Vietnam's prime minister to reach out in internet chat


dpa German Press Agency
Published: Friday January 19, 2007

Hanoi- Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung plans to hold an online chat with citizens on February 9, becoming the highest-ranking official to take part in the Communist Party's new internet outreach, an official said Friday. The two-hour session is scheduled be hosted on the websites of the government (www.vietnam.gov.vn) and the Communist Party (www.cpc.org.vn) starting at 9 a.m., according to Nguyen Kinh Quoc, the premier's spokesperson.

"The prime minister will take the questions and answer them directly and frankly," Quoc said. "He will not shy away from any questions no matter how difficult they are."

Previous government online chats have seen questions screened during the live event before being submitted to the online official for selection and answering in the public chat forum.

Dung is expected to discuss social issues as well as government reform initiatives, according to Quoc.

"One of his focuses will be the fight against corruption and wastefulness," Quoc said. "This online chat meets people's desire for having an opportunity to talk or chat with state leaders."

Minister of Education Nguyen Thien Nhan and former deputy premier Vu Khoan have recently chatted online as part of the new initiative, announced in October after a series of corruption scandals.

While few Vietnamese openly call for alternatives to the Communist Party's one-party rule - and most of those who do are jailed - the country's leaders have recently felt under more pressure than before to reach out to the populace.

In the past year, Vietnam's government suffered embarrassment after a major embezzlement case came to light in the transport ministry, and as protests over alleged land-grabs by local officials are becoming more common.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency