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The revised Constitution is the firm legal and political guarantee for the entire Party, people and army to join force in the march toward the new period
8/5/2014 21:28' Send Print
Nguyen Sinh Hung, Member of the Party Political Bureau, Chairman of the National Assembly, Chairman of the Drafting Committee for Amendment of the Constitution. Picture: Viet Nam News Agency

The revised Constitution this time is the result of a painstaking, serious, scientific and truly democratic process. In the history of Viet Nam’s constitution development, there has rarely been such a legal and political activity which was widely, democratically and substantively responded by people at home and abroad. By listening, understanding, receiving, and selecting people’s opinions and with devotion and hard working, the National Assembly’s competent agencies and deputies eventually had the Constitution adopted with high unanimity. This shows that the revised Constitution demonstrates the majority of people’s will and aspirations and the profound agreement between the Party and people. It is the legal and political guarantee for Viet Nam, the Vietnamese people and State to firmly march forwards amid new challenges of the time, a factor for the entire Party, people and army to join force in implementing the Constitution and a factor for Viet Nam to enter a new period of comprehensive renovation in economy, politics, national construction and defense, multifaceted development and proactive international integration.

First, the revised Constitution institutionalizes and accounts more completely and profoundly our Party and State’s points of view on people’s sovereignty and socialist democracy promotion to ensure that all state power belongs to people. This is a cross-cutting point of view in the revised Constitution which specifies that the origin, nature, purposes and strength of the Vietnamese State vest in the people, belongs to the people and the people are the supreme masters of state power. Accordingly, the revised Constitution vigorously affirms: “The Socialist Republic of Viet Nam is a country where the people are the masters; all the state power belongs to the people.” Right in the Preamble, the revised Constitution solemnly declares that the Vietnamese people are the masters who develop, implement and protect the Constitution”. It supplements forms through which the people shall exercise the state power not only representative democracy through the National Assembly and the People’s Councils like in the past, but also direct democracy through voting in state-organized referendums including consultations on Constitution. The revised Constitution continues confirming the Communist Party of Viet Nam’s leading role of the state and society. That role is assigned by history, accepted by the people and confirmed by the Constitution. The Constitution also clarifies and deepens the vanguard role of the Party and points out: “The Communist Party of Viet Nam is closely associated with the people, shall serve the people, shall submit to the supervision of the people, and is accountable to the people for its decisions.” The Viet Nam Fatherland Front consisting of the political organization, socio-political organizations and social organizations, and prominent individuals representing their class, social strata, ethnicity or religion and overseas Vietnamese shall constitute the political base of the people’s administration; represent and protect the rights and lawful and legitimate interests of the people. The revised Constitution supplements its role of social supervision and criticism of the State’s organizations and activities. These political and legal thinkings are prompted by full awareness of the theory that all the state power belongs to the people. The State’s strength is based on national great unity. It is the rule of law and precious value which make Viet Nam develop with the time.

Human rights, fundamental rights and obligations of citizens are highly appreciated and occupies a primary position in the revised Constitution (Chapter II). It shows a succession of the 1946 Constitution of which President Ho Chi Minh was Chairman of the Drafting Committee; a new, more complete and profound awareness in the Party and State’s points of view institutionalization which promote human factor and consider people as the masters, the major resources and the objectives of development. Accordingly, the revised Constitution confirms the principle that the State “recognizes, respects, protects and guarantees human rights and citizens’ rights in the political, civil, economic, cultural and social fields”; “Human rights and citizens’ rights may not be limited unless prescribed by a law solely in case of necessity for reasons of national defense, national security, social order and safety, social morality and community well-being.” These are basic principles to uphold the State’s responsibilities in relations with human and citizens’ rights; in prevention of arbitrary restriction, limitation, giving in one place and taking in others by state agencies and employees. At the same time, these are also the highest legal basis for people and citizens to protect and exercise their human and citizens’ rights. Based on these fundamental principles, the revised Constitution stipulates fundamental citizens’ rights and obligations, supplementing some new rights in a close, precise, feasible manner in conformity with international conventions on human rights of which Viet Nam is a member.

The revised Constitution institutionalizes in Chapter III the standpoint that economic development should be closely and harmoniously combined with cultural, educational, scientific and technological development to achieve social progresses and equity. Stipulations in this chapter are general and stable in terms of objectives, orientations and fundamental policies at constitutional level which can serve as the highest legal basis for rapid and sustainable development of the country in socio-economic, cultural, educational, scientific, technological and environmental aspects.

The defense of the socialist Viet Nam in the past as well as in the new international situation at present is an extremely important task. The revised Constitution confirms that national defense is the mission of all the people, the sacred obligation and the noble right of citizens. The State shall consolidate and strengthen the people’s national defense and the people's security, with the people’s armed forces as the core; bringing into play the aggregated strength of the country in political, economic, cultural, national defense, security and foreign relation fields; building strong people’s armed forces to unceasingly consolidate national defense capacity and contribute to peace keeping in the region and the world.

As far as external relations are concerned, the revised Constitution solemnly declares that the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam shall consistently implement its foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation and development; multilateralization and diversification of external relations, proactive and active international integration and cooperation, on the basis of respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, and equality and mutual benefit; abide by the Charter of the United Nations and treaties to which the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam is a contracting party; act as a friend, reliable partner and responsible member of the international community for the sake of national interests, and contribute to the cause of peace, national independence, democracy and social progress in the world.

