NA deputies yesterday questioned a regulation in the draft Law on Belief and Religion which states the state will officially recognise a religious institution only when it has run for at least 10 years, saying it is "scientifically baseless".


That regulation was inappropriate and might be unfair to religious institutions when compared to other social institutions, said NA deputy Khuc Thi Duyen from Thai Binh province.

"It can even lead to a restriction in the freedom to practise religion," said Duyen.

The reason for the 10 year timeframe should be made clear to the NA, she said, adding that the differences between a recognised religious institution and a religious organisation that registers operation with the authorities must also be stated in details in the draft law.

Pastor Le Ngoc Hoan from Nam Dinh province, meanwhile, criticised the heavy "ask-and-give" characteristics in the regulations of the draft law.

A number of regulations state that the establishment, division or merger of a particular religion or some of its religious activities must ask for permission from the authorities, otherwise they can be banned or restricted.

"That doesn't demonstrate our country's wish to respect and protect the freedom of belief and religion," said Hoan. "On the other hand, it can also pose the risk of power abuse when the authorities are granted such kind of "ask-and-give" relations."

Le Van Tan deputy of Ha Nam seconded that, saying those "purely religious activities should be decided by the religious institutions themselves".

Debate over bailiff

The debate on whether to continue using private bailiff services to deliver court orders to citizens was the highlight of the National Assembly (NA) meeting session yesterday morning.

The private bailiff project, being piloted in HCM City since 2010 and later expanded to 12 other localities, was reported by the Government to have delivered nearly one million documents by September 30 this year, helping to lift the administrative burden on the courts and civil enforcement agencies.

NA deputy Huynh Thanh Lap from HCM City where the bailiff services was the most active, said that the bailiff practices could fix the weakness of the conventional post services when there was no record of whether citizens received the court orders or if the mail was still intact upon delivery.

The private bailiff services were generally good in practice, said NA deputy Pham Van Ha from Nghe An Province, but only because localities were provided funds.

"I am sure that when the trial run is over, the courts would never have enough money to hire the bailiffs," said Ha.

The reason was simple, according to him. A fast delivery service costs about VND10,000 (44 cents), while the bailiffs charge up to VND150,000 (US$6.6) as regulated by the NA.

"When no bailiffs are available to deliver the mail, there will always be an archive officer to send mail by post," he said. "I don't understand how it is possible to cut permanent State employees and budget spending by using the bailiffs".

Another NA deputy from HCM City Truong Trong Nghia argued that the government only paid for a better quality delivery service.

"The post service so far is still very inefficient," Nghia said.

"Mail to residents has to be delivered quickly but it can take up to three months for delivery. Everything would be over by the time the post arrives, no matter if it's as cheap as VND5,000 or 10,000 (22-44 cents)," he added.

He also suggested a mail selection solution in order to cut costs. Court orders to be sent to remote addresses or direct deliveries can use bailiffs while other normal orders can just stick to the conventional post services, he said.

Two laws ratified

A Law on the National Assembly and People's Council Supervision was ratified by the NA yesterday with a majority of more than 83 per cent.

The new law regulates specific supervision responsibilities of the NA, the NA's Standing Committee and the NA's commissions together with several bodies of the People's Councils.

Another amended Law on Accounting was also passed through the NA on the same day. More than 79 per cent voted for the adoption of the law.