law on Organisation of People’s Councils and People’s Committees and by government regulations between 1978 and 1994. The size of the People’s Committee depends on the ward population. Wards with more than 7,000 people have seven members on the People’s Committee, and wards with less than 7,000 people have only five.3 Other than the chairperson, there are one or two vice-chairpersons, a secretary, and the rest are ordinary members. Each committee member takes charge of one area of ward responsibility. The ward’s People’s Committee has

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

Once a month

Frequency of Meeting

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore Once a month

1989

seven to nine seven to nine

Three members: Chair, Vice-chair, and Secretary

Majority vote

Nine subcommittees: (1) Inspectorate; (2) Labour; (3) Livelihood; (4) Markets; (5) Culture, information, veterans and social affairs; (6) Nursery, education of teenagers and youth; (7) Conciliation; (8) Security; (9) Housing (this subcommittee was added only in 1982)

n.a.

five to seven

Once a month, at least

1994

Source: Data taken from various Ha Noi Moi articles, 1978–94, and from Law on Organisation of People’s Councils and People’s Committees.

Manner of decision-making

Subcommittees

Once a month, at least

1983

Follows the term of the People’s Council. five to seven

n.a.

1981

Party leads and determine affairs in every aspect; regular consultations with ward leaders

Three/four members comprising (meets once a week Chair, Vice-chairs, or whenever Secretary of necessary) People’s Committee

Standing Committee

Relationship to the Communist Party

Number of Meeting/Year

three to eight

1978

Aspect/Year

Length of term

TABLE 1

General characteristics of ward People’s Committee as seen over five laws and regulations of 1978, 1981, 1983, 1989, and 1994

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a standing committee that makes decisions for the People’s Council4 and People’s Committee when they are not in session, and is thus the state’s executive leadership in the ward. The Ward’s People’s Council The People’s Council represents local residents, but it also represents the state at the local level.5 The council settles local matters according to state laws. It is differentiated from the People’s Committee by rubber-stamping state policies for implementation. Under the 1994 Law on Organisation of People’s Councils and People’s Committees, the ward’s People’s Council must have 25 members who must be living in the locality. Elected for five years, they discuss local affairs, approve reports and plans, review works-in-progress, and examine the work of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) at half-yearly meetings. Members of the council are asked to volunteer or are voted into the council’s subcommittees. A council member cannot concurrently serve on the subcommittees and on the People’s Committee of the same level.6 A similar rule applies to the head of any council subcommittee, who cannot be the head of specialized agencies of the People’s Committee such as the police. These last rules try to prevent conflicts of interest but they do not affect the composition of the top leadership of the ward which, as mentioned, is prone to such conflicts. Other officials of the ward administration A ward has two groups of experts who are employees of government ministries or the ward administration, but who may not be members of the People’s Committee or People’s Council. The central government stations officials of the first group in the ward to assist in special areas of work. Police officers are a prime example. Others include officials handling taxation, children’s welfare, land, housing, and market inspection. The People’s Committee directs them, but they are also accountable to their ministries and departments. The ward hires the second group of officials comprising the accountant, clerks, the security guard, and the tea-lady. Sub-ward party and state organizations The WPB and the administration are not the lowest levels of governance of the VCP and the state respectively, indicating these organizations’

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penetration to the very grassroots of Vietnamese society. Below the WPB there are a number of party cells (chi bo), and below the People’s Committee and People’s Council are the resident clusters and resident groups.

The party cell and the resident cluster I discuss the party cell and resident cluster together because they are mutually associated in the ward. Generally, the party cell relates to the resident cluster, as the WPB relates to the ward state machinery. Each party cell comprises at least three members, up to a maximum of 35 members. Usually one or more party cells are attached to a resident cluster.7 The party cell elects a standing committee annually, comprising a secretary, a deputy secretary, and one to three other members. Party cell secretaries have to get themselves elected by their cells to attend the ward party branch congress, in order to retain their positions. Otherwise, secretaries may as well resign. Among the three ordinary members, one is in charge of inspection and answers directly to the ward party inspector. What does the party cell do? According to one source, The party cell usually discusses and passes resolutions on issues such as building a civilized way of life, building a cultured family, securing neighbourhoods, building a new way of life in their area. They resolve contradictions among the people, and help in the conduct of activities of the Vietnam Fatherland’s Front and other mass organizations; they conduct charity work, look after the aged and the young, and espouse the political line, the policies, and main resolutions of the city, district, and ward authorities.8

The resident cluster, an informal set of resident groups, is situated between the ward and the resident group. It was first established in 1984.9 Nguyen Van Canh and Earl Cooper classified the resident cluster as a level of administrative authority,10 but it is not. Each ward’s People’s Council deputy supervises a resident cluster, each of which contains branches of mass organizations. The party cell leads the resident cluster in solving policy implementation difficulties within the ward, and oversees the clusters’ implementation of ward policies. However, neither the resident cluster nor the party cell has enforcement or decision-making power; both report to the ward.11 The WPB holds meetings with party cells to delegate tasks.12 The WPB usually consults the resident cluster on important local matters.

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The resident group In urban areas of Vietnam, the term “resident group” is extremely familiar, being the smallest formal grouping of houses, comprising 25 to 30 households. Wards determine resident group numbers, ranging from 50 in the young Hanoi ward of Phu Thuong, to between 70 and 100 in the mature wards of the inner city.13 The resident group collects monies for the ward, and also covers registration of births, marriages, and household residence, as well as mobilization work on behalf of the state. The government has used these informal bodies to disseminate party ideology and conduct administration. Local people elect resident group heads, and they help each other. As such, resident groups have an interactive, communal, dimension. However, these groups also are obliged to mobilize their communities on matters such as public health and order, and to inculcate the “civilized way of life and the building of new culture families”.14 Resident groups emphasize informality. Each year they elect group heads (to truong) and assistant group heads (to pho) after neighbours have made nominations. People are free to nominate, support, or reject any candidate. Most resident group heads are middle-aged, long-term residents, well-behaved, possessing “good family background” and must not have committed crimes or perpetrated offenses against the VCP.15 Group heads work directly with the chairperson of the ward’s People’s Committee, rather than the party cell secretary. Officially they meet Committee members once every three months, but the actual number of meetings could be three times a month, indicating the ward’s heavy workload and reliance on resident groups. The job of leading a resident group is unpopular. One Vietnamese observer described it thus: “powers light like straws but responsibilities heavy like stones” (quyen rom va da).16 I interviewed a leader who said she was over 60 years old and would like to retire, but there was no one willing to take over. Younger people dislike the tedium of the work. The pay is also very low.17 Moreover, group heads have to report on neighbours when the ward requires it. Local families could blame the group head for their state-sanctioned punishments or seek revenge for perceived injustices. Nevertheless, the party and the state retain resident groups, because they reach right into homes. They can mobilize people, and so the state

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is not “faceless”, but rather usually an amiable elderly neighbour who already has some authority. Group heads provide information to the ward and higher officials, an example being the certification of residents’ marriage status. They also protect neighbours from prying officials. A group head said that she was able to avoid telling on her neighbours and advised ward officials to have a policeman patrol the neighbourhood more often. Insufficient pay Ward cadres’ income in 1997 ranged from VND 300,000 to 500,000 (between US$27–45) per month. Their salaries were insufficient to support a family in Hanoi. In 1993 the average annual expenditure per capita in urban areas of Vietnam was close to VND two million. Food alone accounted for about VND 1.11 million. The average annual total household expenditure in urban areas worked out at about VND 814,166 per month.18 In 1997, I lived in a household in Hanoi that spent around VND 25,000 per day on food and about VND 5,000 per day on transport. Monthly expenses equalled VND 900,000. That figure did not include house rental, cooking needs, clothing, repair and maintenance of vehicle, entertainment and leisure, or children’s school fees. The ward People’s Committee chairperson could not support a family on VND 390,000 per month. A ward committee chairman I talked to in 1997 stressed that without his wife’s tea-stall business, his family would not be able to make ends meet. When I visited his family, I discovered that his children had tuition, he had a new motorcycle, and the family had new electrical appliances, including a colour television and a hi-fi. Certainly, this ward chairman had other types of income. This salary and tea-stall income would not cover the family’s real expenditures. In part because the pay is low, ward jobs are not well regarded. Every ward faces recruitment difficulties. A conference on the ward in 1997 heard the story of a young man who had recently approached Hang Gai Ward for a security guard position, which prior to 1986 had been considered a good job. Delighted ward officials offered to have the aspiring security guard groomed to become a member of the ward partystate machinery elite. But the young man rejected the offer because he was only looking for a temporary position until he could find something better.19

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Development of ward level administration and problems How effective the ward is in governance has long been debated. Doubters have argued that wards makes governance more bureaucratic. Supporters argue that wards provide important services to both residents and to the state’s central offices. In between these two poles are those who admit wards are ineffective in many areas, and that the state should review the ward’s role and organization. I will pick up on this debate while examining the recent history of the ward in Hanoi. The Vietnamese state administered Hanoi from 1945 to 1980 through a system of People’s Councils and People’s Committees at the municipal and district (then called khu pho) levels only. Below the districts, the state divided Hanoi into 185 small areas (tieu khu), each one being smaller than the present wards. In 1975, the state set up Small Area Administrative Representation Committees (SAARCs or Uy ban Dai dien hanh chinh tieu khu).20 SAARCs were supposed to transmit government policies to the people as well as provide feedback to the government. In December 1978, the Hanoi City Administration changed the name of SAARCs to Small Area People’s Committees.21 Two years later, the 1980 Constitution replaced the Small Area People’s Committees with the ward, comprising the People’s Committee and the People’s Council. The two- or three- level controversy Since the late 1970s Hanoi city administrators have disputed the necessity of Small Area People’s Committees or wards. In 1979, Ha Noi Moi (Hanoi’s local newspaper) published two opposing letters on whether Hanoi should have two levels (city and district) or three levels (city, district, and small areas or wards) of local authority. Both letter writers were Small Area People’s Committee cadres. The letters’ timing suggest that state officials might have encouraged them to give a semblance of debate before the drafting process of the 1980 Constitution. Orchestration notwithstanding, the chief issue was whether wards were needed. In the first letter, Thanh Dam, party secretary of the Ngo Thi Nham Small Area, said that his People’s Committee had held a public discussion on the wards that state officials were proposing in a new constitution. Among 95 persons who spoke, only three supported wards, while the rest opposed them. Dam noted that people were aware of the different needs of the (urban) and the rural areas of Hanoi. He was referring to

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the government’s desire to have the ward level of administration in the urban area to parallel the commune level in the rural areas. Dam argued that wards were not real social units; unlike villagers in communes, officials and citizens living in the proposed wards would not feel any sense of belonging, a phenomenon already observed in small areas. Therefore, the ward was unnecessary. Moreover, the Hanoi city authority was really in charge of policy planning and implementation. Therefore, the ward as the enlargement of the small area would become an additional bureaucratic level that, like the small area, had little to do.22 Dao Cong Phe, Chairman of the Cua Nam Small Area, presented the argument that was closer to the central government position. Phe justified the ward in terms of its daily assistance to citizens, a condition necessary for socialism, the VCP policy line. The ward was indispensable for tasks such as distributing rationed food and mobilizing support for state policies. Phe said his one year’s experience as Chairman of the People’s Committee of Cua Nam Small Area showed that the People’s Committee of a lower level than the district performed many administrative tasks efficiently. The Small Area People’s Committees were relieving the districts of routine matters that needed governmental supervision. If there were to be only two levels, Phe said, the district would need to be much smaller, and below the district there would still need to be an organization resembling the SAARCs.23 Establishment of the ward system Despite criticisms, the government took steps to establish wards. The nation’s 1980 Constitution provided for “local authorities” (chinh quyen dia phuong) comprising three levels. The ward was the new third level.24 In Hanoi, state officials grouped small areas into wards and assigned more power and functions to the ward.25 One of the implementing decisions, number 94 of the Council of Ministers, stipulated that: The ward is the basic administrative unit in the inner parts of cities and towns. Wards are organized according to residential areas and streets, each having 7,000 to 12,000 residents. The main role of the ward is to carry out state administrative duties, manage society, to manage and be responsible in serving everyday needs of the people.26

Decision 94 set out eight broad areas of responsibility for the ward: politics; security and defence; residence and society; labour; commerce

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and industry; education and health; housing and land; and planning and budgets. But Hanoi city or the central government made the principal “decisions” for these areas. Moreover, most state legislation and government directives left the job of issuing regulations for implementing laws to the province level, not to wards. In Hanoi, that meant the city authority, which then left only implementation power to the ward. In other words, the wards’ People’s Councils and People’s Committees might only alter Hanoi’s policies marginally and make decisions on local matters. Wards also helped government departments carry out administrative duties, such as distributing food ration coupons and pensions and registering births, deaths, and marriages, and new residents. Problems plagued the ward, and reporting of these problems soon appeared. Early in 1984 party branch specialists of Hanoi city reviewed wards and recommended improvements.27 The reviews found, among other problems, that several ward People’s Committees did not consult with People’s Councils before taking important actions. In part this was because the People’s Council only met once per quarter. Also, the council did not have a subcommittee to oversee daily matters. Decisions made in between council sessions fell into the People’s Committee’s hands, suggesting insufficient accountability of officials to elected representatives.28 Although officially the People’s Committee was the executive committee of the People’s Council, in practice government ministries were the higher authority. Usually city bureaucrats elected to People’s Councils made up the People’s Committees. Therefore, the People’s Committee administered without consulting the People’s Councils, which were relegated to a mainly consultative, rubber-stamp role, rather than a supervisory one as intended by the Constitution. To address these problems, wards established a number of subcommittees within their councils and committees. However, there was a shortage of manpower and a general unwillingness among residents to serve on the sub-committees.29 VCP Central Committee member and vice-chairman cum secretary general of the State Council, Le Thanh Nghi, noted in 1985 that a number of local authorities did not have enough staff, and many leading members were taking on multiple roles to fill subcommittees.30 Furthermore, Nghi noted, most People’s Committee chairpersons did not pay enough attention to the work of the People’s Council subcommittees, as they should under the Law on Organisation of People’s Council and People’s Committee.

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Criticisms of cadres’ competence and morality The Communist Party review of 1984/85 criticized the incompetence of People’s Council and People’s Committee members. However, the party itself was at the root of the problem. The party claimed that the state represented all classes in Vietnam and thus was obliged to ensure that they were represented in the National Assembly as well as in all People’s Councils. As a result, political expedience often overrode competence when selecting candidates for the People’s Councils and People’s Committees. At a meeting of leading local authority cadres of Hanoi in 1985, Le Thanh Nghi said that numerous council members did not contribute anything while in office, and some did not even say anything in subcommittee and section meetings.31 A representative from Hoan Kiem district pointed out that some members of its People’s Council “were afraid to interact with the voters, because they could listen to the voters but could not tell voters who could solve their problems or whether their problems could be solved … .”32 The Hoan Kiem official also said that the district’s wards had too many retirees on their People’s Councils and they did not function effectively. The Communist Party had used the ward as a dumping ground for retired party and state officials.33 In the mid-1980s, newspapers reported complaints about ward officials being authoritarian, rude, and bureaucratic. Another criticism was that some People’s Committees exceeded their powers, while others operated meekly. Too many ward officials lacked initiative and relied on direction from above. Sometimes they were uncertain or were afraid to make decisions. Thus, district authorities often had to make decisions that wards should have made.34 These problems were old ones. However, newer problems seemed more critical than bureaucratism. Several reports highlighted the moral degradation of cadres, especially party members, who were linked to ward administration. Many cadres had set up illegal businesses, embezzled state property, and helped residents to evade taxes and then split the difference. In the O Cho Dua Ward, for instance, more than ten party members were found to have extended the area of their houses illegally.35 In a speech on the state management crisis in Hanoi in 1985, Communist Party Political Bureau member Le Duc Tho pointed out that an estimated ten per cent of Hanoi party members were “not up to standard” (khong du tieu chuan), and that 75 per cent of people caught watching pornographic films were party members.36 The ward was unable to stop such practices.

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Responses to criticisms were lame, and Communist Party and state leaders differed on what to do. In 1985, Ha Noi Moi writers from the party affirmed the role of the ward in urban management and mobilization work. They questioned whether the district or the small areas could have managed the everyday tasks performed by the ward, such as monitoring markets, maintaining law and order, helping residents with livelihood problems, and especially mobilizing individuals to purchase bonds and participate in other party campaigns.37 Wards should manage employment too, and several reports credited wards with creating employment.38 Party and state leaders could not dismiss the strong criticisms against the ward in Hanoi, however, which intensified as preparations for the 1986 Sixth National Party Congress continued. One such preparation was party rectification. In early 1986, at a time when the party-state was struggling to maintain its credibility, the VCP launched a country-wide “Criticisms and Self-Criticisms” campaign. The aim was to improve party and cadre performance and to restore confidence in the party’s ability to lead. In the same year the Hanoi party branch conducted sessions on local administration, which uncovered what people had known for some time — wards employed numerous ineffective, degenerate, dishonest, and lazy cadres and party members. One news report said, “It is quite common to find not a few party members in the inner city breaking rules and regulations, and not following procedures when extending, repairing, building, transferring, purchasing and selling houses; they also take over public land and build houses there illegally.”39 Often, groups of cadres colluded in these illegal activities and succeeded due to the powers and privileges of public office. Party members also: buy valuable goods cheaply. Using what is called “priority internal distribution”, they get, for example, motorcycles, sewing machines, electrical fans … They bring their wife and children into permanent employment with the state in those sectors which are regarded as “profitable”. A fact which required thinking and review to make its reasons clear is that during the previous two to three years, the living standards of many cadres responsible for economic enterprises and companies have risen to levels impossible to achieve with the income they are supposed to have received.40

The criticisms underlined an earlier point, that party and government lines were blurred. “On the style of leadership of the districts, prefectures, towns, communes, and wards, the problem is the mixing-up (lan lon) of

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the role of the party with the role of the political authority, of collective leadership and personal responsibility”. Because of the lack of differentiation and thus lack of separation of power, local officials holding leadership positions became “dictatorial”. For instance, authorities abused their power over food distribution, and displayed: rudeness, being dictatorial, and troublesome, they also reserved the best goods for themselves and their families. The weighing machines were inaccurate, the hours of trade were not guaranteed… There have been phenomena of cheating on coupons [quay vong tem phieu], cheating on the rights to rations of customers… After self-criticism and criticism, it was found that a number of personnel collaborated with customers to transfer, arrange to bring state goods [tuon hang Nha nuoc] out to the black market.41

Post-1986 Developments: Revising the Laws on Local Authorities In view of the major criticisms of local authority, the government moved to revise the 1983 Law on Organisation of People’s Councils and People’s Committees as the 1989 elections approached. The first step towards that goal was to collect feedback from Hanoi ward cadres. A first-ever conference on the ward was held in August 1988 by the Standing Committee of the Hanoi Party Branch and the Hanoi City People’s Committee. At the conference, Le At Hoi, vice-chairman of the city People’s Committee, made the following points: • wards had not undertaken appropriate administration and management of society; • cadres’ abilities were inadequate thus management results were not good. Wards appeared uncaring of the career development of their cadres, as there was no plan to train them; • activities of mass organizations were still undefined; • coordination between different state agencies in the same locality was still not ideal; • upper levels did not supervise wards closely; and • wards had too many responsibilities, many of which were beyond their resources.42 This assessment made the regime realize it was unreasonable to ask the ward to take on so many responsibilities in view of its general lack of capability. A few officials supported this claim by pointing to the state’s mistake in asking the wards to open trading cooperatives

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to procure and sell goods. In doing so, they argued, the state had not only distracted ward cadres from their primary task of administering society on behalf of the state, but also provided opportunities for ward cadres to engage in their own private businesses. Not surprisingly, ward officials neglected other work because business was more “rewarding”. Furthermore, control and supervision slackened because the administration of these trading cooperatives gave cadres power to act independently. The conference suggested the following changes: • emphasize the ward’s administrative responsibilities; • consolidate mass organizations; and • strengthen upper-level supervision of the ward.43 Under the 1989 Law on People’s Councils and People’s Committees, not only were economic responsibilities removed from the ward, but also responsibilities in other areas, especially social control, in line with national reforms that took place after the 1986 Sixth Party Congress. Therefore, where legislation was concerned, the state did have a will to improve matters. In 1990, two years after the conference on the ward, the government held a national conference on People’s Councils. It expressed the view that the fight against “negative phenomena” (tieu cuc) by local administrators could be more effective. This could come about if People’s Councils were more effective in their activities and in supervising People’s Committees. Hence the setting up of a standing committee of the People’s Council under the 1989 Law. At the ward level, however, there was no such standing committee, so the chairperson of the People’s Council assumed that role, namely, that of ensuring the council’s participation in daily decisions in the ward. It also took over the more assertive tasks of preparing for council meetings and liaising between council and committee on ward affairs. At the ward level, however, the change meant that the council chairperson, who was usually the party secretary, could now exercise his supervisory role in the name of the state rather the Communist Party, apparently in line with the post-1986 reforms to strengthen the state and the rule of law, but in fact going against efforts to separate the VCP from the state. While policy-makers were still struggling to redefine the role and function of the ward level, suggestions to abolish it arose again in 1991.44

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But slowly the mood swung back in favour of retaining the ward, perhaps reflecting a wave of conservative opinion at the time of the Seventh Party Congress. Commentators reasserted positive assessments of the ward seldom heard since the mid-1980s. Contributors to Ha Noi Moi pointed out that the ward had been valuable in assisting to build infrastructure. In O Cho Dua Ward, for example, one contributor said the ward mobilized the people, the city administration, and the district to contribute money towards paving more than 2,000 metres of concrete lanes, for the convenience of residents. Other projects included widening a road on a dyke, installing transformers to stabilize the supply of electricity, providing cleaner water, and laying pipes to bring water to every home. Many people in the ward saw these activities as the efforts of the People’s Council and thus they supported the ward machinery.45 The same commentator argued that the ward had averted social problems by using local knowledge. For example, at O Cho Dua Ward someone wanted to mortgage his house to borrow money from a credit society, but the application needed the ward’s certification of house ownership. Ward officials requested that the views of the applicant’s parents and siblings be consulted before the loan could be given, because the house belonged to the family. In other words, ward officials helped prevent fraud. In addition to preventing local problems, the ward could resolve disputes as well. Most local quarrels were resolved through conciliation at the ward level. The ward’s comeback strengthened after the Seventh Party National Congress in 1991, when it won wider acceptance of its role in policy mobilization and implementation. The party-state was held back from abolishing the ward, perhaps because it had no answer to the question: what would replace it? People warned against removing wards, despite their weaknesses. As one writer said in the Ha Noi Moi paper, officials had to bear in mind the administrative capabilities of the country: We paid a high price for the lessons we learnt about being overly eager in wanting to reach big-scale production under Socialism; we integrated provinces, established large agriculture cooperatives for whole communes, work teams, and large farms, etc. when at that time our management standards were still low, our scientific and technological infrastructure were undeveloped. That lesson taught us absolutely to be realistic, not to impatiently abolish a regime or a model which was still useful and then not replace it with something better, just because of a few shortcomings.46

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By the mid-1990s, as the ward continued, residents’ circumstances changed as economic reforms transformed society. Since the late 1980s the explosion of information sources has meant people have access to information beyond the ward. Thus an experienced ward cadre complained that work had become more difficult in the early 1990s, because people were more demanding and could challenge the veracity of the ward and its cadres’ claims. This new reality eroded the ward’s authority. Furthermore, the market economy and the end of the subsidies gave people opportunities in the private sector. The ward’s task of regulating society became more strenuous after reforms because of the “bursting out” (bung ra) of the private economy, especially in petty trade. The new situation caused public policy regulation failures over, for example, control of illegal housing construction, residential registration, and social vices.47 Recent developments and review In recent years, criticism has come from Vietnamese government academics regarding the whole system of local administration. This is a departure from past published material on local administration that taught cadres the principles and practice of socialist public administration.48 Vietnamese party and state policy-makers identified two sets of problems regarding state dominance of society at the ward level in Hanoi. The first I call institutional deficiencies, which have plagued the ward from the start. The second, which Vietnamese and foreign sources have seldom elaborated, concerns cultural dynamics.

Institutional deficiencies “Institutional deficiencies” refers to the three main shortcomings in the organization of the ward. Senior state officials and academics have asserted that incompetent cadres represent the Achilles’ heel of local administration, in both city and country areas. Statistics indicate that the qualifications of People’s Committee and People’s Council members are insufficient for them to administer effectively. A government academic survey in 1999 found that sixty to seventy per cent of all basic level cadres said they were unable to deal with the new societal conditions since the reforms of 1986. Sixty to seventy per cent of leading basic level cadres were retirees of the armed forces, and seventeen to nineteen per cent of them were long-serving cadres recruited from local branches of mass organizations.49 In other words, if the survey is accurate, close to

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ninety per cent of these cadres had not been trained as administrators. Indeed eighty-five per cent of rural commune committee chairpersons said they needed training. At the 1998 national conference on raising the effectiveness of the People’s Council and People’s Committee, Vu Mao, Director of the Office of the National Assembly, presented a survey of the educational standards of leading ward cadres, in the three levels of local administration across the country (Table 2). Vu Mao’s statistics show that the lower the level of administration, the less educated People’s Committee members are, and the less time the People’s Council chairperson has to supervise the People’s Committee. It is tempting to infer that at the basic level, the ward included, People’s Committees have a high level of autonomy because the People’s Council does not check it very closely. However, often the People’s Council chairperson’s position was occupied by the ward party secretary, and therefore the council chairperson could exert leadership of the committee via the party hierarchy. Perhaps Vu Mao was implying that the state should stop the practice of having party secretaries become council chairpersons. This would require further opening of nominations in elections to the People’s Council or making the chief state executive of the ward directly elected. Failing that, at the basic level there is incompetence and lack of accountability through non-existence of adequate checks and balances. These modifications are beyond the VCP-dominated political system. Since 1986 the Communist Party has allowed a limited contest in elections for all People’s Councils. Nonetheless, party members, state bureaucrats, and mass organization heads still hold important leadership posts of the ward. The party and the state are separate entities yet intricately joined in personnel and power. The party-state hierarchy does not give other persons responsibilities to supervise the ward. One illustration of this is the ward party inspector, whose task is to check on the heads of the ward. But the leadership of the WPSC, the party secretary and deputy secretary guide him. Consequently he does not have an independent power base. Ward People’s Council members meet once in six months, while their standing committee is the head of the WPB. Furthermore, if the party officials, heads of mass organizations, and the party cell secretaries in Hanoi’s wards are older and are as poorly-paid as reported, then it is unlikely that they will check on the ward executive officials, because of the cultural attitudes elaborated towards the end of this chapter.

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TABLE 2 Educational Standard of Leading Ward Cadres

Educational standard of People’s Committee cadres

Percentage of People’s Council chair holding a second official job

Level of People’s Committee

tertiary or postgraduate

upper or lower secondary

primary

City/province (total 615 cadres)

70–80% (100% in Hanoi)

n.a.

n.a.

68.9 (42, total = 61)

District (total 4,994 cadres)

50–60%

40–50%

0

87.8 (568, total = 603)

Commune/ ward (total 62,403 cadres)

0

45.2% and 45.9% respectively

8.9%

90 (9,270, total = 10,300)

Source: Data taken from various Ha Noi Moi articles, 1978–94.

Both the impact of poor cadre quality — whether morally or professionally — and the lack of checks on the abuse of power limit the effectiveness of state administration and allow considerable room for mediation. A second institutional deficiency arises from lack of evidence that the People’s Council is the supreme local authority and manages to check on its executives. Officially, ward People’s Councils represent the state in checking on the People’s Committees and ensuring that they implement state policies and laws faithfully. But several characteristics prevent them from doing so. Since 1981 there have been questions about the People’s Councils’ usefulness, because the executive dominates them and they meet only a few times a year. One person said that the ward People’s Council played a bigger role in local affairs and had more power in 1998 than before, even though its powers were still inadequate.50 I doubt that this perception was widespread. A comparison of the old

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and new signboards at Hanoi ward offices illustrates my view. Old signs emphasize the pre-eminence of the People’s Committee (in large bold lettering), while only a few new signs emphasize pre-eminence of the People’s Council.

TABLE 3 Wording Emphasis on Signs of Selected Ward Offices1

Ward

“People’s Comm. emphasized

“People’s Council” emphasized

Equal emphasis

New or old sign?



New Old Old Old Old



New New New Old Old

Hai Ba Trung District Mai Dong Minh Khai Bach Mai Truong Dinh Dong Tam

✓ ✓ ✓ ✓

Hoan Kiem District Hang Bai Hang Ma Hang Bong Cua Nam Hang Bac

✓ ✓ ✓ ✓

Dong Da District Kim Lien Phuong Lien Trung Tu Hang Bot Van Chuong



Old Old Old Old Old

✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ Ba Dinh District

Dien Bien Cong Vi Quan Thanh Truc Bach Kim Ma

✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓

1

Old Old Old Old Old

Thanks to Miss Khuat Thi Hai Oanh for survey assistance that confirmed my preliminary observations, and for her vigorous views. Various email communications, November and December 1998.

