Đời SốngVietnam

Vietnam’s revised land law won’t stop unfair land grabs: critics

Vietnam’s National Assembly passed a revised land law this week, which its environment ministry said would help the country’s socio-economic development. Many are unconvinced. 

Dang Hung Vo, a former deputy minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, is one of those who said he had serious concerns and thought the law needed further revision to decide who allocates land.

“We must have an effective mechanism because the current one is that the state decides everything,” he told Radio Free Asia on Thursday, adding that this leads to an inefficient housing market.


The Online Law newspaper said the new law is much clearer on when the state can claim and redistribute land to benefit the country and the public.

These must be public works projects such as the construction of government agency headquarters, public housing or land auctions to raise revenue for the state budget.

The newspaper said the new law is transparent on the order and procedures for land recovery for socio-economic development, which should help ensure democracy, objectivity, fairness, transparency, speed and compliance with the law.

All land in Vietnam is technically owned by the state although it often offers compensation for people who have built homes on it or are farming it.

One controversial case is Ho Chi Minh City’s Loc Hung Vegetable Garden.

In 2019, the government evicted people from 503 homes to clear the land for a school development. Around half the former residents said last month they had still not received compensation.

Cao Ha Truc is a former resident, filing a lawsuit in connection with the land grab.

He told RFA Vietnamese he believed the revised law needed further changes to compensate people before they lost their land.


“In the past, they did the reverse process, meaning they took the land first and anyone who had a complaint [was counted later],” he said, adding that private enterprises shouldn’t benefit from state projects.

“They took the right to recover [the land] and gave it to investment companies.”

The new law takes effect from Jan. 1, 2025, except for a few specific regulations that will be introduced immediately.

According to an article on the National Assembly e-portal, because the old law had broad regulations on the state’s ability to recover land, some 70% of long-term complaints and lawsuits were related to state land grabs.

Dang Hung Vo said many major lawsuits were related to the state confiscating land and giving it to private corporations to make a profit.

He said that is unlikely to change with the revised law.

“If the land clearance issue is more reasonable, the number of complaints may decrease, but in terms of the principles that create complaints, I think nothing has changed.”

Cao Ha Truc said, along with revisions to the land law, the state needed to address the issue of corruption.

“The vibrant real estate market has caused the greed of officials and investors to emerge,” he added.

“They are willing to push those who own land to the margins of society.

“Today there is corruption throughout the country. 

“The poor are abandoned and people are screaming everywhere.”

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn and Taejun Kang.


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