The Vietnam Fatherland Front improves the effectiveness of social criticism in the new circumstances
Communist Review - Social criticism is one of the most important and basic functions and tasks of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF); Therefore, it has strived to build a pure and strong Party and State, thus making a significant contribution to the cause of building and defending the socialist Fatherland of Vietnam. In the coming time, the VFF at all levels should continue to foster the quality and effectiveness of social criticism to achieve the goals set out by the 13th Party Congress.
Regulations of the Party and State - Political and legal framework for the VFF to conduct social critical feedback
To deal with the issue that “the Party's policies and guidelines on national solidarity, rights and interests of all working classes have not been fully legalized or have not been strictly respected due to the lack of regular supervision and the big gap between policy intent and implementation" (1), the 11th Party Congress stated that: "The VFF and mass organizations continue to carry out reforms to simplify administrative procedures, promote the leadership of the local government in gathering and uniting the people to foster the political foundation; to exercise democracy, supervision and social criticism activities”(2). After that, the 11th Politburo issued Decision No. 217-QD/TW, dated 12-12-2013, on "The promulgation of the Regulation on supervision and social criticism of the VFF and socio-political organizations”. These are crucial guidelines of our Party, demonstrating its political determination to establish a political basis for strengthening and consolidating national solidarity and affirming the position and role of the VFF in the nation's revolutionary cause.
Institutionalizing the Party's guidelines, Article 9 of the 2013 Constitution officially recognized and affirmed the supervision and social criticism role of the VFF: "The VFF is the political foundation of the government and the people; It represents and protects the people's lawful and legitimate rights and interests; It gathers and strengthens national solidarity, practices democracy, builds social consensus, enhances social supervision and criticism”. The Law on VFF in 2015 concretized this constitutional right stipulated by the 2013 Constitution into a separate chapter (Chapter VI - Social criticism activities) with 5 articles to regulate social criticism of the VFF. On June 15, 2017, the Standing Committee of the National Assembly, the Government, and the Presidium of the Central Committee of the VFF issued Joint Resolution No. 403/2017/NQLT-UBTVQH14-CP-ĐCTUBTWMTTQVN that specifies forms of social supervision and criticism of the VFF.
The Resolution of the 12th and 13th Party Congresses continued to affirm and recognize the importance of the VFF's social feedback and for the first time, the Law on Promulgation of Legislative Documents (issued in 2015, amended and supplemented in 2020) stipulated this activity; Accordingly, for draft documents that the VFF gives feedback, it is compulsory to enclose the report on social criticism made by the VFF.
These are important documents of the Party and State that not only create a political and legal framework for the VFF to carry out social criticism, build a pure and strong Government and Party and promote the people's mastery but also affirm the most important role of social criticism for the VFF in building a pure and strong Party, Government and political system, contributing to the overall success in building and defending the socialist Fatherland of Vietnam.
Practical performances of the VFF in social criticism over the past time
Concretizing the Party's viewpoints and policies, social criticism over the years has become a regular and central activity of the VFF. It helps people of all classes to promote their ownership and their participation in the legislative process and the formulation of socio-economic development plans at national and local levels.
Firstly, a wide range of important law projects related to "national livelihoods" has been put up for social criticism by the VFF and has been implemented effectively (3). During its term from 2014 to 2019, the VFF Committees at all levels performed 86,872 social critical feedbacks, most of which were about draft documents related to policies and major socio-economic projects and people's lives.
Secondly, the VFF’s supervision and social critical feedback on draft documents are done in various fields; Its feedback is valuable and is highly appreciated by the public, and much of its critical feedback has been absorbed by drafting agencies (4) as they are effective. Thereby, its critical feedback has become one of the important channels, helping the Party and State get more information before making major decisions, thus making all undertakings, policies, and laws an essence expressing "the will of the Party" and "the aspiration of the people"; The overall relationship of "Party’s leadership, State’s management, people's mastery" is strengthened, contributing to promoting the people's right to mastery in building a pure, strong, compact and effective Party, State and political system.
The VFF in the provinces and centrally-run cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Ba Ria - Vung Tau province, Quang Ninh Province, and Nghe An province performs critical feedback on draft programs and projects that directly affect the lawful and legitimate rights and interests of local inhabitants. Critical feedback given by the VFF in localities has mobilized mass participation of citizens in formulating policies, regulations, and programs related to people's rights and obligations; This enhances the effectiveness of draft policies, schemes, projects, and programs before promulgation, building social consensus on awareness and actions among all classes of people.
