THE WORLD: Roll over, Ho Chi Minh; Vietnam Moves from Clenched fists to greased Palms

This article is about an increasingly corrupt city, and when government officials agree to be interviewed they often as not arrive for the meeting out of breath. I saw that the pretty corruption is not new anywhere in Vietnam. The Vietnamese will tell you that there have always been Communist Party officials willing to do favors, such as fix a street, find a job, and help a neighbor’s child into college. They do that for a small bribe. This threat now is big money corruption. It has been a problem for years in the south, in part because there is so much more money, in part because of the culture of corruption left by a succession of South Vietnamese governments. They acknowledge that the government has opened corruption investigations on thousands o officials annually and that, since the early 1980’s, nearly 20000 state employees have been jailed or disciplined for corruption. The government investigators say that companies run by the Energy Ministry submitted falsified invoices to the Government for 4000 tons of steel for the project but delivered only 2000 tons. At least $300,000 is said to be missing. Do Duc Dinh, an economist with Hanoi’s Institute on World Economies, said the corruption problem is now so serious that, by warping the government’s decision-making process, it could undermine the free-market reforms that are promising to bring Vietnam billions of dollars in foreign investment. I think, everywhere there is examples corruption. For example; if you want to have a phone installed, and you put your name on the official list, you’ll have to wait for several months, but you want the phone now, you can have it if you pay $200,000 VND.

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