A 74-year-old intellectual with many recommendations for building the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam is the latest victim of “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the Criminal Code.
On July 27, the Ministry of Public Security announced that the Investigation Security Agency had issued a decision to probe Dr. Nguyen Son Lo, former director of SENA Institute of Technology Research and Development for “Abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, lawful rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens.”
Police reportedly conducted a house and office search of Dr. Nguyen Son Lo (also known as Minh Duong). He is banned from leaving his residence and the country although he has not been arrested.
The notice of the Ministry of Public Security did not give the reason why Mr. Nguyen Son Lo was probed, but only wrote that “The Investigative Security Agency – the Ministry of Public Security is focusing on investigating, collecting documents, and consolidating evidence on the criminal acts of the accused and related individuals to strictly handle according to the provisions of law.”
Professor Nguyen Khac Mai, director of the Hanoi-based Minh Triet Cultural Research Center, said that he has been a close friend of Mr. Nguyen Son Lo for decades.
Prof. Mai said Mr. Lo had participated in the war with the US and won many merits, but when he returned, he studied and received knowledge and had valuable feelings about the situation of the country, about the development of people’s life. Prof. Nguyen Khac Mai told a reporter of Radio Free Asia as follows:
“Recently he founded a think-tank on cultural research and development. He assured us that ‘now the issue of culture has become a very big issue of the times and nation’ so he wants to contribute to this field, to cultural activities.
He has also written a number of research books to sincerely recommend to the leaders of the country, he often publishes those works, these recommendations on the economic field, especially in the field of culture for the leaders of the country.
The Central Inspection Commission [of the ruling CPV- reporter] came to SENA to work with him and they confirmed that they did not forbid him to express his opinions and recommendations, but they just asked him not to spread them widely.”
Accordingly, Mr. Nguyen Son Lo was advised not to send his books to provincial Party secretaries or National Assembly deputies, but should only be sent internally, such as to the Central Organizing Commission, the Central Inspection Commission, the Central Commission on Propaganda and Education, the Secretariat, the Politburo, etc. of the party’s Central Committee.
According to Mr. Nguyen Khac Mai, Mr. Lo agreed to only send his comments to responsible officials but did not understand the reason for being probed.
An article published in early 2021 by the police of Bach Thong district – Bac Kan province with the title “Suggestions to build the Party or against the Party” refers to the SENA Institute of Technology Research and Development and claims its open letter to comment on the construction of the documentation of the 13th National Congress of the Party a form of expressing wrong views and supporting distorting arguments against the Party and State.
“It is not correct to say that it is against the party, because he only has a constructive mind, wants to contribute, wants to correct mistakes, wants to improve, wants to make this Party and this government more civilized and cultured, it’s more humane, it’s more popular, and it’s kinder.
That’s the aspiration that I think 90 million, 100 million people also want the same, no one wants to overthrow the regime, just want it to be better.
Less corruption, more humanity, less immoral behavior, no land grabbing but the negotiation and proper compensation. That is his wish like mine and others,” said Mr. Nguyen Khac Mai.
Previously, on July 4, the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations issued a decision to suspend the operation of SENA Institute of Technology Research and Development to carry out dissolution procedures because the institute violated regulations on establishment and operation registration.
According to the Hanoi-based professor, this is a civil society organization legally registered with the state and its members are former high-ranking cadres such as Mr. Nguyen Manh Can, former deputy head of the Central Organizing Commission, and some other intellectuals.