Former Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son, 67, has recently appealed his life sentence for accepting a US$3 million bribe, citing his age and prior service record – PHOTO: TNO

The report was released on January 7 by Towards Transparency, the national contact of Transparency International in Vietnam, working with the goal of contributing to the fight against corruption in Vietnam.

The report highlighted the drop in bribery cases in public services for the first time since 2011. These are signs of a positive change in the fight against corruption in the Southeast Asian nation. Nevertheless, locals still believe that corruption is a serious problem, requiring further efforts from the concerned stakeholders to reduce corruption and ensure sustainable development.

In addition to improving and completing the legal framework on anticorruption, the report indicated that the Government has been adopting many measures and taking steps to prevent and fight corruption, bringing to light an unprecedented number of large-scale corruption cases.

As a result, one in two citizens believes that the State action against corruption is productive, more than twice the ratio in 2016.

Also, the number of people who believe they can make a difference in the anticorruption drive has increased significantly, from 55% in 2016 to 71% in 2019.

However, many challenges remain. The experience of corruption is declining, but people are still very concerned about the issue. Corruption rose to fourth place on issues of public concern in 2019 from seventh place in 2016.

While believing that they have a role to play in the fight against corruption and being willing to denounce it, people rarely do so in practice. Some 49% of the surveyed citizens think that reporting corruption does not work and are afraid of its consequences.

Most of the respondents believed that vested interest groups influence government policies and decisions in their own favor.

“The citizens’ concern that large companies and interest groups are manipulating State policies and decisions is very worrying,” said Pham Chi Lan, senior economist and member of the Advisory Board of Towards Transparency.

She added that the State needs to provide new measures soon, including regulations on lobbying for businesses to restore and strengthen public trust.

The report provides recommendations to the Party, the State, businesses, citizens and other stakeholders to enhance both the prevention and control of corruption.

Improving the integrity of government officials and employees as well as imposing strict penalties on corrupt officials are the two top recommendations of Vietnamese citizens.

Women have emerged as a key player in corruption prevention as they seem to offer fewer bribes than men and condemn corruption more. Therefore, anticorruption programs need to empower women in particular among all Vietnamese citizens to take action.

Executive Director of Towards Transparency Nguyen Thi Kieu Vien remarked in a statement that Vietnamese citizens believe they can make a difference in the fight against corruption.

“The Party and the State at all levels should create more space and provide more tools for people to participate in the fight against corruption. It is also crucial to ensure that citizens will not suffer negative consequences when fighting corruption,” she stressed.

The Vietnam Corruption Barometer 2019 collects data on citizens’ perceptions and experiences of corruption, their views on the Government’s anticorruption efforts and the effectiveness of anticorruption measures.

Data was collected in July and August 2019 through direct interviews with 1,085 people in 19 representative provinces and cities across the country. Qualitative interviews were also conducted in November 2019 to better understand people’s views and experiences. SGT

Pham Nhat

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