The Straits Times
Published on Dec 23, 2012

War-nostalgia no cure for ailing Vietnam economy


HANOI (AFP) - Posters of US bombers crashing in flames festoon Hanoi to mark another anniversary in a long-finished war. But behind the usual propaganda, Vietnam's rulers face a modern-day threat - anger over the economy.

For years, the leaders of the one-party state have leant on war-era nostalgia to shore up authority anchored in battlefield victories. With the state-dominated economy floundering, experts say touting decades-old military successes is no longer enough to shield the regime from growing public frustration.

"The communist party is skating on thin ice," said Mr David Koh, a Vietnam analyst from the Institute of South-east Asian Studies in Singapore. "They must expect newer generations to look beyond these great moments of the past in deciding whether their political system is worth supporting."

A key way to strengthen the party's legitimacy would be through serious economic reforms, Mr Koh told AFP.