The Committee for Justice and Peace of the Vietnamese Bishop's Conference
To the National Assembly on the Special Zone Draft Bill

Vietnam Bishops' Conference
Committee for Justice and Peace

June 8, 2018


To: Chairman of the National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Members of the National Assembly

Re: Draft Bill on Van Don, Bac Van Phong, and Phu Quoc Special Administrative- Economic Units

Ladies and gentlemen,

We learned that the National Assembly has been discussing and will vote on the Draft Bill regarding Van Don, Bac Van Phong and Phu Quoc Special Administrative-Units (hereafter the Special Zone Law) on the upcoming date of July 15, 2018. While the bill was drafted with the intention of creating an administrative and economic breakthrough in attracting more foreign investment into Vietnam, it contains many risks and potential harm to the national interests, especially it may even harm the national security and sovereignty of Vietnam.

Therefore, with our social responsibility and with due respect, after carefully listening to the heartfelt and science-based feedbacks from the professionals, and understanding the majority's collective worries, the Committee for Justice and Peace of the Vietnamese Bishop's Conference respectfully suggests that the National Assembly respects the aspiration of the people and consider the following reasons that state why the adoption of the law regarding the Special Zone in the upcoming National Assembly's meeting should be postponed:

1. The administrative-economic special zones' model is outdated and no longer suitable for a modern economic developmental trend in today's world, especially in the era of 4.0 technological revolution, which the Government of Vietnam has identified as a priority of the Vietnamese economy's orientation;

2. Excessive incentives on tariffs, duration of land- leasing, and types of businesses, as outlined in the Special Zone Law, do not seem to have been carefully and widely studied, analyzed, or criticized by the professionals to fully assess the effectiveness its economic performance would bring to the national economy, while undoubtedly, it will only be profitable to the foreign speculators and domestic interest groups;

3. In the long run, on a national level, the most important factor for a good and attractive to foreign investors should be the decent economic policy, standard legal foundation, efficient administrative apparatus, and a fair justice system, not the temporary incentives in a particular area;

4. Van Don, Bac Van Phong and Phu Quoc are all important military and defense lands and waters that directly affect our national security and sovereignty, especially in the context of Chinese frequent carrying out of their aggressive policy in the East Sea, to occupy islands and to arbitrarily build military bases up close to the Vietnamese coastline;

5. In recent years, the manipulation and acquisition of Chinese traders, contractors and investors on trade, tendering, speculation, illegal purchase of land masses across the country, together with an overwhelming presence of Chinese workers in industrial zones have created many insoluble economic and social problems for local governments on large scale, chances are they will certainly be repeated in other special zones in the future.

We think that in order to pass an important bill with the intention of bringing prosperity and happiness to the people - yet it may seriously affecting our national security and national sovereignty such as the Special Zone Law- it is necessary to have the participation of all people for feedbacks. Therefore, the draft bill should be widely discussed by people of all levels, especially by specialists through science-based debates and eventually passed by a referendum as set by the law.

We sincerely thank you for listening. We put our hope in the National Assembly Members'spirit of truth finding and wish you all good health.


On behalf of the Justice and Peace Commission
Bishop Nguyen Thai Hop, President
Rev. Le Quoc Thang, Secretary