| Trains at Hanoi Station. Photo by Dan Viet
Before leaving his post, transport minister Dinh La Thang recently dismissed the director of the Hanoi Railway Transport Company, Nguyen Viet Hiep, for a bad-value Chinese carriage purchase contract.
Earlier, the Hanoi Railway Transport Company announced its intention to buy more than 160 old train carriages from China's Kunming Railway Department. Of these, some 120 were manufactured 20 years ago, with the newest 12 carriages still 12-years-old.
Thang's decision was popular with the public.
However, further investigations by the media then discovered that the Vietnam Railway Corporation (VRC), the mother company, had given permission for the deal.
According to some local newspapers, the contract to buy old Chinese carriage had been agreed in 2013 but then was delayed following the tense situation in the East Sea.
There have been official documents with notes and signatures by VRC's general director, Vu Ta Tung, and VRC's chairman, Tran Ngoc Thanh, on the agreement to purchase the old train carriages.
In Document 229 dated, August 29, 2014, VRC's general director, Vu Ta Tung wrote: “I agree with the plan to buy old train carriages from China as proposed in the report..."
In Document 399 dated October 15, 2014, VRC's chairman, Tran Ngoc Thanh wrote: “I agree to quickly carry out the purchase of Chinese used train carriages...”
So, as director of Hanoi Railway Transport Company, Hiep only carried out the plan agreed by the mother company. And if he was punished, his bosses could not escape the responsibilities.
However, in an interview with DTiNews on February 4, VRC's chairman, Tran Ngoc Thanh, denied everything.
"I had no knowledge about proposed purchase of used Chinese train carriages," Thanh confirmed. "I will not buy a carriage which has been used for a year, let alone these 20 year-old carriages."
It is easy to see that Thanh did not tell the truth. What about the above documents with his notes and signatures? How can people believe that he, the top leader, didn't know anything about such an investment decision by the company he was responsible for?
And many of such cases involving leaders like Thanh are now not difficult to find in Vietnam.