Small memory of Comrade General Secretary Le Kha Phieu

*Minh Tuan.

During the National Assembly session in early 1997, one evening, Xuan Ba, a reporter from Tien Phong newspaper, invited me to a person’s house on Ly Nam De street, Hanoi. I asked whose house, he didn’t say, just smiled and said “go, go”. I know that Xuan Ba ​​usually doesn’t talk much about important things, so I also kept quiet and drove him away by my motorbike.

Perhaps it was more than 8 pm, Ly Nam De street had many rows of tall trees on both sides of the road, so it was even darker. This is the “soldier’s house” street, located behind the Ministry of Defense, where the middle and high-ranking military cadres live. Arriving at a large closed iron gate, Mr. Xuan Ba ​​told me to stop, get off the motorbike, and gently knock on the door. The door was ajar, and the head of a young army soldier, wearing a submachine gun, peeked out.

– Yes, what do you two brothers need? -The military soldier politely asked.

– You young boy come in to to tell “grandfather” that young Xuan Ba ​​of Tien Phong newspaper to come.

– Yes, wait a minute, you two brothers. The door closed again.

I didn’t ask, but guessed that here is house of someone very big, because this house was very big, and had an armed guard. A moment later, the door opened, the same army soldier again opened the door and invited us in. At this time, Mr. Xuan Ba ​​whispered in my ear “Old man Phieu’s house”.

(Writing here, I suddenly remembered that in January 2009, pictures of comrade General Secretary Le Kha Phieu’s house spread on the internet ( renovated, more beautiful than when I arrived in 1997), was free to take pictures, and then post them on the internet to mock that the great cadre of Vietnamese Communist Party was big, rich, and conservative, full of Mac-Lenin books. ,,, like this. Taking advantage of people’s kindness, being invited to visit the house, then posting photos online to defame the owner is really not with the hospitable ethics of our Vietnamese people.)

In the early days of 1997, public opinion in Hanoi at that time was rumored that Comrade Le Kha Phieu, then a permanent member of the Politburo, had the ability to become General Secretary to replace Mr. Do Muoi. But there was another very bright candidate at that time for the post of General Secretary, which was Comrade Nguyen Van An, head of the Central Organization Department. I still know that Mr. Xuan Ba ​​has the strength of having many relationships with great persons, and with comrade Le Kha Phieu, he is also a compatriot from Thanh Hoa. Xuan Ba’s hometown is Thanh Hoa, and Mr.Le Kha Phieu’s hometown also is Thanh Hoa. In Vietnam, especially in the North, “compatriots” is a fairly strong community, enthusiastically helping each other, treating each other like a family.

We passed a fairly large yard, when we reached the porch, we saw a few guests coming out. I saw some familiar faces, some big ones in the Ministry of Internal Affairs (the Ministry of Public Security-Bo Cong an today), but not from Thanh Hoa. Comrade Le Kha Phieu stood on the porch to see off guests, wearing blue sports pants with 2 white stripes on the waistband, looking young and healthy.

Comrade smiled kindly and welcomed our two young journalists. Mr. Xuan Ba ​​introduced me to comrade Le Kha Phieu. “Yes, this is Mr. Minh Tuan from Dai Doan Ket newspaper.”

“Please come in, please come in. When I saw you the journalists coming, I had to excuse the other guests please go back home, so I can pick you up right away,” Comrade Le Kha Phieu said happily. The small living room is quite cramped, an old set of tables and chairs, a bookcase,,,.

The nation’s number two person received us simply, peacefully, and warmly, without formality, without majesty. We talked freely, about family, hometown, about the National Assembly session, with no focus at all, completely a normal visit like family, not the look of “flattering-wasting around dragon” like the policemen who just left the house.

Mr. Xuan Ba ​​has probably been here many times, so he squatted in a big, old armchair, and very skillfully pulled out a pipe tobacco plow from the back corner of the chair, lit it, took a long breathed in, then breathed out a big smoky puff filling up whole room.

Comrade Le Kha Phieu smiled kindly and said:

-I don’t use this plow. But leave the plow here for the guests in the countryside to visit, they use.

A babysitter came into the room, set the kettle on the table, prepared tea, and some sweets for us. I did not dare to eat candy, because I was afraid of tooth decay, just sipping a little fragrant sweet tea.

Mr. Xuan Ba ​​called comrade Le Kha Phieu “Uncle”, calling himself “em-young brother”, very family. I call him a “comrade” and call myself “me-tôi”. Comrade Le Kha Phieu also called me “comrade”, called “me-tôi”, sometimes called himself “myself-mình” very intimately.

I saw on the bookshelf a book on “Building party in the army”, authored by Le Kha Phieu, and asked him please allow me to take it down to have a look. Flipping through a few pages, I find it interesting, the problem seems dry, but the writing is simple, easy to read. I asked comrade Le Kha Phieu to give me a book.

-Oh, are you also interested in party building in the army? -Comrade Le Kha Phieu smiled and asked me-“ All this books  gone, let me ask the publisher if there are any books left, I’ll send them to you later”.

I feel a little guilty for bothering Comrade Le Kha Phieu. But seeing comrades Phieu happy, comfortable, I should feel secure.

Mr. Xuan Ba ​​asked comrade Le Kha Phieu about some historical stories during the wars against the US, against Polpot, against China. Have maybe he was going to write a book or a newspaper on those issues. Comrade Le Kha Phieu has a very good memory, he simply answered all the questions that Mr. Xuan Ba ​​asked.

Mr. Xuan Ba ​​made another second pipe tobacco, and the smoke rotted the whole house.

After these two pipe tobaccos, then did the two of us ask Mr. Phieu a permission to leave. Comrade Le Kha Phieu cordially sent the two of us to the gate. The young serviceman, wearing a long AK47 submachine gun on his back, politely opened the heavy iron gate for the two of us, and nodded to us very politely.

A few days later, while still in the National Assembly session, during a break, Comrade Le Kha Phieu went to meet me in the backyard of the National Assembly building, where journalists serving the National Assembly often gathered. Comrade Phieu saw me, smiled, approached me and handed me a book on party building, on the front page of the book there was a handwritten text written by Mr.Phieu: “For dear Comrade Minh Tuan, Dai Doan Ket newspaper. Signed: Phieu” .

I was moved to take the book and thank Comrade Le Kha Phieu. The press brothers, and especially the security guards who guarded the National Assembly session, looked at me with wide eyes and asked how I was given a book by Comrade Le Kha Phieu, with the words he wrote in his hand.

I just smiled silently, didn’t say anything.

That simple and sociable nature of comrade Le Kha Phieu has always been shown during his term as General Secretary, and until now. Just looking at the fact that only comrade Le Kha Phieu’s house was photographed and posted on the internet, it is enough to see among many  General Secretaries, only comrade Le Kha Phieu graciously invited guests into the house, allowing them to take pictures freely,,,.

Who can do the same thing of photographing at the house of comrades Do Muoi, Nguyen Van Linh, Truong Chinh, Nong Duc Manh, Nguyen Phu Trong?

One day, I was invited by the Vietnam Television Station to the studio in the Television Station in Giang Vo area, to attend a live televised dialogue about journalism.

Suddenly seeing Comrade Le Kha Phieu entering the studio, at that time, he was already General Secretary. The whole room was surprised, noisy and happy, applauding the General Secretary. Comrade stood talking to everyone in the studio, simple and open minded.

At that time, there was a movement “Self-criticism” in the whole country. “Self-criticism” initiated by Comrade Le Kha Phieu. So at that time, comrades talked a lot about this issue. At that time, everyone doubted whether this “Criticism and self-criticism” movement was effective, because corrupt and power-hungry people would not self-criticize and may never admit their mistakes. But comrade Le Kha Phieu’s intention is not to make this movement to encourage people to self-criticize, because comrades, like everyone else, understand that no one is self-critical.

Corrupt people don’t say “I’m corrupt”.

But comrade Le Kha Phieu’s intention to launch this “Criticize and Self-Criticize” movement was from that movement, encouraging people, the press, and public opinion to dare to criticize wrongs in the Party, then by this, creating conditions for the wrong to be discovered, and dealt with.

That deep meaning, not everyone understands.

Comrade Le Kha Phieu became General Secretary not from the Party Congress, but only from the Mid-term Central Conference of Communist Party. Comrade Do Muoi was General Secretary at the 7th Congress in June 1991, at that time, Comrade Do Muoi was 74 years old (born in 1917). Comrade Vo Van Kiet has been Prime Minister since 1992, when he was 72 years old (born in 1920). Comrade Le Duc Anh became President in 1992, also when he was 72 years old (born in 1920).

In 1996, at the 8th Party Congress, Comrade Do Muoi was 79 years old, Comrade Vo Van Kiet was 76 years old, and Comrade Le Duc Anh was also 76 years old. But all three of them refused to take a break, wanting to stay in position and continue to “devote to the Party and the people”.

And the 8th Party Congress, and then the 1st plenum of the 8th Term, also silently bowed their heads, “pretending to vote” for Do Muoi to again become one more time a General Secretary-because in fact there was only 1 candidate is Do Muoi, and all Party Congress accept to let 3 old comrades continue to lead the country. Le Duc Anh keeps post as President. Vo Van Kiet keeps post as Prime Minister.

At this time, in 1996, comrade Nguyen Tan Dung was 47 years old, young, and entered the Politburo for the first time, and was favored straight into the Politburo Standing Committee, as Head of the Central Economic Commission, standing above the Standing Deputy Prime Minister Phan Van Khai who is an ordinary member of the Politburo.

1 year later, at the 4th, 8th plenum, in December 1997, the three old comrades mentioned above, all approximately 80 years old, resigned, and comrade Le Kha Phieu was elected General Secretary, when he was no longer young: 66 years old (born 1931).

In a very short time, more than 3 years as General Secretary, 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000, comrade Le Kha Phieu has done a number of very meaningful and important things, leaving many imprints on the country.

The first thing after taking office as General Secretary, Comrade Le Kha Phieu launched the movement “Criticize, self-criticise” throughout the Party, thereby creating conditions for the dismissal of Deputy Prime Minister Ngo Xuan Loc involved in the construction of Thang Long Aquarium in Hanoi.

This is the third time that Vietnamese Cummunist Party has strictly dealt with wrongdoing senior cadres.:

-The first case was the case of Tran Du Chau, in 1950, when Chau was tried by Uncle Ho’s order, and shot death for corruption.

-The second case, in 1992, the Minister of Energy Vu Ngoc Hai was sentenced to 3 years in prison for being involved in buying around 4000 tons of steel in a project of building a 500 KV transmission line, with a price difference of 3.1 billion VND.

-And finally, there was the case of Deputy Prime Minister Ngo Xuan Loc in 1999, signing a license for Van Thien Company, without a single money, only has business in prostitution hotel  in West Lake, were granted license to build Thuy Cung Thang water park in Hanoi, at that time this project worths more than 200 billion VND.

Mr. Ngo Xuan Loc was resolutely dismissed by comrade Le Kha Phieu from his position of Deputy Prime Minister. Handling to the level of Deputy Prime Minister in our country, under the “socialist” era, this is the first time, and only Comrade Le Kha Phieu dares to handle.

The second task of Mr. Le Kha Phieu was the signing of the Vietnam-US Trade Agreement in 2000, after years of difficult negotiations, mainly hindered by conservative opinions among revolutionary elders.

Without Mr.Le Kha Phieu, this historical Trade Agreement between Vietnam and US America may still be delayed for some more time later.

The third thing, the arrest and detention of Deputy Director of the Government Office Nguyen Thai Nguyen, a disciple of Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, and a series of high-ranking officials of the 2nd General Department-a spy/intelligence department belong to Defense Ministry. Thai Nguyen and some others officials of 2nd Department were intended to harm the General Director Vo Thi Thang of Tourism Department, and more. (Sounds like that, I don’t know if it’s true,  because this event happened when I was in Japan ).

On the time of comrade General Secretary Nong Duc Manh, the General Department 2 case could not be solved, comrade General Nguyen Chi Vinh was allowed to re-enter the Central Committee and become the Deputy Minister of National Defense.

Fourth, it is proposed in the Party to study to merge the positions of  General Secretary of Communist Party and President of the State into one. Comrade Le Kha Phieu once remarked that, throughout the country, there are many localities, provinces, districts, communes where there are conflicts between the Party Secretary and the head of People Committees. If the two positions of General Secretary and State President are merged, it will create conditions to both concentrate power, improve accountability, and eliminate conflicts between the Party and the Government.

Under comrade Nong Duc Manh as General Secretary, he also tried to allow the work of Secretary cum President in some localities.

By 2018, comrade General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong boldly merged the two positions of General Secretary and State President, it was bold and innovative.

Uncle Ho also served as Party and State President for 10 years, the results were very compact and effective.

But perhaps because the division of seats in Vietnam Cummunist party is difficult, who quits, who doesn’t, so in 2021 they will split again, returning to 3 positions of General Secretary – President – Prime Minister, no more merge of General Secretary with State President.

It is very regrettable. The progress of Vietnam will be delayed some more longer.

In the direction of simplifying the Party and State apparatus, compactness and efficiency, surely at some point, our Vietnam Communist Party must merge back the two positions of General Secretary and State President.

Because the most important task of the party is to do the work of the state. If the party does not do the work of the state, what does the party do?

If so, then the party only works on the clouds on the wind. Therefore, the slogan “the party does not replace the work of the State”, thought it was good, but it was extremely bad.

Fifth, to establish Team A10 to check information of intelligence agencies of the police and military, and at the same time, check the illegal assets of some big people.

It was this A10 that scared the three Advisors, and a series of well-to-do members of the Central Committee were also afraid, so they joined forces to overthrow comrade General Secretary Le Kha Phieu at the April 9th ​​Party Congress 2001.

While serving as General Secretary, Comrade Le Kha Phieu had a trip to visit Western European countries. During this trip, he sincerely spoke to the heads of state of Western European countries, under the slogan “You guys try to take care of the happiness of the people of your countries. We Vietnam also try to make our people happy.”

However, when he returned home, comrade Le Kha Phieu was criticized by some revolutionary elders as “how can the capitalists take care of their people, they only exploit, only the State of socialism takes care of the people”,,,.

Therefore, when US President Clinton visited Vietnam in October 2000, Comrade Le Kha Phieu had a bit rigid and conservative speech, recalling the war time quite a lot, also because of the bad influence of some conservative revolutionary old man.

During the time of Comrade Nong Duc Manh, there was a case of PMU18 or something like that, which created conditions for dealing and fighting with corrupt officials, and expanded to other cases, when cold water was poured over this corruption fighting. The Deputy Minister of Transport was exempt from prosecution, and instead, a Major General  of Police Pham Xuan Quac, head of C14-a criminal department of the public security department who directed the investigation of this PMU18 case, but Police General Quac was prosecuted against him, along with two journalists who wrote reporting about the PMU18 case. Mr. Quac was accused of revealing PMU18 case’s investigation informations to the journalists!!!.

If journalists write wrongly, they must be asked to make  corrections, and can be fined, or a penalty of penal suspension, or a permanent suspension of your pen, a journalist’s card, depending on the seriousness of the violation.

But in this PMU18 case, 2 journalists were imprisoned for 2 years, and Police General Quac was prosecuted and removed from position.

Leaders after Mr.Le Kha Phieu really consider people as deaf and blind.

Then who dares to fight corruption anymore?

If Comrade Le Kha Phieu was still General Secretary, there would be no such case against the police and the press.

Surely the PMU18 case will be done to the end.

Then, at the 11th Congress, 2005, there was never a publicly and obvious thing that brought the children of the Politburo members into the Central Committee as much as the 11th Congress.

Comrade Nong Quoc Tuan, the son of Comrade Nong Duc Manh, was forced to bring him to the Central Committee. If Nong Duc Manh’s son can enter the Central Committee, the children of other people like Nguyen Tan Dung and Nguyen Van Chi can also enter. Son of Comrade Chi, a former Polit Bureau member, was Nguyen Xuan Anh, a young man, was appointed Secretary of Da Nang, was immediately involved in corruption, received an expensive car as a gift from the giants private company, was immediately dismissed.

It is said that because comrade Ho Duc Viet, a member of Polit Bureau, and head of the powerful Central Organization Committee, dared to oppose this situation of “the king’s son becomes king”, he was dismissed and sent back to the garden of his house to raise chicken, at the 11th Congress.

Viet died soon after was removed from his post of Polit Bureau member.

During the generations of General Secretary, comrade Le Kha Phieu was a really popular, likable, approachable, and daring person who did not try to bring his children to the Central Committee, more than others. ////

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