General Secretary Do Muoi - a talented, steadfast and creative leader

Saturday, 2018-10-06 17:02:13
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Former General Secretary Do Muoi plants a tree in Hanoi's Thanh Tri district. (Photo: VNA)
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NDO - As an excellent student of President Ho Chi Minh, who dedicated his whole life to serving the revolution and the people, comrade Do Muoi made significant contributions to the national liberation struggle, reunification and the construction of the socialist state.

He joined the Popular Front movement and was admitted to the Indochinese Communist Party in 1939. Two years later, he was jailed at Hoa Lo Prison. In 1945, he successfully escaped from prison and took part in an uprising to grab power in Ha Dong and was later appointed the province’s Party Secretary.

During the anti-French resistance war, he held many senior posts in the Red River Delta provinces. Under his leadership, he undermined many of the enemy’s attacks, including the raid at Cat Bi Airport in Hai Phong, destroying dozens of French aircraft, contributing to the nation’s victory.

After peace was restored, he was appointed to lead many ministries and the government. As Deputy Prime Minister and Vice Chairman of the Council of Ministers for nearly 20 years (1969-1986), he was assigned with many important tasks, such as countering the US sabotage war, clearing naval mines at Hai Phong Port, heading the committee responsible for supporting the southern battlefield and so on.

After 1975, the country was faced with a great deal of difficulties. Vietnam was an agricultural country but the food output was not sufficient to feed the population. In the meantime, many state-owned enterprises and cooperatives stalled, making great losses and were forced to close. Social scourges and the outbound migration flows were growing, causing numerous socio-economic difficulties and weakening the people’s confidence.

Such a situation required the Vietnamese Communists to deal with a historic challenge: Reform or die. As Chairman of the Council of Ministers (June 1988 - June 1991), comrade Do Muoi and the Politburo, headed by former General Secretary Nguyen Van Linh, formulated the reform programme and introduced numerous breakthrough policies.
Aggressively implementing the Party’s guidelines, comrade Do Muoi led the Council of Ministers to take bold actions to tame inflation, stimulate production and improve the lives of the people.

In order to contain inflation, many ideas were put forward for the Government to consider. According to the International Monetary Fund, Vietnam needed US$3 billion to deal with inflation. But where could Vietnam get this huge amount? Comrade Do Muoi emphasised that the only measure was to tap into the internal strength, relying on the people, encouraging them by interests in order to create new potential. The Council of Minister reached a consensus on a number of issues and reported to the Politburo. First, it was necessary to foster production, practise economy and focus on agricultural production to deal with the food deficiency problem in a radical manner. The second measure was making use of all available sources of goods both at home and abroad. Those who went abroad were encouraged to bring goods home without being taxed. This temporary measure partially helped deal with the scarcity of goods. Thirdly, the Government advocated raising interest rates to attract money being kept by the people. The policy was initially piloted in Hai Phong and then replicated nationwide.

The Government also strictly ordered the State Bank not to print more money. After a time, the Government’s economic and monetary policies produced the desired effect, helping to lower inflation from 774% in 1986 to 34% in 1989 and 14% in 1992.

Along with fighting inflation, Chairman of the Council of Ministers Do Muoi also asked the Politburo and Central Committee to abolish subsidy and trade restrictions, which were the practical foundations for the Party to issue the Platform on building the country during the transitional period to socialism in 1991 and the Socio-economic strategy for the 1991-2000 period. Comrade Do Muoi advocated fostering the development of heavy industries towards national industrialisation and modernisation and building an independent economy.
Comrade Do Muoi was elected General Secretary in 1991 when the Soviet Union and socialist countries in Eastern Europe fell, sending a part of the officials, Party members and people into confusion and denting their confidence in the socialist path. The country’s socio-economic situation had improved but remained laden with numerous difficulties.

As General Secretary, he and the Politburo managed to maintain political stability and persisted in following the socialist path. In order to deal with difficulties and continue the Doi Moi reform, the Politburo determined that the most important task was breaking the isolation, normalising relations with China and the US, proactively joining ASEAN and expanding relations with the international community.

Undertaking that enormous task, comrade Do Muoi led a Vietnamese delegation to visit China from November 5-10, 1991, at the invitation of the Chinese Party and State leaders. At the end of the visit, the two sides issued a joint statement affirming that the high-level Vietnam-China meeting marked the normalisation of relations between the two countries. The normalisation came in accordance with the fundamental and long-term interests of the two countries’ people and was of benefit to regional peace and development. This was a particularly significant diplomatic achievement since Vietnam had begun the Doi Moi reform.

After normalising ties with China, General Secretary Do Muoi actively directed the coordination with the US to deal with the POW/MIA issue. In the spirit of closing the past, looking towards the future for peace, stability and mutual development, Vietnam made the US recognise its good will. On that foundation, then US President Bill Clinton announced the normalisation of relations with Vietnam on July 11, 1995, which was a highly significant event marking the fact that Vietnam had completely broke the position of being isolated and sanctioned. Since then Vietnam has been able to expand its international cooperation and take advantage of external resources to revive the nation.

Comrade Do Muoi’s direction that Vietnam wanted to be a reliable friend and partner of all countries in the world has been implemented actively in both the official diplomatic channel and people-to-people exchanges, producing a tremendous effect on the country. Besides ending isolation and sanctions, Vietnam was able to establish many bilateral and multilateral cooperative relationships. It was a crucial victory on the diplomatic front, laying the foundation for Vietnam’s comprehensive cooperation with the international community, lifting the country out of socio-economic crisis and remaining firmly on the path of integration and development.

During more than 80 years of devotion to the nation, comrade Do Muoi made significant contributions to the struggle for national independence, reunification and socialism building. As an excellent student of President Ho Chi Minh, he dedicated his whole life to serving the revolution and the people. He is a bright example of revolutionary ethics, acute thinking, creativity and loyalty to the Communist ideals.

In December 1997, at the 4th Plenum of the 8th Central Committee, comrade Do Muoi offered to resign from the Central Committee after more than 70 years of service to the Party. The Central Committee agreed to his wish and exalted him as advisor to the Central Committee.

During his entire career, he always demonstrated himself as man of action, present at the most difficult places, daring to act and take responsibility before the Party and the people and always putting the interests of the people and country first.

He always felt unease concerning the country’s risk of falling behind and growing below its potential. According to him, the key to renovation is the knowledge of how to tap into the strength of the country and people to overcome the barriers of old-fashioned thinking and bureaucratic leadership and bring about high quality to the Doi Moi reform.

Comrade Do Muoi’s example of wholehearted dedication to the country and people will shine forever. His name will become a monument that lives forever in the heart of all officials, Party members and the people of Vietnam.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc