The Straits Times
Published on Oct 03, 2012

Vietnam PM's future uncertain as communists meet


BANGKOK (AFP) - The political future of Vietnam's prime minister is hanging in the balance as communist party chiefs gather for talks overshadowed by financial scandals and economic malaise, experts say.

Mr Nguyen Tan Dung, 62, has had little reason to celebrate since the communist-controlled parliament formally approved his appointment for a second five-year term in July 2011.

Hit by a string of scandals and a growing list of economic problems, observers say his leadership may be in danger, although his removal appears unlikely in the immediate future.

Rising public dissatisfaction over slowing economic growth, resurgent inflation, rampant corruption and banking turmoil have put Mr Dung under growing pressure as the Communist Party's 175-member Central Committee meets this week. The gathering is likely to see "a showdown between the prime minister and his critics", according to Vietnam expert Mr Carl Thayer, emeritus professor at Australia's University of New South Wales.