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At the 1998 national conference members of People’s Councils pointed out that “the People’s Councils [at all levels] have the rights but not the power” (Hoi dong Nhan dan la co quan co quyen ma khong co luc), and the “People’s Councils are given bladeless swords” (giao guom ma khong co luoi). In March 1998, I interviewed Mr. X, a former People’s Committee chairman of a Hanoi district. In confidence, Mr. X said that the existence of People’s Councils is “democracy in form but not in substance”, because they can pass resolutions but do not have to consider whether People’s Committees can implement them. For improvements in efficiency in state administration, Mr. X proposed the following restructuring of urban districts and wards: • abolish People’s Councils, but retain People’s Committees; • have a minimum of two vice-chairpersons instead of one minimum in each committee; and • appoint four other members in-charge of land, administration, rule of law, and construction to the People’s Committee.51 If the state had accepted Mr. X’s proposals, there would only be appointed executives for the wards and the districts. Mr. X’s proposals would have resolved the façade of People’s Council supremacy over the People’s Committee by eliminating the former, but they would not have necessarily increased the accountability of officials. Nevertheless, Mr. X’s suggestions are in line with arguments against the ward first articulated in the late 1970s. If we recall earlier pages, those arguments maintained that the city areas were different from the rural areas and it was not necessary to have the ward People’s Council, or even the ward administration at all. Academics both inside and outside the government quite openly argue against ward level administration. They argue that the ward is merely a paper pusher. A joke inserts two Vietnamese words in between the two words forming the compound word for “administration” (hanh chinh) to become a new, satirical clause meaning “mainly to torture the people” (hanh dan la chinh).52 Echoing earlier arguments, these academics maintain that the state cannot easily subdivide the administration of a city, as it does for rural areas. Not only are there differences in the needs of urban versus rural areas, but subdivision enlarges the bureaucracy as well. However, as a concession to “political correctness”, the academics recognize that the wards have a role in realizing state policies, and they

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recommend retaining a modified ward level.53 They advocate that a ward should be a branch of the district executive, organized in a similar way to the Small Areas People’s Committee model of the 1978–81 period.54 This compromise matches that of Mr. X. The third institutional deficiency limiting state dominance is that ward authorities are allowed to adjust state policies to local conditions. Wards cite local conditions as reason for administrative practices deviating from national laws and policies. The Constitution and the Law on People’s Councils mandates such discretion. Catering to local conditions is essential to local administration in many medium and large countries such as Vietnam. Sometimes higher level policy dictates are impractical when implemented at the ward level. For example, the Vietnamese central government has a regulation that certificates of land use must accompany house construction or renovation. This policy supports land use based on legal documents rather than on traditions of use. In Hanoi, this ruling proved particularly problematic.55 Over time the royal, the French, and the Communist regimes in Hanoi have not issued many land-use or ownership certificates. Therefore, the people of Hanoi find it impossible to comply with the state’s requirement of paper proof of ownership. For residents of houses situated outside the dykes of Hanoi and that need to be renovated annually due to damage caused by flooding of the Red River, a problem arises because the government has never recognized their right to reside outside the dyke. People lacking certificates, such as the urban poor, would become homeless if local ward authorities decided to act strictly and evict them. Therefore, a significant amount of local variation is necessary to make things work. A number of Vietnamese academics, however, point out that catering to local diversity has meant overriding national laws and standards.56 Lack of supervision leaves the discretionary power of ward-level officers unchecked. For instance, while the government’s policy may be to clear hawkers from sidewalks, the policeman responsible for the matter may decide to turn a blind eye. He may provide reasons for his actions in terms of local conditions, but these reasons can be a cover for petty corruption.57 In fact, Vietnamese academics argue that decentralizing administrative powers to the ward is unnecessary and provides opportunities for graft.58 Furthermore, professional state agencies cannot fully control lower level specialist officials. At the ward, people expect specialist officials to

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“play by the rules”. They cooperate with ward officials in conceding “special” practices for the locality, with some rewards to them and to the wards.59 A good example is the enforcement of building regulation in the Thirty-Six Streets area of Hanoi. Because city regulations require retention of old forms of housing such that new houses must be not more than three storeys high, and their roofs must be sloping down in the front. Most people in Hanoi, however, would think about exploiting the plot ratio to the maximum, especially if they are building minihotels. The ward has incentives to allow design “mistakes”, because the hotel owner’s taxes and other contributions will be higher if the building is a six-storey, flat-roofed hotel.60 After allowing those “mistakes” to occur, specialist officials of the ward pursue the law and ask for exorbitant fines to allow the building to stand. As a consequence, the upper levels of state administration have lost control of building height regulations. The same situation applies to the small tour operators in the Thirty-Six Streets area. On the one hand, the city authority wants to close down the small, unlicensed operators to protect tourists; on the other hand, the wards want the tour operators to continue because they create employment for other goods and service providers who work in conjunction with these illegal operators.61 To this end, ward opposition appears legitimate, and so city authorities would need to seek a compromise between two competing goals of governance. In the meantime, however, unlicensed operators continue to tarnish the image of tourism in Vietnam, and people perceive the ward as ineffective. The principle of dual subordination in Vietnam has also led to an overlap of state authority. The principle of dual subordination refers to the accountability of any one government agency to two echelons of authority. The first is line authority (which, for instance, a Ministry has over its agencies in various localities), and the second is staff authority (which, for instance, the local People’s Committee has over the ministry’s staff at that level). Consequently, the ward is not the only administrative authority over its residents. For example, both district and ward offices supervise housing construction. Residents can go over the head of the ward and seek permission for construction from the district, using “guerrilla tactics”. Vietnamese academics note that the principle of dual subordination has caused problems of contesting authority and power, especially in creating multiple power channels.62 As the lower levels, such as the ward, try to preserve their authority, they often conflict with

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line agencies at upper levels. Even conflicts between the People’s Council of one level and the People’s Committee at the next level were very common, such as matters pertaining to appointments to the People’s Committee of the lower level. 63 The state needs to resolve the contradiction between local conditions (being “democratic”), and dual subordination (being “centralized”) within local administration if it wants to increase its effectiveness. The moral/cultural dynamics of ward administration The party-state gives the ward its responsibilities, and ward officials follow a received code of conduct for local administration. Cultural factors and the closeness of their daily interaction with residents influence ward officials, however. I call these cultural influences the moral/cultural dynamics of ward administration. I venture beyond institutional deficiencies to identify reasons for shortcomings in law enforcement or policy implementation at the ward level in Hanoi. The motif of political life within the ward is the idea of “community” as a counter to “rationality” in the administration of law and party-state policies. The first trait of this motif is the value placed on good neighbourliness, known among Vietnamese as “compassion among neighbours” (tinh cam lang gieng).64 It means that one has to take into consideration the interests and feelings of neighbours before deciding on a particular course of action. A proximate expression is “forgo distant relatives, prefer close neighbours” (ban anh em xa, mua lang gieng gan),65 a practical notion of community spirit and self-interest. The saying “nine makes ten” represents the second trait.66 It exhorts people to compromise and to accept less than what they deserve by formal agreements. The idea is not to push one’s superiority or advantage too far, or to obtain the full portion of one’s rights over other people. Two other aphorisms demonstrate this cultural trait. One is literally “everybody in the village breaks even” (hoa ca lang).67 Local officials often pursue this ideal to resolve conflicts quickly and amicably. It usually gives everyone something, so there would be no absolute winner or loser. The second aphorism is “take harmony as precious” (di hoa vi quy), which gives priority to harmony over individual rights as the most desirable outcome. These two traits compete with rights, logic, and legality as the rationale for resolving social conflicts. When dealing with any dispute, persons or officials must demonstrate awareness and

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consideration for the feelings of others. If possible, a person should also take note of reciprocity. There is correct behaviour perceived in terms of “being both right and compassionate” (co ly co tinh). At the ward level, apart from knowing what is legal, officials take into account feelings of “sympathy”68 to foster neighbourliness. For instance, sometimes officials withhold their signatures69 or avoid making unpopular decisions, because they want to save residents’ “face”. Officials are lenient towards offenders until they are compelled to act. Furthermore, they overlook certain offences because they would rather not bother with the administration. Imposing fines on people who are their neighbours undermines the relationship. As one official told me, it is unrealistic to impose fines because offenders reject the summons by claiming they have no money. To make the poor poorer is to be nasty. People expect ward officials to “look the other way” (bo qua) or be sympathetic (thong cam). Officials who recognize that defiance is morally permissible in same circumstances will not pursue minor offences. One reason residents of Thinh Liet Commune of Hanoi voted out its incumbent People’s Committee Chairman was because he was less than magnanimous when dealing with minor law and order offenders.70 Basiclevel officials cannot follow the law strictly when implementing policies, because they risk losing votes and their “authority”. Below the ward, informality is even more the order of things. In recent years, the Ha Noi Moi newspaper has discussed the role of the resident clusters, and especially the role of the street party cell. The topic has been how to rejuvenate party cells, because the mature age of the majority of ward party cells’ members is hampering leadership of the party. Retired party cell members contribute to either party or community work, but because of their distaste for social conflict they do not like to be too crusading which would require moralizing and disciplining fellow neighbours on matters such as rubbish disposal and use of public space. Resident cluster officials may encounter a misdemeanour, but all they do is to report it, not ask the police to charge the offenders. For a party member who is an offender, “To be given a disciplinary record on your party file when you retire towards the end of your life is to live on the high wire.”71 The effect of having elderly members in the party cells is to cushion neighbourhoods from the impact of party and government policies. It also reduces the state’s reach in punishing minor offences.

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Conclusion The ward, the lowest unit of government administration in Vietnam’s cities, has long been controversial. Analysts have questioned its value since the 1970s. But it has survived. The mid and late 1990s saw analysts and officials scrutinizing the ward’s purpose and operation. Among the persistent problems are the incompetence of ward officials, corruption, and inadequate resources. Then there are the tensions due to the ward’s immediate contact with the people on the one hand, while being an agency of the state on the other. The ward is at the intersection between what local conditions dictate and what the central state prescribes. Frequently, the two are at odds. These conditions help to explain an apparent paradox in Vietnam politics, at least in the city of Hanoi. In the wards of Hanoi, central state departments designate members of the Communist Party to hold the most important positions in both the executive (People’s Committee) and legislative (People’s Council) bodies. This influence suggests that central offices can get ward officials and residents to do what party and state policies require. Yet this is often not the case. Ward officials modify or even ignore many rules, regulations, and programmes of the central levels. There are many reasons for this, among them inadequate personnel policies, incompetence, corruption, and socio-economic constraints. Another is the ward’s location at the intersection between central directives and local conditions. According to Vietnamese laws, ward officials are supposed to be attentive to local circumstances and accordingly make some adjustments in administrative tasks. Also, ward officials take into account cultural mores involving give-and-take, and being understanding about individual hardships and difficulties. These two factors frequently contribute to ward officials not doing, or being unable to do, what central policies and laws require.

Notes 1 2 3

5

Nguyen Huu Duc, “Ve co cau bo may chinh quyen”, pp. 96–97. SRV, 21/6/1994, Article 41. SRV, Law on Organisation of People’s Councils and People’s Committees 21/6/ 1994, Article 47. Truong Hanh Chinh Quoc Gia, Ve cai cach bo may Nha nuoc, p. 70.

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From 1989, the state installed a standing committee of the People’s Council above the ward. At the ward level, there was no Council Standing Committee, but the chairperson of the People’s Council is consulted on behalf of the whole council. SRV, Quy che hoat dong cua Hoi dong nhan dan cac cap, Article 29. Quy che means “regulations”, a government document that elaborates on legislation and provides for specific powers mentioned in the legislation. In this case, the 1996 Regulations elaborate on the 1994 Law on Organisation of People’s Councils and People’s Committees. A party member can choose to be “activated” by a party cell (that is to say, to participate in party affairs and activities) either at the workplace or at his place of residence, which is his ward. Van Chieu, Ha Noi Moi, 7 May 1997, p. 2. Nguyen Duc Tha, Ha Noi Moi, 20 February 1985, p. 2. Nguyen Van Canh and Earle Cooper, Vietnam under Communism, pp. 89–92. Presentation by Nguyen Van Vach, chairman of the People’s Committee of Phu Thuong ward of Hanoi, on 27 May 1997. However, where party matters are concerned, party cells are important, as cell officials provide references and reports on members living within the locality or active within the cell, for purposes such as evaluation, admissions, and disciplinary matters. Ha Noi Moi, 29 August 1984, p. 2. Presentation by Nguyen Van Vach, chairman of the People’s Committee of Phu Thuong ward of Hanoi on 27 May 1997; Fieldnotes, 10 July 1997; Ha Noi Moi, 4 June 1987, pp. 2, 4. SRV, Huong dan so 469-TCCP, ngay 2 December 1981, II/c. Presentation by Nguyen Van Vach, chairman of the People’s Committee of Phu Thuong ward of Hanoi on 27 May 1997; see also Ha Noi Moi, 26 February 1997, p. 2. Ha Noi Moi, 26 February 1997, p. 2. Presentation by Nguyen Van Vach, chairman of the People’s Committee of Phu Thuong ward of Hanoi on 27 May 1997. Each group head gets VND 50,000 and the assistant gets VND 30,000 per month. Total compensation paid out to all group heads and assistant group heads in a ward was about 5.7 million dong per month. The exchange rate in 1997 was USD1 to VND 11,000. SRV State Planning Committee and General Statistical Office, Vietnam Living Standards Survey, p. 20; Table 6.1.1, p. 179. Nhan Dan, 29 April 1997, pp. 1, 3. Nguyen Bim (1994), “Mot so y kien”, p. 25. Ha Noi Moi, 21 December 1978. Ha Noi Moi, 3 October 1979, p. 2. Ha Noi Moi, 3 October 1979, p. 2.

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28

29 30

31 32 33 34

35 36 37

38

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SRV (1995), Hien Phap Viet Nam, article 113. Ha Noi Moi, 6 January 1981, p. 1; Ha Noi Moi, 17 June 1981, pp. 1, 2. SRV, Quyet dinh so 94/HDBT, 26/9/1981. By authority of Chi thi 08 on 12 December 1983 of the Standing Committee of the Hanoi Party Branch. Ha Noi Moi, 22 June 1984, p. 2. As Truong Chinh said in the political report to the Sixth Party National Congress in 1986, “Many People’s Committees do not really respect the People’s Councils … Elections were carried out in a forcible manner”, quoted in Thayer, “Renovation and Vietnamese society”, p. 25. Ha Noi Moi, 4 April 1984, p. 2. As typical of the malaise, Nghi cited the districts of Thanh Tri and Gia Lam. In the Thanh Tri rural district, irrigation works were important, but the cadre who was head of the district irrigation subcommittee was also made the head of the District Council Secretariat. In Gia Lam District, taxation work was important because it was the northern traffic gateway to Hanoi, with enormous traffic flow and market activity, yet the head of the taxation subcommittee was also made head of the District Council Secretariat. Because this official had many tasks, and because of other reasons such as bureaucratic inertia, many subcommittees were actually not functioning. Ha Noi Moi, 24 December 1985, pp. 1, 4. Ha Noi Moi, 24 December 1985, pp. 1, 4. Ha Noi Moi, 4 April 1984, p. 2. Ha Noi Moi, 4 April 1984, p. 2. Ha Noi Moi, 4 April 1984, p. 2; 7 June 1985, p. 2; 2 August 1985, p. 2; 18 June 1986, p. 3; 23 July 1986, p. 2. Ha Noi Moi, 18 June 1986, p. 3. Le Duc Tho, Phan dau xay dung Ha Noi, pp. 10, 89. Ha Noi Moi, 26 February 1985, p. 2; 28 June 1985, pp. 2, 3; 2 August 1985, p. 2; 10 January 1986, p. 2. After the city and the district administrations reviewed the wards in 1984 and 1985, they pushed for economic activity at the ward level, namely home, handicraft, consumer and service industries. More importantly, officials deemed the ward lacking in planning and budgeting. Ha Noi Moi, 26 June 1985, p. 2. Ha Noi Moi, 25 July 1986, pp. 1, 4. Ha Noi Moi, 25 July 1986, pp. 1, 4. Ha Noi Moi, 25 July 1986, pp. 1, 4. In the Central Committee’s political report to the Sixth National Party Congress, Party General Secretary Truong Chinh noted in the sections on local governments that party organs usurped the role of the government not just at the expense of government, but also at the

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expense of mass organizations and People’s Committees as well. See Thayer “Renovation and Vietnamese”, p. 25. Ha Noi Moi, 1 September 1988, pp. 1, 4. See also a report on a district level meeting on the same matter held in the Hoan Kiem District. Ha Noi Moi, 23 September 1988, p. 2. Ha Noi Moi, 1 September 1988, pp. 1, 4. Ha Noi Moi, 30 October 1991, p. 2; 22 January 1992, pp. 1, 4. Ha Noi Moi, 30 October 1991, p. 2; 22 January 1992, pp. 1, 4; and Nhan Dan 22 February 1997, p. 3. Ha Noi Moi, 22 January 1992, pp. 1, 4. Ha Noi Moi, 8 March 1994, p. 2; 20 June 1996, p. 2. See, for example, Truong Hanh Chinh Truong Uong, Nhung kien thuc co ban ve quan ly nha nuoc: and Khoa Luat, Truong Dai hoc Tong hop Ha No, Luat Nha Nuoc Viet Nam; Hoc Vien Chinh tri Quoc gia Ho Chi Minh, Nha nuoc va Phap luat Xa hoi Chu nghia, Tap I, II, III. Nguyen Van Thu, “Ve dao tao, boi duong can bo”, pp. 140–41. Personal communication, from Miss Khuat Thi Hai Oanh, 26 November 1998. Fieldnotes, 11 March 1998; See also Voice of Vietnam, “Conference on grassroots councils notes poor quality,” Reuters, 3 October 1998, for similar views. Vu Huy Tu, “May y kien ve cai cach”, p. 93. See, for instance, Duong Xuan Ngoc and Nguyen Chi Dung, “Anh huong cua kinh te thi truong”, pp. 51–53; Doan Trong Truyen, “Cai cach hanh chinh dia phuong”, p. 28. Nguyen Huu Tri, “Van de quan ly nha nuoc o do thi”, p. 259. Dai Doan Ket, 20 January 1997, pp. 1, 7. The authors estimated that 90 per cent of all construction and renovation of houses in Hanoi were without licences, and were thus illegal, whereas the situation was the reverse in Ho Chi Minh City. Tran The Nhuan, “Ban ve tap trung, phan quyen, tan quyen”, p. 56; To Tu Ha, “Nhung van de chung”, p. 13, in To Tu Ha et al. This is my observation after speaking to many people in Hanoi over a oneyear period, to explain why certain laws or policies do not apply to some people. Malarney, in his article, “Culture, Virtue, and Political Transformation”, said that even though there was no proof, Thinh Liet ward committee chairman Dang Van Loi was suspected of corruption when he insisted on completing the road project before Tet (New Year) arrived — an unnecessary rush. Nguyen Huu Tri, “Van de quan ly nha nuoc o do thi”, p. 259; Trinh Duy Luan, “Vietnam”, pp. 172, 191. Tran Cong Tuynh, “Doi moi to chuc chinh quyen dia phuong”, p. 12. Tuynh, who was deputy head of the Committee of Government Organisation and

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Personnel, thought that lower level professional officials usually considered the possible rewards before deciding on who to support — their line superiors or the local authorities. Presentation by Tran Hung from Hanoi Architecture University on 8 May 1997, at the Institute of Sociology, Hanoi. Conversation on 4 December 1998 with a Vietnamese participant at the Vietnam Update conference, Australian National University, Canberra. Nguyen Dang Dung, To chuc chinh quyen, p. 16; and Nguyen Huu Tri, Cai cach hanh chinh dia phuong, p. 258. Nguyen Huu Tri, “Van de chinh quyen dia phuong”, p. 37. It is possible that in this well-known saying, the order of the last two words have been switched to make the sentence sound better. See Nguyen Dinh Hoa, Vietnamese-English Dictionary, p. 233. The original combination could literally be “tinh cam gieng lang” or “sentimentality around the village well”. This means that since villagers drink from the same well, they should be identifying with interests and sentiments of people living around the well. Nguyen Tu Chi, a Vietnamese ethnologist, translated this as “brothers living at a distance cannot equal close-by neighbours”. Nguyen Tu Chi, “The Traditional Viet Village in Bac Bo”, p. 63. This remark is usually spoken by a third party mediating disputes or conflicts. If it is used by one of the two conflicting parties, it may be construed as begging or demeaning. Conversation with Nguyen Dang Khoa, 24 May 1999, Canberra. Literally the word “lang” means village, but it is often used colloquially to refer to a group of people with a common purpose. A small group of gamblers or a small section within an organization, for instance, can be called a “lang”. This word, translated from the phrase “thong cam” in Vietnamese, literally means “to understand difficulties and have sympathies for feelings of other people’s situations”. Tu Dien Tieng Viet 1994, p. 919. Marr, “Where is Vietnam Coming From?”, p. 18. Malarney, “Culture, Virtue, and Political Transformation”, pp. 901–4. Ha Noi Moi, 7 May 1997, p. 2.

Bibliography Hoc Vien Chinh tri Quoc gia Ho Chi Minh. Nha nuoc va Phap luat xa hoi chu nghia Tap I, II, III [State and Socialist Law Volumes I, II, III]. Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Chinh tri Quoc gia, 1993.

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Khoa Luat, Truong Dai hoc Tong hop Ha Noi. Luat Nha Nuoc Viet Nam [Vietnamese State Law]. Hanoi: Khoa Nha nuoc va Phap Luat, 1994. Le Duc Tho. Phan dau xay dung Ha Noi tro thanh thu do tin yeu cua ca nuoc [Let us struggle to build Hanoi into the loved and trusted capital of the country]. Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Su That, 1985. Nguyen Bim. “Mot so y kien ve xay dung chinh quyen cap phuong o Ha Noi” “Some opinions on developing the ward level authorities in Hanoi”. In Tap chi Quan ly Nha nuoc 7 (1994): 25–26. Nguyen Dinh Hoa. Vietnamese-English Dictionary. Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle, 1966. Nguyen Huu Duc. “Ve co cau bo may chinh quyen dia phuong hien nay” [“On the present structure of local authorities”]. In Cai cach hanh chinh dia phuong — Ly luan va thuc tien [Local administration reform — theory and practice], edited by To Tu Ha, Nguyen Huu Tri and Nguyen Huu Duc. Hanoi: Nha xuat ban Chinh tri Quoc gia, 1998. Nguyen Van Canh and Earle Cooper. Vietnam under Communism, 1975–1982. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press and Stanford University, 1985. Shaun K. Malarney. “Culture, Virtue, and Political Transformation in Contemporary Northern Viet Nam”. Journal of Asian Studies 56, no. 4 (1997): 899–920. Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Hien Phap Viet Nam (Nam 1946, 1959, 1980 va 1992) [Constitution of Vietnam: 1946, 1959, 1980 and 1992], Hanoi: Nha xuat ban Chinh tri Quoc gia, 1995. ———. Huong dan so 469-TCCP, ngay 2/12/1981 cua Ban to chuc cua Chinh phu ve viec thi hanh Quyet dinh so 94-HDBT ban hanh ngay 26/9/1981 cua Hoi dong Bo truong quy dinh chuc nang, nhiem vu va to chuc bo manh chinh quyen dia phuong [Guideline number 469-TCCP dated 2/12/1981 of the Government Commission on Personnel regarding implementation of Decision 94-HDBT promulgated on 26/9/81 by the Council of Ministers on roles, duties, and organisation of local political authority at the ward level]. ———. Luat to chuc Hoi dong nhan dan va Uy ban nhan dan [Law on Organisation of People’s Councils and People’s Committees] 21/6/1994. ———. Nghi Dinh so 46-CP ngay 23–6–1993 cua Chinh phu Ve che do sinh hoat phi doi voi can bo Dang, chinh quyen va kinh phi hoat dong cua cac doan the nhan dan o xa, phuong, thi tran [Decision number 46-CP dated 23/6/1993 of the Government on activity allowances for party and political authority cadres, and activity funding for people’s organisations at the commune, ward, and townlet level]. ———. Phap lenh ve nhiem vu, quyen han cu the cua HDND va UBND o moi cap [Ordinance on tasks, specific powers of people’s councils and people’s committees at every level]. Hanoi: Nha xuat ban Chinh tri Quoc Gia, 1996.

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———. Quy che hoat dong cua Hoi dong nhan dan cac cap [Regulations on activities of all levels of people’s councils]. Hanoi: Nha xuat ban Chinh tri Quoc gia, 1996. ———. Quy che hoat dong cua Hoi dong nhan dan cac cap [Regulations on activities of all levels of people’s councils]. Hanoi: Nha xuat ban Chinh tri Quoc gia, 1996. ———. Quyet dinh so 95/HDBT, ngay 26/9/1981 cua Hoi dong Bo truong ve chuc nang, nhiem vu va to chuc bo may chinh quyen dia phuong [Decision 94/HDBT of the Council of Ministers of role, tasks, and organisation of ward political authority machinery]. State Planning Committee and General Statistical Office, Socialist Republic of Vietnam Vietnam Living Standards Survey 1992–1993. Hanoi: 1994. Thayer, Carlyle A. “Renovation and Vietnamese society: The Changing Roles of Government and Administration”. In Doi Moi: Vietnam’s Revonatioin Policy and Performance, edited by Dean Forbes, et al. Political and Social Change Monograph 14. Canberra: Department of Political and Social Change, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University, 1991, pp. 21–33. Truong Hanh chinh Quoc gia. Ve cai cach bo may Nha nuoc [On reforming the state machinery]. Hanoi: Nha xuat ban Su That, 1991. Truong Hanh Chinh Trung Uong. Nhung kien thuc co ban ve quan ly nha nuoc: Tap de cuong bai giang boi duong can bo chinh quyen co so [Basic of State management: Lecture outlines to train basic level political authority cadres]. Hanoi: Nha xuat ban Su That, 1989. Tu Dien Tieng Viet 1994 [Vietnamese Dictionary 1994]. Hanoi: Nha xuat ban Khoa hoc Xa Hoi va Trung tam Tu dien hoc.

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

Reproduced from Beyond Hanoi: Local Government in Vietnam, edited by Benedict J Tria Kerkvliet and David G Marr (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http:// bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

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9 Facilitators of Rural Transformation and Development: The Role of Agricultural Extension Officers in Two Districts of Long An Province Natalie Hicks

Like Thomas Sikor’s contribution in this volume, this chapter stresses the positive influence of district level government on rural people’s lives. I focus particularly on district agricultural extension officers and their disparate approaches to promoting agricultural development in the two districts of Ben Luc and Duc Hoa (see Map 1). Beyond transferring agricultural information and technology, district extension officers in these two districts have been able to adopt informal strategies that have significantly altered the social and agricultural patterns in their constituencies. I begin by describing the localized nature of agricultural extension in Long An and then outline the goals and functions of the district extension officers. I propose that during the dynamic reform period of the 1990s extension agents played a valuable role and helped fill the power vacuum that Pham Quang Minh’s chapter says has existed in rural Vietnam

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230 MAP 1 The Districts Comprising Long An Province

CAMBODIA

Tay Ninh

Vinh Hung

TP. Ho Chi Min

Mochoa

Long An Dong Thap Thanhhoa

Benluc Thuthua

Tanthanh Tantru Tanan

Cangluoc Canduoc

Tian Giang

Chauthanh

Source: UNDP, Ha Noi. Vinh Hung district has now been divided into two districts, Vinh Hung and Tan Hung.

since the retreat of collectivization and central planning of agricultural production. Whilst extension officers have helped farmers devise their own agricultural strategies, they have also served as linchpins between local government and local farming communities. Extension officers are positioned at a blurred interface between society and the local state. To highlight this ambiguous position I conceptualize them as “associates of the state” rather than state actors. Next I explore the different strategies pursued by extension officers in Ben Luc and Duc Hoa, and highlight their role in promoting household farming units whilst also facilitating formal and informal cooperative groups. I conclude that extension agents have played an important but transitional part in the agricultural development of Long An, and that their future roles are uncertain.

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Reinventing agricultural extension in the early 1990s The Agricultural Extension Centre (Trung tam Khuyen nong) in Tan An was established by the Long An People’s Committee in September 1991.1 Its stated duty was “to be at the cutting edge of developing the countryside today”.2 The date is significant because it preceded the establishment of a national extension service by one and a half years. Provincial extension officers in Tan An often mentioned with pride that Long An was the first province in Vietnam to create an extension service which was the end-product of local farmers’ requests for an agricultural agency that would help them to develop and diversify their household farms. Both farmers and extension agents viewed the creation of this service in Long An as a bottom-up approach to policy-making. This shared perception has created a bond of trust between farmers and extension officers and perhaps even a community stake in the service. Both the manner in which the extension service was established in Long An, and the decentralized nature of its funding and activities, mark it as a departure from the collectivization era. In her chapter, Tran Thi Thu Trang describes the period of collectivization as one in which peasants had a passive expectation that central authorities would pass production information on to farmers. That is very different from the interaction between extension agents and farmers in Long An today. Agricultural extension — a local rather than national concern Revenue assignments between central and local government are a measure, albeit a crude one, of the balance of centre–local influence on local service provision. In the case of the extension service, funding is largely the responsibility of individual provinces and districts. A UNDP Public Expenditure Review indicates that approximately 25 per cent of the provincial extension budget is allocated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).3 However, Table 1 demonstrates that in Long An province over the period of 1997–2001 central funding comprised only 16 per cent of the funding for extension in Long An. Funding for the district extension officers in Ben Luc and Duc Hoa is through two channels. First, the provincial extension centre pays the salaries.4 Second, the district extension offices are solely responsible for running costs. Charging farmers fees for attending train and visit meetings covers a proportion of these costs.5 However, the need for additional funds necessitates an entrepreneurial approach to fundraising

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TABLE 1 Province and Central Budget Allocations to the Agricultural Extension Service in Long An Province.

Year

Province budget for extension Service (VND million)

1997

1,652,172

370,161

1998

1,135,143

249,247

1999

1,204,416

179,000

2000

1,809,039

99,753

2001

2,270,000

423,345

8, 070,770

1,321,506

Total over 5 year period

Centrally allocated funds to Long An extension service (VND million)

Sources: Bao Cao, Tong ket cong tac 5 nam 1997–2001; Agricultural Extension Centre, Tan An, Phuong huong hoat dong giai doan 2002–2005. Trung Tam Khuyen Nong, Tinh Long An, Thang 10, 2001 (Information on the achievements for the period 1997–2001 and plans for the period 2002–2005).

on the part of the district extension staff. This requirement for locally generated funding has meant that the operation and activities of agricultural extension vary greatly among provinces, and even among districts within provinces. In theory the national structure of agricultural extension should be as set out in Figure 1. The reality is different. Every province and city has an agricultural extension office; across the country 2,500 people are employed in these offices. However, only 60 per cent of districts have an extension office (totaling 370 offices nationwide), and even seven years after the national establishment of agricultural extension, 70 per cent of the nation’s communes still had no agricultural extension officer (nong vien).6 The Central Highlands has been particularly noted for its failure to instigate adequate extension services; and in Hoa Binh province in the north, Thu Trang has highlighted the role of veterans, rather than extension officers, in the provision of agricultural extension services.7 Long An province, therefore, may be extraordinarily well established. It has extension offices in all fourteen districts and one extension officer

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FIGURE 1 National Structure of Agricultural Extension in Vietnam Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development Bo Nghiep Va Phat Trien Nong Thon Department of Agro-Forestry Extension Cuc Khuyen Nong — Khuyen Lam Supplementary funding and assistance from outside donor organizations such as IRRI.

Agro-Forestry Extension Centre Trung Tam Khuyen Nong Agricultural Extension Office Tram Khuyen Nong * There is one Extension office per every district, located in the district capital town Ideally there should be 3–5 district extension officers responsible for coordinating extension work through the district and generating running costs for the services

Commune Extension Office Nong Vien * There is one commune extension officer per commune and they are dependent on the district office for direction and funding

in all 182 communes.8 A leading journalist said that since 1986, Long An had all the necessary conditions for “building a new countryside” (xay dung nong thon moi) and policy-makers should choose it as a “model of industrialization and modernization” in Vietnam (mo hinh cong nghiep hoa — hien dai hoa).9 Today, many people outside the province say that Long An remains forward-looking and innovative. Such observations credit the early 1980s fence-breaking policies of the provincial government which Edmund Malesky highlights in his chapter. What this chapter emphasizes, however, is the innovative nature of many Long An farmers, agricultural officials and extensionists below the province level, who are serving to build a new countryside. This chapter is a study of local agricultural development and state– societal relations in Long An province, which, in many ways, are unique. Accordingly, I do not make generalizations on the modus operandi of extension throughout Vietnam. As Ian Christoplos concluded as early as 1993, the central government has little influence in the sphere of extension. Though central government encourages the establishment of extension

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services, they have few resources to invest. As a result, individual provinces are creating their own extension structures adapted to local resources and priorities. Decisions about how to relate to communities, local organizations and NGOs are being made through pragmatic networking at provincial, district and village levels.10 The role of “grassroots” extension officers The World Bank, amongst others, has suggested that extensionists, specifically those agents close to the “rice-roots”, should take on broader roles. Rather than simply transferring information and functioning as scientific technocrats, they should adopt a humanistic and holistic approach to improving farmers’ lives. In the case of Vietnam, the principles of socialism, and indeed the revolutionary principles that helped victory in the Mekong delta, assigned this role to the state. In the era of renovation, it has fallen to other non-government agents such as extensionists, to help fulfill this role. Salby Ranting and Tormodi Zainuddin have offered a comprehensive description of the functions and characteristics of an extensionist: The role of an extension worker can be broadly classified as process facilitator, problem solver, resource linker, catalyst and communicator. In consonance with this, it would be ideal for the extension worker to have certain characteristics and outlook, which would help him to dispense these roles. He should have a firm belief in the value of extension to the farming community. He should show enthusiasm in his job and should be prepared to dirty his hands and clothes. He should be a good communicator and a good listener. He should be honest and reliable. He should also be creative, intuitive as well as, observant to potential problems on the ground. He should always remember that he leads by force of ideas rather than by force of position.11

A test of an extension agent’s commitment to local farmers is to ask why they have chosen to become, and continue to be, extensionists. In the case of the district staff, all officers had some form of diploma from an agricultural research institute, such as the Cuu Long Rice Research Institute or the Agriculture and Forestry University in Thu Duc. These qualifications earn them the highly regarded title of agricultural engineer (ky su nong nghiep). All the district officers had worked in their posts since the establishment of the service in 1991 and expressed no desire to leave their jobs to find work in the provincial extension centre, government or private sector. Whilst a few of the agents expressed regret

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at the limited options available to them after completing their tertiary education other than to return to work in their native districts, the consensus was that they were satisfied to consider their positions as “jobs for life”. Factors such as local community trust and respect, a commitment to agricultural development and perhaps altruism towards their constituents, served as incentives and stimulants in their work. On the other hand, provincial extension agents had little contact with local farmers and could be conceptualized more as the intelligentsia of the agricultural extension service in Long An. In short, district extensionists who were working at the coalface have what Ranting and Zainuddin describe as “a firm belief in the value of extension to the farming community”. More suggestively, Christoplos observed in 1993 “an understated pride in the mischievous nature of the process of agricultural development to which they [agricultural extensionists] were contributing”.12 To gauge extension staff motivation, I asked twenty-nine of the thirtysix district and commune officers why they had chosen to work in the local extension service. The answers were remarkably similar across commune and district boundaries, and reflected above all, a sense of idealism in the developmental capacity of extension. The most common reply was their satisfaction in helping farmers enhance their skills and belief in the integral role farmers play in the nation’s growth. Many extension agents also expressed their enjoyment of combining both teaching and farming. Most of these answers reflect a strong community spirit on the part of the extensionists. Interestingly, commune rather than district officers mentioned that their position helps them to increase their own skills. Like the veterans Thu Trang observed in Hoa Binh province, these agents who had little formal education may also have sought these posts to enable them greater access to information and technology, thus helping both their own families and increasing their prestige within their communities. Goals of extension There are a dizzying array of paradigms relating to the goals of extension, which have been adapted, discarded, and recycled over the last fifty years. Arthur Mosher, acknowledging the need to adjust practices to fit each situation, formulated six broad objectives for extension that remain relevant today:

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• To educate farmers to gain new information and develop new skills; • To help with rural tasks relevant to agricultural production and marketing; • To take research to the farmers; • To encourage farmers; • To train farmers in decision-making; and • To support the production of a particular crop.13 Implementation of these principles is contingent on a qualified, enthusiastic, and well-resourced staff. The officers charged with these tasks should be members of the community and thus have an affinity with the prevailing network of social norms and relations. In nearly all the communes visited, at least one farmer would insist that, prior to establishment of the extension service, nobody assisted them. Whilst these sentiments cannot confirm the technical merits of the officers, they do indicate that farmers respect district extension officers in particular. A characteristic common to nearly all meetings between district extensionists and farmers was the eagerness of the latter to discuss wideranging problems, which they encounter daily. These were not necessarily problems of a technical nature, but rather concerns about local infrastructure, ensuring a stable price for their cash crop and how to overcome the problem of tiny and scattered land plots. At times farmers hoped that the district officers could help solve these problems, or at least, mediate concerns to authorities who could solve them, thus acting as conduits articulating societal concerns to the local authorities. Some extensionists in Long An spoke of colleagues in other districts who had even been called upon to mediate in local land disputes. In this way, district extensionists were performing traditional functions of the state and perhaps even usurping the position of the mass organizations, most specifically the Farmers’ Association (Hoi Nong dan) which, inter alia, is responsible for supporting farming interests. After nearly all of the train and visit meetings there would usually be a banquet, which could last for hours. These banquets took on the form of community meetings and were an opportunity for neighbours, who in some hamlets and communes often lived quite a distance apart, to get together and catch up on news. The topics of conversation touched on all matters pertaining to people’s daily lives and often afforded the opportunity for villagers to speak to the local secretary of the commune

