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Saturday, October 24, 2020

On the elaboration and implementation of “huong uoc”

Updated: 10:45’ - 01/04/2011

>>“Huong uoc” and the process of legal reform as well as rural democratization
>>New “huong uoc” or new rural conventions

Dr. Tran Minh Huong      
Hanoi Law University


"Huong uoc”  is a fine tradition in the culture of the Vietnamese countryside. Its contents cover not only codes of conduct but also handling measures of social character against persons who deliberately violate them.

Elaborating “huong uoc” is one of the important contents of the Regulation on exercise of democracy in communes aiming to well promote the representative democracy regime, raise the quality and efficiency of operation of the People’s Councils and People’s Committees, well implement the direct democracy regime at the grassroots for the people to discuss and directly decide on important and practical matters closely related to their interests.

Elaborating “huong uoc” is one of the works to be discussed and decided directly by the people. Depending on the specific case of each village, the elaboration of “huong uoc” can be carried out in various forms. The best form is perhaps the one that ensures the largest participation therein by people, namely the meeting of people or, more concretely, the meeting of all voters in each village. Where such meetings cannot be held, the meetings of household masters can be the alternative. These meetings shall be convened and presided over by village chiefs in cooperation with the Front’s Working Boards and mass organizations in the localities. Whether they are conferences of all voters or meetings of household masters, the contents of “huong uoc” must be discussed and approved through voting by all participants. The voting can be conducted in form of public voting or secret ballots, which, in all circumstances, must be recorded in writing for submission to the commune People’s Committees. If local conditions do not permit the holding of such meetings, the village chiefs may distribute cards to gather comments from households.

The elaboration of “huong uoc” aims mainly at setting forth necessary regulations to govern the internal affairs of the population communities on the basis of inheriting and bringing into full play fine customs and practices of communities. The provisions in “huong uoc” must conform to the provisions of law, aiming to abolish bad habits and practices, superstition, social vices and to build a prosperous, beautiful and civilized countryside. So, the good implementation of the provisions of “huong uoc” shall directly or indirectly support the law enforcement to a certain extent.

In the recent years, the elaboration of “huong uoc” has been given ever greater attention than ever, thus demonstrating the determination of various competent authorities in preserving and promoting the tradition of the national culture. Yet, besides the achievements already obtained in the elaboration and implementation of “huong uoc” in many localities, there still exist some questions which should be further studied for better implementation. Here, we would like to present some fairly common questions in the current process of elaborating and implementing “huong uoc.”

1. “Huong uoc” contains very few provisions demonstrating the particularities of each hamlet or village

If studying the contents of some “huong uoc” elaborated recently in a certain locality (a commune, a commune cluster or even larger, a district) we can see that almost all those “huong uoc” contain similar contents, or in other words, very few provisions demonstrating the particularities of each hamlet or village.

Is it true that the cultural identity of each village has been ignored? Or is it true that the modern life with fast development and new demands has blotted out the particularities of each community? To us, the answer therefor is not entirely affirmative. The modern lifestyle has, to some extent, adversely affected the maintenance and preservation of the traditional cultural life, but cannot fully expunge the particularities of each population community.

The Prime Minister’s Directive No.24/1998/CT-TTg of June 19, 1998 on elaboration and implementation of “huong uoc” or conventions of villages, hamlets or population clusters set for the provincial-level People’s Committees the task of submitting to the provincial-level People’s Councils for promulgation resolutions prescribing in detail the State management over, and orientations for, the contents of “huong uoc,” based on the current law provisions and suitable to the economic, social and cultural situation as well as customs and practices of localities. Perhaps, one of the reasons for similar contents of almost all “huong uoc” is that the subordinate authorities have rigidly understood the superior’s orientations therefor. The orientation of huong uoc’s contents is necessary to ensure that the provisions therein do not contravene the provisions of current legislation and suit the specific characteristics of each locality. However, the term “orientation” should be  understood accurately and fully, but not as a compulsory model for the elaboration of different “huong uoc” with similar contents.