Thirdly, the quality and effectiveness of the VFF’s social criticism have affirmed and enhanced its position in the new situation. The VFF Committees at all levels have accomplished their role of giving social feedback on social programs, mobilizing the involvement of advisory councils and committees, members of the Committee of VFF, experts, and scientists in various fields. Their feedback on draft policies and laws has been absorbed by competent agencies before their promulgation, thus enabling the protection of citizens, organizations, and the Government’s legitimate rights and interests, and minimizing legal violations. The VFF’s social critical feedback helps competent agencies to formulate and implement more effective policies and laws, promoting significant national solidarity, and goal achievement at the local and national levels and stabilizing people's life. During the COVID-19 pandemic, through the steering committees for COVID-19 prevention and control, leaders of the VFF at all levels directly gave comments and opinions so that the Party and State promulgated prompt policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to achieve "dual goals" and flexibly adapt to new circumstances.
Orientations and solutions to improve the effectiveness of social critical feedback by the VFF in the coming time
The documents of the 13th Party Congress emphasized that in the time to come, it is necessary to "promote the social supervision and criticism of VFF, socio-political organizations and citizens in the inspection work by the Party” (5). They also clearly stated that national goals achievement needs the drastic implementation of three strategic breakthroughs, namely institutional harmonization, human resources development, especially high-quality human resources, and infrastructure modernization. Therefore, the social criticism activities by the whole system of the VFF in the coming time will focus on drafting policies and laws on building socialist-oriented market economy institutions; on human resource development, especially high-quality human resources, to arouse the aspiration to develop a prosperous and happy country, promote Vietnamese cultural values, human strength, national solidarity, and pride in the cause of national construction and defense. Besides, social criticism is associated with the supervision of the building of socio-economic infrastructure systems, especially key national construction projects on traffic and adaptation to climate change; information and telecommunications infrastructure, national digital transformation, digital economy, and digital society. In other words, the annual and term-based social criticism programs of the VFF are associated with the law-making and law enforcement programs of the National Assembly and the Government.
In addition to those major orientations, the VFF should give priority to the following solutions to enhance the effectiveness of its social feedback:
First of all, reinforce social criticism on specific themes to foster the strengths of the whole VFF system at all levels. Concretely, every year, the Central Committee of the VFF determines specific topics and gives instructions to VFF at all levels so that they could simultaneously conduct social critical feedback programs.
Secondly, effectively combine the work of understanding the people's situation, collecting voters' opinions and recommendations with the implementation of social supervision and criticism activities. By hearing the voices of citizens, the VFF can identify and select issues to be solved, then develop social supervision plans to achieve results expected by the Party, Government, and the people.
Thirdly, based on legal regulations and the social criticism plan of the Central Committee of the VFF, local VFFs give recommendations to the Party committees, coordinate with local authorities to involve early in the law and policy-making process of localities, especially in the socio-economic development projects, land acquisition projects that require an environmental impact assessment; local development plans from 2021 to 2030, with a vision toward 2050 and so forth.
Fourthly, encourage the participation of experts, scientists, and professionals in social criticism; mobilize all walks of life in social criticism to ensure diversity, representation, and expertise, practicality, in line with the guidelines of the Party and State for the social criticism of the VFF.
Fifthly, the VFF needs to be persistent in supervising how competent agencies absorb its critical feedback. It must be firm to defend its stand on an issue fairly and objectively; proactively and promptly detect institutional inadequacies arising in the implementation process to make prompt recommendations to competent authorities to review, amend and issue new legal documents. It is crucial to organize surveys and collect people's opinions on burning questions directly related to the lawful and legitimate rights and interests of individuals and businesses.
At the National Online Conference of the VFF to deploy the Action Program for the implementation of the Resolution of the 13th Party Congress on August 16, 2021, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong emphasized: "The VFF needs to better perform its role of social supervision and criticism stipulated by the 2013 Constitution, the Law on the VFF and regulations of the Party and State; Strengthen supervision to build social consensus, stability, comprehensive, and sustainable growth of the country. The institution must continue to accomplish its role of chairing consultations and coordinating member organizations in social supervision and criticism; Foster the wisdom of scientists and experienced experts in law-making, giving comments and ideas to create institutional breakthroughs, strengthen the people's right to mastery, implement the guidelines and policies of the Party, the State and the Party committees and local authorities, especially policies related to national livelihood and the people’s legitimate rights and interests” (6). Thoroughly grasp and effectively implement Conclusion No. 19-KL/TW, dated October 14, 2021, of the Politburo on "The orientation of the law-making program for the 15th National Assembly term" that emphasizes the role of the People, the VFF and its member organizations in improving the quality of social criticism work on the legislative process and law enforcement; Due consideration should be given to maintaining political bravery to not being influenced by any organization or individual in the process of conducting social supervision and criticism.
Some solutions to improve the effectiveness of social criticism of the VFF
In order to implement the above-mentioned guiding views of the Politburo and to enhance the effectiveness of social criticism by the VFF in the future, the Party and State should pay attention to promulgate new regulations related to the rights, responsibilities and organizational structure of the VFF to adapt to the new domestic and global context.
