Democratization, Press Freedom and Corruption Scandals in Vietnam: Causal Relations?
Pham, N. H. (2015). Democratization, Press Freedom and Corruption Scandals in Vietnam: Causal Relations? (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/9615
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/9615
Vietnam started a renewal process named “Doi moi” in 1986 to liberalize its economy and improve its status in the world. This process has resulted in the country’s fast economic development with GDP growth of between 6 and 8 per cent in recent years. However, the rapid economic progress and social changes have brought about corruption, threatening the country’s growth and sustainability. Top leaders have therefore declared corruption as a national threat. Before the year of 2010, just two corruption scandals were reported. During the current period of 2010-2014, more than 10 corruption scandals have been investigated, revealed and re-ported in the mass media. Of them, 5 key scandals will be discussed. This thesis seeks to explore the central question: “Is Vietnam democratizing, and, if so, does the democratic transition explain the increasing number of corruption scandals to-day in the country?” The thesis starts with the political base to look into the origins of the issue. The thesis examines aspects of democracy, democratization, corruption and media described by scholars and then studies whether the country is really in a democratization process and whether there is a relationship between democratization, press freedom and perceptions of corruption. Reported corruption scandals between 2010 and 2014, surveys and reports on corruptions by local and international NGOs and newspapers will be analyzed. The thesis concludes that Vietnam is now democratizing with successes in mitigation of oppression and amplification of civil liberties, while in the nation’s government this process has seen a growing schism among top-ranking leaders. In particular, it is this democratization that reduces the levels of perceptions of corruption. This finding is totally different from previous findings made for other democratizing countries. The thesis also reveals that the democratic transition in Vietnam has increased press freedom. Vietnamese media now enjoy the right to spread news and information although some international watchdogs insist that the government is overly censoring the media. In turn, higher levels of press freedom, created by more democratization, heighten the number of corruption scandals revealed. The thesis concludes that there are causal relations between democratization, perceptions of corruption, press freedom and the number of corruption scandals in Vietnam.
University of Waikato
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