On 28th April 2014, the celebrations on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung in Hanoi have been kicked off with a workshop titled “International Policy Dialogue between Vietnam and Germany in policy making and implementing process”. The workshop has been organised by the University of Social Sciences and Humanities (VNU-USSH), a long-term partner of RLS. Representatives of the RLS, the Institute of Policy and Management (IPAM) as a part of the VNU-USSH, Members of the National assembly such as the Committee on Culture, Education, Youth and Children, a representative of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Vice Director of the Institute for Legislative Studies, members of the provincial People’s Councils of Quang Ninh, Dong Nai and Bac Lieu, German local politicians of DIE LINKE (Left party) as well as representatives of cooperation partners from Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar joined the workshop.
Starting the workshop, Nadja Charaby stated that decision-making in Vietnam is mostly centralized but then not implemented. That is why a deeper focus on local levels is needed to optimize the political, administrative and legislative organization of Vietnam. Training and further education of local experts for example via training courses on policy management can help to improve decision-making processes and to develop critical compound. Vietnamese experts shared this opinion. Decision-making processes are inconsistent and less transparent due to a deep influence of special interest groups and lobbyists. The Vietnamese government often enacts laws that fail to address the population or even cause more damage than benefit. New effective laws which are financially affordable, practical and relevant to Vietnam´s population are required. Furthermore, the laws should follow the principles of sustainable development, which means a combination of healthy economic growth with ecological responsibility and sensitivity to social issues. The citizen´s participation has increased during the last years, which means that citizens who want to take the initiative can put proposals on the local parliaments agenda or can convoke residents´ meetings (only when an application was submitted by the interested citizens to the local parliament). But the parliament still has to agree on it. On the whole, law-making is mainly influenced by the Communist Party or the national parliament. There is no real separation of powers. The establishment of the rule of law was first announced in 1994, but it is only since 2013 that there is a new constitution reflecting it.
Some provinces like Bac Lieu already started to innovate their scientific and technological policies. They built up international cooperation and strengthen the scientific and technological potential such as building a biotechnological zone and establishing three new scientific and technological organizations.
Later, Dagmar Pohle, local politician of DIE LINKE (Left party) and deputy borough mayor of Berlin Marzahn-Hellersdorf in Berlin pointed out fields and lee ways of local health and welfare policies at the local level in Germany, while Barbara Höll provided an interesting insight into the daily work of a local deputy in Germany. Ronald Höhner from RLS Berlin gave a brief introduction to basic and advanced training at the municipal level in Germany and the conferences, workshops and research made by RLS in this field.
In general, the workshop was a success – it delivered thoughtful presentations and speeches from reputable experts. A lot of information was given to the participants that led to many interesting discussions. The project in Vietnam will be continued this year to discuss in depth the gap between the national assembly and policy makers at the local level in Vietnam. There was agreement that local government politics is the most important level of politics because it is closest to the people and they can have a direct impact on the policy. Wilfried Telkämper, Director of the Centre for International Dialogue and Cooperation (ZID) at RLS in Berlin, brought the workshop to an end by mentioning Vietnam´s efforts in the transformation process towards democratisation and rule of law. Political education has to be a major element of the democratisation process in Vietnam. Both countries can share their experiences in that context in order to learn from each other. The political dialogue should be increased.
Later in the evening, the RLS Office Hanoi invited all participants to a reception with live music. The Head of Mission of the German Embassy Hanoi sent congratulations and thanks to Nadja Charaby and her team. RLS in Hanoi makes a significant contribution for the understanding of both countries, Vietnam and Germany. The special part of RLS´ work is to generate synergies out of cooperation with and between civil society actors, the academic field and state actors. Wilfried Telkämper emphasized the important role of the RLS Office in Hanoi in the following topics: Challenges of a democratic socialist society, social justice in society, understanding and mutual respect amongst people through dialogue and protection of ecological resources. The VNU-USSH and the Institute for Legislative Studies thanked RLS for their competence in political education and analysis and their broad network with other states in the region. Finally, Mr. Phan Anh Son, Director of the People´s Aid Coordinating Committee (PACCOM) awarded Nadja Charaby the medal for peace and friendship among nations for her contribution to Vietnam´s development and progress over the last five years. The official part of the evening came to an end with danceable sounds by an internationally composed Hanoian band.