In the first place, soon set the national solidarity strategy in the new period of the Vietnamese revolution (7) based on assessing 20 years of implementation of Resolution No. 23-NQ/TW, dated March 12, 2003 of the 7th Congress of the Central Committee of the Party, 9th term on "Promoting the strength of national solidarity for the sake of a rich people, a strong country, a just, democratic and civilized society". The basic contents need to be expressed in this strategy in order to unify the awareness of the whole political and social system on the meaning and importance of national solidarity; Clearly define the goal, the subject and object of the national solidarity, methods and mottos to implement the strategy, criteria to assess the level, quality and environment for the promotion of national unity as well as guidelines, solutions, and conditions to ensure the effective implementation of the strategy; on that basis, develop a plan and issue a roadmap under the documents of the Party and the State to implement each specific content of the strategy.
In the second place, the Politburo should issue a Directive on strengthening the Party's leadership over the supervision and social criticism of the VFF so that its social supervision and criticism achieve practical results to ensure democracy, and justice and build social consensus to meet the requirements of building a socialist rule of law State in Vietnam.
In the third place, during the term of the 15th National Assembly and toward 2030, due consideration should be given to building institutions to enhance social criticism activities of the VFF; Accordingly, priority should be given to amending and supplementing the Law on the VFF and promulgating the Law on People's Supervisory Activities, the Law on the exercise of Grassroots Democracy, the Law on the Constitutional Defense Mechanism, The Law on Self-Governance of Residential Communities, the Law on Associations, etc., in conformity with the 2013 Constitution.
In the fourth place, the Party and State direct competent agencies to study and submit to the 17th National Assembly to amend and supplement the 2013 Constitution. On the basis of the Constitution revising the 2013 Constitution, it is required to promulgate laws on the organization and operation of the state apparatus and the VFF to define responsibilities and coordination mechanism between the parties in the law-making process – the first breakthrough to develop the country - and in personnel affairs to develop human resources in general and human resources of the political system in particular - the second breakthrough - and in the construction of the Party, State and political system - the decisive stage for the successful run of the principle "Party’s leadership, State’s management, people’s mastery".
Finally, in order to implement an overall model of the political system in Vietnam (8), the Central Government should rapidly study professionally and propose an organizational structure for the VFF from the central to the grassroots level; strengthen competence of civil servants working in the whole system of VFF to meet the requirements in the new situation (9). In the immediate future, it is crucial to assess the performance of pilot model by which the head of the mass mobilization committee is concurrently the chairman of the VFF Committee at the provincial and district levels; Conduct a preliminary review of 3 years of implementation of Regulation No. 212-QD/TW, dated December 30, 2019, of the Secretariat on “functions, tasks, organizational apparatus, and staffing of specialized agencies of the VFF Committee and socio-political organizations at provincial and district levels”.
(1), (2) Document of the 11th National Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p. 171, 246
(3) Such as the Project of Law on Belief and Religion; the project on the Law on Associations; the draft Law amending and supplementing some articles of the Penal Code; the draft Law on Anti-corruption (amended); draft Laws on special administrative-economic zones Van Don, Bac Van Phong, Phu Quoc; the Law project on Education (amended); Project on Postgraduate Training and Talent fostering; a draft law on General Curriculum of the Ministry of Education and Training; draft Labor Code (amended); the draft Law amending and supplementing some articles of the Law on Promulgation of Legal Documents in 2015; draft scheme on the set of criteria for civilized municipalities; draft Ordinance on Incentives for people with meritorious services to the revolution (amended); draft Decree of the Government detailing some articles and measures to implement the Law on Belief and Religion...
(4) The 14th National Assembly has officially added the social criticism activities of the VFF to Article 6 of the Law amending and supplementing some articles of the Law on Promulgation of Legal Documents.
(5) Documents of the 13th National Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2021, vol I, p. 190
(6) Nguyen Phu Trong: "Promoting the tradition of national solidarity, mobilizing the strength of the whole nation, striving to achieve comprehensive victory over the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress", dated 16 -8-2021, http://mattran.org.vn/tin-tuc/tong-bi-thu-nguyen-phu-trong-phat-huy-truyen-thong-dai-doan-ket-huy-dong-suc -manifest-danger-toc-no-luc-phan-dau-thuc-hien-thang-loi-to-an-dien-hi-nguyet-daily-was-to-be-reported -dang-39318.html
(7) The Party Committee of the Central Committee of the VFF proposed to the 13th Central Committee to add the Thematic Resolution on the National Solidarity Strategy into the Full-term Work Program, or at a suitable time
(8) The Central Theoretical Council is studying "The overall organizational model of the Vietnamese political system to meet new requirements"
(9) The Central Organization Commission is presiding over a project on job profiles and position in the political system
This article was published in the Communist Review No. 997 (November 2022)