The Leaderboard: Nguyen Ba Thanh

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

Nguyen Ba Thanh was a prominent and widely popular Vietnamese politician. His stature was built upon his dynamic and decisive leadership of the fast-growing and investor-friendly city of Danang in central Vietnam. A native of the city, Thanh joined the Vietnamese Communist Party at the age of 27 and eventually became party-secretary and chairman of the people’s committee of Danang. In 2013 he was assigned to Hanoi to serve as chairman of the party’s internal affairs committee and deputy head of its anti-corruption committee.

Thanh is recognized as the main architect behind’s Danang’s transformation from a military outpost during the Vietnam War to an attractive business destination for both domestic and foreign investors. Danang has been ranked as the easiest city to do business in Vietnam in recent years and now possesses the best infrastructure of any city in the country.

Danang the city that Nguyen Ba Thanh helped transform.

Danang, the city that Nguyen Ba Thanh helped transform. Source: The outdated man’s flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.

Why is he in the news?

Thanh passed away on February 13 after battling leukemia for months.

What does this mean?

His death is a loss for Vietnam. Thanh’s influence went far beyond that of the head of a city government. Many officials and Vietnamese citizens admired his entrepreneurial and pragmatic approach to governance and growth at a time when Vietnam is struggling to maintain its competitiveness and infrastructure support. Thanh was also a gifted orator, known for his blunt but persuasive speaking style, whether at city hearings or public addresses.


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