Officials in Charge of Thu Tiem Development to Be Named as Liable against Illegality

Ho Chi Minh City government, in relation with “New City Thu Thiem” project in District 2 (photo: view of the District from District 1 Over Saigon River), is to clarify by the end of November this year the responsibilities of officials involved in illegal eviction of residents, whose places were not in the area in accordance with the original plan of the District 2 project. The key point of the clarification is whether HCMC specifies the responsibility of Mr. Le Thanh Hai, who had long been the tycoon of the City leadership and led the development of Thu Thiem.

The development plan of 657 hectares in the Thu Thiem peninsula was approved in 1996, and since then, 15,000 households have relocated. However, 100 households have been complaining that their residences were out of the planned project site and that their forced eviction was of illegal.

Former residents also point out that compensation rate was too low. A resident, who demands to raise the rate, is quoted by Vietnamnews to say, “I was compensated only VND 18 million (US$ 790) per square meter for my land, which is now being sold again by the investor at VND 350 million ($ 15,360) per square meter.”

According to Saigontimes, the HCMC’s top leader, Secretary of the HCMC Communist Party Committee Mr. Nguyen Thien Nhan on 20th October emphasized their efforts to settle complaints of the residents and “to correct the violations of municipal leaders in the previous tenures” at a meeting with the affected residents.

The mastermind of the illegal development of Thu Thiem is considered Mr. Le Thanh Hai, who led HCMC for 15 years until 2016 as Chairman of People’s Committee or Secretary of Party Committee. However, Hai’s political influence has weakened, leading to disciplines against his son and brother by the Current City’s leadership. His power declining only ended up bringing the many years lasting land disputes of Thu Thiem to the fore. Still, some residents doubt that the city will clarify Hai’s responsibility, saying, “Hai’s followers still remain in the local government.”

(Akihide Mori, Vietnam watcher)