Where are Vietnam’s traffic police?

With it’s extraordinary road mortality rate, it’s fair to wonder what Vietnam’s traffic police are doing.

2017 05 25 10 11 48 1

The largest proportion of road fatalities are motorcyclists. In Vietnam, motorcycles aren’t just a form of transport. They are an important part of the haulage system. It is not unusual to see a television or a washing machines, bleating livestock, and passengers on the back of a motorcycle.2017 05 26 08 57 30 So, the traffic police concentrate on motorcyclists. It is in the implementation that the problem becomes evident. The police usually stop motorcyclists to inspect papers, rather than for infractions of the road regulations.

201512110010While casual observation suggests an almost equal distribution of the sexes amongst motorcyclists, it is often women who are the target of inspections. Because women frequently have to transport their children, so tend to be conservative drivers. The men, particularly the young ones, are are those who are reckless.

IMG 522466305

Also. the location of the inspections is questionable. They appear to be chosen for a suitability to ambush, rather than with any consideration to the danger that they may pose. Motorcyclists are banned from using the motorways, except when they are the only means of crossing rivers. The on ramp onto a motorway is potentially hazardous under any circumstances, and especially so if it is selected as an ambush point.

And so it proved when a motorcyclist swerved into me as a traffic officer ran into the road to make a stop. No one fell off, and in Vietnam minor collisions don’t even warrant stopping to check for damage. Except that the point of contact on the bicycle was the derailleur, the most expensive component on an already expensive bike.2017 07 23 09 55 46

The traffic police denied all culpability. If anything, they appeared to be amused. In their opinion, it was the motorcyclist’s fault. Their failings, in the location of the ambush, causing the motorcyclist to swerve, and failing to prevent him from leaving the site of an accident, were not a problem in their opinion.

There is an issue with training, and until that is resolved, Vietnam’s motorcyclists will continue to die.

Vietnam’s Upcoming FATF Mutual Evaluation Report

After China, Vietnam has enjoyed the world’s second fastest growing economy for the past 25 years1. Adopting the formula established by Japan, Korea, and China, Vietnam’s success is export driven. The country’s strength is its young, educated and productive workforce1)Vietnam’s success merits a closer look.20160806 FNC215

In 2012, Vietnam’s economy suffered a setback to both exports and economic growth as China’s economy slowed, and the FATF downgraded Vietnam’s status to that of a jurisdiction not making sufficient progress2)Improving Global AML/CFT Compliance: on-going process – 16 February 2012.

At least two international Banks, HSBC and Wells Fargo terminated their corresponding banking relationships with domestic Vietnamese banks making it extremely difficult for the Vietnamese banks to conduct business on the world stage.
Vietnam GDP growth

By February 2014, Vietnam’s status with the FATF had been restored to that of a jurisdiction no longer subject to the FATF’s on-going global AML/CFT compliance process3)High-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions and the country’s economic progress was restored4)Vietnam.

The first FATF AML/CTF Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) for Vietnam occurred in 2009. It was that evaluation that led to the 2012 downgrading. Vietnam’s next evaluation is scheduled 2019, and will be based on criteria set out in the 2012 FATF recommendations5)Methodology for Assessing Technical Compliance with the FATF Recommendations and the Effectiveness of AML/CFT Systems which place increased emphasis on effectiveness, rather than just compliance.

Vietnam is a known trade route into China for illicit Ivory and rhino horn. Increasingly it is also believed that the illegal wildlife traders worldwide are linked to drug smuggling6)Do dope-smugglers also peddle ivory?. Vietnam has a reputation as one of the worst wildlife trafficking hubs7)Vietnam’s crackdown on traffickers of endangered species is only superficial, which makes it surprising that it has such a poor track record for the AML/CFT prosecutions.

It appears that vested interests are a serious factor undermining the willingness of authorities to introduce the necessary legislation, and then investigate and prosecute the crimes8)Graft-busting in Vietnam.

According to Transparency International, Vietnam has the second highest level of corruption in the Asia Pacific region9)People and Corruption: Asia Pacific. The banks, which are key to the effectiveness of AML/CFT, are also riddled with corruption10)What a spate of arrests says about Vietnam’s banking sector.

Direction from senior party leadership is required to give the relevant authorities the motivation to save Vietnam from a relapse in its FATF status.

If Vietnam’s economic growth is to stay on course, it’s leaders will need to recognize the threat that the country faces from failure to prove the effectiveness of its commitment to AML/CFT, at the next MER.

As Asian countries compete with each other, the importance of GDP figures for political leaders cannot be overstated. As evidence, Vietnam has the reputation of publishing GDP statistics impossibly early, before the end of the year11)Is India Lying About Its World Beating Economy?.

Sustained commitment to meeting the FATF recommendations at the highest level of government is the only way for Vietnam to ensure that it obtains a positive evaluation in 2019.

Footnotes

   [ + ]