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people’s committee in an informal setting. Local residents also used these gatherings as a forum to discuss the elections for deputies to the district and commune councils. Invariably at these banquets the district extension officer was in demand for more specific information and news of developments in other communes throughout the district. In this way district extensionists served to bind each commune and hamlet into a wider district identity by acting as well-informed messengers. These gatherings therefore served a useful community function. However, not all members of the local community were able to take the opportunity to air their views. Like Thu Trang in her research into village elections in Hoa Binh province, I observed that these occasions were a forum for the rich, not the poor households. District extension officers in Long An helped facilitate grassroots meetings and bring together voluntary societal groups. However, these gatherings might primarily be serving the interests of farmers who could afford to pay the user fees and hold positions of status within the community already. Practices that should not be included within the remit of agricultural extension Looking more broadly at the operation of extension throughout Asia, it is clear that the practices that agricultural extension officers should not be involved in are as important as their goals. An extension officer needs community trust and respect to facilitate change. Therefore the government should not use the system for non-extension or more general political purposes. The primary reason for this is that in some areas, local people have negative perceptions of the state. In the Punjab for instance, Hans Helmrich has observed that: The behaviour of the rural population towards government institutions in the Punjab deviates considerably from their behaviour towards private persons, or private organizations. A restriction, as far-reaching as possible, of government bureaucracy to direct or indirectly influence the promotion of self-help organizations is likely to bring about better incentives to participating members.14

A striking example of government hijacking extension for its own purposes is in Burma. Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung has demonstrated that the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, commissions extensionists throughout Burmese villages, to implement and enforce centralized policies.15 They are required to fill quotas set in

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Yangon and submit detailed statistical information on the size of farmer’s plots and yields. Aside from distracting officers from their more pertinent functions, enforcement of unpopular government policy destroys the trust that must exist between farmers and extensionists and renders the operation of extension defunct. As a result, Thawnghmung recalls instances where farmers have quite brazenly lied to the officers and under-reported their yield and land sizes. Local level Burmese extension officers are thus trapped in the strict hierarchical vortex associated with rigid central planning of agriculture. If any positivity is to be found in this case, it is perhaps in the old adage that things could always be worse. As Thawnghmung points out, “Agricultural extension workers, all of who are civilian technocrats are the least powerful and feared government employees in Burmese villages”.16 The question of Vietnamese agricultural extension agents’ real and perceived relationship with the government is complex. On the one hand, the Long An extension service received some state funding and, officially, was under direct control of the provincial agriculture and rural development department (So Nong nghiep va Phat trien Nong thon). Furthermore, most provincial extension officers were at one time state agricultural cadres. However, district level extensionists in Ben Luc and Duc Hoa had never worked in the state agricultural apparatus. They seldom referred to themselves as can bo (cadre) which is the usual term for state officials, despite the fact that their salaries, if not the running costs for their offices, were funded by the government. In practice, the clearest example of extensionist’s executing roles beyond their mandate was the task of collecting data on landholding usage and production statistics that were then relayed to the district Agricultural and Land Department (Phong Nong nghiep Dia hinh). Commune and district extension staff met with state agricultural officials to share this information, which was not taken too seriously. Fellow commune extensionists showed good humour towards those who had “forgotten” or “misplaced” their constituency’s statistics. Agricultural extension in Vietnam has not experienced the problems illustrated by Thawnghmung in Burma. It is a local service that acts in response to local needs, rather than being co-opted by the central government and ministry of agriculture directives. Its post-collectivization birth during an era in which the government loosened the shackles of central planning has meant that past events in the development of

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agriculture have not tarnished extension services. Extension in Ben Luc and Duc Hoa districts, perhaps reflecting sensitivity to the past, has mirrored the separation of extension and government found in the Punjab. Gender — Are rural women missing out? In Vietnam, Jayne Werner argues, women generally have not been beneficiaries of the doi moi period.17 She suggests that socialist discourse which promoted political, social, and economic equality is in rapid decline. Both Werner’s research and that of the UNDP have recognized a “feminization” of agriculture, as more men seek off-farm employment and the burden of production has fallen on women, mirroring the situation during the American war.18 This feminization has also led to an increase in female-headed households, which Werner observes tend to be the “poorest of the poor” and therefore most in need of extension.19 However, she fails to consider any role that extension agents could play in assisting women in agriculture, leaving the responsibility to “party leaders and mass organizations”.20 Other research has indicated that, “throughout the countryside women typically are excluded from extension meetings and train and visit schemes”.21 And the meetings that women do attend are “still mainly orientated towards men”.22 My research in Long An does not strongly reinforce the rising inequality that Werner observed, nor did I find the total exclusion of women in agricultural extension. In political terms, Long An was one of only two provinces throughout Vietnam to have more female than male representatives in the 10th National Assembly. This situation was again mirrored in the run-up to the 11th National Assembly in 2002, where seven of the twelve candidates were female. In terms of personnel and ethos of agricultural extension in the province, the first positive indication of a gender balance is that the director of the Agricultural Extension Centre in Tan An, Duong Thi Ruong, is female. Mrs Ruong also stood for election to the National Assembly in 1992 on a platform of, amongst other issues, enhancing support for women in agriculture.23 Furthermore, the extension directors of Ben Luc and Duc Hoa district were both female, and the gender balance, at least at district level, reflected the gender equality that is promoted in socialist discourse. At commune level, the gender balance went down to five males to two females. Generally though, the extension personnel in Ben Luc and Duc Hoa showed gender equity.

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Speaking of the train and visit schemes held in Ben Luc and Duc Hoa districts that I attended in 2001–2002, there was an approximate 65:35 balance between males and females.24 Gender delineation was apparent in the seating arrangements, which is common at any gathering or banquet in rural Vietnam. Younger females were reticent to voice opinions, yet quite often the older females were the most vocal in the meetings. Furthermore, it was not uncommon that the contact or “model farmer” was female, an honour bestowing status and respect on those considered to have the most productive and innovative farming systems in the commune.25 Throughout Long An the opportunities available to women in agriculture varied. Many women felt trapped in poverty and received no assistance through agricultural extension or the local Women’s Association (Hoi Phu nu). On the other hand, there were some wealthy female entrepreneurs in Tan An town who were involved in the processing and export of agricultural produce, and even an unmarried female farmer in Thu Thua district who had joined the ranks of “millionaire farmers” in the province. At some agricultural extension meetings I met women who had become model farmers, and outside the environs of these extension visits, I also met model female farmers who had benefited from assistance from the Women’s Association and were now able to assist other women. It is therefore hard to make definitive conclusions regarding gender in agriculture in Long An. The predominantly female extension staff did not exclude women or consciously orientate their development strategies to male farmers. Exclusion was not on a gender but rather an economic basis. Generic difficulties and problems encountered in extension Extension in Long An province suffers from many of the common difficulties experienced by other services in developing countries. According to district and commune extension agents, the most serious problems inhibiting their duties, and hampering agricultural development in Ben Luc and Duc Hoa were, in descending order of importance: poor infrastructure and communications; lack of markets for produce; insufficient clean water; inadequate irrigation; and a shortage of farm labour due to young people migrating to work and study in urban areas. One fundamental problem that the extensionists experienced was

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TABLE 2 Number of Agricultural Extension Officers per District and Province Capital Territory District (huyen) and province capital area (thi) Tan An territory Chau Thanh Tan Tru Ben Luc Thu Thua Can Duoc Can Giuoc Duc Hoa Duc Hue Thanh Hoa Tan Thanh Moc Hoa Vinh Hung Tan Hung

No. of district extension officers Per district

Number of farming families per district

Farming land in the district (hectares)

3 4 4 5 3 4 4 4 3 2 2 3 3 2

10,276 18,990 12,806 21,088 14,632 23,501 23,931 37,137 13,118 9,872 12,589 10,383 6,874 8,001

5,874 12,672 8,970 22,593 22,851 16,878 16,710 36,140 26,136 30,658 30,455 38,612 29,760 32,790

Sources: Bao Cao, Tong ket cong tac 5 nam 1997–2001; Agriculture Extension Centre, Tan An. Phoung huong hoat dong giai doan 2002–2005. Trung Tam Khuyen Nong, Tinh Long An, Thang 10, 2001 (Information on the achievements for the period 1997–2001 and plans for the period 2002–2005).

insufficient funds and personnel needed to extend education and help to the highest number of people in need of assistance. Table 2 indicates the large number of families and vast area that each district extension office had to cover. Poor infrastructure hampers much of the area, making travel lengthy and difficult. Even in Ben Luc and Duc Hoa, where the infrastructure is superior to other districts, extensionists occasionally expressed dismay at conducting meetings in less accessible hamlets. However, commune extensionists still lacked the necessary skills and training to assist their constituencies significantly. The locus of extension work is thus likely to remain at district level. Serious understaffing of district offices, coupled with a need to raise revenue, has contributed to the disparate strategies Ben Luc and Duc Hoa officers have devised for agricultural development in their constituencies. The following sections focus on these two districts, and explore the varied matrix of relationships that have evolved between

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farming communities, extension officers and local government in the pursuit of local agricultural development. Bringing on the good times in Ben Luc: profit, privatization and household farms The leading official of the Ben Luc Agriculture and Land Office was a young cadre and a native of the district. He was optimistic about the future of his district, and proud of what had already been accomplished. He spoke at length and with enthusiasm on the office’s role over the last five years in converting a large swathe of under-productive paddy and wild land (dat hoang) in the northeast of the district into the large-scale production of sugar cane. The establishment of a large sugar refining plant in the district had stimulated this conversion, which was funded by the state agricultural bank and local government funds. The scale of this project had also led to the creation of two new administrative commune units (xa) that were primarily engaged in cultivating sugar cane. However, the scheme, planned and funded by the state, could not be expected to succeed without support from the district extension service, which had to teach and encourage a new community of farmers who knew little about the requirements of growing sugar. This example demonstrates a relationship of planning and dependency that exists between local government and extension in Ben Luc. The associates of the state have the expertise and trust within a community to link local state objectives and local farming communities, resulting in a confluence and execution of mutually shared goals. One way to analyse the relationship between local government and agricultural extension is to examine the utilization of public space. In Ben Luc town, agencies responsible for agriculture (mass organizations and the Agriculture and Land office) were located within the compact district people’s committee compound. The exception was the agricultural extension office, which was located just outside the compound. This proximity meant that all the officials and extensionists were frequently in one another’s offices, discussing, eating and drinking and generally routinizing their social and professional networks. The extensionists not only held meetings in the people’s committee compound for their own commune staff and had shared meetings with local state cadres, but also used this space to inaugurate a series of new voluntary livestock associations (hiep hoi chan nuoi).26

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The practice of agricultural extension officers using public space also extended down into the communes in Ben Luc. Train and visit schemes (led by district extensionists) were almost always held in some type of official building, such as the commune people’s committee office, the home of a commune official or a school. Representatives of the Farmers’ Association, Women’s Association, Youth Association (Hoi thanh nien) and usually the chair of the local people’s committee would also be in attendance. As mentioned, these meetings were also an opportunity for farmers to discuss a wide range of matters not necessarily pertaining to the subject of the train and visit meeting. The real opportunity for the community, associates of the state and state officials to talk about a whole host of local matters came afterwards, at a banquet. This banquet was always held in the private home of one of the participating farmers. Despite the close relationship between extensionists and local state officials in Ben Luc, they were not mutually dependent. Since the local state did not fund district extension running costs, extensionists were required to create their own strategies to raise funds, whilst also resolving the problem of a limited number of extension staff available to cover the large number of farmers. In Ben Luc there was only one district extensionist per 4,218 farming families, and whilst the infrastructure was reasonable and the homes and hamlets less dispersed than in Duc Hoa, this still posed a serious logistical problem. To overcome these problems, extension officers conducted train and visit schemes on a feepaying basis and promoted the role of model farmers, who would then demonstrate and disseminate information and techniques to other farmers who could not afford (either in time or money) to attend extension meetings. I consider this strategy as a policy of “supporting the strong”. Model, or progressive farmers, were much easier and satisfactory targets for extensionists. Often they had private resources to invest (which they preferred to use rather than trusting local banks), relative financial security to be able to risk experimentation, and access to televisions and information that engendered a wider knowledge of non-traditional farming methods. This informal practice of supporting progressive farmers was beginning to have two notable effects on the fabric of district society. First, it was leading to greater economic stratification, as wealthy farmers improved their livelihoods at an inverse relationship to poor farmers who received little suitable assistance. Second, poorer farmers were losing

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out on the participatory forum that extension meetings and banquets provided to participating farmers. This made struggling farmers feel disenfranchised from their local communities. However, district extensionists did not callously set out to promote wealthier farmers over poorer ones; rather, it was a strategy of expedience based on the financial and personnel constraints that limited any idealized extension programme to assist all the community. This policy of supporting the strong became of increasing concern to the lead extensionist, who repeatedly reminded her staff not to forget the poorer members of their communes and to assist them at all available opportunities. Her advice for assisting poorer farmers was to stimulate and encourage them to work in small cooperative groups. She was not saying that commune extension officers should assist in the formation of large or formal cooperative associations, such as the type inaugurated at the People’s Committee compound, but rather promote informal groups of mutual aid, such as the pooling of resources to buy a breeding pig. Over the last decade district extensionists in Ben Luc have channelled their assistance to household farmers, focusing primarily on wealthier members of their community. However, the role and strategies extensionists adopt are not static. On the one hand, they have acted as facilitators in assisting the organization of farmers into cooperative groups. On the other hand, extensionists have started to build extrastate alliances to further their own work. It is possible to identify two types of alliances formed by extensionists in Ben Luc that indicated how private interests were incrementally capturing these agents. The first was a consultative arrangement between a district extension agent whose services were engaged by wealthy farmers. The second involved connections with local agri-business people, who sought to use the agents to promote their technology and equipment. I refer to these alliances generally as internal alliances since they are made with other actors within the district. This distinguishes them from extensionists in Duc Hoa district, who are building external alliances with actors outside the district and province (see below). One district extensionist was actively building a small portfolio of wealthy farmers whom he provided with private technical assistance. The arrangement was quite simple. The district extension agent operated in the nature of a freelance consultant, with farmers contracting him to design, implement, and assist in the ongoing running of an agricultural

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project. These were usually intensive livestock and poultry rearing schemes, which were constructed on a large scale but based on the household farm unit. Unlike the other district extension agents, this agent conducted no train and visit schemes, and was not involved in any of the meetings associated with establishing cooperative groups. He was younger than other extensionists and frustrated with the backward farming practices he saw in Vietnam generally. It is likely that the freedom he had to develop his own informal strategy of assistance was one reason he remained in his position. A normal day with this officer went as follows: departing the office at 7.30 am, he usually visited four or five farmer’s homes, spending approximately fifty minutes with each client. The extension agent would inspect the animals and the conditions of the animal enclosures, discuss and advise on possible introduction of new types of technology and almost always discuss plans to enlarge the farming enterprise. The officer’s approach at these meetings was efficient and business-like, very different to the roles adopted by other extensionists who conducted train and visit schemes. Money was never openly exchanged for his exclusive services. It is uncertain whether farmers paid directly to the district office or privately to the assisting extension officer. All farmers who employed the services of this extension officer were undoubtedly among the wealthiest in the district, although not yet “millionaire farmers”. They were outwardly more prosperous than most of the farmers who attended the train and visit schemes. Table 3 illustrates some similarities between these farmers, and perhaps suggests a pattern of development for entrepreneurial farmers in Ben Luc who employed the personal services of an agricultural extensionist to develop, diversify and modernize their household farms. The most striking similarity among these farmers was their operation as household farming units. They did not rely on labour outside the family unit, nor did they belong to any cooperative groups. Even the marketing of their produce was on an independent basis to local middlemen. Another resemblance was how they raised capital for their farming projects from independent sources, rather than a credit cooperative or a bank. (Nearly all farmers interviewed in Ben Luc district mistrusted bank loans). All the farmers agreed that there had been a large increase in household revenue over the last ten years. In the case of these farmers, their projects had been initiated in the last three to four

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Rice

i) More profits in animal husbandry ii) Help and encouragement from the extension service

Vegetables and production of a variety of compost

i) More profits in animal husbandry. ii) Help and encouragement from the extension service

Why did you change from your previous type of farming?

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore Switch to agricultural because more profits than in teaching

Previously a teacher — not engaged in agricultural production

Poor quality of land meant low rice yields and little profit

Rice

Poor quality of land meant low rice yields and little profit

Rice and vegetables

3 years

What were you farming prior to converting to this type of agricultural production?

4 years

3 years

3 years

How long have you been engaged in your current agricultural production? 9 years

Chickens (battery) Chickens (battery) Animal husbandry — swine

Animal husbandry — swine

Animal husbandry — swine (and recently started a small VAC project)

Farmer E

Type of farming

Farmer D

Farmer C

Farmer B

Farmer A

Question

TABLE 3 Visits and Interviews with Ben Luc District Farming Households, 2001

More profit in raising swine

Rice and very small-scale chicken rearing

4 years

Animal husbandry — swine

Farmer F

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Farmer B Sold land to find small initial investment then continually re-invested profits

Significantly greater profits

Provincial State agricultural department (before reform in 1996)

1500 metres sq

Farmer A

Through re-investing the profits from selling of vegetables and compost

i) Big growth in household income ii) Learnt more skills

No answer

1.5 hectares

Question

Where did you find the initial capital to help you to diversify/ change production on your farm?

What have been the biggest changes for you over the last 12 years (1990– 2002)?

Before the agricultural extension service existed (1991), who helped/ advised you in agricultural matters?

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

*How much land do you own?

1000 metres sq

Farmer not involved in agriculture before 1991

Big growth in household income

Sold land

Farmer C Farmer E

1500 metres sq

No one assisted

i) Big growth in household income ii) New technology and better chicken breeds

1.5 hectares

No one assisted

Big growth in household income

Initially tried to Raised money secure a bank from family loan but this members caused too many problems so raised money from family members

Farmer D

TABLE 3 (continued ) Visits and Interviews with Ben Luc District Farming Households, 2001

1500 metres sq

No one assisted

i) Big growth in household income ii) Can now afford to send children to university in Saigon

Re-invested profits of rice farming and sold chickens

Farmer F

Facilitators of Rural Transformation and Development 247

150 chickens

No

No problems

In local area, deals directly with one selling agent

75 pigs

No

i) Male breeding stock needs improving ii) Need leaner meat from the animals Sold to one selling agent

102 pigs (breeding stock and meat)

No

Male breeding stock is not good. Foreign varieties better

In local area, deals directly with one selling agent

How much livestock do you own?

Do you employ off-farm labour to assist you on your farm (i.e. non-family members)?

What are the most serious problems/ difficulties with your farm?

Where do you sell your produce

Farmer C

Farmer B

Farmer A

Question

No

55 pigs

Farmer E

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore In local area, deals directly with one selling agent

In local area, deals directly with one selling agent

i) Finding even i) Looking after better strains of the health of chicken to bread the pigs ii) Enlarging his enclosures on the small amount of land available

No

490 chickens

Farmer D

TABLE 3 (continued ) Visits and Interviews with Ben Luc District Farming Households, 2001

In local area, deals directly with one selling agent

i) Male breeding stock needs improving — further need for foreign technology

No

50 pigs

Farmer F

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years (with the exception of farmer C), which suggests that the provision of private technical assistance is a relatively new phenomenon. Since the farmers expressed satisfaction with the services provided, this type of consultative arrangement is likely to become more common. The second type of internal alliance that extension offices were starting to develop was one with local agri-businesses. In 2003, the district extension office was the key input supplier for many farmers, particularly for a variety of seed strains. However, the extension service could not meet demand and needed to turn to private operators to buy supplies. These alliances may become more prevalent, as local farmers require more technology, but equally the assistance of an extension agent able to demonstrate its practical utilization. Agribusinesses were coming to realize that, because extensionists were trusted in their local communities, they were ideal salespeople for commercial products. In 2003, the local nature of agrarian development and state–societal relations was in a fluid, dynamic state. Extension agents helped the development of wealthy farmers through regular meetings and also on a more personal and private basis. However, on many occasions extensionists also helped to expedite congruent goals shared by both farmers and the district state agricultural planners. In other words, extension agents were links between society and state objectives. It is possible that, as wealthy farmers continue to grow in strength and experience, they may outgrow the need for the extensionists’ skills. The role of extensionists linking state to society may also recede, as farmers form their own cogent cooperative groups able to represent and serve members’ interests better. Private business may capture some extensionists; but this will depend on the lead extension officer’s policy choices, as will efforts to avoid marginalizing poorer farmers. The basis for fundamental change in district rural relations has already started taking place in Ben Luc. Extensionists and mass organizations have helped stimulate the formation of semi-formal and informal cooperative groups. Farmers themselves have taken the initiative to coalesce into cooperative groups, focusing around the achievement of local production goals. These groups have little in common with the new-style cooperatives such as the Dairy Cooperative in Duc Hoa (described in the following section), but potentially they represent a foundation for local societal groups at the boundaries of state control.

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Duc Hoa district: milking the rewards of a cooperative economy The leading official of the Duc Hoa Agriculture and Land Office in Hau Nghia liked to plan, and enjoyed outlining both the success and statistical goals of cultivating cash crops in the district.27 He was less interested in the famous new-style dairy cooperative whose offices were located close by. The matrix of relations between the district state agricultural office, the work of extensionists and the local farming community in Duc Hoa were not as cohesive nor aligned as in Ben Luc. The associates of the state and parts of the farming community were working together on an agrarian model of development, which was more aligned to national policy initiatives than to district or even provincial ones. Household farmers engaged in rice and cash crop production, so much the focus of extensionists in Ben Luc, were largely left to fend for themselves or seek assistance elsewhere. Agrarian development patterns in Duc Hoa did not have much in common with its neigbouring district of Ben Luc. There were two noticeable differences between Duc Hoa and Ben Luc. First was the distance between agencies responsible for agrarian matters in Duc Hoa. All these offices were scattered around the district seat, Hau Nghia, and officials and extensionists seldom met. Second was the greater size of this district, coupled with a less developed infrastructural system and more widely dispersed settlements and homes. As Table 2 indicates, Duc Hoa had fewer district extensionist staff than Ben Luc, and the average number of families per district extension officer was a huge 9,284. The problem of reaching and assisting a maximum number of farmers was difficult for the district extension office constrained by a small and locally generated budget. Upon entering the district extension office for the first time it was plain that extension in Duc Hoa had adopted different strategies to those in Ben Luc. First, input materials such as seeds and fertilizer that lay floor-to-ceiling in the Ben Luc office were entirely absent. Second, the noticeboard in Ben Luc that resembled a finely crafted and intricate battle plan of tightly scheduled meetings and train and visit schemes, was blank in Duc Hoa, except for a number of field trips and meetings being conducted in the dairy cooperative offices or at cooperative members houses. This extension office was not the focal point for local farmers or commune extension officers. The Duc Hoa extension office did operate some train and visit schemes, categorized into two types. Personnel from the District Plant

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Protection Office (Phong Bao ve Thuc vat) led the first type when implementing Integrated Pest Management (IPM). These were quite lavish affairs, probably due to generous donor funding for IPM activities. The participants were exclusively male and involved in the cultivation of sugar and corn. They were clearly prosperous and more urbane than many farmers in Ben Luc. Unlike the farmers in Ben Luc who did not trust bank loans, nearly all these Duc Hoa farmers had raised capital from the local bank. This correlated with the expectations of the director of the state agriculture and land office, who was keen to strengthen and simplify the credit arrangements for local farmers. Overall these train and visit schemes were business-like. They were not used as forums to discuss wider-ranging matters in the local commune, either during or after the meeting. Train and visit meetings in Duc Hoa were usually led by a commune rather than district extension officer. Those I observed were unsuccessful in transferring information or encouraging community discussion. The commune extension agent had no inputs to offer except the ubiquitous extension centre pamphlet, usually pertaining to pond-fish farming (nuoi ca ao). A few common themes ran through my interviews with farmers at these train and visit meetings: although they had experienced improved development in the last decade, life was still very hard and they had yet to see “results” (ket qua). No one had assisted them prior to the establishment of the district extension service and it was implied that they were still not being helped. On one occasion an old farmer announced to the meeting that further reform was needed for development and this must also include better-trained commune extension officers. The pervading sense from these meetings was that farmers wished to be left alone to work their family farms as they saw fit and without interference, however well intended. The main work of the district extension officers in Hau Nghia was to provide almost exclusive assistance to the dairy cooperative.28 This cooperative was registered in 1998 as a new-style cooperative and is officially operated under the guidelines of Decree 68, which set out its legal basis. The presence and indeed vitality of this large new-style cooperative is incongruent with both district farmers’ sentiments generally, and provincial policy. Attitudes against past collectives and the idea of new cooperatives (hop tac xa moi) provoked some critical and tentative reactions from farmers and provincial state agricultural

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officials.29 Clearly this type of cooperative was more aligned to central government and party polices. One of the five major resolutions stressed at the fifth plenum of the Party Central Committee in March 2002 was a continuing commitment to boost and support the collective economy, of which revamped cooperatives formed an indivisible part. According to Hong Vinh, a member of the Party Central Committee and permanent deputy chief of its Culture and Ideology Commission: Cooperatives are part of a socialist economic model and an important factor in the building of an equitable, democratic and civilized society. They help raise community-based development awareness. They also have the potential to increase cooperation with State-owned enterprises in order to boost sustainable economic development and re-enforce the peasant-worker alliance under the Party’s leadership.30

It seems strange in a Mekong delta province such as Long An that local extensionists should choose a strategy of assisting national development projects for large-scale cooperatives over more local development patterns, such as support for household units or assistance in facilitating more informal and smaller cooperative associations. It seems even more unusual considering that Duc Hoa district never even had one agricultural cooperative at the height of the push for collectivization in the early 1980s. How can these anomalies be explained? There are four ways to begin to explain the support and indeed success of this dairy cooperative in Duc Hoa. First, the very fact that Duc Hoa never had an agricultural cooperative may help explain why farmers were less apprehensive about joining a revamped cooperative later. Every participating farmer I interviewed articulated clearly that the impetus to join was predicated solely on voluntary will and a desire to seek higher profits. Second, whilst the new style cooperatives bear a strong linguistic relation to the old cooperatives, they are very different entities. Participating farmers own their own property and livestock and are not required to farm as a collective unit. Furthermore, this dairy cooperative was a democratic unit that benefited greatly from the charismatic and energetic leadership of the cooperative manager. Thirdly, the cooperative was almost immediately profitable and expanded rapidly as more farmers became eager to jump on the bandwagon. The fourth explanation is that the district associates of the state, and by this I mean extensionists and the cooperative manager, had enough latitude to seek alliances and patrons outside the province. The national

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government was eager to lend financial support for cooperatives (registered under Decree 68) and was a benefactor to struggling local agricultural services if they promoted favoured policies. The district extensionists, in tandem with the cooperative manager, were able to attract millions of dong from the National Institute of Animal Husbandry to experiment with new cross-bred cows. The district extensionists frequently led fieldwork trips around cooperative members’ farms for students from agricultural universities in Saigon and the Mekong, such as Can Tho University. If extensionists in Ben Luc were heading down the road to privatization due to their need to collaborate with private business, it is possible that Duc Hoa extensionists were becoming public relations agents for the dairy cooperative. The growing success of the cooperative was evident at the fortnightly meetings. The number of participating families swelled from eighty families in 1998 to two hundred and three families in 2002, and by this time a credit pool was being used to buy more machinery and better livestock. There were even plans to diversify into aquaculture. The cooperative was able to exploit a number of advantages: it was a favoured development project of national planners; it contributed to a market where the domestic consumption for dairy products was increasing by 14 per cent each year; and it was selling to a stable buyer — the state company Vinamilk. At the grassroots level, many cooperative members revealed a similar vitality and entrepreneurial spirit. One cooperative member, who had been amongst the first recruits, owned five dairy cattle and had branched out into a cottage tanning industry. He was employing off-farm labour in this enterprise, which was his own business and not part of the cooperative. Another farmer explained that he had first begun raising dairy cattle with assistance from the district extension agents in 1992, and in 1998 had decided to pool his resources into the dairy cooperative. It would seem clear that, once again, the district extension agents played a transitional role, acting as facilitators in the transfer of information, stimulating diversification and encouraging farmers to join the newstyle cooperative. What is not clear is the future role of extensionists. Perhaps they will become victims of their own success. Their promotion of the cooperative to external forces has been so successful that the cooperative enjoyed inputs of technology and skills from research institutes and universities with far higher levels of scientific training

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than possessed by the extension officers. Perhaps it is time to invest in better training for commune extension officers and focus on strategies to help poorer farmers in Duc Hoa.

Concluding remarks on the varying roles of extension in Ben Luc and Duc Hoa In regard to agricultural development, the matrix of district stateassociates-community elements was far more closely configured in Ben Luc. The district extension officers had chosen strategies of assistance that focused on support for household farms, and officers were encouraging the formation of informal cooperative groups. In Duc Hoa, however, extensionists channelled their efforts to assisting development of the new-style cooperative. This strategy represented stronger linkages with national policy objectives and outside inputs. These disparate approaches to agricultural development in two districts of one province in Vietnam indicate the significant local impact that associates of the state can have on transforming farming communities in their constituencies. The leitmotif that links the work of agricultural extension officers in these two districts is the transitional nature of their positions. In 2002, the extensionists were starting to experience an incremental erosion of their public roles as facilitators and conduits of technological and methodological information. In both districts, extensionists still have a potential role to play in assisting poorer farmers, but for this they will need to find more state or extra-state funding, which may well upset their delicate position at the interface between local state and local communities. It seems likely that in Ben Luc private interests will slowly capture the extension officers. In Duc Hoa their future is uncertain, having pinned their colours to a successful new-style cooperative that has moved beyond the assistance that the district extensionists can offer.

Notes 1

2 3

In Tan An, the Agricultural Extension Centre is officially known as Trung Tam Khuyen Nong, which does not include forestry (lam) which is normally included in the title at national level. Bao chi Long An, 23–29 September 1991. Vietnam: Managing Public Resources, p. 67.

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Each November the provincial extension centre must submit an annual budget proposal to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Tan An that takes into account district extension officer salaries and other costs of the provincial centre. This budget proposal must then be sanctioned by the provincial People’s Committee. Train and visit meetings are the most common method of transferring agricultural skills and technology to farmers. They are nearly always conducted by district extension officers in a public building or private house in a hamlet. The extension officer will talk for at least one hour on a chosen topic, such as production of sugar cane, after which there is usually a question and answer period. In Ben Luc district, where the system is employed more widely, meetings average twenty-five people. Nong Nghiep Viet Nam, no. 137, 27 August 2001. Tran Thi Van Anh and Nguyen Manh Huan, “Changing Rural Institutions”, p. 212. In addition to having an agricultural extension officer in every commune, the Agricultural Extension Centre information booklet states that all of these commune extension officers have completed education from between class 6 (13 years old) to class 12 (18 years old). See Bao Cao, Tong ket cong tac, pp. 1– 2. Interview with Mr Khuynh Diep, March 2002. This sentiment echoes the role Long An played in the Republic of Vietnam under Ngo Dinh Diem, when Saigon policy-makers decided that it would be the ideal province to showcase the regime’s agricultural and social policies. See Race, War Comes to Long An, pp. 211–16. Christoplos, Paradigms, Policy and Privatization, p. 10. Ranting and Zainuddin, “Training of Extension Workers”, p. 183. Christoplos, Paradigms, Policy and Privatization, p. 2. Mosher, An Introduction. Helmrich, Agricultural Strategies, p. 321. Thawnghnung, Paddy Farmers and the State, p. 168. Thawnghnung, Paddy Farmers and the State, p. 189. Werner and Belanger, “Introduction: Gender and Vietnam Studies”, pp. 13– 28. In Long An, the percentage of female agricultural labour is a startlingly high 80 per cent. Statistics provided by Ben Luc Women’s Association. It is calculated that 27.7 per cent of poor households in Long An have female heads of household. Statistics from Women’s Association, Ben Luc District. Werner, “Gender, household, State”, p. 33. Tran Thi Van and Nguyen Manh Huan, “Changing Rural Institutions”, pp. 201–14. Vietnam: Managing Public Resources, p. 77.

