How should Vietnam attract talented people, and accept their differences to develop? On the topic of aspirations for Vietnam to rise up and catch up with modern, civilized countries, VietNamNet spoke with senior economist Tran Dinh Thien.
Recently, the topic of recruiting talented people has emerged again. Every development or blockage, the struggle between backwardness and stagnation and breakthrough and creativity always revolves around the brains of talented people. What is your opinion?
Vietnam does not lack talented people, but without respecting the differences and social diversity, the environment for talented people to reveal will not be created.
Confucius's philosophy is "human genius is primitive nature". The good is the most important thing, the good must be passed from generation to generation, people must have morality. That is, according to that ethic, everything must be based on the old foundation, without breakthroughs, and no need to be creative. Such a society does not nurture talented people!
Hegel said that between good and evil, evil is the main thing because evil destroys the old. Karl Marx said in Feuerbach's thesis, the dialectic of objective idealism is ten thousand times more than materialism. Marx also has a famous saying: I doubt everything.
Dr. Tran Dinh Thien.
Similarly, talented people are always skeptical. It does not mean they do not believe anything. They still have faith but they always have the spirit of skepticism, want to reconsider, not reject. Such is the mindset of talented people.
But you see, Vietnam's economy has grown very fast thanks to innovation that go against the old patterns ... It must be the results of many minds who dare to think differently?
Any change beyond the old is successful. But if there is only minor success, then the mission is considered incomplete. That is the limit of empirical success.
The important success of this country is the development of the private enterprise force in line with the market economy. If the market is good, the private sector will be strong. Unfortunately, our country's market is not strong yet.
If Vietnamese enterprises are strong enough, the country will develop because the market mechanism will react and be activated. If domestic enterprises are weak, we will face many difficulties when we re-open after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The production force decides the production relationship, Marx said. Production relations, also known as the production economy of the society, decide the superstructure.
We are aware that it is necessary to change production relations, but it takes time because the production force is tied up with the production relationship, but the production relationship is tied up with state power.
Therefore, when it is not yet able to deal with the matter of the state structure, for example shown through the ask-and-give mechanism, it is still difficult. Why is the spirit of the planned economy and administrative-based resource allocation still embraced? The market has no chance. That is, we are facing a contrast between the market and the state.
We still tell each other that Vietnam has many talented people, for example, many young people who are well trained abroad and talented overseas Vietnamese and then the elite. ...
Vietnamese people are intelligent, and have many initiatives. For example, they learn from the world very quickly and transform this into experience. Our reforms have important values and we have brought in market thinking. Our choice is correct but we are still a bit shy.
Once I returned to my hometown, Nghe An, I asked the question, why does Nghe An have so many talented people but the province cannot develop? That is the question that Nghe An needs to think about and also the country needs to ponder. I think the concept of talented people is the concept of the olden days. The talented people today must be different.
We keep talking about talented people, but let’s look at the task in front of our eyes - promoting disbursement of public investment. That task can be done by those who are diligent, not the talented ones.
This is an example: Da Nang has ranked first in the provincial competitiveness index (PCI) for the past 10 years. PCI is the assessment of businesses of the authorities’ administration. But many leaders of Da Nang have been disciplined.
Binh Duong is known for asking for mechanisms, not for money.
The talent that we often talk about is the old-style talent. The selection of cadres is still based on relationships. There is no objective staff recruitment mechanism. The criteria for selecting public servants are very vague.
The nature of the story of talented people in Vietnam is the foundation and mechanism. When it comes to talented people, there must be competition. To have competition, we must have standards.
During the war, we mobilized forces, but in peacetime, the gathering of forces was slow. The clearest evidence is that public investment has been slow. We make laws not to create open spaces, but to make laws more complicated. We try to deal with this, but the number of legal documents increase and they conflict with each other.
Now it is good to see bright spots like Binh Duong. Binh Duong is known for asking for mechanisms, not for money. Binh Duong has a high level of initiative and determination. But Binh Duong’s good things have not been spread to other localities, so this province seems to be alone.
A competitive structure
Thanks to the new mechanism, many private entrepreneurs have been established, but it seems that their development is incommensurate. What do you think about this situation?
The fact that private enterprises cannot get bigger must be a warning. If some of them grew, it was thanks to their own relationships. Meanwhile, the basic business structure of the period before Doi Moi (renovation) – State-owned enterprises – has been broken. The state sector must do its job properly.
The agricultural and rural areas still stand firm because their foundation are the farmers, with their strong ability to survive, but this force is insignificant and cannot solve the problem. After the crisis, their products became popular again.
In essence, what this has to do with the current structure is problematic. I am afraid that, after the Covid-19 pandemic, the possibility of reverting to the old structure is high.
I once told a high-ranking official that this economy would become a foreign-invested (FDI) economy one day without our carefulness. He said that FDI takes only 20% of the economy, so we should not worry. But the problem is that there are zero Vietnamese Dong FDI projects.
For example, in Nghe An province, there is a foreign-invested garment factory that employs 1,200 workers, with a monthly average salary of VND4.5 million per worker. The workers work from 7am, 10 hours a day. There are 2 shifts a day. The break-time for workers is only about 10 minutes amid the shift. Workers have about 1 - 1.5 hours off for lunch. I observed that below each worker's seat is a bottle of water. They drink only a little water to avoid having to go to the bathroom.
That way of attracting FDI into a labor-intensive field, with low payment like this, cannot attract talented people.
The highest risk for us in the coming time is that domestic enterprises cannot develop. For a long time, we have talked a lot about attracting 'eagles' to nest in Vietnam. It is necessary to re-define the concept of eagle nest: that is, the Vietnamese business community. The two main factors making up the eagle nest: the institutions and the business force, besides a few other factors such as human resources and infrastructure.
Many businesses are calling for help as they don't have a market. Do you have any suggestions for this situation?
Saving the old ones is impossible as it will take a long time. It will be easier to follow the new structure model. The priority goal is to create new, to renew, not save the old.
As for saving the old things, it is necessary to set priorities: who will be saved, who will not be saved, as the cost is huge. That cost is better to be invested in creating something new.
The point of view that should be clearly defined from the outset is to have a standard to follow. This is saving the economy, not saving specific businesses. This is the time to take strong stances to save the economy.
We need to calculate very carefully the resilience of the economy. How much is the resilience, where are the main sources. That’s why we have to focus on public investment. We cannot use state budget resources for this task. And thus good choices will be made.
The goal should be for the economy to get up. Get up to step into new ones. It is necessary to think about creating new forces; if you keep holding the old one up, the old will not develop anymore after a few years.
The reality in the world proves that strong, fast-growing firms are mostly in the field of technology, and they always create new things like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos. I have heard that within a few months, millions of electric cars were sold in Europe. Elon Musk's fortune is up to $80 billion, standing in the top of the world's billionaires.
Nobel Prize winners with US citizenship account for 60-70%. Although the Nobel Prize has nothing to do with technological development, the foundation of technological invention must be basic science.
I believe that a country with many Nobel Prizes will lead mankind. I mean, we must make the choice, the ability to cope with change in order to thrive. The biggest contradiction of the present era is the conflict between states/nations and globalization.
In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic which that has changed value chains, this is an opportunity for us to rethink and rise. The chance to catch up with the world is huge if the economy is restructured.