Saigon – The Vietnamese Communist Party has removed Dinh La Thang, head of the party unit in Saigon, from the Politburo.
Dinh La Thang was voted out of the body on Sunday for mismanagement of state-owned energy giant Petro-Vietnam.
It is extremely unusual for the ruling Communist Party to dismiss a sitting Politburo member. The rare move was made over the weekend when the country’s most senior Communist Party members gathered for a major one-week meeting that began on Friday in Hanoi.
An overwhelming majority, over 90 percent, of the Party’s Central Committee, comprising around 200 senior Party members, voted to dismiss Thang on Sunday, the Vietnam News Agency reported.
In a statement, the Central Committee said that Thang committed “serious” shortcomings and violations during his tenure as the company’s board chairman from 2009 until 2011.
Such wrongdoings caused “indignation among Communist Party members, state officers and the public,” warranting the punishment in line with Party regulations.
Thang, 56, is likely to also be removed from his position as the top leader of Saigon.
In late April, the Central Inspection Committee, the ruling Communist Party’s top watchdog, had recommended disciplinary action against Thang, blaming him for a series of “serious” violations and mismanagement at PetroVietnam.
The Party’s inspectors found that he was responsible for illegal business decisions, including an investment in local lender OceanBank and “big bidding packages,” this according to a post on the government website.
Thang was also responsible for “advising the Prime Minister to designate many bidding packages that failed to meet legal regulations,” and for low investment efficiency in a number of projects.
Thang was voted into the 19-member Politburo in early 2016. He became Saigon’s Party chief the same year.
Named transport minister at the age of 51, Thang was considered young enough in Vietnam’s political apparatus to be groomed for higher places.
Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong, who is serving his second term, has launched an anti-corruption campaign, issuing resolutions aimed at improving ethical conduct among party members.
However, critics claim that the recent high-profile arrests and trials are mainly the result of political infighting.