Government officials convicted of public land violations, why?
Land scandals like Thu Thiem (HCM City) have revealed distorted land values caused by decisions of officials on authority, Mr. Dang Hung Vo told VietNamNet.
What’s your view about public land acquisitions in such scandals as the Phan Van Anh Vu case and Thu Thiem?
As I said earlier, the law regulates the people’s ownership over public land but assigns the decision power to some people in authority.
In theory and practice, corruption always occurs whenever the decision power is not controlled, especially when the realization of that power certainly brings benefits for those with vested interests.
As such, the administrative agencies are affected as realizing their rights over public land and land value. We can only expect their decision based on ethics.
In reality, public ownership of all land should be considered a political direction. Once the public land is for sale, it must be based on the value of land-use rights of land owners.
Phan Van Anh Vu.
Huge gaps in regulations came from the coexistence of political direction and land solutions, incentivizing corruption. Besides, Land Law 2013 created a management mechanism over some types of land which have not been under specific management of the administration. They consist of land for public security, commercial land, land for high technology, and land for airports. Provincial people’s Committees handed them to state organizations which then assigned them to other contractors and individuals. Under this mechanism, former Navy Admiral Nguyen Van Hien could use his rights on public land sales, and after that say he hadn’t fully understood the law.
Other public land sale scandals, namely “Phan Van Anh Vu” and Thu Thiem, have shown the gap in land value due to decisions made by officials in authority.
Under Articles 199 and 200 of the Land Law, there were regulations about setting up a proper management mechanism to monitor and control decisions on public land. However, they have yet to be realized since Land Law took effect. So it is easy to understand if there more public land scandals occur.
Different process between public and private land
At the court, former Deputy Minister of Defense Nguyen Van Hien blamed his shortcomings on his lack of knowledge about the economy and economic management. Phan Van Anh Vu also explained his land acquisition through trading, not just requesting it from officials. What do you think?
Thu Thiem urban area.
It is necessary to review the management mechanism. A large piece of land was under the management of the Ministry of National Defense and its officials. They are allowed to decide the land areas and their usage. Hence, it’s easy for them to make illegal decisions.
In the case of Phan Van Anh Vu, his explanation is a fallacy. In many countries, the regulations are different between public and private land sales. The process to acquire public land is strictly regulated and monitored by the people.
In Vietnam, the transfer of public land to the market must be done through auction. It must not be done as a secret deal between the person in authority and the business. Doing so is considered illegal. All related parties have to bear the responsibility over the loss of State property.
Land law needs to be amended
We have lost both government officials and public property. What can we learn from it?
In the amended law, the benefits of the people are considered a top priority. Some shortcomings in the legal system can be seen.
Thanks to our strong fight against corruption in recent years, many public land scandals have been brought to light. Consequently, a number of central and local leaders have been convicted.
Firstly, there remain huge gaps in the land law, causing weak land management. The public ownership of all land in the country means all land as public assets. It is not distinguished between public and private land as in other countries.
For better management, it is necessary to be clear on two different land use rights, public vs private.
Secondly, there remains conflicts between land law and other laws such as investment, construction, and planning. This has caused “too tight” or “too loose” attitudes toward regulations related to public land.
Thirdly, the management mechanism fails to meet the demand of the market. The local People’s Committees are assigned powerful rights in administrative decisions, planning, and finance. Their powers are uncontrolled, paving the way for corruption. In other countries, administrative agencies are responsible for administrative tasks. Planning and finance are under other agencies’ authority.
Fourthly, people with professional knowledge and ethical behaviors have not been recruited. This is the main cause in transforming public assets to private hands.
Thus, the Land Law should be amended so it can become practical and effective.
In 2020, a number of public land scandals were brought to court and numerous government officials were found guilty.