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It is normal practice for provincial candidates standing for election to the National Assembly to publish their intended agendas in the local provincial newspaper. See Bao Chi Long An, 20 July 1992, p. 1–2. Only once did I attend a training class that was exclusively attended by male farmers, in Tan My commune in Duc Hoa district. However, the meeting was led by an officer from the district Plant Protection Office on the issue of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and commune and district extensionists did not participate in this meeting. The title of “skilled production and commerce farmer” (nong dan san xuat kinh doanh gioi) is bestowed at commune, district and province level. Owing to the status it bestows on the recipient, it is thought to act as a stimulus for farmers and also an outreach and learning strategy for other farmers to follow the “model farmers” example. During 1997–99, 11,384 farmers were given this title at commune level, 2,546 at district level and 970 at province level. Statistics provided by Khuynh Diep, Tinh Hinh “tich tu” va “chuyen huong” ruong dat o DBSCL hien nay. These associations do not fall under the mandate of Decree 68 governing new-style cooperatives, but are instead an informal type of cooperative association that represent local efforts to enhance the development of local farming interests through cooperative practices. Fforde distinguishes between new-style cooperative groups which are public entities and other types of “cooperative groups” that are private entities. For more detailed discussion of this law and new cooperatives groups in general, see Fforde, “Vietnamese Rural Society”, pp. 3–13. Whilst diversification to cash crops has been a recurrent theme of Long An agricultural development in the last decade, Duc Hoa has always cultivated peanuts. Unlike many areas in Vietnam during the collectivization period, when state planners often enforced cultivation of inappropriate crops, the cultivation of peanuts has always been a successful state and household enterprise. For example, in 1976, Duc Hoa was already cultivating 6,000 hectares of this crop and apparently producing an annual 4,500 tonnes. See Bao Chi Long An, 25 September 1976. This strategy of extension correlates most closely to the North American model of extension, where assistance is provided within the framework of a cooperative group. Farmers and agricultural officials in Long An expressed dislike for collectivization which did not operate on the principles of voluntarism but rather involved coercion into collective ownership and work. Whilst the new-style cooperatives do not involve coercion and are more like voluntary agricultural cooperatives found in countries such as Canada, they were still regarded very tentatively. Many farmers did not have a full understanding of the laws governing new-style cooperatives, which are still reasonably

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ambiguous. See Fforde, “Vietnamese Rural Society”, p. 37. More informed members of the community in Long An did not want to join a new-style cooperative since the laws were not considered liberal enough yet (chua thong thoang). Vietnam News, 3 April 2002.

Bibliography Adam Fforde (Aduki Pty Ltd) and Nguyen Dinh Huan. “Vietnamese Rural Society and its Institutions: Results of a Study of Cooperative Groups and Cooperatives in three Provinces”. June 2001. Bao Cao, Tong ket cong tac 5 nam 1997–2001 & phuong huong hoat dong giai doan 2002–2005 [Summarizing achievements for the period 1997–2001 and plans for the period 2002–2005] Tan An: Long An Agricultural Extension Centre, 2001. Diep, Khuynh. Tinh Hinh “tich tu” va “chuyen huong” ruong dat o DBSCL hien na [The situation of accumulating and transferring land in the Mekong Delta today]. Unpublished paper. Helmrich, Hans. “Principles and Prospects of Sustainable Farmers Institutions in the Punjab”. In Agricultural Strategies for the 1990’s: Issues and Policies, edited by A.S. Haider et al. Islamabad: PAASS, 1991, pp. 316–31. Christoplos, Ian. Paradigms, Policy and Privatization in Vietnamese Agricultural Extension. Working Paper 275. Uppsala: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 1995. Maung Thawnghnung, Ardeth. “Paddy Farmers and the State: Agricultural Policies and Legitimacy in Rural Burma”. PhD dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 2001. Mosher, Arthur T. An Introduction to Agricultural Extension. New York: Agricultural Development Council, 1973. Race, Jeffrey. War Comes to Long An: Revolutionary Conflict in a Vietnamese Province. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973. Ranting, Salby and Tormodi Zainuddin. “Training of Extension Workers in Malaysia”. In Improving Extension Strategies for Rural Development, edited by Suldiman Yassin et al. Bangi: Universiti Pertanian Malaysia Press, 1984, pp. 177–91. Tran Thi Van Anh and Nguyen Manh Huan. “Changing Rural Institutions and Social Relations”. In Vietnam’s Rural Transformation, edited by Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet and Doug Porter. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1995, pp. 201–14. Government of Vietnam et al. Vietnam: Managing Public Resources Better. Public Expenditure Review 2000, Volume II. Hanoi: Joint Report of the Government of Vietnam and Donor Group, December 2000.

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Werner, Jayne. “Gender, Household, and State: Renovation (Doi Moi) as a Social Process in Viet Nam”. In Gender, Household, State: Doi Moi in Viet Nam, edited by Jayne Werner and Daniele Belanger. Ithaca, NY: Southeast Asia Program Publications, 2002. Werner, Jayne. “Introduction: Gender and Viet Nam Studies”. In Gender, Household, State: Doi Moi in Viet Nam, edited by Jayne Werner and Daniele Belanger. Ithaca, NY: Southeast Asia Program Publications, 2002.

Newspapers Bao Chi Long An (Long An Newspaper). Nong Nghiep Viet Nam (Vietnamese Agriculture). Vietnam News

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Reproduced from Beyond Hanoi: Local Government in Vietnam, edited by Benedict J Tria Kerkvliet and David G Marr (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http:// bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

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10 Ho Chi Minh City’s Post-1975 Political Elite: Continuity and Change in Background and Belief Martin Gainsborough

In the field of Vietnam studies, Ho Chi Minh City’s association with reform is one of the more entrenched beliefs. Government officials, diplomats, business people, journalists and academics have all at one time or another laid the reformist label at the city’s door. Ho Chi Minh City is associated with reform, and its leaders are referred to as “reformers” and “technocrats”.1 However, there are many problems with the use of such terms. The first is that they are rarely defined, leaving one to gauge their implicit meaning. “Reformer” is usually taken to imply “greater support for the market” or perhaps support for “the rule of law”. Reformers are also not generally regarded as corrupt.2 Amid this vagueness and questionable logic, one suspects there is a tendency — possibly unconscious — to equate reformer with neo-liberal.3 The term “technocrat” is also rarely defined although it traditionally implies some kind of specialist, with higher education credentials. Less explicitly, it also assumes the elevation of technical criteria over political ones in decision-making. Both are major claims.

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A second criticism of the use of the terms “reformer” and “technocrat” is simply that they represent a far too wooden and one-dimensional depiction of Ho Chi Minh City’s leadership over a period of more than twenty-five years. Over such a timeframe, we are clearly dealing with a large number of leaders, particularly if we include departmental (so) and district (quan) politicians. At the very least, the definition of what constitutes a reformer is likely to change over time. Thus, what Nguyen Van Linh or Mai Chi Tho considered reform is likely to be quite different from that of the current generation. While a full examination of the validity or otherwise of the terms “reformer” and “technocrat” is beyond the scope of this chapter, a critical approach to such terminology is prudent. What, for instance, is there about the background of Ho Chi Minh City’s post-1975 leadership, which would lead us to expect them to forge a novel and independent path compared with those in charge of the rest of the country? When looking at the background of the city’s political elite, it is evident that many of them fought for the liberation of their country from colonialism, and later sought to rise up the political ladder in a unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam. These are people who are largely “of the system”. It may be that subsequent events led the city’s leaders to forge a new path. However, based on the material presented here, there is little to suggest that Ho Chi Minh City politicians would strive for reform. I will revisit some of these issues later in the chapter, particularly when looking at attitudes of city politicians towards the centre and when considering ways of qualifying the use of the term “technocrat”. The study is based on unpublished biographical data on Ho Chi Minh City’s political leaders extracted from newspaper reports, including one-off pieces of information as well as full biographies. Where relevant, the data is supplemented with more anecdotal and subjective evidence provided by informants as well as information taken from interviews, speeches, and other public statements of politicians. Most of the data was collected over a period of three years (1996–99) when I was resident in Ho Chi Minh City. However, it has been updated to take account of more recent changes. Aside from offering a clearer picture of who has actually run Ho Chi Minh City since 1975, close scrutiny of politicians’ biographical data offers a number of other benefits for students of politics. First, by comparing politicians’ career paths, we can gain insights into relationships

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between politicians, including those between protégés and backers. While the fact that one person can be seen to have consistently followed in another’s footsteps is not determinative, it does at least highlight the possibility of “close” political relations, the existence of which can be explored at a later date.4 In a society where insights about politicians are rare or frequently based on rumour or hearsay, such an approach offers a more empirically grounded starting point on which to explore a key dynamic in Vietnamese politics, namely the existence of loose, constantly re-forming, political groups. Second, and not unrelated to the previous point, close scrutiny of politicians’ biographical data offers insights into links between politicians and business. Of course, politicians’ business interests often remain hidden and hence do not show up in biographical data. However, certain details are evident, such as chairing the management boards of joint stock banks, shareholdings in limited liability companies, or appointments in state enterprises. By tracking these over time, one can gain insights into the institutional and personal affiliations linking politicians with business. These connections, backed in some cases by commercial interests, offer an empirical basis on which to say something about the existence of political groups in Vietnam. Naturally, the question arises as to which politicians to focus on and what aspects of their careers to highlight. The Ho Chi Minh City Party Executive Committee (Ban Chap hanh Dang bo) and the smaller, inner Standing Committee (Ban Thuong vu Thanh uy) provide a useful guide to who has been prominent in the city’s politics since 1975. However, one also needs to be alert to the fact that influential “seats of power” exist in more lowly places. The availability of data dictates, to some extent, who is profiled in this chapter. As one would expect, data are more readily available on those who have held high-profile party and government positions in Ho Chi Minh City than shadowy military and security types, or those who have sat on behind-the-scenes party committees. However, as far as is possible, the chapter offers data on a cross-section of the city’s post-1975 politicians. The chapter proceeds as follows. It first looks at politicians who have held the post of party secretary (bi thu thanh uy) in Ho Chi Minh City since 1975, then highlights characteristics such as: place of birth, wartime experience, experience gained prior to taking up the post, central experience, including Politburo or Central Committee representation,

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and whether a politician went on to hold a subsequent appointment or not. Following the same pattern, politicians who have held the post of chair of the City People’s Committee (uy ban nhan dan thanh pho), deputy chairs, or departmental director (giam doc so) come under scrutiny. Finally, politicians who have held positions in district offices are examined. When focusing on these different posts, politicians can crop up more than once. Thus, if a politician served as a district party secretary later becoming a People’s Committee deputy chair, then he or she would be included in the data sets which underpin the analysis of both posts. This is designed to avoid a distorting effect on our profile of those who have held lower-level posts in the city. Having reviewed the different posts, I seek to draw out common themes regarding the background and beliefs of Ho Chi Minh City’s post-1975 elite. This includes dividing the city’s leaders into generational groups according to their career experiences and exploring continuity and change of belief between these groups. Any assertions about belief need to be made with caution, since there is a limit as to what one can say about a person’s beliefs based purely on biographical data. However, where possible, my statements will be supported by other data. A key question considered in the chapter is the extent to which those leaders who have held office in the city during the reform years can be seen to be internalizing neo-liberal ideas about the relationship between the state and market as opposed to simply being adept at using the language. The conclusion considers ways in which we might helpfully qualify the “technocrat” label. Those members of the political elite who have held the post of party secretary in Ho Chi Minh City since 1975 are the subject of the next section. Ho Chi Minh City party secretaries Five people have held the post of city party secretary in Ho Chi Minh City since 1975: Nguyen Van Linh, who held the post twice; Vo Van Kiet; Vo Tran Chi; Truong Tan Sang and Nguyen Minh Triet (see Table 1 below). In keeping with the idea of democratic centralism, the centre selects potential candidates for city party secretary from the Executive Committee, which party officers (from the same level i.e. the Executive Committee) vote on.5 The city party secretary is the highest appointment in Ho Chi Minh City, answerable only to the centre. Although formally

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TABLE 1 Ho Chi Minh City Party Secretaries 1976–present Nguyen Van Linh Vo Van Kiet Nguyen Van Linh Vo Tran Chi Truong Tan Sang Nguyen Minh Triet

1976 1976–81 1981–88 1988–96 1996–00 2000–

Sources: Tuoi Tre, 28 April 1998; Sai Gon Giai Phong, 25 September 1992, 6 November 1986 and 15 May 1996; BBC, SWB FE/3738 B/6, 15 January 2000.

the secretary is responsible for party affairs only, informally given the party’s pervasive role in Ho Chi Minh City, the secretary is ultimately responsible for all political, administrative and socio-economic matters. Ho Chi Minh City’s party secretaries have been southerners by birth, except for Nguyen Van Linh, who was born in the northern province of Hai Hung.6 According to his official write-up, Linh first came to Saigon on party business in 1939 when he was 24 years old.7 All the city’s party secretaries remained south after 1954 and were politically active during the second Vietnam war. However, given the wide range in their ages, their experiences varied. The last two party secretaries (Truong Tan Sang and Nguyen Minh Triet) were only in their late 20s and early 30s in 1975, and were youth and labour union organizers respectively, whilst their predecessors held much higher positions.8 Nguyen Van Linh and Vo Van Kiet were both senior leaders in the Central Office for South Vietnam by the end of the war.9 Kiet was the party’s special representative on the Military Management Committee that took control of Saigon at Liberation.10 Vo Tran Chi, who served as party secretary in Ho Chi Minh City from 1986–96, was a militia leader in his native Long An province during the war.11 Since the end of the war in 1975, those being appointed party secretary have generally come to the post with more experience of working in the city’s districts or departments during the 1980s and 1990s than their predecessors. A good example in Ho Chi Minh City, of a party secretary who has risen up through the districts and the departments is Truong Tan Sang, who served as party secretary in Binh Chanh district (1986– 88) and as director of the Agriculture Department (1990–91) before being

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appointed city party secretary.12 Similarly, Vo Tran Chi, served as party secretary in District 5 and head of the city party’s agricultural department (phan ban nong thon thanh uy) before being appointed city party secretary.13 In the case of Nguyen Minh Triet, his experience was gained in southern provincial politics, serving as deputy party secretary and secretary in Binh Duong province (former Song Be) from 1988–97.14 Triet, therefore, had considerably less experience of working in Ho Chi Minh City prior to becoming party secretary than any of his predecessors. However, Triet did serve as party deputy permanent secretary (Pho bi thu thuong truc Thanh uy) in Ho Chi Minh City for just under a year in 1997–98.15 Also, since 1991 the party secretary in Ho Chi Minh City has always been a Politburo member. Previously the city’s party secretary had only been a Central Committee member. The change occurred when Vo Tran Chi was party secretary. Chi became a Politburo member half way through his time in office, at the Seventh Party Congress in 1991.16 The last two party secretaries also appear to have greater central experience than their predecessors. Truong Tan Sang, for example, was selected in 1989 to study at the party’s ideological school, the Nguyen Ai Quoc Institute (now the Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy) in Hanoi,17 an activity associated with someone being groomed for high office. Nguyen Minh Triet served as head of the central party’s Mass Mobilization Committee before being appointed party secretary in Ho Chi Minh City.18 Ho Chi Minh City party secretaries have often gone on to hold high political office at the centre. Nguyen Van Linh went on to be party general-secretary (1986–91), while Vo Van Kiet went on to be prime minister (1992–97).19 Truong Tan Sang became head of the Central Party Economics Committee (Ban Kinh Te Trung Uong Dang).20 The exception is Vo Tran Chi, who went into retirement after his period as party secretary. Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee chairs Since 1975 there have been seven city-level People’s Committee chairs in Ho Chi Minh City: Vo Van Kiet; Mai Chi Tho; Phan Van Khai; Nguyen Vinh Nghiep; Truong Tan Sang; Vo Viet Thanh and Le Thanh Hai (see Table 2 below). Appointment of the city-level People’s Committee chair is formally voted on by the People’s Council at the same level. However,

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in reality, the candidate’s name originates from the city party committee. The prime minister must approve (phe chuan) the People’s Council’s “choice” but cannot appoint (bo nhiem) the People’s Committee chair.21 Also, the city People’s Committee chair is always the deputy secretary of the city party committee and a member of the city party Standing Committee. The People’s Committee is the executive organ of the locally elected People’s Council (hoi dong nhan dan), with the People’s Committee chair the senior figure. The chair is responsible for all government decision-making, including supervising the work of the deputy chair and departmental directors. Six out of the seven people who have held the People’s Committee chair’s portfolio have been southerners by birth. The exception is Mai Chi Tho, who served as People’s Committee chair from 1976–85. Tho was born in the north, although, like Nguyen Van Linh, he spent considerable time in the south during the war.22 Tho is the younger brother of the now deceased national politician, Le Duc Tho.23 The majority of those who have held the post of People’s Committee chair remained south during the second Vietnam war. Mai Chi Tho finished the war as head of security in an area known as T4, which incorporated Saigon-Gia Dinh and a number of southern provinces.24 Vo Viet Thanh, who was appointed People’s Committee chair in 1996, worked in military intelligence during the war.25 Le Thanh Hai remained south during the war, although he is not renowned for his war record.26 Hai first came to prominence as head of the Youth Volunteer Force (Luc

TABLE 2 Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committe Chairs 1975–present Vo Van Kiet Mai Chi Tho Phan Van Khai Nguyen Vinh Nghiep Truong Tan Sang Vo Viet Thanh Le Thanh Hai

1976 1976–85 1985–89 1989–92 1992–96 1996–01 2001–

Sources: Sai Gon Giai Phong, 1 May 1977; 27 October 1991, 25 September 1992, 26 September 1997; Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon, 20–26 August 1992, 27 June–3 July 1996 and 24 May 2001.

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Luong Thanh Nien Xung Phong), a post he took up after 1975.27 This was a common route of career advancement for those who rose to hold high office in Ho Chi Minh City in the 1990s. Both Vo Viet Thanh and Truong Tan Sang also held positions in the Youth Volunteer Force early in their careers.28 The only People’s Committee chair who did not serve in the south during the war is Phan Van Khai, who, as a 21-year old, re-grouped to the north (tap ket ra Bac) in 1954. During the war he held various departmental-level positions in the State Planning Committee and in the Reunification Committee, which was set up on the eve of victory in the south. From 1960 to 1965 he studied at the People’s Economics University in Moscow.29 Those who served as People’s Committee chairs first gained postwar experience in the city. Mai Chi Tho served briefly as chief of police in Ho Chi Minh City after the war, before becoming People’s Committee chair. Following in his footsteps was another future People’s Committee chair, Vo Viet Thanh, who, after studying law in the Soviet Union, returned to Ho Chi Minh Ciy to be Tho’s deputy in the police department. Thanh later succeeded Tho as police chief. Before becoming People’s Committee chair, Thanh also served as deputy interior minister. Once again, his boss was Mai Chi Tho, highlighting, it would appear, another clear instance of a protégé–backer relationship.30 Aside from Phan Van Khai’s wartime experience in Hanoi, Vo Viet Thanh is the only People’s Committee chair to come to the job with central experience. The career background of the present People’s Committee chair, Le Thanh Hai is, by contrast, thoroughly home-grown. He was party secretary in District 5 and also served as director of both the city’s Housing and Land Department and its Department of Planning and Investment. Hai is also the one-time chair of the management board of the joint stock bank Buildebank. This is a post he held by virtue of his position as director of the Housing and Land Department, but it highlights an association between that institution and Buildebank.31 Nearly all People’s Committee chairs in Ho Chi Minh City have been Central Committee members.32 The exception is Vo Viet Thanh, who was made a member of the Central Committee in 1986, only to lose his position in 1991. He remained without Central Committee status throughout his tenure as People’s Committee chair, something which was said to be a source of political weakness for him.33 Thanh’s difficulties

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followed the death of Le Duc Tho in 1990 and Mai Chi Tho’s loss of ministerial rank, suggesting some link between Thanh’s fortunes and the two brothers. Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee chairs have often gone on to hold higher office, including at the centre. Two People’s Committee chairs (Vo Van Kiet and Truong Tan Sang) went on directly to be party secretary in the city, before later holding central office, as we have seen.34 Phan Van Khai went on to be chair of the State Planning Committee (1989–91) before eventually becoming prime minister (1997–present), succeeding Vo Van Kiet.35 Mai Chi Tho went on to be interior minister (1987–91).36 The exceptions are Nguyen Vinh Nghiep and Vo Viet Thanh, for whom the People’s Committee chairship represented the culmination of their political careers.37 City People’s Committee deputy chairs and departmental directors38 City-level People’s Committee deputy chairs are elected by the city People’s Council, although, as with the People’s Committee chair appointment, there is the normal party supervision in the appointment process. In addition, the People’s Committee chair is empowered to recommend candidates for deputy chair to the People’s Council.39 The appointment of departmental directors is formally the responsibility of the city People’s Committee chair. People’s Committee deputy chairs are usually delegated specific areas of responsibility within the city by the chair. These include: land, housing, construction, communications and transport; planning, investment, agriculture and rural affairs; municipal trade, economics, finance and banking; or social and cultural affairs. Departmental directors have administrative and regulatory responsibility in their functionally specified area (e.g. housing and land or industry). This includes formal oversight of state enterprises belonging to their department. Like their senior counterparts, those who have held the post of either People’s Committee deputy chair or been departmental directors since 1975 are predominantly southern-born. Many have come from the Mekong Delta.40 Most remained south during the war, in which a number played an active part. Pham Chanh Truc, who was born in Tien Giang in 1939 and was People’s Committee deputy chair in the mid-1990s, worked underground for the Youth Union in Saigon during the war,

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spending time in jail during the 1960s.41 Another People’s Committee deputy chair, Le Minh Chau, who was born in Can Tho in 1935, was a member of the Standing Committee of the party group (khu Doan uy) in Sai Gon-Gia Dinh during the war. He was imprisoned on Poulo Condore island from 1965–75. Chau served as People’s Committee deputy chair in 1995–96.42 A smaller number of deputy chairs or departmental directors spent the war years in the north. We have already mentioned Phan Van Khai. Another is Le Van Nam, who was the director of the Construction Department in the early 1990s. Nam was born in Dong Thap in 1938. He relocated north in 1954 when he was sixteen. Like Phan Van Khai, Nam’s war years included a period of study in the former Soviet Union. Nam later become the chief architect in Ho Chi Minh City, reporting directly to the prime minister.43 The most common post-war experience of deputy People’s Committee chairs and departmental directors in Ho Chi Minh City since 1975 is that gained in the city’s districts or departments. Pham Chanh Truc, for example, is a former party secretary in District 5.44 Le Minh Chau also rose up the district and departmental ranks, serving first as party secretary in District 6 before later becoming director of the Department of Trade.45 In 1995 he was instrumental in the establishment of a general corporation, the Saigon General Trading Corporation (Tong Cong Ty Thuong Mai Sai Gon), which grouped largely trade department companies and which he headed.46 Another mid-1990s People’s Committee deputy chair with experience in the districts was (Ba) Le Thi Van. Born in Cu Chi in 1942, she served as People’s Committee chair in Tan Binh District for eight years until 1994. Van’s career came to an abrupt end in 1996 when she was implicated in the Tamexco corruption case.47 Other People’s Committee deputy chairs or departmental directors have come to these posts with a background in planning or in party work (Phan Van Khai and Pham Phuong Thao).48 Some have worked in state business (Nguyen Van Chi).49 A minority have come with deputy ministerial experience (Le Van Triet and Vo Viet Thanh).50 Since the second half of the 1990s we have begun to see the emergence of deputy People’s Committee chairs and departmental directors with greater experience of higher education than their predecessors. The first to emerge in this mould was Tran Thanh Long, who served as People’s Committee deputy chair from 1996 to 1999. Born in Ben Tre in 1940,

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Long studied in both the former Soviet Union and East Germany. Prior to becoming deputy People’s Committee chair, his experience was almost exclusively as an academic.51 The current crop of People’s Committee deputy chairs are particularly representative of this new breed. Nguyen Thien Nhan, who was appointed People’s Committee deputy chair in 1999, holds an associate professorship in economics and has a PhD in cybernetics and a Masters degree in public administration. However, he has also held departmental office, serving as director of the Department of Science, Technology and the Environment prior to becoming People’s Committee deputy chair.52 (Ba) Huynh Thi Nhan, who was appointed People’s Committee deputy chair in 2001, is a graduate from Ho Chi Minh City’s Economic University. Her early career was spent as People’s Committee chair in Hoc Mon district, after which she became director of the city’s Finance Department. Among the ranks of People’s Committee deputy chairs, we may also be seeing the emergence of people who have held “quasi-professional” administrative positions. The two other serving People’s Committee deputy chairs, Mai Quoc Binh and Nguyen Thanh Tai, who were appointed in 2001, both worked in the city government prior to their appointments. Binh headed up the city government’s committee on public administration reform (Ban Chi dao cai cach hanh chanh), while Tai was the head of the office of the city People’s Committee.53 All of the serving People’s Committee deputy chairs were born in the early 1950s and hence were too young to have played much part in the war. Another up-and-coming politician with higher educational experience is Le Hong Liem. His early career was spent as party secretary in District 5, although he also has the degree of candidate doctor (pho tien si), pointing to a period of academic study. Liem was born in 1954 and is the former director of the Department of Culture and Information. Liem is now chair of the city party inspection committee (Uy ban Kiem tra Thanh uy).54 District appointments55 District party secretaries are selected by the city party committee, with the appointment then voted on by the district party Executive Committee. The appointment of district People’s Committee chair is voted on by the district People’s Council, although the candidate’s

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name originates from the city party committee. For those who have held district office since 1975 the norm is for them to have been born in the south, although not necessarily in Ho Chi Minh City.56 For those who held district office in the 1970s and 1980s, many were politically active in the south during the war.57 Two politicians who held district office in the 1980s and who had prominent war records include Do Hoang Hai and (Ba) Truong My Hoa. They were both members of the party group in Sai Gon-Gia Dinh during the war and both spent time in prison on Poulo Condore. According to an official write-up, Hoa is said to have been put in the tiger cages on two occasions and yet remained steadfast in her support for the party, continuing to organize in prison.58 Hoa later went on to hold central office, first as vice-chair of the National Assembly and then as SRV vice-president. Hai remained in Ho Chi Minh City, holding numerous positions in state business before becoming head of the city party Economics Committee (Ban kinh te Thanh uy) in the late 1990s. Hai’s career also follows closely that of former People’s Committee deputy chair, Le Minh Chau. They served together in the war, while Hai later succeeded Chau as party secretary in District 6. We have spoken of Chau’s period of office at the Department of Trade and his role in establishing the Saigon General Trading Corporation. Many of the positions Hai held in state business were with trade department-affiliated companies. Moreover, when Saigon General Trading Corporation was established, he served as Chau’s deputy. Chau is also married to Truong My Hoa’s sister, Truong My Le.59 As the years have elapsed since the end of the war, the existence of a war record amongst those who have held district office has declined. Most of those currently holding district office, for example, were born in the mid-1950s or a little later. Thus, at the time of the Tet offensive in 1968, they were in their very early teens, while by 1975 they were just entering adulthood and hence did not play much part in the war. Broadly speaking, District-office holders have brought junior party or government position experience to their posts. For those who held district office in the 1980s, these included positions in the trade union movement (Le Minh Chau, Do Hoang Hai) or the Youth Volunteer Force (Truong Tan Sang, Le Thanh Hai). A few came with departmental office experience (Truong Tan Sang, Le Thanh Hai). It is commonplace for

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people to be promoted within the same district. It is less common but by no means unheard of for district office holders to move between districts. As with People’s Committee deputy chairs, the existence of a university education amongst district office holders has become more common since the second half of the 1990s.60 District party secretaries are routinely members of the city party Executive Committee. It is virtually unheard of for them to have central experience or have a Central Committee seat. The exception is Truong My Hoa, who was made an alternate member of the party Central Committee and a member of the city party Standing Committee in 1986 when she was party secretary in Tan Binh district.61 For many politicians, district office represents the pinnacle of their career. However, for those who have progressed higher, the most common route of advancement is to be made a director of a department (Le Minh Chau, Le Thanh Hai, Le Hong Liem, Huynh Thi Nhan). A handful have gone straight on to be People’s Committee deputy chairs (Pham Chanh Truc, Le Thi Van). Some have gone to a city-level party post (Vo Tran Chi) or into state business (Do Hoang Hai, Do Van Hoang). Truong Tan Sang went on to the Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy in Hanoi. Truong My Hoa went straight on to hold central office but this is unprecedented. Continuity and change in background and belief Having surveyed Ho Chi Minh City’s post-1975 political elite, I now divide the city’s leaders into generational groups based on their career experience and explore continuity and change of belief between these groups. Based on career background, it seems appropriate to divide Ho Chi Minh City’s post-1975 leaders into four generational groups: wartime leaders; regroupees; party activists; and graduates.

Wartime leaders Wartime leaders comprise those city leaders who held senior or middle ranking leadership positions in the south during the second Vietnam war, including Nguyen Van Linh, Vo Van Kiet, Mai Chi Tho, and Vo Tran Chi. Of all the city’s leaders, the war shaped their lives immensely. Indeed, for many of them, their war service stretched back into the 1940s. They were also relatively old when the shift from central planning towards the market economy occurred.

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Regroupees Regroupee refers to those people who relocated from south to north when the country was partitioned in 1954 only to return south following Liberation in 1975. The most celebrated regroupee is Phan Van Khai. Regroupees do not appear particularly frequently among those who have held political office in the city since 1975. However, they are worth identifying as a separate group since they crop up with some regularity among less high-profile positions in the state sector, including in higher education.62

Party activists Party activists comprise a younger generation who were politically active in the south during the war but on account of their youth held junior positions. These include Do Hoang Hai, Truong My Hoa, Truong Tan Sang, Vo Viet Thanh and Nguyen Minh Triet. The present People’s Committee chair, Le Thanh Hai is also in this group. Although he does not have much of a war record, he is linked to this generation through his age and his activities in the Youth Volunteer Force. Most members of this group were born in the 1940s or at the very beginning of the 1950s. Also included are Le Minh Chau and Pham Chanh Truc. Born in 1935 and 1939 respectively, they are significantly older than others in this group. However, like their younger colleagues, they held relatively junior positions in the war and are very much of the same generation in terms of their post-war experience. Party activists rose to the peak of their careers in Ho Chi Minh City during the reform years. However, they had some experience of planning and were partially schooled in the ways of the Vietnamese bureaucracy, understood in terms of the tendency of particular institutions to defend their territory from other institutions. Compared to their predecessors, they have had greater contact with foreigners, including diplomats, government or multilateral institution delegations, and foreign businesspeople. They have also had more opportunity to travel outside the former Eastern bloc.

Graduates Graduates are those leaders who have had broader higher education experience than their predecessors. In some cases this includes direct exposure to neo-liberal ideas about economics. Like party activists, they

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have also travelled more and have had greater contact with foreigners. This group first emerged during the second half of the 1990s. It can be seen particularly among the current generation of People’s Committee deputy chairs and among some department and district office holders. Changing beliefs Looking at these four groups it is tempting to see large differences between them in terms of belief. For example, Vo Tran Chi, although the party secretary in Ho Chi Minh City during 1986–96, was never a great supporter of untrammelled markets nor someone who associated with Western business people. His views are different from later deputy chairs of the city’s people’s committee who were more relaxed about a market economy. Indeed, Chi’s comments in the press, and those made about him to this author, suggest he was firmly wedded to the idea that the state should play the leading role in the economy. In the late 1980s, he was quoted as saying that people should not be afraid of markets since with state control of the economy there could be no capitalist economy.64 One informant described Chi as “quite a hardliner”, who was not confident in his dealings with foreigners, and did not like the private sector. The informant also said Chi was not a “strategic thinker” like Linh or Kiet.64 Comparing wartime leaders with regroupees, it is hard to identify clear differences in belief, although their contrasting wartime experiences may have created something of a “us and them” mentality. Regroupees spent the war years in Hanoi either in administrative positions in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam or, if they were of school-age, in education. Some experienced a period of overseas study in the former Soviet Union or another Eastern bloc country. Whether this translated into a different approach to administration, or even different beliefs, is hard to say. To the extent that we are now beginning to see the emergence of a new generation of leaders in Ho Chi Minh City who are too young to have played much part in the war, it is worth asking whether the war continues to be regarded as important in terms of people’s beliefs or worldview. The suspicion must be that the war will become less important in the future, with higher educational achievement or overseas experience eclipsing it as the new rite of passage for aspiring city leaders.

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Ho Chi Minh City politicians are rarely so bold as to offer opinions on the future of the Communist Party or whether Vietnam might at some point allow opposition parties. However, it is interesting to consider whether the younger generation might be more able to envisage some kind of alternative political future than some of their predecessors. That said, there is nothing at the moment to suggest that any of the city’s present leaders would diverge from the official line that, since the party knows the will of the people, and only exists to serve them, there is no need for an opposition.65 Continuity of belief It seems appropriate to emphasize relative continuity of belief between generational groups in four areas: attitudes to the war; views of the centre; views about the relationship between the state and market and about globalization; and perceptions of public and private.

Attitudes to the war There is reason to believe that the war continues to rank highly among what members of Ho Chi Minh City’s elite consider important, certainly into the late 1990s. Called to give evidence at the Tamexco corruption trial in 1997, former People’s Committee deputy chair, Le Thi Van, exclaimed in her defence that she was from a “revolutionary martyr family” (gia dinh liet si). For her this was clearly important, carrying the implication that she should be taken at her word.66 Another indication of the way in which war service — and not necessarily your own — still counted for something in the late 1990s, emerged in the same trial. Commenting on the commuting of one man’s death sentence to life imprisonment, the judge said that it was his father’s deeds which were the “crucial factor in saving him”, and that he was “very lucky” to have a “hero as a father”.67

Views of the centre The central experience of city leaders continues to be important across generations. “Central experience” means these leaders who either held positions in Hanoi before holding office in Ho Chi Minh City or held a Politburo or Central Committee seat concurrently with their city office. As we have seen, central experience is the norm amongst city party secretaries and People’s Committee chairs, but it is also evidently true

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from time to time among People’s Committee deputy chairs. Such an observation is striking, as it is often said that the city’s leaders are at odds with central policy. This study concedes there are some conflicts of interest or differences in outlook between the city and the centre. However, it suggests that central interests or influences on local politicians — as implied by their biographical data — points to a more ambivalent relationship between city politicians and the centre than has been previously assumed. That so many Ho Chi Minh City politicians have subsequently gone on to hold central office also suggests that local politicians have an ambiguous view of the centre, which may in turn affect their behaviour. If a politician has aspirations to move up the political ladder, he or she may view the centre differently from one who has no such ambitions.68 Such a distinction shows up among politicians grouped under the heading of party activists. Those whose careers have been entirely local are much more entrenched in state business networks — and defending their interests in the face of perceived central encroachment — than those whose careers have been more connected to the centre. Le Minh Chau and Do Hoang Hai, for example, spent their entire careers in Ho Chi Minh City. Truong Tan Sang, Vo Viet Thanh, and Le Thanh Hai have either served at the centre or obtained Central Committee seats. This may help to explain why Le Minh Chau and Do Hoang Hai were calling for the revoking of a central government decree in 1995 that undermined speculative land trading.69

State, market and globalization The areas of belief most ripe for change would appear to be those which deal with issues such as the relationship between state and market, or attitudes towards the world economy or globalization. Accordingly, those leaders who have grown up or risen to office in the reform era would be most susceptible to changing views. However, there are reasons to be cautious about the likely extent of any change. First, increased contact between Ho Chi Minh City’s leaders during the reform years has not just been with foreigners of an unrepentantly neo-liberal disposition. East Asian government and business delegations advocating a much more interventionist approach to the market have also extended aid, invested or sought to influence the city’s politicians. Thus, before even considering how new ideas are being received, it is

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evident that the message about how to run the economy has been mixed. Second, scrutiny of those politicians associated with the rise of new state business interests in Ho Chi Minh City’s departments and districts in the 1990s — some of whom have been highlighted in this paper — also leads one to be cautious about the extent to which neo-liberal ideas are being adopted or internalized. While city politicians have been quick to take advantage of new business opportunities which have accompanied the shift from plan to market, their commercial success is predicated largely on their ability to exploit loopholes available in the partially reformed economy, or advantages open to them as members of the elite. These include preferential access to capital, land, licences and contracts. Thus, while city politicians have been quick to profit from the market, they are not especially interested in a level playing-field or the lifting of restrictions on the participation of others.70

Public and private Neo-liberal ideas embody assumptions about a separation between public and private, even if these ideas are not always observed in practice in societies which formally claim to uphold them. In Vietnam, the influence of such ideas are implicit in public administration reform programmes, which took hold in the 1990s, and in regulations which try to get politicians to declare their assets or set out when holders of public office may engage in business.71 The poor observance of such practices in Ho Chi Minh City indicates that the separation of public and private has not yet taken root, suggesting there is probably a high degree of continuity in belief on these issues across generations of leaders in Ho Chi Minh City.72 Thus, even the younger generation of city leaders, who have been more exposed to neoliberal thinking advocating a separation of the public and private spheres, would generally see nothing wrong with the receipt of money or gifts for the carrying out of certain bureaucratic functions, or exploiting knowledge gained through one’s public position for private gain.73 Equally, while public administration reform programmes have spoken about the need for public servants to meet minimum education or qualification standards — thus elevating merit as a criteria for appointments — one suspects that few leaders would have any qualms about helping their friends or relations secure a job. Again, views on these issues are unlikely to have changed much between generations.

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Concluding remarks: technocrats or something else? At the beginning of the chapter we noted the tendency to label Ho Chi Minh City’s leaders as technocrats, with the implication that technical criteria took precedence over political criteria in decision-making. As higher educational achievement becomes more common among the city’s leaders, it is a label we can expect to hear more frequently. However, as it currently stands, the term is misleading. The academic literature on China offers some useful pointers in this respect. Writing about Shanghai in the 1980s and 1990s, Shi Chen talks in terms of “party technocrats”, which he describes as party members with technical or managerial expertise, or in other words “a hybrid of one-party rule and technocracy, indicating a new kind of politics”.74 By choosing the term “party technocrat”, Shi Chen clearly wishes to distance himself from more mainstream views of the technocrat which emphasizes its non-political nature. Looking at family politics and elite recruitment in post-Mao China, Murray Tanner and Michael Feder make a similar point. They argue that, in selecting their successors, politicians in China have not had to choose between technocracy and politics. According to Tanner and Feder, since it is the children of the elite, or those from well-connected families, who are often best placed to receive an education, Chinese politicians looking to secure their legacy in the new era have been able to appoint people who have both technical skills and are politically reliable.75 While we do not have much data on the Vietnamese elite’s children’s role in the emerging new leadership in Ho Chi Minh City, the approach of Shi Chen, Tanner and Feder seems to make sense of what data we do have. Among those city leaders who stand out as having stronger higher educational or professional administrative experience than their predecessors, all are members of key party institutions. Le Hong Liem (former director of the Department of Culture and Information), for example, sits on the city party Standing Committee, while Mai Quoc Binh, Huynh Thi Nhan, Nguyen Thien Nhan, and Nguyen Thanh Tai (all People’s Committee deputy chairs) are on the city party Executive Committee.76 Moreover, in line with Tanner and Feder’s point that politicians in China have not had to choose between technocracy and politics, Nguyen Thien Nhan is reputed to be the son of a prominent doctor who endeared himself to the party through good service during the war.77 In addition, one informant suggested to me that we should not necessarily take at face value lists of alleged higher educational

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attainment. The informant said that because academic qualifications are now seen as a means of securing political advancement, this had prompted a certain amount of jumping on the bandwagon. Referring to one politician in particular, the informant said that not everyone worked for their academic titles.78 In this respect, Shi Chen’s term “party technocrat”, implying a hybrid form of politician with superior education credentials but firmly ensconced in party networks, seems to capture the quality of Ho Chi Minh City’s newest leaders.

Notes 1

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For reference to Ho Chi Minh City leaders as reformers and technocrats see: Abuza, Renovating Politics, p. 163; Ban Thuong Vu Thanh Uy Dang Cong San Viet Nam, Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, pp. 29–40, 511– 532; Hiebert, Chasing the Tigers, pp. 111–23; Porter, Vietnam: The Politics of Bureaucratic Socialism, pp. 108–10, 141; Tonkin, “Vietnam: Market Reform and Ideology”, Turley and Womack, “Asian Socialism’s Open Doors”, pp. 102– 104, 111; Sheehan, Two Cities, pp. 80–82. For a good illustration of this see Duiker, Vietnam Since the Fall of Saigon, pp. 244–45. Neo-liberalism is understood as an approach to the market economy which advocates a small role for the state, embodying such processes as privatization, liberalization and deregulation. For background, see Held et al., Global Transformation. Lowell Dittmer also argues that the fact that people have served together provides no guarantees regarding the nature of their relations. See Dittmer, “Chinese Informal Politics”, p. 5. Nhan Dan website, Hanoi, in Vietnamese, January 13, 2000; BBC SWB FE/ 3738 B/6, 15 January 2000; Sai Gon Giai Phong, 24 March 1998; and Tuoi Tre, 1 June 1999. BBC SWB FE/5181/B5-6, 9 April 1976 and FE/8447/C2/12-13, 20 December 1986; Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon, 20–26 August 1992; Saigon Times Daily, 2 January 1997; Interview with journalist, 5 July 1999. All interviews cited in this chapter took place in Ho Chi Minh City. Linh is sometimes mistakenly identified as a southerner by birth. See Duiker, Vietnam, pp. 49, 337, note 15. Truong Tan Sang was arrested in 1971 when he was the secretary of the Youth Union (Doan Thanh Nien) operating underground in his native Long An province. Nguyen Minh Triet was assigned to labour union

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work in the south from 1963–75. See Sai Gon Giai Phong, 7 July 1992; Saigon Times Daily, 2 January 1997; Tuoi Tre, 30 December 1997. BBC, SWB FE/5181/B5-6, 9 April 1976 and FE/8447/C2/12-13, 20 December 1986. BBC, SWB FE/5181/B5-6, 9 April 1976. Interview with a journalist, 5 July 1999. Sang also served as director of the Forestry Department before becoming district party secretary in Binh Chanh. See Sai Gon Giai Phong, 7 July 1992. Note that both Vo Tran Chi and Truong Tan Sang came to the party secretary post with a background in agriculture. One source said that such a background used to be considered an important qualification for political office, but this is no longer the case. Interview with journalist, 5 July 1999. Tuoi Tre, 30 December 1997. Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon, 20–26 March 1997; Saigon Times Daily, 9 February 1998. Communist Party of Vietnam, 7th National Congress. Interview with a journalist, 5 July 1999. Saigon Times Daily, 9 February 1998; Nhan Dan website, Hanoi, in Vietnamese 13 January 2000 in BBC SWB FE/3738 B/6 15 January 2000. Tuoi Tre 28 April 1998; Sai Gon Giai Phong 25 September 1992, 23 November 1997 and 29 April 1998. http://www.vninfos.com/vninfos/select [Last checked 19 March 2002]. This goes back to amendments made in 1992, when there was an unsuccessful push to give the prime minister greater power in the appointment of the city People’s Committee chair. While the prime minister cannot appoint the chair, he can dismiss (mien nhiem) him. See The Constitution of Vietnam: 1946–1959– 1980–1992 (Hanoi: The Gioi Publishers, 1995), p. 203; and Sai Gon Giai Phong, 11 April 1992. Interview with a journalist, 5 July 1999. Le Duc Tho was born in 1912 in Hanoi and politically active from the 1930s. He headed North Vietnam’s delegation at the Paris peace talks. After the war he served for many years as the head of the central party’s Organization Department (ban to chuc trung uong dang). He retired from both the Politburo and the Central Committee at the Sixth Congress in 1986. See Duiker, Vietnam, 1989, p. 345; and Porter, Vietnam, pp. 67, 103, 107. Interview with a journalist, 5 July 1999. Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon, 27 August–3 September 1997. Informants consulted on this were either vague on the subject of Le Thanh Hai’s war record or said that he did not have one. Interviews with state business employee, 4 February 1998; and a journalist, 26 May 1999. Vietnam Investment Review, 5–11 August 1996.

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Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon, 27 August–3 September 1997; Sai Gon Giai Phong, 7 July 1992. Sai Gon Giai Phong, 26 September 1997. Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon, 27 August–3 September 1997; Interview with journalist, 30 June 1998 and 5 July 1999. Sai Gon Giai Phong, 1 July 1989; Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon, 22–28 December 1994 and 6–12 June 1996. Phan Van Khai became a Central Committee member at the Sixth Party Congress in 1986, one year after becoming Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee chair. See BBC, SWB FE/5181/B5-6, 9 April 1976; Sai Gon Giai Phong, 15 October 1980, 27 October 1991 and 26 September 1997. Indicative of this weakness, Vo Viet Thanh held the post of People’s Committee chair in an acting capacity for fourteen months before a vote of the People’s Council was held confirming him in the post. See Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon, 20–26 August 1992; 22–28 April 1993; 27 June–3 July 1996; and 27 August– 3 September 1997; Interview with state sector employee, 4 February 1998; and journalist 30 June 1998 and 26 May 1999. Note that Mai Chi Tho held the party secretary position in an acting capacity during the period from Nguyen Van Linh’s promotion to the centre in July 1985 and Vo Tran Chi’s appointment as party secretary in November 1986. See Tuoi Tre, 1 and 19 November 1986; and Sai Gon Giai Phong, 27 April 1999. Sai Gon Giai Phong 26 September 1997. Bui Tin, Following Ho Chi Minh, pp. 95, 99, 173–74, 188; Interview with journalist, 5 July 1999. As interior minister, Mai Chi Tho had the title “General of Security” (Dai tuong An Ninh). No one has had the title since and he does not use it now. The source for this piece of information suggested that the title may have been self-proclaimed. Nguyen Vinh Nghiep reportedly stood down on health grounds. See Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon, 20–26 August 1992. However, he is still alive today. This analysis is based on 19 deputy chairs and departmental directors who have held the post from 1979 to the present. Of these, ten have held the post of People’s Committee deputy chair, two have been departmental directors and seven have held both positions. The right of the People’s Committee chair to recommend candidates to the People’s Council follows changes to the Law on the Organization of People’s Councils and People’s Committees introduced in 1994. See Pham Thanh Phan, Vi Tri, Chuc Nang, Nhiem Vu, 1999. All the city’s deputy chairs for whom I have data were born in the south. Of these, by far the majority came from Mekong Delta provinces, while a large number come from Cu Chi.

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Saigon Times Weekly, 18–24 May 1996; Hiebert, Chasing the Tigers, p. 121; Interview with journalist, 26 May 1999. Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon, 25 June–1 July 1992; Sai Gon Giai Phong, 1 July 1992; Thoi Bao Kinh te Saigon, 18–24 January 1996. Sai Gon Giai Phong, 27 October 1991; Saigon Times Weekly, 18–24 May 1996. Interview with journalist, 26 May 1999. Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon, 25 June–1 July 1992 and 3–9 February 1994. The formation of Saigon General Trading Corporation was not without controversy and a number of firms were later hived off and put under different institutional control. See Gainsborough, “Understanding Communist Transition”, pp. 227–43. Phu Nu, 1 November 1986; Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon, 22–28 December 1994; 24–30 August 1994 and 19–25 June 1997; Vietnam Investment Review, 5–11 August 1996. Sai Gon Giai Phong, 26 September 1997; Phu Nu, 1 November 1986; and Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon, 1–7 August 1996. Vietnam Investment Review, 5–11 August 1996. Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon, 8–14 October 1992 and 27 August–3 September 1997. Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon, 20–24 April 1995. Saigon Times Weekly, 18 December 1999. Nguoi Lao Dong, 3 October 1998; Saigon Times Daily, 25 January 1999. Saigon Times Daily, 18–24 May 1996; Sai Gon Giai Phong, 26 June 1999; Interview with journalist, 5 July 1999; Thoi Bai Kinh te Saigon, 4 January 2001. This analysis is based on 11 people who have held district office from 1975 to the late 1990s on whom I have detailed information. The analysis is supplemented by more patchy data on district politicians who have held office since the second half of the 1990s. All district politicians have been southern-born, according to my data. I have not come across any district politician who went north in 1954. Sai Gon Giai Phong, 6 July 1992. Nhan Dan, 22 October 1991; Sai Gon Giai Phong, 27 October 1991 and 12 July 1992; Thoi Bao Kinh te Saigon, 26 December 1991–1 January 1992, 9–15 November 1995 and 1–7 February 1996; interview with journalist, 5 July 1999. Truong My Le was politically active in the war but did not go on to have a political career after 1975. Tuoi Tre, 27 December 1997, 11 April 1998 and 12 January 1999. Hoa’s deputy in Tan Binh district was Le Thi Van, who was implicated in the Tamexco corruption case. Hoa was never publicly connected with the case. Tan Binh district was the original controlling institution of Tamexco. See Phu Nu 18 October 1996; and Sai Gon Giai Phong, 6 July 1992.

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For background on population movements between north and south, both in 1954 and 1975, see Forbes and Thrift, The Socialist Third World, 1987; and Thrift and Forbes, The Price of War 1986. BBC, SWB FE/8450/C1/1-8, 24 December 1986; FE/8459/C1/1-3, 7 January 1987. Interview with journalist, 23 June 1999. See Time Magazine’s interview with party general secretary Nong Duc Manh for a clear articulation of such views. Vietnam News, 29 January 2002 Tuoi Tre, 25 March 1997. Vietnam Investment Review, 22–28 September 1997. For similar arguments made about China, see Nevitt, “Private Business Associations in China”, pp. 25–43. The decree in question is Decree 18/CP introduced in February 1995. Le Minh Chau and Do Hoang Hai were among a group of Ho Chi Minh City National Assembly delegates who were openly critical of Decree 18. See Thanh Nien, 6 April 1995; Sai Gon Giai Phong, 22 March 1995. For background on this, see Gainsborough, Changing Political Economy of Vietnam, 2003. For background on public administration reform in the 1990s, see Vasavakul, “Politics of the Reform of State Institutions”, 1996, pp. 42–68; and “Vietnam: The Third Wave of State Building”, 1997, pp. 337–63. For references to attempts to regulate the circumstances in which holders of public office may engage in business, see Sai Gon Giai Phong, 25 May 1999 and Nguoi Lao Dong, 28 May 1999. The difficulties in relation to persuading officials to declare their assets or regulating when they may engage in business are well known. However, they came to light specifically in relation to 1999 debates in the National Assembly in relation to the draft Business Law (Luat doanh nghiep), when delegates highlighted the difficulties of enforcement. One delegate noted that while the draft law would prevent him using the name of his father, mother, wife, husband or children to establish a company, it said nothing about his son-in-law or a close friend. See Sai Gon Giai Phong, 25 May 1999 and Nguoi Lao Dong, 28 May 1999. For extensive documentation of official involvement in such activities, see Gainsborough, Changing Political Economy, especially chapter 2. Chen. “Leadership Change in Shanghai”, pp. 671–73. Tanner and Feder, “Family Politics, Elite Recruitment”, pp. 89–119. Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon, 4 January 2001. Interview with journalist, 5 July 1999. Interview with journalist, 5 July 1999.

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Bibliography Secondary sources Abuza, Zachary. Renovating Politics in Contemporary Vietnam. Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner, 2001. Ban Thuong Vu Thanh Uy Dang Cong San Viet Nam Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh [Standing Committee of the Ho Chi Minh City Communist Party]. Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh Hai Muoi Nam 1975–1995 [Ho Chi Minh City: Twenty Years 1975–1995]. Nha Xuat Ban Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, 1996. Bui Tin. Following Ho Chi Minh: The Memoirs of a North Vietnamese Colonel. Translated from the Vietnamese and adapted by Judy Stowe and Do Van. London: Hurst and Company, 1995. Chen, Shi. “Leadership Change in Shanghai: Toward the Dominance of Party Technocrats”. Asian Survey 28, no. 7 (1998): 671–73. Communist Party of Vietnam. 7th National Congress of the Communist Party: Documents. Hanoi: Foreign Language Publishing House, 1991. ———. The Constitution of Vietnam: 1946–1959–1980–1992. Hanoi: The Gioi Publishers, 1995. Dittmer, Lowell. “Chinese Informal Politics”. The China Journal 34, July (1995): 1–34. Duiker, William J. Vietnam Since the Fall of Saigon. Updated ed. Monographs in International Studies, Southeast Asia Series, no. 56A. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University, 1989. Forbes, Dean and Nigel Thrift, eds. The Socialist Third World: Urban Development and Territorial Planning. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987. Gainsborough, Martin. Changing Political Economy of Vietnam: The Case of Ho Chi Minh City. London and New York: Routledge Curzon, 2003. ———. “Understanding Communist Transition: Property Rights in Ho Chi Minh City in the late 1990s”. Post-Communist Economies 14, no. 2 (2002): 227–43. Held, David, Anthony McGrew, David Goldblatt and Jonathan Perraton, eds. Global Transformation: Politics, Economics and Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000. Hiebert, Murray. Chasing the Tigers: A Portrait of the New Vietnam. New York: Kodansha International, 1996. Pham Thanh Phan and Pham Thi Thuy Duong. Vi Tri, Chuc Nang, Nhiem Vu, Va Quyen Han Cua Chinh Quyen Xa, Phuong [The Positions, Function, Responsibility and Power of State Administration At the Village and Quarter Level]. Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Thong Ke, 1999. Porter, Gareth. Vietnam: The Politics of Bureaucratic Socialism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993.

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Nevitt, Christopher. “Private Business Associations in China: Evidence of Civil Society or Local State Power?”. The China Journal 36 (July 1996): 25–43. Thrift, Nigel and Dean Forbes. The Price of War: Urbanization in Vietnam 1954– 1985. London: Allen and Unwin, 1986. Tonkin, Derek. “Vietnam: Market Reform and Ideology”. Lecture to the Royal Society for Asian Affairs, 22 January 1997. Turley, William and Brantly Womack. “Asian Socialism’s Open Doors: Guangzhou and Ho Chi Minh City”. The China Journal 40 (July 1998): 95–119. Sheehan, Neil. Two Cities: Hanoi and Saigon. London: Picador and Jonathan Cape, 1994. Tanner, Murray Scott and Michael J. Feder. “Family Politics, Elite Recruitment, and Succession in Post-Mao China”. The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, 30 (July 1993): 89–119. Vasavakul, Thaveeporn. “Politics of the Reform of State Institutions in the PostSocialist Era”. In Vietnam Assessment: Creating a Sound Investment Climate, edited by Suiwah Leung. Singapore and Canberra: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies/National Centre for Development Studies: Curzon Press, 1996, pp. 42–68. ———. “Vietnam: The Third Wave of State Building”. In Southeast Asian Affairs 1997. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Affairs, 1997, pp. 337–63.

Media and Internet BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Nguoi Lao Dong Nhan Dan Phu Nu Saigon Times Daily Saigon Times Weekly Sai Gon Giai Phong Thoi Bao Kinh te Sai Gon Tuoi Tre Vietnam Investment Review Vietnam News http://www.vninfos.com/vninfos/select

© 2004 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

Reproduced from Beyond Hanoi: Local Government in Vietnam, edited by Benedict J Tria Kerkvliet and David G Marr (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http:// bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

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11 Push, Pull, and Reinforcing: The Channels of FDI Influence on Provincial Governance in Vietnam Edmund J. Malesky

For five months at the beginning of 2002, I visited ten provinces across Vietnam, interviewing local government officials and collecting data on provincial governance and economic performance. It was quite an experience, sampling the many local dishes and cultural events, but it was also a revelation on the different modes of provincial leadership. Same-level officials described their jobs and their days quite differently and the same institutions worked in unique ways. My attempts to collect the Ten-Year Master Plan (2001–2010) (Quy Hoach Tong The) in each province illustrate these differences.1 I managed to obtain one plan in each province, but was shocked at how differently provincial administrations viewed this critical document. One province saw it as their accomplishment of six years of hard work and presented it to me proudly. Another province was highly secretive, declining to acknowledge its existence until they saw I had others. A third province’s Deputy People’s Committee Chair refused to give it to

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me, but the Director of the Department of Planning and Investment (DPI) handed it over later. A fourth province was willing to let me see the document but not copy it or take it away. Finally, the fifth province released it, but only in exchange for a number of documents on crossnational studies of industrial zone performance. In attempting to collect the Ten-Year Master Plan, I had encountered a variety of reactions: openness; secrecy; local institutional conflict; and mutual self-interest. The preceding anecdote highlights a larger issue: provincial governance varies, sometimes considerably, within Vietnam. This chapter is a preliminary explanation for such differences among Vietnam’s provinces. After considering geography, infrastructure, and provincial culture, foreign direct investment (FDI) helps to explain differences in provincial economic governance. In general, foreign investment has a positive impact on governance. I develop the analysis in four steps. First, I review earlier work on provincial economic governance. Second, I look at the channels of FDI influence on provincial governments. Third, I explore how large FDI inflows can alter legal relationships, solidifying the connection between the DPI and the People’s Committee and limiting the reach of central institutions.2 Finally, I use micro case studies of four provinces at various levels to test my theories. The existing literature Several authors have noted differences in the quality and character of provincial governance in Vietnam. Literature on the subject can be divided into three broad groups. One group usually directs the reader to the famous proverb, “Phep vua thua le lang”, or the “King’s laws stop at village gates”, as evidence that local government’s ability to stymie central authorities has a long history. Unfortunately, analysis of the phenomena stops at the provincial boundaries or, at most, with a detailed description of the sources of local power.3 Other pieces on Vietnam examine the particular local area dynamic which led to experimentation in economic renovation.4 This group of writings clarifies the complicated channels of central-local relations which allowed such experimentation to take place. It provides us, however, with an incomplete understanding of the mechanisms which are at play and limits predictability in new situations.5 What is it that has allowed some areas to push forward with innovative economic solutions, while others have remained followers, heavily dependent on central

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government transfers and multilateral aid? Regionalism, historical autonomy, culture, and personal relations with key central actors have played significant roles, but to what extent and at what point do they impact on local economic development? A third body of information on provincial governance in Vietnam uses certain subjects (provincial GDP growth, private sector performance, success in implementing central initiatives, poverty alleviation, and so on) as the reasons for categorizing administrations as good or bad.6 Researchers from this group look at why provinces with these characteristics have succeeded over others. Using only outcome variables, however, they have difficulty distinguishing good governance from structural conditions such as geography, proximity to markets, and auspicious infrastructure. A better strategy is to look for variance in the inputs that determine the outcomes, for instance: transparency, bureaucratic efficiency, limited corruption, strong planning methods, and, of course, innovation. A comparison of these elements of governance gives a better sense of which factors are important to the outcome variables. The next step is to determine what factors account for the differentiation of these elements of good governance. This chapter takes that step by analysing what effect, if any, FDI has had on provincial governance. Recent history of FDI Until the early 1990s, decisions made in Hanoi constrained provinces from acquiring large amounts of FDI. Final approval of FDI was made in the centre, and a province’s chance of attracting FDI lay in their cultivation of investors, who could then lobby officials at the State Committee for Cooperation and Investment (SCCI) on the preferred location of their operations.7 Similarly, local People’s Committees were allowed to send letters to the SCCI, preparing documents for investors, and providing their evaluation of a particular investment project.8 Generally, informal lobbying worked and investors were allowed to establish most of their projects in the south, where Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai received benefits early on.9 Overall, 59.5 per cent of approved projects were in the north southeast region. Hanoi was also an early winner in the race to attract investment projects, but its important status proved an exception to the rule in the north. Hai Phong was the only other significant recipient in the north during that period.10

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While contacts in Hanoi continue to be important, the centre’s control over the destination of investments has diminished. As of 2003, the structure of the Vietnamese provincial government system still had it origins in Articles 119 through 125 of the 1992 Vietnamese Constitution. Since that time, the powers of provincial institutions have been refined and strengthened by eight other laws and implementing documents.11 A crucial factor leading to greater divergence in FDI flows across provinces was Decree 852/TTg of January 1996, which placed FDI procedures under the control of the local People’s Committee through its DPI. FDI planning had varied by province and led to frustration on the part of investors. The idea was to make provincial planning uniform. The second major change was the central government decision to allow provinces and cities to sign FDI projects directly. In 1996, after FDI recipient provinces such as Binh Duong, Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai, Vung Tau argued they were slowed down by red tape in Hanoi, the National Assembly approved the amended Foreign Investment Law.12 This allowed some provinces to issue licences on category ‘B’ projects and put the provincial People’s Committee directly in charge of land clearance and rental procedures. In 2003, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City could issue licences up to US$10 million, while other provinces could license all projects up to US$5 million.13 The prime minister continues to be the only authority to approve licences on category ‘A’ projects, which include infrastructure construction and a range of activities considered vital to national security. Furthermore, he also reserves the right to issue licences in a few other strategic project areas (including energy and mining) of US$40 million or more.14 Despite these qualifications, the amendment gives investors broad scope: People’s Committees of provinces and cities under central authority shall carry State management of foreign investment in their respective localities with respect to the business production activities of enterprises with foreign owned capital and parties to business co-operation contracts.

Decree 12 of 1997 from the Prime Minister effectively made permanent these changes. Channels of FDI influence on local governance: “pull”, “push”, and reinforcing FDI affects provincial economic indicators significantly. Vietnamese policymakers know this, and research by the World Bank and others support

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it. Elsewhere I have demonstrated that FDI is positively correlated with poverty reduction and increased scores on human development indicators. I have also shown that FDI is associated with slowly increased income inequality and variation in socioeconomic indicators among Vietnam’s provinces.15 Such facts beg the question: since the 1990s, what attracted FDI to provinces in the first place, and why during subsequent years some provinces had more, sometimes considerably more, FDI than others? Part of the answer are channels “pulling” investment into certain provinces. Some researchers maintain that infrastructure, such as roads and ports, proximity to large markets such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and a southern entrepreneurial culture and historical familiarity with business, are attractive to FDI investors.16 International businessmen often refer to “softer” conditions, such as international schools, high quality accommodation and food, and clustering of other international businesses, as factors in early investment decisions. Of these, however, only proximity to markets could not be altered by proactive provincial leaders. Provinces soon learned that they could make investments in infrastructure, human capital, and soft conditions that might “pull” in foreign investors. Though not a factor in early investment decisions, the notion of “pulling” in businessmen applied to changes in governance as well. Investors were unfamiliar with provincial administrations outside Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Dong Nai. Provincial leaders had little knowledge of what governance changes might be attractive to investors or what policy options the central government would allow them to pursue. Over time, however, provincial officials began to learn that certain governance changes would lure investors.17 In comparative political science, a growing literature on market-preserving federalism has explored these “pull” factors in countries as diverse as the United States, Germany, China, Mexico, Russia, and India.18 The basic notion of market-preserving federalism is that competition for labour and investment between provinces in a decentralized system creates incentives for economic reform and performance improvements at the provincial level.19 Despite the efforts of the government in Hanoi to limit competition among provinces, many local leaders of high-growth provinces are aware of the special incentive policies of their competitors (chinh sach uu dai) and have taken steps to make their provinces more attractive to

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investors.20 Tax holidays and cheaper land are only two ways of competing. Provinces also lower transaction costs and improve the investment environment. This relationship is mutually reinforcing, making causality difficult to unravel. Provinces which attract FDI have the resources and autonomy to improve both infrastructure and governance which, in turn, attracts more investors. Six provinces attract enough revenue to send surpluses to Hanoi. This gives those six a great deal of lobbying power centrally. Extra revenue can also be pumped back into infrastructure spending, social spending, and be used to off-set provincial tax incentives, thus making way for innovative economic policies. The second group of channels by which FDI affects local governance I call “push”. That is, locally based investors can lobby provincial government institutions to improve policy. Provinces with institutions that facilitated interaction with foreign investors early on seemed to enjoy boosts in investment dispersion. At each “Vietnam Business Forum”, hosted twice a year by the World Bank and Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), foreign investors have presented a checklist of demands for policy changes. Using a publicly available matrix of problems they have encountered with Vietnamese regulations, foreign investors grade the Vietnamese government on its efforts to reduce these problems, ranging from administrative procedures and land-use rights, to tax laws, infrastructure, and dispute resolution procedures. Though provinces are not explicitly ranked, provincial governments are aware of the matrix and of their reputations among investor groups. Some have organized their own local changes to accommodate investors. In late 2002, for example, the Ho Chi Minh City Municipal Investment and Trade Promotion Centre, with the sponsorship of PriceWaterhouse Coopers and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, held a forum modelled on the WB-MPI version to kick-start a new investment drive.21 Investors’ influence on governance can be mixed. While exportoriented investors need improvements in governance to lower their transactions costs and facilitate the competitiveness of their products on international markets, investors interested only in accessing the domestic market might actually push for more opaque governance.22 Such negative pressure is pertinent where domestic investors look for

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protection of their market share from imported goods.23 Despite the excellent reputation of Binh Duong province, latecomer investors have complained that earlier investors contaminated the investment environment with kickbacks. Hai Phong is an example of a provincial city in which side payments have become more necessary as the presence of investors has increased.24 The third group of channels of FDI influence I call “reinforcing”. They involve interactions that reverberate to affect the investment environment again. One of these reinforcing channels involves relationships among local institutions. In some provinces, the departments of line ministries provide technical assistance to People’s Committees and influence local decision-making. In other provinces, the departments are silent observers. There is similar variation in the role of the local Party Committee from province to province. Constitutionally, the party secretary adheres to the party line and the People’s Committee supplies all policies regarding technical implementation. But as the representative of the Communist Party, the provincial party secretary can exert a great deal of authority over local decisions should he so choose. The People’s Council has the authority to direct local administrators to undertake projects and modify service provision, but only if these are consistent with guidelines established at the national level. There is a great deal of variation in the assertiveness of People’s Councils and local citizenry in the face of conflicting directives from higher up. Provinces with high FDI inflows have more coordinated relationships between their local institutions, allowing them to act quickly and more efficiently. There are two reasons for this phenomenon. First, a People’s Committee with high FDI inflows is more independent of central decision-making and more likely to hold sway over departments of central ministries. The second is that the requests of foreign investors demand quicker attention than for other enterprises, so, over time, provinces with larger stocks of foreign investment have developed more streamlined coordination. 25 As examples of this reinforcing FDI element, People’s Committee members have a greater understanding of DPI data and policies. They coordinate closely, meet more often with DPI and play a larger role in crafting its planning documents. Also, there appears to be a better working relationship between provincial party secretaries and People’s Committee Chairs in the provinces with high FDI inflows.26

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Another reinforcing channel is the shift away from State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs). The 2000 Enterprise Law has done much to eliminate procedures that discriminate against private investment. However, economists such as Le Dang Doanh and others in the Enterprises Law Implementation Task Force have observed that the application of the law has varied across localities.27 Provinces which depend heavily on SOEs to meet their revenue targets are likely to maintain biases towards them. But having FDI can relieve a province’s reliance on SOEs, which, in turn, can contribute to provincial efforts to acquire more FDI. A third reinforcing channel is private sector pressure. Jonathan Stromseth demonstrates that, to some extent, the law on domestic production and investment and the Enterprise Law grew out of demands from domestic firms to win the incentive packages which had been applied to foreign firms in the 1994 Foreign Investment Law.28 The same dynamic applied to the local level as well, where domestic entrepreneurs put pressure on local institutions to end what was perceived as discrimination in favour of foreigners. The presence of foreign firms spurred innovative incentives for domestic firms. Finally, high FDI allows provinces room to experiment with economic policy, another reinforcing channel. Provinces with high FDI are insulated to some extent from central pressure. They have room to both experiment and interpret central laws in broader ways.29 Such innovative policies include Song Be and Dong Nai allowing 100 per cent export processing companies to enter their industrial zones, even though they did not yet have permission to create export processing zones in 1994. Vinh Phu (Vinh Phuc and Phu Tho), Song Be, Dong Nai, and Da Nang provinces all sold land to individual firms prior to the implementation of the 1996 Land Law. Vung Tau started a trend by allowing land-use rights to be used as collateral by domestic firms. More recently, the Long An People’s Committee made the decision to sell land below national rates in order to combat the land price bubble, resulting from speculation in Ho Chi Minh City. Survey of local governance To test whether FDI has had the assumed positive impact on local governance, I will rely on data gleaned from the Vietnam Business

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Environment Survey (VBES) of private companies located in the provinces during the spring of 2002. Some firms had joint ventures with stateowned companies, but all were 100 per cent Vietnamese owned.30 Firms in eleven provinces were asked to rate their local governments based on a variety of factors, ranging across land and tax policies, dispute resolution, dynamism and independence from the central government.31 A stratified sample was taken to make sure that the sample firms mirrored their provincial populations in terms of industry, size and classification. Careful data analysis reveals patterns in the accomplishments of local administrations. I use a selection of these variables to demonstrate their relationship to FDI. Several limitations will be obvious in my use of the data. First, only eleven provinces were surveyed. Second, there is the issue of causality. If I find a positive correlation, how do I know which came first, the good governance or the FDI? I try and stick to my original hypothesis that FDI improves governance, primarily through the dynamism channel. To do this, I only use FDI inflows up to 2000. As the survey was taken in 2002, this allows for temporal causality. Third, the concerns of respondents are business-oriented because the study deals with firms rather than individual citizens. The fourth problem is an “anchoring” problem, in survey jargon. Put simply, firms who have operations in only one province do not know much about administrative quality in the others. Therefore, on questions where they must rank their province along a scale, they may rank their province lower or higher than an observer with knowledge of all provinces would. In cross-national survey research, this is a common problem, but in Vietnam it is particularly acute. Unfortunately, as I hope to make this chapter accessible to a broader audience, all I can do is keep the factor in mind. FDI per capita will be the causal variable in this analysis. Table 1 shows the stocks of FDI per capita for all 11 provinces between 1990 and 2000. I have clustered the provinces into four tiers, along with some basic socio-economic indicators, in Table 2. To tackle the concept of governance, my independent variable, I diverge slightly from the work of Edmund Attridge, staff consultant for the Asian Development Bank’s Poverty Task Force in Vietnam, and Kaufman, Kray and Lobaton of the World Bank.32 I identify four critical dimensions of local governance to be probed below, where survey information is available.33

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14.40 0.04 41.69 1.36 0.00 0.00 6.38 0.00 0.00 2.31 4.48

1991.00

44.15 0.17 40.98 11.29 0.11 0.00 10.87 0.00 0.57 3.11 7.50

1992.00 71.39 7.15 73.52 41.27 1.53 2.68 74.35 2.34 0.00 9.29 27.15

1993.00 174.14 52.29 115.97 35.95 20.59 0.28 81.14 10.67 0.00 40.54 54.42

1994.00 293.34 19.45 130.09 7.69 16.57 8.91 119.30 22.17 1.41 70.56 134.36

1995.00 183.61 19.36 153.34 189.77 2.54 7.51 180.41 18.39 0.79 123.40 185.74

1996.00 204.40 11.06 140.73 97.28 34.37 19.03 300.29 55.76 1.74 73.64 476.04

1997.00 113.52 15.76 94.33 50.65 17.31 30.52 134.00 15.04 1.68 17.75 149.49

1998.00

Sources: Nien Giam Thong Ke (1995–2000); Ministry of Planning and Investment data supplied directly to author.

