Without a king: Vietnam SOE reform needs solidarity

The country's prime minister has set an ambitious agenda of semi-privatisation but the biggest transactions aimed at attracting foreign buyers are the least likely to be realised.

One of Vietnam’s most celebrated writers, Nguyen Hui Thiep, neatly captured the reality of the country’s state-owned enterprises in a short story from the 1980s titled “Without a King”.

Mr Minh said, “Keep up the good work. I’ll support you.”

Doai said “How can you tell what’s good or bad when you’re working for the government Just remember that Doai here has always been good to you.”

Thirty years later having undergone economic reforms, WTO membership, an investment boom, a financial crisis and a surge in foreign direct investment the same spirit dominates state-owned companies.

These entities are profitable in areas...

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