The Leaderboard: Nguyen Van Nen

The Leaderboard profiles the people behind the policies of the Asia-Pacific.Who is he?

Nguyen Van Nen is the newly appointed head of Vietnam’s Government Office, a position with ministerial rank in Vietnam that is equivalent to chief of staff to the U.S. president. He previously held the position of deputy head of the Communist Party Central Committee’s commission overseeing communications and education.

Born in the southwestern province of Tay Ninh, Nen studied law before starting his career in public service as a police officer in 1975. Over the next 20 years, he worked his way up the ranks to become district chief of police and a senior party member in Tay Ninh. Nen made the jump from provincial to national politics in July 2011, when Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung was re-elected for a second term in office, as a member of the Party Central Committee and deputy head of the steering committee for the Central Highlands region.

Why is he in the news?

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung nominated Nen to his new position  to succeed Vu Duc Dam, who recently went on to become deputy prime minister. The National Assembly overwhelmingly approved him on November 14. Nen is the first official from southern Vietnam to hold this position.

With his new appointment, Nen is now among a group of southern politicians who hold high national office. Besides Prime Minister Dung, a native of Ca Mau province in the Mekong Delta, the two newest members of Vietnam’s Politburo, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan and Nguyen Thien Nhan, also hail from provinces in southern Vietnam.

Why does he matter?

Nen’s appointment could be understood as part of Prime Minister Dung’s consolidation of power, primarily by appointing trustworthy allies, especially those coming from his power base in southern Vietnam, to high-level positions. Arguably the most powerful prime minister in Vietnam’s modern post-war history, Dung has survived several attempts by his rivals to discredit him, and is seen by some as gradually reasserting control over the decision-making process in Hanoi.


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