Hanoi TT-Hue HCMC Hai Phong Ha Tay Thanh Hoa Dong Nai Long An Nam Dinh Da Nang Binh Duong

Province

TABLE 1 FDI per Capita (US$) over Time

54.97 0.44 88.34 30.33 0.35 19.28 149.25 9.23 0.00 67.54 93.98

1999.00

69.82 3.07 121.14 35.58 13.45 24.54 157.52 18.92 0.02 45.20 258.61

2000.00

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Hai Phong Da Nang

Long An TT-Hua Thanh Hoa Ha Tay

Nam Dinh Sample Mear

High

Medium

Low

.60 522.27

146.70 121.33 110.79 106.82

483.30 426.07

1182.77 1140.60 1107.08 913.49

0.018 67.99

18.91 3.07 24.53 13.45

35.58 45.20

258.60 157.52 69.82 121.13

FDI Per Capita 2000 (US$)

0.70 0.72

0.69 0.66 0.66 0.67

0.73 0.76

0.73 0.71 0.80 0.80

Human Development Index

37 26.18

30 43 44 43

30 15

12 14 15 5

% of Population Living in Poverty

2.28 4.41

3.45 2.06 2.10 2.01

4.55 4.61

4.896 4.82 7.34 10.35

GDP Per Capita in 10 Millions of VND

77.08 42.53

14.29 39.29 66.67 29.03

26.47 36.67

17.65 43.33 72.41 44.97

Equitized LSOEs

0.09 0.59

0.38 0.33 0.06 0.14

0.35 1.10

0.90 0.49 1.23 1.38

Private Enterprises per 1000 people

Sources: Nien Giam Thong Ke (1995–2000); Data on private enterprises from Central Institute for Economic Management, National Human Development Report, 2001.

Binh Duong Dong Nai Hanoi HCMC

Province

Star

Status

FDI Per Capita 1990– 2000 (US$)

TABLE 2 FDI per Capita and other Output Variables

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Implementation of central laws and directives Discussion about provincial governance in the Vietnamese media and among leaders has implied that implementation of the Enterprise Law explains crucial divergence among provinces. The Enterprise Law asked provinces to streamline and expedite the process of registration, licensing, and land acquisition for domestic firms. Research has shown that many provinces have been slow to implement all elements of the Enterprise Law and the subsequent implementing regulations related to it, particularly the number of inspections.34 Other provinces have implemented the policies quickly and seen the fruits of their efforts in increasing numbers of private firms registering and commencing operations. The VBES listed seven major obstacles that the Enterprise Law was designed to overcome. The obstacles ranged from business registration to land regulations to currency and foreign exchange issues. Firms were asked to say whether each problem was (1) an obstacle; (2) neutral; (3) eliminated as an obstacle.35 As can be seen in Figure 1, high FDI recipients Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Ho Chi Minh City all do well on the scale of obstacles faced, and Nam Dinh is right where I would expect given its low FDI inflows. But the correlation is not perfect. Thanh Hoa had to be dropped from the analysis because a high percentage of respondents declined to answer these questions, leading to inflated scores. Hanoi, Hue and Long An are clear outliers. Because Long An’s improvement may result from spikes in FDI flows of the late 1990s, it still fits my hypothesis, as we will see in the case studies. But Hanoi and Hue offer more difficulty. Hue’s scores are not an aberration. In fact, Hue’s private sector growth after the passage of the Enterprise Law has been stellar. New registrations in Hue after the passage of the Enterprise Law are 237 per cent of active firms in Hue before the law. Firms in Hue have noticed the improvements as well, and now are more likely to take the investment risk. In 2002, Hue officials were quoted as saying that they had promoted the private sector as a growth alternative to FDI, which had been meagre over the past few years despite efforts to lure investment, especially in the tourist sector.36 But Hue places second in the sample to only one city in its postenterprise law success — Hanoi, which has post-Enterprise Law registrations equal to 413 per cent of active firms prior to the law. Even a check of the average age of firms reveals nothing new. In the sample,

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FIGURE 1 Implementation of Enterprise Law

Eradication of obstacles to private sector entry

Eradication of obstacles to private sector entry 12.0 Dong Nai ★

TT-Hue

11.5

Long An

11.0

Ha Tay

HCMC ★ ★ Binh Duong Hai Phong Da Nang

10.5 Ha Noi ★

10.0 Nam Dinh

9.5 1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Logged stock of FDI per capita (1990–2000) FDI Recipient Group

★ ▲

Star

Medium-Low

High

Total population

Vietnam Business Environment Survey 2002, Nien Giam Thong Ke (1992–2000)

Hanoi firms are relatively young. It is unclear why they are so negative about the obstacles they face.

Transparency and accountability A second dimension of local governance is transparency and accountability. Simply put, are domestic entrepreneurs in the provinces aware of the activities of their provincial leaders? Are budgets, master plans, statistics and land-use allocations available to all that ask, or only to a lucky few with good connections? Do businesses feel that the local government is accountable to the needs of all citizens, or does one need special relations to win the attention of government? Does

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Hanoi TT-Hue HCMC Hai Phong Ha Tay Thanh Hoa Dong Nai Long An Nam Dinh Da Nang Binh Duong Total

Province

66.70 52.60 47.10 42.90 73.30 60.00 23.80 38.50 72.20 61.50 52.60 53.75

1. Percentage of firms who felt government was aiding their main competitor 8.30 36.80 11.80 21.40 13.30 20.00 9.50 0.00 38.90 15.40 10.50 16.90

2. Percentage firms who say friends are highly important in negotiating with government 34.40 26.30 36.40 16.70 28.60 10.00 15.80 16.70 33.30 17.40 37.50 26.80

3. Percentage of firms who feel that lack of information on laws is an obstacle 8.60 20.00 3.00 7.70 6.70 0.00 0.00 0.00 11.10 3.80 0.00 5.70

4. Percentage of firms who negotiate with tax authority

TABLE 3 Transparency and Accountability

83.30 27.80 41.90 91.70 46.70 80.00 46.20 50.00 71.40 12.50 21.40 50.30

5. Percentage who agree or strongly agree that local government is difficult to deal with during party conferences

0.46557 1.49812 –0.37064 0.18653 0.36418 –0.18116 –1.37341 –1.37583 1.71823 –0.33194 –0.59966

6. Derived Transparency Factor

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the province favour SOEs over other local businesses. To measure this factor I take five key dimensions of transparency and accountability from the VBES survey (see Table 3 and Figure 2). Columns 1 and 2 probe whether special relations with government actors are needed to survive in business in the province. Columns 3 and 4 are designed to judge the predictability of laws in the province. Firms that feel lack of information is an obstacle, or who must negotiate with tax authorities, demonstrate the limited value of legal documents in the province. Information problems do not seem to be associated with only low FDI provinces. Binh Duong and Ho Chi Minh City, with high FDI, have as many firms complaining as the laggard Nam Dinh. Finally, column 5 indicates whether provincial officials can be distracted by political concerns. The data suggest that as FDI increases the problems provinces face with transparency dissipate.37

Transparency and accountability (derived factor)

FIGURE 2 Problems with Transparency and Accountability 2.0 Nam Dinh TT-Hue

1.5 1.0

Ha Noi ★

Ha Tay

.5

Hai Phong Thanh Hoa

0.0

Da Nang

-.5

HCMC ★ Binh Duong ★

-1.0 Dong Nai ★

Long Jin

-1.5 1

2

3

4

5

6

Logged stock of FDI per capita (1990–2000) FDI Recipient Group

★ ▲

Star

Medium-Low

High

Total population

Vietnam Business Environment Survey 2002, Nien Giam Thong Ke (1992–2000)

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Reduction of bottlenecks and transaction costs Provincial governments can create significant transaction costs for firms by being slow to remove obstacles and bottlenecks. Examples of removing such costs include reducing information-gathering costs by making statistical annexes and land plans publicly available, and reducing the culture of “friendly envelopes” (phong bi tinh cam). The VBES asks a number of questions about transaction costs. I divide them into time and money costs. Time is fairly easy to assess. I simply look at the amount of time firms claimed they wasted waiting for land-use rights certificates, licences and permits, bank loans, and shutting down operations for inspections by local authorities, both kiem tra (short-term control visits) and thanh tra (when local authorities are called in due to suspected problems). There is also a question borrowed from the World Bank’s global surveys, which assesses provinces by how much time senior managers must deal with local government requirements. Figure 3 shows low overall time costs for entrepreneurs in Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Hanoi, and Ho

Transaction costs in time (extracted factor)

FIGURE 3 Transaction Costs in Time Derived transactions costs factor 3 Thanh Hoa

2 Da Nang

1

Nam Dinh

0

Ha Tay Long An ■

-1 TT-Hue

-2 1

2

3

4

5

Hai Phong HCMC ■ ■ ■ Ha Noi ■ Binh Duong Dong Nai ■

6

7

Logged stock of FDI per capita (1990–2000) Region ■

South

North



Central

Total population

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Chi Minh City — the star FDI recipients. In Nam Dinh, a low FDI recipient, time costs are much greater. Nevertheless, a strict relationship is limited due to the erratic behaviour of provinces in the central regions of the country. Figure 4, which looks at time lost in inspections and regulations, shows that days lost to inspections increase across FDI subgroups. Nevertheless, time lost to regulations is not a direct relationship. Star provinces have the fewest days lost, but high-investment provinces have many more days wasted than the low- and medium-recipient provinces. Money transaction costs are expenditures that deviate from central Vietnamese law. This includes unofficial payments and gifts to local authorities, as well as above average licensing requirements to do business.38 Unfortunately, four provinces had too few firms answering the requisite questions (Hai Phong, Thanh Hoa, Long An and Nam Dinh). Instead, I analysed two important questions. “How many times per year does the government pay bribes to inspectors?”, and “Does the local government use compliance with local regulation to extract rents?” Figures 5 and 6 demonstrate that there is no clear relationship to FDI. In fact, in the case of local government manipulating requirements for gain, there even appears to be a positive correlation with FDI. That is, the more FDI the more local government manipulation. The findings of

FIGURE 4 Transactions costs in time Days lost to inspections and government

Mean number of days

40

30

30

20

17 17 Days managers spend on regulations

10 7

Days lost to inspections

4

0 Medium-Low

High

Star

FDI Recipient Group Vietnam Business Environment Survey 2002, Nien Giam Thong Ke (1993–2000)

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Mean bribes per inspection

2.2 2.0 2.0

1.8 1.6 1.4 1.2

1.3

1.0 1.0

0.8 Medium

High

Star

FDI Recipient Group

FIGURE 6 Transactions Costs in Money % of firms who feel local government uses regulations to extract rents 50

44

Percentage of firms

40

30 30

20 20

10 8 0 low

medium

high

FDI Recipient Group

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Hellman, Jones, and Kaufman in other transition states seem to apply to Vietnam as well.39 In sum, the lessons on transaction costs are mixed. FDI is associated with low transaction costs in terms of time but high transaction costs for private firms in money.

Dynamism To measure dynamism, the VBES asks firms: If there is a lack of clarity on a certain regulation, does the local government tend to (1) interpret it against us; (2) postpone decision and consult respective authority; (3) interpret in our favour? The question gauges how proactive local governments are in solving problems faced by their local constituency. As Figure 7 shows, there is FIGURE 7 Provincial Dynamism by FDI

% of firms which believe ambiguity is interpreted in their favour

% of firms which believe ambiguity is interpreted in their favour 30 Long An

Dong Nai Binh Duong

20 HCMC Da Nang

TT-Hue

Thanh Hoa

Nam Dinn

Ban Duong

10

Ha Noi

Ha Tay

0

-10 -6

-4

-3

0

2

4

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FIGURE 8 Provincial Dynamism and Distance from Hanoi % of firms which believe ambiguity is interpreted in their favour 30 Long An Dong Nai Binh Duong

Percentage of firms

20 HCMC Thanh Hoa Hai Phong Nam Dinh

10

TT-Hue Da Nang

Ha Noi

0

Ha Tay

-10 -1000

0

1000

2000

Distance from Ha Noi in kilometres Vietnam Business Environment Survey 2002

a relationship between FDI and provincial dynamism. The single most important factor in promoting provincial economic development is the proactivity or dynamism of provincial authorities in solving problems not covered by central law. (Some examples of this factor were discussed in the channels of FDI above.)40 Nevertheless, it is impossible not to notice the strong geographic dimension to the responses. Provinces in the north southeast are clustered in the top right hand portion of the graph in Figure 6, whereas Hanoi and Ha Tay from the north and closely connected to the central government are in bottom right hand corner, as many would suspect. Because of this

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FIGURE 9 Provincial Dynamism by FDI and Geography Interpreted 0 against us, 1 postponed, 2 in our favour

Mean response to “If there is a lack of clarity…”

2.2

2.1

2.0

1.9

1.8

1.7 North-South (1954) 1.6

North South

1.5 Medium-Low

High

Star

FDI Recipient Group

proximity, these provinces are somewhat restrained in their ability to manoeuvre around central law, while contact with central authorities is much easier — central authorities are literally only a short motorcycle trip away. Figure 8 explores this geographical dimension by measuring the distance from Hanoi. (The correlation, 0.880, is highly significant.) As mentioned above, geography is a conditioning factor in measuring governance. Geography played a role in early attraction of FDI, which then leads to more dynamism. At the same time, geography continues to influence provincial dynamism. I explore this relationship by dividing the provinces into two groups (north and south), then take the firm’s response to the dynamism question and look at how different FDI recipient groups perform on the dynamism score. One can see, in Figure 9, that dynamism improves steadily from the medium-low group to the star group. The relationship in the north is more mixed. Medium-

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FIGURE 10 Provincial Dynamism by FDI and Geography % of firms which believe ambiguity is interpreted in their favour 30 Long An

Dong Nai Binh Duong

Percentage of firms

20 HONG TT-Hue Nam Dinh

Thanh Hoa

10

Da Nang Hai Phong

Ha Noi Ha Tay

0

-10 1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Logged stock of FDI per capita (1990–2000) North-South (1954) South Rsq = 0.9098 thru origin

North Rsq = 0.5379 thru origin

low provinces score very high, primarily due to the strong influence of Nam Dinh. Nevertheless, the trajectory from high to star is positive, just at a lower slope than in the southern provinces. This is illustrated more clearly in the Figure 10, where I map out the two slopes by the provinces of firms who responded with the answer that local governments interpret lack of clarity in their favour, to the dynamism question. FDI and dynamism are related in both northern and southern

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provinces, but the relationship is simply much stronger among the southern sample. Mini-case studies While the statistical results demonstrate a positive relationship between FDI inflows on both outcomes and dimensions of economic governance, it does not prove the impact. Both the survey results and most of the outcome data were taken from one point in time, whereas FDI ebbed and flowed in provinces throughout the nineties. It is also difficult to trace the impact of FDI to policies of individual provinces. To probe further, I explore how governance changed in four provinces with varying levels of FDI inflows. Figure 11 shows that these provinces have very

FIGURE 11 FDI Per Capita Flows over Time in Case Study Provinces 500.00 450.00

FDI Per Capita p ( ($) )

400.00 350.00 300.00 250.00 200.00 150.00 100.00 50.00 0.00 1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

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Minh City to achieve some early investment success. The province began receiving significant FDI around 1993 and continued at a rapid pace throughout the 1990s, peaking in 1997 when it had over 50 per cent as much investment per capita as second-place Dong Nai province. Binh Duong has developed a reputation for devising unique strategies for economic growth. Through “push” and “pull” channels, Binh Duong’s reputation was cultivated in the late 1993 to 1996 period as the first province to institute a “one door, one stop” policy to streamline business registration and licensing.41 As investment began to rise in the province, Binh Duong authorities used some of their newly earned revenue to improve local roads, bridges and electricity. They also invested heavily in training for local workers.42 To improve the domestic investment climate, Binh Duong authorities worked to increase credit by allowing private firms to use up to 70 per cent of their capital goods purchased with a loan to count as collateral for repayment of the loan.43 Major economic innovations began on a pilot basis in Vietnam, including investment zones in 1994 and Vietnam’s first Build Operate Transfer (BOT) project, allowing privatepublic sector partnerships in the transportation sector.44 These policies were overseen by Binh Duong party secretary Nguyen Minh Triet, who worked closely with the People’s Committee Chairs Hong Minh Phuong and Le Hong Minh to continue improving the investment environment. In addition to actual policies, the province cultivated a reputation for being open and proactive about meeting the needs of their constituency. Binh Duong officials laboured to acquire a reputation of accountability by popularizing the notion “dam noi, dam lam”, or “dare to speak, dare to do”. These economic innovations had the positive effect of attracting additional foreign direct investment, thereby allowing the reforms to continue. FDI allowed Binh Duong to shed its dependence on the SOE sector, an important reinforcing channel. By 1999, the share of SOEs in GDP fell to 12.8 per cent, while the foreign invested sector rose to 21.4 per cent. Some Binh Duong policies, however, began to exceed the limits of its authority. On several occasions during the early nineties, Binh Duong strategies for improving its business environment went outside the parameters of central laws. An early issue Binh Duong confronted was its predilection for admitting 100 per cent export processing companies into their industrial zones, even though by law

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they should have only been admitted to Export Processing Zones, which Binh Duong did not have central permission to erect. Binh Duong went beyond central authority in land and customs laws especially. The Binh Duong People’s Committee was criticized in national papers for buying lumber from Laos at rates below the Vietnamese tariff price and selling the cheaper wood to private businesses. In 1995, Binh Duong was penalized for selling land at below national rates and to private individuals. On both occasions Binh Duong officials argued that their actions were forced on them by the weakness of central laws.45 As more and more provinces began to take similar actions, Binh Duong’s initiatives were enshrined in central law, such as the 1996 Land Law. Binh Duong policy-makers travelled to Hanoi on several occasions to lobby for changes in central laws, which they felt were disadvantageous to their citizens or foreign investors in the province. Provincial delegates urged the government to be “courageous” in dividing investment licensing and management powers between central and local governments in favour of local authorities. During discussions on amendments to Vietnam’s Foreign Investment Law in the National Assembly, Nguyen Minh Triet from the Song Be delegation argued, Even for a tiny investment of a few hundreds of thousand dollars, they still have to go to Hanoi and wait up to several months to get a stamp. Our province is attracting a lot of investment but one of the biggest blocks is the cumbersome licensing process.

He recommended that the MPI take only the larger projects of more than US$10 million and leave small- and medium-sized projects to provincial authorities, an idea that became law only a few years later.46 In 1996, Binh Duong officials learned that the French Company, Schneider, was paying the same amount in import taxes to produce its electronic goods as the minimum price for which it could sell the finished product. Binh Duong DPI officials accompanied the Schneider company representative to Hanoi to lobby for changes in customs law, which, they claim, were eventually approved.47 Binh Duong’s influence in Hanoi and innovative thinking continued into the late nineties. Binh Duong’s People’s Committee presented a petition to the government asking for incentives and preferences for the provincial pilot housing plan for migrant workers, who came to Binh Duong to seek employment in its industrial zones.48

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This case study confirms early survey evidence of Binh Duong that after becoming a darling of investors in the early nineties the province has seen corresponding improvements in the quality and dynamism of its governance.

Ha Tinh: low FDI baseline If an analyst in 1986 were not allowed to use any variable other than history in predicting the trajectory of economic transition in a province, Ha Tinh along with its neighbour Nghe An would have received the slowest of prognostications. Because it was the heartland of the Vietnamese communist revolution, the birthplace of Tran Phu and so many other communist leaders, one would not expect it to adapt to a globalized world overnight.49 Nevertheless, Ha Tinh was one of the early winners in FDI attraction.50 The province had some success in attracting FDI, especially in mining natural resources and woodcutting. Ha Tinh citizens also benefited from the fact that their compatriot Nguyen Mai was the chair of SCCI. The President of the Japanese joint venture partner, Mitsunori Okuyama, stated at the opening ceremony of the Hikosen joint venture project that originally he had sought to invest in a garment factory in Hanoi or Hai Phong: because these two cities have more experience than Ha Tinh in dealing with foreign investors. But in the end I chose Ha Tinh for the simple reason that Ha Tinh is one of the provinces with the least foreign invested projects in Vietnam. Now should anyone ask me, I would add that Ha Tinh is the native place of the leaders of the State Committee for Cooperation and Investment.51

In the early 1990s, local officials were excited about the prospects of Ha Tinh’s investment success. “Ha Tinh in 1994 promises new opportunities for development”, bragged Le Duy Phuong, Chair of the province’s Planning Committee. “We hope to attract international aid and foreign investment — an important factor in overcoming the shortage of capital necessary for economic development.”52 By 1995, Ha Tinh had four foreign investment projects, exactly half of the projects in the entire north central coast region. A series of problems in some foreign invested projects in the mining sector, however, began to cut into the viability of Ha Tinh’s projects. Local officials exaggerated Ha Tinh iron ore deposits. Their original surveys had not mentioned the high zinc content in the iron,

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which limited profitability.53 Ha Lin, a Taiwanese joint venture in the wood industry, suffered heavy losses from red tape in a central exporting law, causing wood products to rot in the monsoon season while awaiting a prime ministerial signature. Ha Lin directors blame themselves for ambitious investments, but remained bothered that they did not receive more assistance from local officials. Contrast this with behaviour of Binh Duong officials in dealing with the difficulties faced by Schneider. It was grains of ilmenite (black sand, in industry jargon) that finally broke the investment climate’s back in 1995, when a highly leveraged three-way joint venture in mining called Austinh broke down in a squabble between local People’s Committee officials and the Australian investors, Westralian Sands. Who was right or wrong in the debacle is irrelevant, as the highly public dispute between the parties soured foreign investors on Ha Tinh for the rest of the decade. Westralian Sands went public in West Australian newspapers with the problem, explaining that it had left their US$2 million investment contribution and US$4 million in equipment behind.54 Moreover, Westralian Sands representatives claimed that they were held against their will in Ha Tinh City, though this seems rather incredible. The tone of Ha Tinh officials, revealed in newspaper articles, was highly problematic for the success of the venture. Westralian Sands was depicted as a treacherous firm trying to use sophisticated accounting techniques to steal Ha Tinh’s land. The idea that this was Ha Tinh’s property and not the property of the joint venture did not encourage investors to feel safe about their future in the province. Many foreigners believe that it was Ha Tinh’s officials’ xenophobia that spoiled the project’s potential. After the Austinh fiasco, investment dried up as investors shied away from any involvement in the province. Ha Tinh investment remained flat throughout the 1990s even in the peak year of 1997. By 1999, Ha Tinh ranked second from the bottom in the north central coast in terms of implemented projects. Between 1998 and 2000, only eight projects were licensed at about six million dollars apiece. Four, including Singaporean, Korean, and Taiwanese companies, never established operations. One foreign investor pulled out of the joint venture, leaving it to the state companies to manage, and two are on the verge of bankruptcy. By contrast, neighbouring Thanh Hoa province had ten times the registered capital.

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The resulting decline in Ha Tinh provincial governance could be seen through all channels of FDI. Ha Tinh had never done much to “pull” in investment, relying on their natural resources and connections in Hanoi to help them. But with the scandals, investors were actually forced away by Ha Tinh’s reputation. Because so many investors left or failed, the “push” of the remaining investors was minor, especially as their contributions to provincial labour and revenue was hobbled. The fact that every investment in Ha Tinh had taken the form of joint ventures with SOEs also limited “push” capabilities, as local officials were less likely to talk with foreign investors directly and more likely to deal with the local partner. Granted, the small number of investors meant that any one of them could walk right into DPI and be recognized. But they had very little influence. In reinforcing channels as well, Ha Tinh has seen very little improvement. In answering my questions, the provincial DPI attributed all local incentive policies to central policies, writing, “It is simply the job of the local government to administer those policies”. DPI ruled out any role for innovation in planning at the local level and denied the three channels for provincial innovation. In other provinces these were: interpreting a lack of clarity in the favour of local and foreign investors; creatively implementing central laws to meet local needs; or requesting and lobbying for special incentives in one-and five-year master plans. In short, the Ha Tinh provincial DPI is an institution highly dependent on MPI and very separate from the local People’s Committee, which defers all questions on economic planning and statistics back to DPI. The People’s Committee does not have the policy-making space to be innovative at the local level. All important initiatives come from the centre with minimal local-level interaction to make sure central initiatives correspond to local needs.55 In comparison to other provinces, the DPI in Ha Tinh operates much more autonomously of the People’s Committee. Alternatively, it shares a closer relationship with MPI. As its response makes clear: DPI is the expert agency of the People’s Committee, charged with advising it on the implementation of central policies at the local level. DPI manages comprehensively tasks allocated to it by the People’s Committee, while simultaneously supplying concrete guidance and orientation on the specifics of MPI.56

The local People’s Committee does not concern itself in full with the efforts and outcomes of its “mini-People’s Committee”. Issues

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of Enterprise Law and Foreign Investment Law implementation are completely left to the discretion of DPI, including registration, licensing, and land-use rights certificates. DPI also considers that one of its key roles is to advise the provincial People’s Committee on the needs and goals of MPI. In the few cases where local policies are developed to encourage FDI, DPI is the main organization responsible, branches of other line ministries do the research, and the People’s Committee simply investigates and decides upon the recommendations of DPI. In other provinces, promotions from DPI are usually to the People’s Committee. But the DPI stressed that in Ha Tinh promotions out of DPI were distributed equally between the People’s Committee and MPI. Generally, promotions in Ha Tinh were based on the individual goals of the employee. Those with technical expertise aimed for promotion to the MPI, while those with local political aspirations asked for promotions to the People’s Committee. Fiscally, Ha Tinh is almost completely dependent on central transfers, consistently receiving over 60 per cent of their provincial budget from Hanoi between 1995 and 2000. SOEs continue to be one of the engines of the Ha Tinh economy, with Local State-Owned Enterprises (LSOEs) accounting for 26 per cent of GDP and Central State-Owned Enterprises (CSOEs) 7 per cent. SOE contribution to industry has declined from 62 per cent in 1997 to just above 40 per cent in 2000. Although Ha Tinh has not grown more dependent on SOEs over that time period, the slack in contributions to industry has not been made up by FDI. Rather, the household sector has emerged to fill the gap, contributing nearly 60 per cent of industrial output and 66 per cent of GDP. The fact that many large household enterprises have been slow to register as private companies is another strike against Ha Tinh local government, revealing that these enterprises do not have proper business law information or are afraid of the out-stretched hand of local officials in the form of increased inspection and “friendly envelopes”.57 Ha Tinh ranks near the bottom of the country in private enterprises per capita and labour employed in the registered private sector.58 Ha Tinh has seen the opposite trajectory of Binh Duong. Without foreign investment inflows it has not been able to escape the shackles of central dependence. It has seen corresponding declines in the innovative nature and quality of its local government.