2. Many provisions in “huong uoc” are nothing but the duplicates of clauses and articles of legal documents

In many “huong uoc” already approved by competent authorities, we can see many provisions completely identical to the provisions in legal documents. That is the easiest but not the best way to make the contents of “huong uoc” compatible with laws. To us, “huong uoc” should spell out provisions to regulate internal affairs of the local population communities, to regulate the relations of self-governance as well as matters not yet prescribed by law, which, however, must not be contrary to State laws.

The matters which should be prescribed by “huong uoc” include:

a) Appropriate measures and modes to help local population participate in the management of the State, the management of society, ensuring and promoting the people’s democratic freedoms, mobilizing and creating conditions for people to well exercise the rights and fulfill the obligations of citizens;

b) The preservation and promotion of fine traditions and practices, the civilized lifestyle, the abolition of bad habits and customs, the development of healthy cultural activities, the building and development of friendship, mutual assistance, unity within the population communities, the implementation of the social policies of the Party and the State;

c) Measures to protect the State property, the public property and citizens’ properties, to protect the living environment, forests, seas, rivers, lakes, scenic places, temples and pagodas, water sources, dykes, water dams, canals, sluices, power transmission lines; to construct and develop village roads, plant green trees;

d) Measures to protect fine customs, abolish bad habits and practices, social vices and superstition in marriage, funeral, rituals, worshiping in localities; to encourage healthy and economical rites;

e) Ways to contribute to building civilized lifestyle, cultured families, cultured villages and population clusters, formulating new moral rules in families and communities; to encourage people to help and support one another in joy and woe, sorrow and happiness; to mobilize local people to implement the population-family planning policies and to build their families under the criteria of cultured families;

f) The building of unity, mutual affection and mutual love within the communities in order to eradicate hunger and alleviate poverty, develop production, raise the people’s living standards, promote education, promote the development of local trades, to build infrastructures and public-utility projects such as electricity supply works, roads, schools, health stations, cemeteries, cultural and sports facilities in localities;

g) Specific measures to maintain order and security in localities,  to prevent and combat such social evils as drug, gambling, boozing, burglary, prostitution and other law offenses in localities.

h) Punitive and rewarding measures to ensure the implementation of “huong uoc.”

So, “huong uoc” must put forth measures to implement the provisions of the State laws, rather than photocopy the law provisions.

3. Many “huong uoc” have not been clearly presented due to poor qualifications of their compilers. In the process of drafting “huong uoc,” villages should be provided with professional assistance in compiling “huong uoc.”

4. A number of provisions in “huong uoc” are infeasible

Almost all “huong uoc” contain provisions on setting up various funds such as education promotion fund, traditional crafts promotion fund, funds for assistance of the poor, the lonely aged people, martyrs’ families. However, the setting up of such funds cannot be realized in localities where people are too poor, having to make both ends meet. To us, the prescription of the setting up of various funds in “huong uoc” is necessary, but should be based on the practical and specific conditions of each hamlet or village in order to establish appropriate funds.

5. The dissemination of the contents of “huong uoc” to people meets with numerous difficulties and fails to satisfy the requirements

Currently, some forms of disseminating “huong uoc” to people are used in many localities, such as reading them at village meetings, on public-addressing systems, or supplying copies thereof to each population cluster or each household. Though diversified, such forms have revealed their own limitations, thus leading to the fact that “huong uoc” have been elaborated and approved by competent authorities in many villages , then solemnly put into shop-windows at the offices of commune People’s Committees.

The elaboration of “huong uoc” must go together with their implementation; if not, it is of no practical significance. In disseminating “huong uoc” to each citizen, the commune People’s Committees should play an important role.

In short, in order to make new “huong uoc” compatible with laws and feasible while demonstrating the particularities of each village so as to contribute to promoting direct democracy at the grassroots, the local administrations should improve the contents of their activities and closely coordinate with and support one another.-


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