Vietnamese test taboo on debating communist monopoly
HANOI (AFP) - When Vietnam's communist leaders asked for public comment on their plan to amend the country's constitution they did not anticipate unleashing an unprecedented debate on the party's monopoly on power.
What was supposed to be a ritualistic consultation has morphed into a fierce open discussion on topics like human rights and land ownership on everywhere from state television to dissident blogs.
The furore started when 72 respected academics submitted a petition in January through the National Assembly as part of the consultation process, calling for multiparty democracy, respect for human rights, private land ownership and an apolitical army that served the people not the party.
They also called for the abolition of Article 4, the clause that protects the party's power, and for a clear separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government - revolutionary demands in the one-party state that have spread like wildfire online.