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FDI comes to Long An59 Gareth Porter discussed how Long An province’s price and wage policies were first stifled by Central Committee conservatives, but were later given tacit approval and legislated nationally in 1984.60 That spark of creativity would be stifled throughout the early nineties and then would explode again with fervour at the turn of the century. In my content analysis of provincial innovation, Long An only has two hits in the early nineties — both for illegal importing of motorcycles.61 What happened?62 On the other side of Ho Chi Minh City from Binh Duong, Long An had lower quality land than Binh Duong and Dong Nai and investors shied away.63 They did not return until late 1995, when land prices in Long An’s high performing neighbours near Saigon rose to the point that the extra cost of land stabilization in Long An was less than the difference in land price.”64 The situation in Long An provides an opportunity to test my theory. What happened to governance in Long An after the sudden spike in investment flows? Between 1995 and 1997, eighteen projects were implemented, with new business bringing in a turnover of US$53 million, of which US$20 million was spent on exports. These businesses also contributed nearly US$3.3 million to the state budget, and created jobs for 4,000 labourers. FDI went from accounting for almost 0 per cent of industry in the early 1990s, to 78.7 per cent in 1998.65 As the Long An economy improved, and people began to notice, the Vietnam Investment Review ran a front-page story headlined, “Province’s Foreign Affairs Win Praise”, which lauded the efficiency, transparency and credibility of Long An officials.66 There were negatives to the vigorous work to attract investment, most noticeably greenfield investors who could not compete and were driven out of business. This was particularly true in the sugar processing industry, where Nagarjuna, a four million dollar Indian venture, entered with such force that the DPI temporarily had to stop issuing permits for any new projects until June 1998, when the impact of the increased amount of sugar on the market could be better assessed.67 Despite this setback, the influence on the quality of Long An governance was striking. We have already seen how Long An firms ranked in provincial surveys. Long An consistently outperformed its total FDI trajectory. The likely reason for this is that the survey was administered in 2002, so it captured Long An province at the very zenith of FDI inflows in

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the year 2001. Because the survey is a snapshot, it is difficult to sort out these reinforcing effects. As limited confirmation, however, Steer and Taussig (2002) praised private sector growth in the province in an unrelated study. In interviews, Long An officials were quite candid about early problems with the speed of licensing, registration, and land granting. They were well aware of the policy improvements that had taken place in the past few years. They have seen the fruits of their “pull” efforts. Since 1999, the increase of 441 new private companies is 88.9 per cent of number of the firms registered between 1991 and 1999. Registered capital has increased by 42.6 per cent (VND 396 billion). Moreover, the private sector contributes nearly 50 per cent of total provincial revenue, and accounts for 83,500 jobs. DPI has omitted the business plan requirement, done away with all licences and shortened the time period, reducing registration requirements to an article of association and list of shareholders. Registration takes place in three to five days, much faster than the fifteen days allowed under the Enterprise Law. Land procedures are also much easier to process. Firms can change the stated use of their land relatively easily and pay only a small tax. In fact, land authority officials assert that their whole job orientation has switched from guarding land-use rights to readying land for development. They remarked that they were feeling a great deal of pressure to develop land quickly in order to get it ready for industrial concentrations. The province wants to have the infrastructure and allocation of land necessary to take advantage of Long An’s strategic location at the crossroads of the north southeast and the Mekong delta. With this push, their new role is to evaluate and determine the usage of the land in order to assist the People’s Committee in distributing land-use rights certificates as efficiently as possible.68 Both “pull” and “push” channels of FDI interactions are evident in Long An since the peak inflows. As mentioned above, Long An has been quite aggressive in placing its industrial zones and industrial concentrations (with their cleared land and developed infrastructure) as close to the Ho Chi Minh City border as possible, to lure investors away from the big three neighbours. In recent years, it has done quite well, attracting not only foreign investors, but also successful domestic investors away from Ho Chi Minh City. Administrative efficiency improvements have been as attractive as direct incentives in this

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regard. One US$1.5 million domestic company, an oil lubricant exporter, came to Long An in 1996 after a series of administrative mishaps in Ho Chi Minh City. The company has been extremely positive about the move, citing the fact that their land requests and licensing requests have been fulfilled much faster and with fewer transaction costs. Where it took them about three years to fulfil all the necessary requirements for land in Ho Chi Minh City, in Long An the process took a couple of weeks.69 The Long An People’s Committee has also been quite open to “push” factors. Indeed, it has sent DPI officials to request suggestions from companies. The Long An People’s Committee has even created an interactive website with planning and investment guidelines, onto which firms can leave suggestions. In terms of reinforcing improvements, Long An has seen improvement in three of the listed areas. First, discrimination in favour of SOEs has been virtually eliminated, as Long An officials decided to equitize all thirty of the poor performing SOEs in the province.70 According to INCOM bank officials in Long An: In other provinces, a letter from MOF or DOF will be used in place of collateral, if the firm uses funds from the central budget. In Long An, however, this is a very rare occurrence. Long An has been trying for several years (since 1997) to make their local SOEs accountable and business oriented as if they were private.71

In 1994 SOEs received over 75 per cent of all loans. The loan gap is closing in Long An now, so that SOEs receive only 60 per cent of INCOM Bank loans and the private sector receives 40 per cent.72 Second, there have been significant changes in the relationships between local institutions. DPI and the People’s Committee have grown much closer, meeting together at least once a month. Moreover, the head of registration meets with the deputy chair of the People’s Committee for economic affairs at least once a month. If there is a difference of opinion between the People’s Committee and MPI, the DPI is likely to look to the People’s Committee for advice and then go back to the MPI with suggestions on how it intends to follow the local decision but stay within MPI guidelines. Thus far, the relationship has been additionally tight, because promotion has only gone from DPI to the People’s Committee. Indeed, the 2003 People’s Committee Chair, Truong Van Tiep, was originally from DPI.73

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A second striking institutional feature of Long An is the role of the People’s Council in the province. In interviews with local governments, People’s Committees and departments were usually clear about the limited strength of the People’s Council. In general, the People’s Council’s impact was mentioned very rarely in interviews about provincial decision-making, other than to highlight perfunctory formalized meetings with the Chairs. Interviews in Long An, however, offered a much different picture. As ought to be the case constitutionally, the Council in Long An has the final say on documents and initiatives passed by the People’s Committee. What makes Long An different is how the People’s Council has chosen to exercise this role since 1998. On more than one occasion, it has disagreed with the People’s Committee’s work, and documents have needed to be revised to meet its demands. This happened in regard to infrastructure attracting domestic and foreign investment, where the People’s Council insisted that even more money be allocated to infrastructure improvements, necessitating a revision of the yearly plan. Moreover, Long An authorities are aware that the power of its People’s Council is unique among provincial governments.74 Finally, Long An has seen a re-emergence of their pre-doi moi days of policy innovation and experimentation. The director of DOI was very interested in talking about the role FDI played in allowing for “beyond the fence policies” (Adam Fforde).75 According to him, Long An hopes to follow the model of Binh Duong and Dong Nai by lowering land rents and taxes (he called it a People’s Council policy). They will then be able to serve as a pilot project province, and enter the level of decisionmaking where they can ignore the centre and “go their own way”. According to him, the more FDI that flows into province, the greater the domestic bargaining position of Long An. Defending this position, he cited the example of Binh Duong, where he believed provincial leaders were able to win honour and prestige after their experiments. This is the main reason why DOI listed the first of their three most important achievements as the VND 1 trillion investment in infrastructure, which has allowed FDI to account for 56 per cent of industrial production. People’s Committee officials were more circumspect, stating that on many issues Long An has implemented national laws, especially those conducive to business, such as the Enterprise Law. They proposed policies for central approval, such as investment zones and a “border gate” business zone, adjacent to Cambodia. Nevertheless, on land issues

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(lower land rents, longer tax holidays, and longer lease times) they offered policies lower than the central government, as they feel the central government did not understand the situation in their province. They hoped to negotiate with the central government about this, but felt that land issues required urgent action and thus took steps first to ameliorate the impact of the land price bubble inherited from Ho Chi Minh City. Long An had also begun to assert itself in national debates. In a 1999 National Assembly debate about domestic investment, Long An delegates took the lead in complaining about a clause prohibiting family members of officials from investing in enterprises. “The requirement is unreasonable, unfair and vague”, said Nguyen Thanh Nguyen, a delegate from Long An province.76 The fire in Long An province had returned.

Vinh Phuc: The Northern Tiger Like Long An, Vinh Phuc province has a rich history of economic innovation in the pre-doi moi period. In 1966–67, the provincial party secretary sought to ward off a food shortage by allowing cooperatives to contract rice production to individual households.77 As in Long An, that innovative spark was extinguished in the early nineties, when Vinh Phuc (then still connected with Phu Tho in Vinh Phu province) became one of the poorest and lowest recipients of FDI. Vinh Phuc’s emergence on the Vietnamese economic scene provides a test case for my research, especially because we can contrast this northern province, only 40 km away from Hanoi, with Long An. The external shock came for Vinh Phuc when it received word that it would be separated from Phu Tho province in 1996 and immediately received sixteen projects that aimed to take advantage of its new status and proximity to Hanoi. Five of the projects were from Japanese investors alone, totalling over US$215 million and including a US$49 million Toyota auto plant and US$104 million Honda motorcycle establishment.78 Most investment was located just outside Hanoi, adjacent to the highway leading to Noi Bai airport. In a short time, Vinh Phuc saw its economic growth skyrocket to new heights, with GDP growth in the province amounting to 18 per cent in 1997, and 22 per cent in 1998. By 1999, Vinh Phuc officials estimated that 1,794 people were employed directly in foreign firms and several thousand indirectly.79 Its average annual growth between 1995 and 2000 was over 13 per cent, the highest rate in the country by three percentage points and in spite of the Asian Financial

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Crisis. GDP per capita grew from VND 13 million to nearly VND 24 million, although that money has yet to filter through the economy. Poverty in Vinh Phuc consumes about 50 per cent of the population, but this is decreasing rapidly according to the National Human Development Report (2001), due to the priority given to it by Vinh Phuc officials.80 In 2001, the province ranked sixteenth nationwide in terms of registered FDI capital, after Khanh Hoa, but just before Long An. Of its twenty-two ongoing projects, nine are joint ventures and thirteen are 100 per cent foreign-owned. As my theory predicts, there have been noticeable changes in governance associated with this “quiet rise to prominence”.81 Both the local party secretary and People’s Committee have been proactive in creating an attractive environment for investment. People’s Committee Decision 23 of 1998 was designed to expedite administrative procedures for handling investment procedures for both foreign and domestic firms. People’s Committee Decision 2308 of the same year widened roads and improved infrastructure for administrative efficiency. The negative side of 2308 was the decreased land available to houses adjacent to main roads. Vinh Phuc has similarly facilitated “push” factors by organizing frequent meetings with investors to solve problems immediately.82 People’s Committee chair Nguyen Minh Dang joked that he liked to think of his Japanese investors as “nguoi Vinh Phuc goc Nhat”,83 to emphasize how closely he sees his relationship with them and how seriously he takes their recommendations. There has been considerable spillover of good economic policies into the private sector. Since the Enterprise Law, Vinh Phuc has increased its registration of private companies by over 300 per cent. By the end of 2003, Vinh Phuc oversaw the registration of 110 private companies, 348 limited liability companies, and 31 joint-stock companies, totalling over VND 450 trillion (US$28 million) in registered capital. Some of these firms are re-registrations from other provinces, as Vinh Phuc’s improved investment climate has managed to lure investors in.84 Where FDI reinforcing channels have had the strongest impact has been in the area of innovation and experimentation. This was best exemplified by Nguyen Minh Dang in an interview with Vietnam Investment Review (VIR) at a fair to promote Vinh Phuc’s new projects: “The fair aims at creating a chance for business people and partners to meet, thereby increasing outsiders’ awareness of Vinh Phuc’s economic potential and attracting more investment capital. It also stimulates

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businesses in the province and provokes them to raise their competitiveness”. Later in the interview, he discussed the preferential policies, which spurred Vinh Phuc’s success, “We have introduced a one-door licensing mechanism and all investment procedures can now be sent through the local Department of Investment and Planning. Secondly, land tax has been reduced, even made free in some cases. We think the benefits of creating employment and investment capital outweigh exorbitant land leasing fees”.85 In my interview with a DPI official it was confirmed that Vinh Phuc has often enhanced its incentive policies over and above those of other provinces, by paying the difference from local revenue. FDI has allowed them to do this and it was one of the reasons why they continue to pursue it. The study of Vinh Phuc offers a corrective on the earlier finding that dynamism is not likely to be found in northern provinces. Perhaps by enlarging the number of provinces in the World Bank-IFC study we can test this relationship more clearly. Despite its innovation, Vinh Phuc has been much less vocal on the national stage than Long An and Binh Duong. This may be a result of its proximity to Hanoi. As we learned with the survey, FDI may spur innovation but the effect may be inhibited by geography.

Conclusion Though this chapter describes the beginning of a larger effort, I believe it offers a preview of the multi-faceted impact of FDI on local governance. For the most part, the influence of FDI has been positive. FDI seems to be associated with better implementation, transparency, efficiency, dynamism, and provincial outcome variables, though these relationships are far from clear-cut. More important than FDI itself is the interaction of FDI with geographical and cultural factors. This was clearest in looking at the dynamism of provinces. The negative aspects of FDI on governance are harder to pin down. My study found very little correlation between FDI and corruption, though a positive relationship may be implied. In their efforts to enhance their own gains foreign investors can create a climate where bribes are a normal part of doing business. Moreover, I have added little to the debate on “race to the bottom”. It appears that FDI is associated with better human development, but I simply do not have data on crossprovincial environmental and labour regulations to support this.

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Several new research endeavours may be stimulated by this work, but I suggest one in particular. I maintain that FDI is the driving force behind provincial economic divergence and that this in turn leads to better living standards for those lucky enough to live in a high FDI province or be able to move there. On the other hand, I have demonstrated that provinces such as Vinh Phuc and Long An can narrow the governance gap in quite a short time, when exogenous shocks work in their favour. But both of these provinces have the advantage of proximity to large markets and decent infrastructure. Their turnarounds were astounding but not unexpected. More research should be devoted to how provinces without the special features of these two provinces can lure in investment and engineer their own economic expansions. If not, a chasm in Vietnamese economic development and local governance may be beginning.

Notes I am indebted to David Boren Fellowship and the Institute of International Economy, which sponsored my fieldwork and stay in Vietnam. I also thank MPDF and the World Bank office in Hanoi for their assistance. Particularly, I am grateful to Phuong Quynh Trang, Andrew Steer, Kazi Matin, and Amanda Carlier. David Dapice, Ben Kerkvliet, Robert Keohane, David Marr, and Markus Taussig offered excellent advice on this project. All mistakes are my own. 1

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The Ten-Year Master Plan lays out provincial statistical performance over the previous ten years and also highlights a province’s goals and strategies for meeting its development objectives. The prime minister must sign each master plan after a series of negotiations between the provincial People’s Committee, the Department of Planning and Investment (DPI), and the prime minister’s office. In this volume, David Marr, Martin Grossheim and Pham Quang Minh are helpful in tracing the historical nature of autonomous traditions. See Vasavakul, “Rebuilding Authority Relations”, 2002 summary. Kerkvliet, “An Approach for Analyzing”, 2001; Porter, Vietnam, 1993; Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, 1998; Dapice “ Economic Policy”, 2001; Fforde and De Vylder, From Plan to Market, 1996. An exception here is Doug Porter’s comparisons of the impact of economic liberalization on districts in Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Quang Nam-Da Nang, “Economic Liberalization”, 1995. King et al., Designing Social Inquiry, 1994.

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Lobbying sometimes became deal cutting. For Hikosen, a Japanese garment firm to open a factory in Vung Tau meant agreeing to open a smaller factory in Ha Tinh, the homeland of the SCCI chairs. See Ha Tinh case study for more details. “Regulation on the Procedures of Evaluation of Projects with Foreign Invested Capital”, promulgated by the President of the Council of Ministers, 7 November 1991. This was reaffirmed by Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet in a Decree from 28 December 1994, which stated, “Within 20 days after receipt of project documents, the provincial People’s Committees shall contribute their ideas in writing and send them to the SCCI in relation to: the juridical person status of foreign and Vietnamese parties; the conformity of project objectives and locations with the planning and the direction of social and economic development in localities; the right to land-use of the Vietnamese party, the land area under use by projects, the land rents and the plan to compensate for ground surface leveling; the value of assets for capital contribution by the Vietnamese party (if any).” Many have speculated that early concentration in the south was the result of both cultural factors (more openness) and pure practicality, with many pre1975 Vietnamese entrepreneurs from abroad possessing better contacts in the south and many southern entrepreneurs still maintaining their pre-1975 management and marketing skills. Cohen, “Hanoi to Ease its Hold”, 2001, and “Bridging the Great Divide”, 2003. Athukorala, “Foreign Direct Investment”, 2002. At this time, FDI came primarily in the form of joint ventures with state-owned enterprises, accounting for over 70 per cent of approved projects and 75 per cent of total registered capital between 1998–94. In addition most investments were in construction and services, with manufacturing accounting for less than one fifth of total approved projects. The Law on the Organization of People’s Councils and People’s Committees, 1994; The Ordinance on the Concrete Tasks and Powers of the People’s Council and People’s Committee at each Level, 1996; Ordinance on the Supervision and Guidance by the Standing Committee if the National Assembly, the Guidance and Inspection by the Government over the People’s Councils, 1996; The Budget Law, 1996; Amendment to Law on the Organization of People’s Councils and People’s Committees, 2001; Land Law, 2001. Vietnam Investment Review, 11 April 1996, and 3 March 1997. On 7 June 1997, when implementing decision 386/TTg was first issued, other provinces only meant Hai Phong, Da Nang, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Dong Nai, Binh Duong and Quang Ninh. On 20 February 1998, Prime Minister Pham Van Khai added eight new provinces to the list, including: Ha Tay, Hai Duong, Nghe An and Thanh Hoa in the north; Thua Thien Hue, Quang Nam in the centre; and Khanh Hoa and Lam Dong in the south (Vietnam Investment

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Review, 3 March 1998). Over time, the list has grown to include most provinces. In 1999, the MPI delegated supervisory authority of foreign investment activity to management boards in Phu Tho, Vinh Phuc, Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Nam, Khanh Hoa, Phu Yen, Long An, Tien Giang, and Dong Thap industrial zones. Under the MPI regulation, the above industrial zone (IZ) management boards have jurisdiction to evaluate and approve licences for foreign-backed projects with investment capital of less than US$40 million with consulting from the MPI and relevant ministries. According to MPI officials, all management boards would be expected to evaluate and grant the licence within fifteen days of receiving the application. Ministry of Planning and Investment, Foreign Investment in Vietnam, 2001; Vietnam Investment Review, 20 March 2000. Malesky, “At the Provincial Gates…”. Nguyen Mai, “The Export Performance”, 2001; Dang, “Investment and Growth”, 2003; Athukorala, “Foreign Direct Investment”, 2002. For an example of this behaviour, see the speech by Nguyen Thien Nhan at the 2002 Vietnam Business Forum; Malesky, “The Impact of FDI”, 2003. Weingast, “The Economic Role”, 1995, gives a strict set of conditions for such a system and believes China meets these conditions. See also: Montinola, Qian and Weingast, “Federalism Chinese Style”, 1995; Qian and Weingast, “China’s Transition”, 1996; and Jin, Qian and Weingast, “Regional Decentralization”, 1999. The situation in China has engendered quite a debate on this front. See Huang, Inflation and Investment, 1996; Yang, Beyond Beijing, 1997; Lin, Cai, and Li, The China Miracle, 1996; and Tian, Shanghai’s Role, 1996. The concept of provinces competing for investment may remind some of the notorious notion of “race to the bottom”. Evidence of this is at best spurious. In Vietnam evidence seems to show that firms are willing to sacrifice low labour costs for better production standards. Nevertheless, one needs to be conscious of this notion and acknowledge that competition for FDI could drive down governance on some dimensions. Wade, “National Power”, 1999; Rodrik, “The Global Fix”, 1998. For instance, Dong Nai has stated openly its desire to win back FDI from Binh Duong province, and Long An province knew exactly where its investment policies placed it relative to both its northeast southern competitors and Mekong delta neighbours. Long An also saw that the high cost of land and transactions in Ho Chi Minh City would deflect competitors over to them. For this reason, they have strategically placed all three of their industrial zones and eleven industrial concentrations directly on the Ho Chi Minh City border. In the north, Vinh Phuc’s master plan cited a range of tax incentives for improving the investment climate relative to northern competitors. One provincial official demonstrated how provinces get around central legislation to lure investors. “If a central decision calls

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for investors to pay a 5 per cent tax on profit, Hanoi expects to see 5 per cent of the firm’s reported profits accounted for in taxes. That does not mean the province cannot pay 2 per cent of the tax and the investor 3 per cent” (interview at Vinh Phuc DPI, 7 June 2002). Other provinces could be much more subdued in their competitive attitudes. A Ha Tinh official in answering my question said, that while they would like Ha Tinh to attract more FDI, they want all provinces to grow. See the announcement section of the Vietnam Investment Review, 3 November 2002. I would like thank David Dapice for pointing this out to me. Hellman et al., “Are Foreign Investors”, 2000. As an addendum to this theory, it is important to note the work of Martin Gainsborough on the issue of big-time corruption cases. The presence of so many of these in Ho Chi Minh City in the 1990s may not necessarily mean that there has been an increase in cases, but simply an effort by Hanoi to counteract the impact of decentralization. Gainsborough, “The Centre Strikes Back”, 2001. Katherine Stoner-Weiss also noticed this trend among Russian Provinces in her landmark study of provincial economic performance, Local Heroes (1999). Stoner-Weiss attributes this agreement of local elites on the future direction of the economy to structural conditions at the beginning of the transition period. Regions with wealth concentrated in particular sectors were more likely to reach an agreement. In field interviews, Binh Duong and Long An officials bragged about this as a comparative advantage of their provinces. It is no secret that Nguyen Minh Triet, former party secretary of Binh Duong and now party secretary of Ho Chi Minh City, has worked hard to build close relations with People’s Committee officials, especially in the area of streamlining administrative procedures. Other provinces such as Khanh Hoa found themselves mired in early stagnation due to open disputes between the two pinnacle local institutions (Nhan Dan, 4, 5, 7 September 1992). Similarly, registration and land-lease applications, which must be filed officially at other local agencies are available on-site in the People’s Committee offices, in case domestic or foreign firms mistakenly go to the People’s Committee first. In 1999, Vinh Phuc province streamlined the age-old and highly aggravating ad hoc tradition of giay gioi thieu (letters of introduction) for visitors. They devised a single form to be filled out by a visitor to the People’s Committee who requests a meeting with another local agency. The bottom of the form is then torn off and handed to a secretary who immediately prints off a form letter with the visitor’s name. Simple requests can be stamped, while more important requests are delivered directly to an official. A process that may

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require several days in other provinces is usually finished while the visitor waits. Le Dang Doanh, “Tinh Hinh Thuc Hien”, 2000. Stromseth, “Business Associations”, 2002. For more detail and statistical evidence see Malesky, “The Impact of FDI on Provincial Autonomy”, 2003. Once again, I will only use FDI stock up to the year 2000 to avoid problems related to endogeneity. Because, there are only eleven provinces in the survey, however, more sophisticated techniques are not possible. This survey follows the Word Bank’s World Enterprise Survey and the Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey (BEEPS) used in Eastern Europe and the newly independent states. In these research endeavours, an effort was made to rank the governance and investment environment across a number of countries. Attridge, Ensuring Good Governance, 2002, discusses four dimensions of provincial governance for poverty reduction: accountability, transparency, participation, and predictability. Kaufman et al., “Governance Matters II”, 2002, measure governance by looking at six clusters: voice and accountability, political stability, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption. A fifth dimension of the planning and policies of a province is equally important, but untestable within the survey framework, but the case studies will hopefully bear this out. Le Dang Doanh, “Tinh Hinh Thuc Hien”, 2000; Central Institute for Economic Management, “One Year Enforcement”, 2001. All firms who have joint ventures with the local government or SOEs are removed from the calculation. Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon, 24 October 2002, p. 24; and Kinh Te Viet Nam and The Gioi, 20 August 2002, p. 2. Using statistical methods not presented here, I find that the relationship is a strong negative correlation of (-.615). Sometimes businesses did not say explicitly how much money they gave. Rather they used code words such as phong bi (an envelope), or simply, “We invited the inspector over for lunch”. To calculate how much money this actually meant, I took the provincial mean when these words were used and a monetary denomination was given. For instance, the average “envelope” in Ha Tay was VND 100,000, and “lunch” VND 50,000. Hellman, Jones, and Kaufman, “Are Foreign Investors”. In a separate project, I am collecting a database of such provincial dynamism across provinces and across time to use in a cross-pooled time series. Unfortunately, the project is still not complete.

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Vietnam Investment Review, 20 September 1993. Interview at Binh Duong DPI. David Dapice. “Economic Policy for Vietnam in a Period of Economic Turbulence”. Ho Chi Minh City: Fulbright Economic Teaching Program; Vietnam Program, John F. Kennedy School of Government, November 2001B. Vietnam Investment Review, 20 February 1995; 27 January 1997; and Pham Van Son Khanh, “Thuc Trang va Giai Phap”, 2000. Nhan Dan, 31 March 1993; Lao Dong, 15 March 1994; and Nhan Dan, 19 October 1996. Vietnam Investment Review, 11 November 1996. Interview at provincial DPI; in addition, interview with CEO Etienne Laude, 29 October 1998. Vietnam Investment Review, 12 April 1999. William Duiker in his biography of Ho Chi Minh (2000) refers to Ha Tinh and Nghe An collectively as “Red Nghe Tinh”. In fact, a direct comparison of Ha Tinh infrastructure reveals that Ha Tinh is roughly comparable to other provinces in terms of roads and human capital, though it is disadvantaged in telecommunications and its distance from larger markets. Malesky, “Study of Direct Foreign Investment”, 2002. Vietnam Investment Review, 12 September 1994. Vietnam Investment Review, 17 January 1994. Vietnam Investment Review, 15 September 1997. The director of the Ha Tinh SOE in the venture, Metro, was late in sending a customs form, leading to the newly purchased equipment being seized at the port of Hai Phong. Vietnam Investment Review, 7 July 1995. This is true of the border-gate business zone, which was originally described in prime ministerial Decision 177 in 1998. This was followed by Ministry of Finance circular 162, which laid out the strategic plan and financing as well as incentive principles. More substance was added in prime ministerial Decision 53, which outlined more clearly the incentives and the responsibilities of each institution. Finally, the People’s Committee of Ha Tinh responded to central directives with their own decision 789, creating the management board of the border-gate zone and the policies for implementing the central initiatives. A similar story could be told of the Ky Anh Seaport Industrial Zone, also a central project with little connection to the local People’s Committee. Written answers of Ha Tinh to my interview questions. Nguyen Phuong Quynh Trang, “The SME Sector in Ha Tinh,” 2001 To be fair to Ha Tinh officials, their efforts to implement the Enterprise Law have seen relative success. Between 1992 and 1999 there were 125

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registered enterprises in Ha Tinh (110 individual firms and 15 limited liability companies). After the legislation of the Enterprise Law, Ha Tinh registered 232 individual companies, 56 two-member limited-liability companies, 4 one-member limited-liability companies, 7 joint-stock companies, and 1 business practice (a new type of registration). Three of the joint stock companies have been equitized and four are new registrations. Though Ha Tinh ranks near the bottom in enterprises per capita and percentage of labour in the private sector in the north central coast region, it is third in improvement of registrations post the Enterprise Law, and has seen rapid improvement in 2003. My small tribute to one of the great books on the Vietnam War: Jeffrey Race, War Comes to Long An, 1972. Gareth Porter, Vietnam, 1993, p. 124; Dai Doan Ket, so 4, 3 July 1985. Lao Dong, 4 August 1994. Vietnam Investment Review, 6 December 1993. Natalie Hicks, this volume, also looks at experimentation in Long An province. Her analysis is primarily focused on agricultural extension offices at the district level, whereas I limit my analysis to the provincial level. There were certainly a few investors. Thailand’s Agri-mac signed a US$1.1 million investment in 1992. Taiwanese Wang Dih Lon Company dropped a US$24 million textile investment in 1994. A hundred per cent Japanese-owned International Animation Institute was started in 1995. And a Malaysian company, Golden Hope, planned a US$46 million palm oil venture, though it reduced its scope significantly after soil tests. Kinh Te va Du Bao, no. 6, 1995. Quy Hoach Tong The Phat Trien Kinh Te Xa Hoi Tinh Long An, Giai Doan 2001– 2010 [The Master Plan of Socioeconomic Development in Long An Province for the years 2001–2010]. Whether coincidence or not, there was an important government shake-up in Long An as the result of a police crackdown on a large smuggling ring. A number of local officials were replaced or suspended, including the party secretary, Pham Thanh Phong, and the People’s Committee Chair, Pham Van Thai. Vietnam Investment Review, 11 May 1998. Vietnam Investment Review, 25 August 1997. Vietnam Investment Review, 20 October 1997; Steer and Taussig, “Vietnam’s Private Companies,” 2002; and Vietnam Economic News, 2 July 2002. Interview with company CEO. To protect the anonymity of this source I have omitted it from the text. UBND Tinh Long An So Cong Nghiep, Bao Cao Tinh Hinh Thuc Hien Ke Hoach Nam 2001 [Situation Report on the Implementation of the Plan for 2001], 19 November 2001. Interview with Long An DPI.

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Interviews at Long An People’s Committee and at DPI. Interview with director of Long An INCOMbank. Interview with director of Long An INCOMbank. It is difficult to judge the coordination between the party secretary and the People’s Committee Chair. In a special issue on the province, Vietnam Economic News interviewed both officials and have them very much on the same page in regard to economic policy, but they both speak generally. Vietnam Economic News, 2 July 2002. Interview with DOI Director. Vinh Phu authorities did receive minor citations from state-owned newspapers for provincial land sales to individuals, which the newspapers believed to be out of its authority, Nhan Dan, 20 May 1992; and Lao Dong, 23 February 1995. Vietnam Investment Review, 31 May 1999. Dang Phong and Beresford, Authority Relations, 1998; Kerkvliet, “An Approach for Analyzing”, 2001. Quoc Te, 16 May 1999; Honda would claim 10,000 whenever it lobbied for more protection. These operations have run into problems of late, due to Vietnam’s 2002 trade policies on motorcycle construction kits. Nien Giam Thong Ke, 2001; Nguyen Van Long, 1999; and Kinh Te va Du Bao, no. 1, 1999. Quoc Te, 16 May 1999. Vietnam Investment Review, 26 March 2001. Interview with Vinh Phuc DPI; Vinh Phuc’s policies toward SOEs have not improved dramatically, however. They have only equitized 8 per cent of their 37 SOEs. One of those equitized SOEs, the Binh Duong Hotel, has achieved significant success in its new status. Only one new SOE has been registered in the province since 1997 — Vinh Yen paper company under the Department of Sports. Vinh Phuc citizens of Japanese origin. Vietnam Investment Review, 13 December 1999: Ministry of Planning and Investment 2003. Vietnam Investment Review, 13 December 1999.

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Employment Creation”. World Bank Working Paper. Washington, D.C.: World Bank Institute, 2002. Stromseth, Jonathan. “Business Associations and Policy-Making in Vietnam”. In Getting Organized in Vietnam: Moving in and around the Socialist State, edited by B.J. Kerkvliet, R.H.K. Heng and David W.H. Koh. Singapore. ISEAS. Stoner-Weiss, Katherine. Local Heroes: The Political Economy of Russian Regional Governance. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997. Tian, Gang. Shanghai’s Role in the Economic Development of China: Reform of Foreign Trade and Investment. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1996. Vasavakul, Thaveeporn, “Rebuilding Authority Relations: Public Administration Reform in the Era of Doi Moi.” Commissioned by the Asian Development Bank, 2002. Vu Mao 2001. “A Constitution for Integration: Interview with Vu Mao: Chair of the National Assembly’s Office”. Vietnam Economic Times, 93 (November 2001): 9–11. Wade, Robert. “National Power, Coercive Liberalism, and Global Finance”. In International Politics: Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issues, 5th Edition, edited by Robert J. Art and Robert Jervis. New York: Longman, 1999. Weingast, Barry R. “The Economic Role of Political Institutions: Market Preserving Federalism and Economic Growth”. Journal of Law. Economics, and Organization 11 (April 1995): 1–31. Webster, Leila and Markus Taussig. “Vietnam’s Undersized Engine: A Survey of 95 Larger Private Manufacturers”. Private Sector Discussions 8. Hanoi: Mekong Project Development Facility, Hanoi, 1999. World Bank. Vietnam Development Report 2002: Implementing Reform for Faster Growth and Poverty Reduction. Hanoi: World Bank Country Office, 2001. Yang Dali. Beyond Beijing: Liberalization and the Regions in China. London: Routledge, 1997.

Sources of Statistical Information 10 Cuoc Dieu Tra Quy Mo Lon 1998–2000 [10 Large Scale Surveys 1998–2000]. Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Thong Ke, 2001. Ministry of Planning and Investment — Enterprise Registration Department, “Status of Enterprise Law Implementation.” Unpublished excel spreadsheet, 2003. Nien Giam To Chuc Hanh Chinh Vietnam [Yearbook of Administrative Organization in Vietnam], Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Thong Ke, 2001. Nien Giam Thong Ke 2001 [Statistical Yearbook 2001]. Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Thong Ke, 2002. Nien Giam Thong Ke 2000 [Statistical Yearbook 2000]. Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Thong Ke, 2001.

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Nien Giam Thong Ke 1997 [Statistical Yearbook 1997]. Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Thong Ke, 1998 Nien Giam Thong Ke 1995 [Statistical Yearbook 1995]. Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Thong Ke, 1996. Nien Giam Thong Ke [Statistical Yearbook]. Ha Tinh: Provincial Statistical Department, 2000. Nien Giam Thong Ke [Statistical Yearbook]. Binh Duong: Provincial Statistical Department, 2000. Nien Giam Thong Ke [Statistical Yearbook]. Long An: Provincial Statistical Department, 2000. Nien Giam Thong Ke [Statistical Yearbook]. Vinh Phuc: Provincial Statistical Department, 2000. Tu Lieu Kinh Te-Xa Hoi: 61 Tinh va Thanh Pho [Socioeconomic data of 61 provinces and cities]. Hanoi: Nha Xuat Ban Thong Ke, 2000. Vietnam State Budget, Final Accounts for 2000 & Plan for 2002. Hanoi: Financial Publishing House: 2002.

