People need to know

Transparency is like sunshine. In the sun, bacteria are hard to survive.

I remember this saying from when I was a 22-year-old journalist, eager to cover great topics. Former World Bank Director in Vietnam, Mr. Klaus Rohland, said so in an interview with us. That was nearly two decades ago, when I set foot in journalism, being tasked with reporting on Vietnam's foreign economic activities. I listen to economists and policy makers at home and abroad discussing quite unfamiliar topics: official development assistance (ODA), negotiations to join the WTO, equitization of state-owned enterprises, and growth, poverty reduction ...

I quickly realized many gaps in my socioeconomic knowledge. It took me several meetings to realize that there are two types of ODA funding: non-refundable and interest-bearing loans. As a result, the excitement of ODA commitment records in the newsletters has been replaced by a more cautious attitude in considering whether these loans will increase Vietnam's public debt burden. In those days, there were many concepts I first heard about such as accountability, transparency, checking and balancing, institutional reform ... I often carefully studied the meaning of each word and tried to do it. clear the context when using these concepts so as not to distract the reader.

Even now, I am still grateful for the conversations with many experts. They help me realize there are many issues that seem macroscopic and complex that can be easily explained. When I went to the then Finnish Ambassador, Mr. Kagri Alanko, to ask the secret of why this country for many years held the number one position in the global competitiveness rankings, he said: "We have a effective public service system, an independent court that makes people fair. Publicity and transparency are extremely important if you want the country to be truly clean. "

But what I am most probably talking about with the United Nations Resident Representative in Vietnam, Mr. Ryan Jordan. He is a passionate Vietnamese lover, most interested in chicken noodle soup and peach buds on New Year. He did not hesitate to hide his tears at the end of his tenure in Vietnam in 2005. Speaking upon his farewell, he said that "innovation is not just economic transformation", that "Vietnam needs to move from a rule of law, the government uses the law to control and direct the people to form the rule of law, where every class, government and citizen, the wealthiest businesses and people The poorest, all follow the same rules. "

Late in the morning, I was awakened by Van's call. My son is in high school in Canada, 12 time zones from me. You are stuck with economics homework. At the beginning of the year, I was the only Vietnamese student with two Iranian friends who chose this subject. By the time he starts studying, Van is stunned with the vast amount of knowledge that students have access to. "I didn't know economics was that difficult. It is true that deaf people are not afraid of guns," Van said.

The homework I have to deal with is growth and sustainability. Teachers ask students to explain why an individual's class in society affects their economic decisions; why different interest groups try to influence government policy and why some groups are more influential than others. I shook my head when I asked if there were any textbooks or samples for reference. The school only lends the book "Current Economics - Analysis of Current Issues" by Oxford University to read. The rest students find out by going to the library or online.

Fortunately, the knowledge accumulated during the press made me less "frozen" when my child asked. But what I'm more happy is that you continue to show an interest in the issues of social and political life. Perhaps in part because of the daily routine, the family meal is always busy with topical affairs as a habit. Since the late 1980s, I have been crawling through articles "What to do now" by NVL author in Nhan Dan newspaper that with the mind of a 9-10 year old child at that time, I kept believing his name. is "Speak and do" or "Jump into fire" as adults talk. My parents also often took me to see the plays of Luu Quang Vu that made the society at that time stir.

I am not sure whether this "habit" is in every family. But I believe that from a national perspective, the level of citizen interest in national livelihood issues is very important to social cohesion. The country can only develop healthily if each individual is aware of the responsibility to contribute to the community, willing to participate in solving "our" problems rather than focusing only on "my own" matters. ". The higher the people's participation in the policy making process, the better the quality and the implementation of the policy in life.

An OECD survey in late 2016 showed that 50% of the Colombian population is not concerned about political issues while this rate is 5% in Japan and Germany. This partly explains the economic success of the Germans and the Japanese, in addition to valuable qualities such as discipline and effort.

A smart government is one that understands that it is impossible to know everything and cannot shoulder everything. For citizens to participate more strongly, regularly and substantially in common issues of the nation and the community, it is necessary to institutionalize this stage. By institutionalization, "people know, people discuss" will become a mandatory requirement, regulated by the law. Complementing it is an attempt to build an education system that activates citizen consciousness, enabling the press, civil society, people's councils and parliament to exercise a supervisory role.

From a personal perspective, becoming an engaged citizen can start with the simplest steps. From being aware of your rights and using them positively, sticking to news, sharing ideas and healthy debates with other groups, helping local businesses to participate in activities Charity, go to the museum, go to the library, come up with initiatives and be on the lookout for your garbage.

Cam Ha