To continue building and completing the law-governed socialist state, the revised Constitution confirms that the State of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam is a socialist state governed by law and of the people, by the people and for the people following the principle that all the State power belongs to the people based on the alliance of the working class, the peasantry and the intelligentsia, and supplements new principles on state organization in Viet Nam. One of them is the state power is unified and delegated to state agencies which coordinate with and control one another in the exercise of the legislative, executive and judicial powers. This is a new principle supplemented in the “Platform on National Construction in the Transitional Period towards Socialism” (supplemented and developed in 2011) and is institutionalized by the revised Constitution. This principle is the legal basis for state legislative, judiciary and executive agencies to bring into full play their roles and responsibilities in fulfilling their tasks and power assigned by the people; limit and prevent state power abuse, bureaucracy, corruption and waste. In addition, this is a firm legal foundation for building mechanisms to control and prevent degradation of state power and ensure that state power truly belongs to the people.

Based on that foundation, the state agencies are readjusted by the revised Constitution to be more transparent and clearer in functions, tasks and power of each institution, ensuring effectiveness and efficiency of legislative, judicial and executive delegation, coordination and control. Accordingly, the National Assembly is the highest representative body of the people and the highest state power body of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam which shall exercise constitutional and legislative powers, decide on important issues for the country, and conduct the supreme oversight over the activities of the State.

The President is the Head of State and shall represent the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam internally and externally, the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and the Chairman of the Council for National Defense and Security.

The Government is stipulated by the revised Constitution to be not only the highest state administrative body and executive body of the National Assembly but also a law-enforcement body. The supplement of this new role and position of the Government in the state apparatus demonstrates the principle of delegation, coordination and control of the state power while making it clear that the Government is not only the executive body of the National Assembly to create due independent status and authority and independent responsibilities of the Government before the country and the people which is subject to the National Assembly’s supreme oversight and people’s supervision and criticism.

The People’s Courts are the judicial bodies of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam and exercise judicial power. This assignment manifests a clear-cut delegation of state power which upholds the court’s responsibilities in exercising judicial power. A country’s equity and justice manifest by the exercise of judicial power through the courts’ jurisdiction. The People's Procuracies shall exercise the power to prosecute and supervise judicial activities. To provide direction on judicial renovation, the revised Constitution amends and supplements some key constitutional principles on organization and activities of judicial body to ensure independence in practicing judicial power and promotes proceedings in jurisdictional activities.

To renovate local administration organization model, the revised Constitution stipulates a local administration model as a constitutional basis for concretization in the Law on Local Administration Organization later on. Accordingly, “Local administrations shall be organized in administrative units of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. Local administration levels composed of the People’s Council and People’s Committee shall be organized consistent with the characteristics of the rural areas, urban areas, islands or special administrative-economic units prescribed by law.” The revised Constitution also regulates principled issues on delegation of power between the Central and local administrations, among local administrations to ensure the unified leadership of the Central level while facilitating dynamism, creativity, autonomy, self-responsibility of local administrations.

The National Election Council and State Audit Office are institutionalized for the first time in the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam as constitutional institutions in a separate chapter. This is a modern way of constitution development and jurisdiction. The inclusion of these two institutions in Viet Nam’s Constitution is a continued promotion and implementation of the principle that all the state powers belongs to the people and the Vietnamese State is mastered by the people, creating conditions and mechanisms for people to implement their mastery rights in election and in state power control. Accordingly, the National Election Council shall be established by the National Assembly and has the task of organizing the election of National Assembly deputies, and directing and guiding the election of deputies to People’s Councils at all levels.

Though the revised Constitution has not yet set up a professional mechanism for Constitution protection to control constitution violations in legislation, judiciary and execution as outlined by the Party documents, it emphasizes and clearly stipulates that the National Assembly, organs of the National Assembly, the President, the Government, the People’s Courts, the People’s Procuracies and other State offices and the entire people have responsibilities to protect the Constitution and all violations of the Constitutions shall be punishment. On that basis, laws on state apparatus promulgated later on will stipulate in detail Constitution protection mechanisms to ensure the Constitution really becomes “legislative god” respected and protected by every body, every organization and agency.

As compared with previous Constitutions, the revised Constitution has concrete stipulations on effect, process and procedure for constitution revision which shows that our law-governed and democratic State has been strengthened and is developing. The Constitution is the fundamental law of the State and has highest legal effect and all other legal documents must conform to the Constitution. The National Assembly is assigned by the people some rights to develop constitution such as the right to establish the Constitution Drafting Committee, discuss and adopt the constitution when two-thirds of the National Assembly deputies vote for it and decide public consultations on the Constitution.

The revised Constitution consists of 11 chapters and 120 articles (one chapter and 27 articles less that the 1992 Constitution). The constitution drafting techniques are scientific and renovated which succeed rational elements of previous Constitution drafting techniques of Viet Nam and of international practices. Thus, the Constitution has an overall scope and presentation which are also concrete and detailed, principled and flexible and are able to maintain its leadership and highest position while acting as a foundation for the development of other state laws.

On 1 January 2014, the revised Constitution came into effect. The National Assembly issued a Resolution on the implementation of the Constitution, stipulating that the National Assembly, the Government, levels, branches, agencies and organizations in the political system are responsible for the Constitution implementation; take necessary measures to ensure that the Constitution is quickly implemented. State agencies from Central to local levels, the Viet Nam Fatherland Front, other member organizations of the Front and other related agencies and organizations shall be responsible to disseminate the Constitution to the wider public, enhance people’s sentiment and confidence in the Constitution as well as their respect and conscious implementation of the Constitution, ensure that the Constitution is observed and abided by people of all walks of life and in all social aspects. I believe profoundly that the entire Party, people and army are united to firmly march forward in the new period - the period of accelerating comprehensively the renovation of the country./.

The article was published in Communist Review, No 855 (January 2014)

Nguyen Sinh HungMember of the Party Political Bureau Chairman of the National Assembly Chairman of the Drafting Committee for Amendment of the Constitution