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Reproduced from Beyond Hanoi: Local Government in Vietnam, edited by Benedict J Tria Kerkvliet and David G Marr (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg > 334 Glossary of Vietnamese Terms

Glossary of Vietnamese Terms ¤p âu bà B¡c CÕn B¡c Giang B¡c Ninh bän b*n anh em xa, mua l*ng giê`ng gâ`n ban bâ`u cØ ban ch¤p hành –äng bm ban chÔ –Õo cäi c*ch hành ch*nh ban dân v§n trung ßWng ban giám khäo ban ki¨m so*t ban kinh tª thành üy ban kinh tª trung ßWng –äng Bän Nhom ban nông nghiÆp ban quän tr¸ ban th߶ng trñc ban th߶ng vû thành üy b¢ng di tích l¸ch sØ vån hóa –߲c xªp hÕng Bäo _Õi b¡t –߲c · nhà Bªn Lß´ c Bªn Thüy Bªn Tre

Glossary of Vietnamese Terms

bí thß bí thß chi bm bí thß huyÆn üy bí thß thành üy Bình Ch*nh Bình DßWng Bình _¸nh b± nhiÆm Bm Lâm nghiÆp Bm Nmi vû Bm Nông nghiÆp và Ph*t tri¨n Nông thôn bˆ qua Bùi Tuyªt Mai bung ra cái ông xã cäi lßWng hßWng chính cäi lßWng hßWng tûc c*n bm c*n bm chính quyê`n cÒ s· c*n bm chü ch¯t c*n bm –¸a chính c*n bm kª to*n c*n bm vån ho* Câ`n ThW Cao _ài câ`u ch§m ch*nh hßWng hmi châu châu thành chi bm chi nh*nh ph߶ng Chiê`ng _ông Chiê`ng Hòa Chiê`ng Tây chÔnh hu¤n chÔnh hu¤n c*n bm chính quyê`n –¸a phßWng

335

336

Glossary of Vietnamese Terms

chính phü chính phü –äng chính s*ch ßu –ãi cho dân, do dân, vì dân chˆi trmi chü nghîa thành phâ`n chü nhiÆm chü quan và tinh vi chü t¸ch üy ban nhân dân huyÆn chü t¸ch üy ban nhân dân xã chúa chß·ng bÕ có lÏ có tình cW c¤u công an nhân dân công chß´ c công –iê`n công –iê`n công th± Cmng Hòa công tr*i c¯t c*n Cü Chi CØa Nam cûc lßu træ vån phòng trung ßWng _äng Cmng Sän ViÆt Nam cûm dân cß cñu h∏c d*m nói, d*m làm dân biªt, dân bàn, dân làm, dân ki¨m tra dân các làng dân miê`n dßWi dân miê`n trên dân nmi danh v∏ng dπ bäo dî hòa vi quÏ d¸ch mûc DßWng Th¸ RßWng _à

Glossary of Vietnamese Terms

_à LÕt _à Nng –Õi hmi –äng bm –Õi tß xã _äng Lao –mng –äng üy –anh –* –¤t hoang –¤t lâm nghiÆp –¤t r‡ng –â`u sˆ –ê`n _ê`n Th߲ng –¸a bm –¸a phßWng –i¨m nóng _iÆn Biên Phü –iê`n bm –ình –inh bm –ô s*t viÆn _£ Hoàng Häi _£ Vån Hoàng –¯c h∏c –±i m•i –mi cñc nhanh –mi sän xu¤t –mi trß·ng –mng –ô`ng bòng –ô`ng _ô`ng Cao _ô`ng Nai _ô`ng Th*p _ô`ng Vang _ô`ng Xuyªn _ß´ c Hòa Gia _¸nh

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Glossary of Vietnamese Terms

gia –ình liÆt sî Gia Lmc gi*m –¯c s· gi*o gßWm mà không có lßfii gi*p Hà _ông Hà Nmi M•i Hà Tây Hà Tînh Häi DßWng Häi H§u Häi Hßng Häi Phòng Hàng Gai hành chính hành dân là chính hÕt ki¨m lâm H§u Nghîa hiê`n hiÆp hmi chån nuôi Hô` Chí Minh hm lÕi hòa cä làng Hòa Bình Hòa Häo Hoàn Kiªm hoàn thành Hoàng Long Hoàn Trung Hóc Môn H∏c viÆn Hành chính Qu¯c gia hmi –ô`ng bâ`u cØ hmi –ô`ng hào mûc hmi –ô`ng kœ d¸ch hmi –ô`ng kœ hào hmi –ô`ng kœ mûc hmi –ô`ng nhân dân hmi –ô`ng nhân dân là cW quan có quyê`n mà không có lñc

Glossary of Vietnamese Terms

hmi –ô`ng tmc bi¨u Hmi Nông Dân Hmi Phû Næ hmi tê` Hmi Thanh Niên Hmi thi th¨ dûc dßWng sinh Hô`ng Th*i h˛p t*c xã bò sÊa h˛p t*c xã m•i h˛p t*c xã nông nghiÆp hü tûc hu¤n –Õo Huª Hßng Yên hßWng ß•c huyÆn HuyÆn üy Ninh Giang Huœnh Th¸ Nhàn ít nói kª hoÕch kªt quä khách th§p phßWng Khánh Hòa khoán khoán sän không biªt gì không –ü tiêu chu•n không nång –mng không nói –߲c khu khu –oàn üy khu ph¯ khu tñ tr¸ khuyªn nôngKiªn An ki¨m tra Kim Thành Kim Th߲ng

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Kinh Kinh B¡c kœ kœ mûc kœ mûc c˚ kÞ sß nông nghiÆp La Khê lÕi mûc làng Lao _mng π a lmn lan Lê Lê Åt H˛i Lê _ång Doanh Lê _ß´ c Th∏ Lê Duy Ph߲ng Lê Hô`ng Liêm Lê Hô`ng Minh Lê Minh Châu Lê Thanh Häi Lê Thanh Ngh¸ Lê Th*nh Tôn Lê Th¸ Vân Lê Vån Nam liên hoan liên khu Liên ViÆt Long An lñc l߲ng thanh niên xung phong LÏ lÏ d¸ch lÏ l¸ch ßú tÕp, lÏ l¸ch phuc lÏ trß·ng mÕch ngâ`m Mai Chí Th∏ Mai Qu¯c Bình

Glossary of Vietnamese Terms

Glossary of Vietnamese Terms

m¤t th¨ diÆn M£t Tr§n T± Qu¯c ~ mâu mÆnh lÆnh miªw Minh MÕng mô hình công nghiÆp hóa — hiÆn –Õi hóa mßWng M߶ng MÞ Hào Nam _¸nh Nam Kœ Nam Phong ngÕch quan NghÆ An nghiÆp –oàn Ngô Thì Nh§m ng˚ gia liên bäo ng߶i Vînh Phúc g¯c Nh§t Nguyπn Nguyπn Mai Nguyπn Minh _ång Nguyπn Minh Triªt Nguyπn Thanh Nguyên Nguyπn Thanh Tài Nguyπn ThiÆn Nhân Nguyπn Vån Chí Nguyπn Vån Linh Nguyπn Vån Tuy Nguyπn Vån Vînh Nguyπn Vînh NghiÆp nhà làng nhà nß´ Òc nhà quê nh¤t xã nh¤t thôn Ninh Giang Ninh Thành nói nhiê`u

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nông dân sän xu¤t giˆi nông tr߶ng nông viên nuôi c* ao þ Ch˛ D‡a PhÕm Ch*nh Trñc PhÕm PhßWng Thäo PhÕm Quang Minh phân ban nông thôn thành üy Phan Kª T∏ai Phan Vån Khäi phâ`n tØ x¤u phép vua thua lÆ làng phê chu•n phìa phó bí thß th߶ng trñc thành üy ph± thiên chi hÕ, mÕc phi vßWng th± phó tiªn sî phong bì tình cäm phong trào phòng bäo vÆ thñc v§t phòng –¸a chính phòng nông nghiÆp phòng nông nghiÆp –¸a chính phü Phú Long Phú Th∏ Phú ThßWng Phú Yên Phúc Yên Phúc Xuyên ph߶ng phüˆng án hai mé quä cà dÕi qu§n quan –iê`n quan trÕi

Glossary of Vietnamese Terms

Glossary of Vietnamese Terms

Quäng Ngãi Quäng Yên quay vòng tem phiªu Qu¯c Hmi qu¯c ngÊ quy chª quy hoÕch t±ng th¨ Quy NhWn quyê`n rWm vá –á quyªt ngh¸ ª rüˆc s*ch Sào Sông Bé s· S· Nông nghiÆp và Phát tri¨n Nông thôn SWn La Tày Tân An Tân Bình tân h∏c Tân Phong Tân Trào t§p kªt ra B¡c tê` tÆ nÕn xã hmi Tªt Thái Thái Bi`nh Th*i –en thành Thanh Hóa Thanh Hoàng thành hoàng Thanh Ngh¸ thanh niên tân h∏c thanh niên tiên phong

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thành ph¯ thanh tra th§t to và hoành tráng th¸ tr¤n th¸ xã Th¸nh LiÆt thiªu khao v∏ng thôn thông cäm thü quÞ thu quÞ thu kho Thü Th‡a thß kÏ t¸ch –iê`n tiên chÔ Tiê`n Giang tiêu cñc ti¨u khu ti¨u tß xã tÔnh tình cäm giªng làng tình cäm l*ng giê`ng t± chß´ c quâ`n chúng t± chß´ c viÆc làng th§t to nåm nay t± dân ph¯ t± phó t± trß·ng tòa *n nhân dân tòa *n nhân dân –£c biÆt tòa *n quân sñ Toàn Th¡ng tmc bi¨u t±ng T±ng Công ty ThßWng mÕi Sàigòn í T±ng Cûc _¸a chinh t±ng –¯c trÕi an trí trÕm khuyªn nông

Glossary of Vietnamese Terms

Glossary of Vietnamese Terms

trang trang tr∏ng Trâ`n Phú Trâ`n Thanh Long Trâ`n Th¸ Thu Trang Trâ`n T‡ träy hmi tri huyÆn tri phü Tr¸nh Trung Kœ trung tâm khuyªn nông trung ßWng Trung ¿ Wng Cûc Miê`n Nam trong sÕch trong sÕch và vÊng mÕnh TrßWng Huyê`n Chi TrßWng MÞ Hoa TrßWng MÞ LÆ TrßWng T¤n Sang TrßWng Vån TiÆp trß·ng ¤p trß·ng bän trß·ng thôn trß·ng xóm tß –iê`n Tß´ Kœ tú tài tñ vÆ xã tuâ`n phü tûc lÆ tuô`n hàng nhà nß•c üy üy üy üy üy üy

ban ban ban ban ban ban

cäi c*ch rumng –¤t trung ßWng –Õi diÆn hành chính ti¨u khu hành chính hành chính B¡c Bm kh*ng chiªn hành chính kh*ng chiªn hành ch*nh Nam Bm

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üy üy üy üy üy

ban ban ban ban ban

Glossary of Vietnamese Terms

ki¨m nhân nhân nhân nhân

tra thành üy dân dân c*ch mÕng dân huyÆn dân thành ph¯

vÕn vãn cänh chùa ViÆn Nghiên cß´ u Khoa h∏c T± chß´ c Nhà nß•c ViÆt ViÆt B¡c ViÆt Minh ViÆt Nam Dân Chü Cmng Hòa ViÆt Nam Dân Chü _äng ViÆt Nam _mc L§p _ô`ng Minh ViÆt Nam Qu¯c Dân _äng ViÆt Nam Xã Hmi _äng Vinh Vînh Phú Vînh Phúc vinh qui Vînh Yên Võ Trâ`n Chí Võ Vån KiÆt Võ Viªt Thanh vô v∏ng b¤t thành quan V˚ _i`nh Hòe V˚ Mão v‡a –* bóng v‡a th±i còi v‡a hô`ng v‡a chuyên vùng du kích vùng –ich tÕm chiªm V˚ng Taù vùng tñ do vü˛t mß´ c xã xã quan xã trß·ng

Glossary of Vietnamese Terms

xây dñng nông thôn m•i xóm xong (poong) Xuyên Hß xß´ Ï –äng lòng dân Yên Châu

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Reproduced from Beyond Hanoi: Local Government in Vietnam, edited by Benedict J Tria Kerkvliet and David G Marr (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg > 348 Index

Index

accountability, 9, 16 foreign direct investment, impact on, 297–99, 308 in local government, 139, 154, 191, 219 accounting, financial. See budget Administrative Committees, 41–44, 74 agricultural extension, farmers, relations with, 16, 236– 37, 241, 243–45, 249, 250, 251, 253 funding for, 231–32, 238, 241, 243, 250, 251, 253 gender issues of, 239–40 in Burma, 237–38 in Long An province, 13, 189, 231 in Vietnam, 234, 238 local government, relations with, 15, 233–34, 238, 241, 242–43, 249 methods of, 230, 243–44, 251, 252, 253–254 national government, relations with, 252–53 officers, 230, 232, 234–35, 236, 238, 241, 244–45 ü problems of, 240–41 purpose of, 235–36, 237 structure of, 232–33, 242–43, 250

Agriculture and Land Department, 238, 242, 250 Agricultural Office, 172 agriculture, 119–20, 156, 169, 173 ap. See village Association of Veterans, 6, 155–56, 161n. 28. See also mass organizations Attridge, Edmund, 293 authority, viii, 2, 3, 7, 172, 191, 219 Bac Can province, 168 Bao Dai, 39 Beresford, Melanie, 149 Ben Tre province, 268 Binh Dinh province, 44 Binh Duong province, 264, 291–320 Black Thai. See ethnic minorities budget. See also funding provincial, 14 village, establishment of, 60–61, 65, 66–67, 73 Cadastral Offices, 176 cadres. See local authorities Can Tho province, 268 canton, 33, 35, 36, 38, 44 Central Committee Directive 100 (1981), 114, 123 Central Party Organization Committee, 150

Index centralization, centralization/de–centralization, 15, 28, 47–48, 56–57, 65, 138, 149–51, 286 153, 218, 219–20 in colonial period, 36, 65 history of, 28, 47–48 in pre-colonial period, 57 chau. See district chinh quyen dia phuong. See local government Christoplos, Ian, 235 civil examinations, 30, 34 collectivization. See also cooperatives general, 16, 94–95 in Chieng Hoa commune, 155 in Dong Vang village, 116–19, 131n. 20, 132n. 26 in Hai Duong province, 94–96 Colonial Council, 36 commune, administration of, 5 in Anti-French Resistance period, 44–45 in colonial period, 38 funding of, 14 in pre-colonial period, 32–33, 55 re-organization of, 1950s, 45, 46, 92, 116 Communist Party, authority and legitimacy of, 3, 95, 141 good governance, advocacy of, 2 local elections, influence on, 10, 11, 98, 142, 152, 214 local organization of, 8–9, 47, 95, 98–99, 151, 198–99, 202, 208– 209, 221 officials, election of, 10, 198–99, 214, 262–64, 291

349 state apparatus, influence on, 149–50, 198–99, 209, 211, 214, 222, 263 complaint procedures, at local levels, 17, 145 informal avenues of, 146, 147, 148 manipulation of, 147–48 Constitution (1980), 205, 206 Constitution (1992), 3, 6, 8, 96, 140, 149, 198, 199, 207, 218, 288 cooperatives, 1950s–1980s, in Chieng Dong commune, 172, 173–74 in Dong Vang village, 114, 117–20, 122–23 in Hai Duong province, 95 cooperatives, 1990s–present, abuses in, 95–96 dairy, 249, 251, 250, 251, 252–53 general, 242, 249, 251–52, 256n. 26, corruption, campaigns against, 2, 17, 64. See also council of family representatives, council of notables, local authorities council of family representatives, administrative responsibilities of, 61–62 authority and legitimacy of, 63– 64, 69 education and training of, 62, 63 election of, 60–62, 64, 68 establishment of, 59–60 corruption within, 64–65, 67, 69 council of notables, administrative responsibilities of, 30, 71 authority and legitimacy of, 54, 66, 70 education and training of, 71–72

350 election of, 68, 70–71 corruption within, 58–59, 67, 68, 69 “new authorities”, manipulation of, 63–64 in pre-colonial period, 29–30, 55– 56 public land, misappropriation of, 30, 56, 57, 68 recruitment of, 57, 66, 71 courts. See judicial system culture, definition of, 111–12 state certification of, 125, 129, 133n. 31 in state–society relations, 113, 220–22 Da Nang city, 37 Dang Phong, 149 de-centralization, 15, 140 de-collectivization, 5, 96, 99, 110, 114, 124, 168 See also land reform, 1980s–1990s Decree 29, 141, 144. Se also democracy democracy, definition of, 139 at local levels, 2, 7, 138, 141, 148 at national level, 149–51 in village meetings, 143–45, 237 Democratic Republic of Vietnam, 9, 28, 40–41, 74, 273 Destenay, Resident Superieur, 59 Dien Bien Phu, 46 dispute resolution. See complaint procedures district, 4, 33–34, 38, 39, 43 Do Hoang Hai, 270, 271, 272, 275 Do Van Hoang, 271 Dong Nai province, 287, 289, 296 Dong Thap province, 268

Index Doumer, Paul, 36, 48 dynamism. See foreign direct investment education, 12, 13, 71. See also local authorities elections. See council of family representatives, council of notables, local authorities Enterprise Law (2000), 292, 296, 317, 319 ethnic minorities, Black Thai, 168–69, 171–72, 182 colonial administration of, 38 land use rights of, 170–71, 172, 175 Muong, 138, 155, 160n. 4 Tay, 5, 168 village structure of, 5, 155, 169–71 Farmers’ Association, 236. See also mass organizations Fatherland Front, 4, 6, 9, 10, 46, 47, 152. See also mass organizations Feder, Michael, 277 Fforde, Adam, 168, 317 foreign aid agencies, 2, 137. See also governance foreign direct investment, in Binh Duong province, 291, 296, 308–309 central control of, 288 distribution of, 287–88 in Ha Tinh province, 310–13 local governance, impact on, 15, 289–92, 293, 296–99, 320 in Long An province, 296, 314–18 provincial dynamism, 303–306 socio-economic development, impact on, 15, 288–90, 292 in Vinh Phuc province, 318–20 Foreign Investment Law, 288 forestry land,

Index exploitation of, 173, 183–84 protection of, 175–77, 181, 182, 183 state control of, 172–73, 184 French colonialism, 35–36 funding, government, allocation of, 14, 181, 190 mobilization of, 15, 159 Gainsborough, Martin, 191 General Department of Land Administration, 174 Gia Long, 57 governance, definition of, 1–2, 112, 130, 138– 39, 293 foreign aid agencies, impact on, 2, 137 in Vietnam, vii–viii government, central, 3–4, 7, 37, 130 government ministries, 8, 151, 207, 291 government policy, implementation of, 13, 16, 296–97 in Chieng Dong commune, 18, 171–72, 177, 168–69, 181–88, 189–90 in Dong Vang village, 115–23 in Hanoi wards, 202, 203, 212, 218–22 in Long An province, 250, 252 grievance procedures. See complaint procedures Grossheim, Martin, 16, 38, 190, 191 Ha Dong province, 62 Hanoi city, 9, 11, 18, 37, 40, 72, 289– 307 administrative structure of, 197– 98, 205 building regulation of, 218, 219 resident cluster of, 198, 202, 221 resident group of, 198, 203

351 Ha Noi Moi, 205, 209, 212, 221 Ha Tay province, 110–31 Ha Tinh province, 44, 310–13 Hai Duong province, 39, 62, 90–102 Hai Hung province, 263 Hai Phong city, 9, 37, 287, 291 Helmrich, Hans, 237 Hicks, Natalie, 15, 189, 190 history, 1945–54, 4,9, 39–40, 171 1955–75, 4, 9, 45–46 colonial, 28, 35–36, 55 pre-colonial, 28–29, 31, 32, 55–58 Ho Chi Minh, 39–40, 95 Ho Chi Minh city, 16, 259–78, 287– 307 Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy, 17, 141, 264 Hoa Binh province, 11, 17, 137–60, 232–37 Hoi Dong Ky Muc. See council of notables Hoi Dong Nhan Dan. See People’s Council Hoi Dong Toc Bieu. See council of family representatives hop tac xa. See cooperatives Hue city, 39, 296 huyen. See district Huynh Thi Nhan, 269, 271, 277 ideology, “classism”, 91–93 “democratic centralism”, 140–41, 262 French Revolution and Third Republic, 36 neo-Confucian, 30, 31, 32, 35 neo-liberalism, 276 socialism, 90, 116, 124, 206, 213, 234, 238 Indochina General Services, 37, 41

352 judicial system, 3, 33, 43–44, 92, 146 Kaufman, Kray, 293 Kerkvliet, Benedict, 154, 168 khoan 100. See Central Committee Directive 100 khu. See zone Kinh Bac province, 32 Klobukowski, Gouverneur General, 59 Koh, David, 9, 11, 48 land allocation. See land reform land law (1993), 167, 174 land law (1996), 309 land redistribution. See land reform land reform, 1950s, 9, 43, 45 “blood bath thesis” of, 103n. 14 “cadre rectification” campaign, 91 correction campaign, 94 in Hai Duong province, 91–94 in Son La province, 171 land reform, 1980s–1990s, in Bac Can province, 168 in Chieng Dong commune, 174, 177, 181–82, 184, 186–87 in Dong Vang village, 114 in Hai Duong province, 100 in Son La province, 16, 173, 181– 82 Le At Hoi, 210 Le Dang Doanh, 292 Le Duc Tho, 208, 265, 267 Le dynasty, 32, 56 Le Hong Liem, 269, 271, 277 Le Minh Chau, 268, 270, 271, 272, 275 Le Thanh Hai, 264, 265, 266, 270, 271, 272, 275 Le Thanh Nghi, 207, 208 Le Thanh Ton, 29, 32, 36, 48 Le Thi Van, 268, 271, 274 Le Van Luong, 91

Index Le Van Nam, 268 Le Van Triet, 268 legitimacy, 69, 71, 93, 95, 113, 191 local authorities, administrative responsibilities of, 13, 15, 101, 117, 207, 265, 267 age and gender of, 49n. 6, 96, 179, 263, 273–74 authority and legitimacy of, 5, 93, 119, 145, 153, 158–59, 169, 190, 213, 218–19 in colonial period, 29 central, relations with, 16, 91, 189–90, 252–53, 274–75 corruption and abuses by, 16–17, 34, 58, 95–96, 100, 145, 190, 208– 210, 276 definition of, 3, 6 economic interests of, 99, 185, 155–56, 179, 185, 190, 244–45, 249, 261, 275–76 education and training of, 12, 62, 97–98, 100, 179–80, 191, 213–14, 234–35, 253–54, 263, 269, 271, 272–73, 276, 277–78 election of, 5, 9–11, 142–43, 147– 48, 178, 203, 210–14, 237 ethics and competence of, 12, 17– 18, 95, 208–209, 213, 220 ethnicity of, 169, 172, 180 “grassroots democracy”, implementation of, 143–44 information, access to, 143, 154, 156–58, 180, 213, 237, 261 military background of, 11, 20n. 41, 96–97, 155–56, 158, 260, 263, 270, 271, 273 party membership of, 12, 21n. 44, 95, 151, 262–64 political relations among, 262–73 in pre-colonial period, 33–35

Index recruitment and appointment of, 9, 92, 97–98, 152–53, 179, 264– 65, 269–71, 276 residents, relations with, 16, 91, 93–94, 117–119, 122–23, 125, 130, 144, 148, 180, 182, 184–85, 187–88, 220–21, 236–37 remuneration of, 35, 37–38, 41, 99–100, 107n. 59, 178–79, 204 local government, central, relations with, 42, 48, 168, 180–81, 189, 190–92, 207, 219, 222, 231, 286, 291 in colonial period, 36–39 definition of, 3, 4 environment, protection of, 15 funding of, 14 laws concerning, 8, 10, 41, 60, 100, 141, 152, 199, 201, 206, 210, 211, 218, 288 levels of, 4–6, 7, 29, 37, 43, 48, 96, 99, 171, 198, 206 in pre-colonial period, 28–35, 55– 57 public services, provision of, 13, 158–59, 212 re-organization of, 91, 96 residents, relations with, 39, 120– 23, 129–30, 189, 190–92, 203– 204, 218 study of, Preface viii local officials. See local authorities Long An province, 13, 15, 229–54, 314–18 Ly dynasty, 55 Mai Chi Tho, 260, 264, 265, 266, 271 Mai Quoc Binh, 269, 271 Malesky, Edmund, 15, 191, 233 market economy, 15, 213, 273, 274, 275 mass organizations, 4, 5

353 complaint, avenues of, 146 local elections, influence on, 10 social services, provision of, 13– 14, 236, 249 Viet Minh, 46–47 village affairs, influence on, 126 Maung Thawngmung, Ardeth, 237– 38 media, accountability and transparency, impact on, 154–55 rural broadcasting, 157 Internet, control of, 154 press censorship, 155 Minh Mang, 29, 31, 36, 48 Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, 231 Ministry of Communications, 158 Ministry of Culture and Information, 133n. 31, 154 Ministry of Forestry, 172 Ministry of Justice, 43 Monguillot, Resident Superieur, 60– 63 Muong. See ethnic minorities Nam Dinh province, 58, 59, 62, 65, 67, 69, 296–306 National Assembly, 3, 149, 150–51, 167, 174, 208, 239, 270, 288 National Institute for Administration, 12 Nghe An, province, 28, 37, 44 Ngo Dinh Diem, 45, 46 Nguyen dynasty, 35, 57 Nguyen lords, 31, 56 Nguyen Minh Dang, 319 Nguyen Minh Triet, 262, 263, 264, 272 Nguyen Thanh Tai, 269, 277 Nguyen Thien Nhan, 269, 277 Nguyen Van Chi, 268

354 Nguyen Van Linh, 260, 262, 263, 264, 265, 271 Nguyen Van Vinh, 69 Nguyen Vinh Nghiep, 264, 267 organizational principles, “double subordination”, 7, 219 dual accountability, 153 parallel hierarchies, 35, 37, 43 “structural” principle, 98–99 O’Rourke, Dara, 15 “party technocrats”, 277–78. See also reformers peasants, everyday resistance of, 122–23, 132n. 23, 168, 188 indebtedness of, 158, 163n. 36 information, access to, 157, 243 livelihood of, 114, 116 marginalization of, 144, 243–44, 249 “model farmers”, 16, 243, 244–45, 256n. 25 protests by, 12, 17, 93, 96, 100– 101, 138, 141 Peasants’ Association. See mass organizations People’s Army of Vietnam, 4, 46 People’s Committee, administrative responsibilities of, 7–8, 13, 45, 152, 181, 199–201, 291 authority and power of, 7, 8, 152– 53, 159, 207, 264–67 election of, 7, 9–10, 20n. 30, 152, 267 organization of, 199–201 size of, 6 People’s Council, administrative responsibilities of, 6–7, 41, 198, 201 authority and power of, 42, 214– 15, 217, 291, 317

Index conference on, 211, 214, 217 election of, 9, 11, 42–43, 20n. 30, 41, 152, 214, 265 organization of, 201 size of, 6 phia, 169 Pham Chanh Truc, 267, 268, 271, 272 Pham Phuong Thao, 268 Pham Quang Minh, 45, 117, 190, 191, 229 Phan Ke Toai, 39, 103n. 12 Phan Van Khai, 264, 266, 268, 272 phu. See prefecture Phu Tho province, 62 Phu Yen province, 44 phuong. See ward prefecture, 34, 39 province, central, relations with, 289 governance of, 286–87, 289 government, level of, 4, 34, 43 economic development in, 288–89 public servants, 15, 37–38, 41. See also local authorities quan. See district Quang Ngai province, 44 Quoc Hoi. See National Assembly Ranting, Salby, 235 reformers, 259–60 regroupees, 266, 272, 273 religion, state policy toward, 124– 25, 126, 128 Republic of Vietnam, 17, 45 Resolution 10 (1988), 174 revolutionary committees, 40, 42, 45 Saigon General Trading Corporation, 268, 270 Shi Chen, 277–78 Sikor, Thomas, 113, 229 Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 260 Son La province, 16, 18, 169–92

Index Son Tay province, 62 State Committee for Cooperation and Investment, 287 state-owned enterprises, 292, 293 Stromseth, Jonathan, 292 Tanner, Murray, 277 Tay. See ethnic minorities Tay Son rebellion, 56 taxes, government collection of, 13, 14, 33, 38, 61, 190 local evasion of, 185–87 in colonial period, 36, 54, 58, 68 in pre-colonial period, 57 protests against, 76n. 26 technocrats. See reformers Ten Year Master Plan (2001–2010), provincial, 285–86 Thanh Hoa province, 39, 44, 296 Thanh Nghi, 72 Thai. See ethnic minorities Thai Binh province, 17, 67, 138, 147 thon. See village Tien Giang province, 267 tinh. See province tong. See canton Tonkin, 36, 38, 55, 60, 61 Tran dynasty, 55 Tran Thanh Long, 268 Tran Thi Thu Trang, 8, 11, 113, 190, 191, 231, 232, 235, 237 transaction costs, 290, 300–303 transparency, Decree 29, 141 foreign direct investment, impact on, 297–99 public administration, impact on, 276 in village finances, 17, 54, 59, 61– 62, 67, 68, 73–74 Trinh lords, 56

355 Truong Huyen Chi, 8, 189, 191, 192 Truong My Hoa, 270, 271, 272 Truong Tan Sang, 262, 263, 264, 267, 270, 271, 272, 275 Uy Ban Hanh Chinh. See Administrative Committees Uy Ban Nhan Dan. See People’s Committee Viet Minh, 39–40, 44, 46–47, 93 Vietnam Independence League. See Viet Minh Vietnam Nationalist Party, 40, 93, 104n. 18 Vietnam Workers’ Party, 46, 47. See also Communist Party village, administration of, 5–6, 31 administrative reform of, 55, 59– 60, 65, 66–67, 69, 70–73 autonomy of, 31–32, 38, 45, 54, 56, 57–58, 169–70, 286 in colonial period, 36, 38 customary rules of, 29 elites, 30, 57, 68–69, 72–73, head, 5–6, 30, 38, 56, 57, 62, 66, 69–70, 99, hierarchy of, 57, 71, 72, 73 kinship network in, 113, 119 ocupational structure of, 113–16 power struggle within, 40, 62, 63– 64, 70, 72, 147–48 in pre-colonial period, 29–30, 32– 33, 55–58 religious and public rituals of, 64, 66, 69, 111, 124–29 solidarity of, 125, 128, 189 status competition among, 126– 27 Vinh Phuc province, 318–20 Vo Tran Chi, 262, 263, 264, 271, 273 Vo Van Kiet, 262, 263, 264, 267, 271

356 Vo Viet Thanh, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268, 272, 275 Vu Dinh Hoe, 72 Vu Mao, 214 war, 1 st Indochina War, 45 2 nd Indochina War, 45, 46, 118, 155, 263, 265 attitudes toward, 274 impact on local government, 155 ward, administrative problems in, 205, 207, 210–11, 214–15 administrative responsibilities of, 206–207, 209, 211, 212 conference on, 210–11 structure of, 198, 199, 202–203, 213

Index two- or three- level controversy, 5–6, 197, 198, 205–206, 217–18 Werner, Jayne, 239 women, initiative and leadership of, 123, 132n. 26, 239, 240 marginalization of, 49n. 6, 144, 162n. 30, 239, 240 trading activities of, 121–22 Women’s Association, 240. See also mass organizations Woodside, Alexander, 43 Workers’ Party, 42, 46, 47, 96, 117. See also Communist Party xa. See commune Zainuddin, Tormodi, 234–35 zones, 44, 45

Reproduced from Beyond Hanoi: Local Government in Vietnam, edited by Benedict J Tria Kerkvliet and David G Marr (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg > About the Contributors 357

About the Contributors Martin Gainsborough He is a Lecturer in South East Asian Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, United Kingdom, holds a PhD from the University of London, and published Changing Political Economy of Vietnam: The Case of Ho Chi Minh City (London and New York: Routledge, 2003) among other writings. Martin Grossheim He is an assistant professor, Department of Southeast Asian History and Society, Humboldt University, Berlin. His PhD is from the University of Passau in Germany. His book on continuities and changes in Vietnamese communities is Nordvietnamesische Dorfgemeinschaftten: Kontinuitaet und Wandel (Hamburg, Mitteilungen des Instituts fur Asienkunde, 1997). Natalie Hicks She is a development consultant in Cambodia and a PhD candidate at the Australian National University. In 2002 she finished two years of research in the Mekong Delta and is now writing a dissertation on rural local government in Long An province. Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet A professor at the Australian National University, he recently finished a book manuscript on agrarian politics in Vietnam. He also does research on the Philippines and peasant politics in Asia. David Koh He has a PhD from the Australian National University, has conducted in-depth research and published on politics and government in Hanoi,

358

About the Contributors

and is currently a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. Edmund Malesky After lengthy research in Vietnam, he completed a PhD dissertation at Duke University, USA, on the impact of foreign direct investment on provincial–central relations in Vietnam. He will spend a year as a Harvard Academy Fellow before starting his academic career at University of California-San Diego in the Fall of 2005. David G. Marr A well-known scholar on Vietnam, he is an Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University. His book Vietnam 1945: The Quest for Power (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995) won the John Fairbank prize from the American Historical Association. Pham Quang Minh Now teaching in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University-Hanoi, he has a PhD in history of Southeast Asia from Humboldt University. His published dissertation on agrarian politics in northern Vietnam since 1945 is Zwischen Theorie und Praxis: Agrarpolitik in Vietnam seit 1945 (Berlin: Berliner S¸dostasien-Studien, 2003). Thomas Sikor After finishing his PhD at the University of California-Berkeley, he returned to Germany where he does research at Humboldt University, Berlin. He has published on agrarian and environmental change in Vietnam and Eastern Europe. Tran Thi Thu Trang A graduate of universities in Vietnam and England, she is now a PhD candidate at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, Netherlands, where she is writing a dissertation on rural diversification and differentiation in Vietnam. Truong Huyen Chi Holding a PhD in anthropology from the University of Toronto, she teaches at Vietnam National University-Hanoi and the National Center

About the Contributors

359

for Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi. She has done extensive research on rural society in northern Vietnam, has published some of her findings, and has made presentations to international conferences.