VietNamNet Bridge - On January 30, the Government Committee for Religious Affairs organized a workshop to consult the priests and monks of some religious organizations for the draft amendments to the 1992 Constitution in Ho Chi Minh City.


Most of the participants said that the draft amendment to the Constitution has a positive innovation. Article 25 shows the right to freedom of belief and religion. However, the participants also suggested that the state needs to recognize the legal status of religious organizations.

Article 25, paragraph 2 states: "The State respects and guarantees the right to freedom of belief and religion. The places of worship of religions and believes are protected by law."

Priest Pham Thanh Liem suggested to add the content "religious and belief organizations are recognized by the State to have the legal status" to this article.

Liem said that religious organizations should enjoy freedom and have an obligation to participate in the civil service and transaction as a normal entity. Because, if its legal status is not recognized by the State, religious organizations cannot have civil rights and obligations in accordance with the purpose of their activities.

"In other words, once religious organizations cannot exist as a legal entity, the purpose of religious practice, such as accommodation, daily activities...  are difficult to achieve. For example, there are people who want to become a priest or a monk but the congregation or the temple does not have enough room for them. However, the congregation and temple have no legal status to buy a house so they have to buy a house in the name of another person. As a result, the procedures are complicated, costly and these religious organizations face the risk of losing the house," he analyzed.

The priest said, with progressive ideas at present, the state can stand to remove this problem and provide the legal status for religious institutions.

Buddhist monk Thich Hue Tong from An Giang province agreed with the priest, saying that when religious organizations have full legal status, they will be assured and have conditions to contribute to the cause of national construction and defense.

President and General Secretary as one proposed

Not only making comment on religious issues, many participants also offered opinions on the major problems of the country today.

Article 8, paragraph 2 states: "Public servants must respect the people, dedicated to serving the people and work under the supervision of the people; combating corruption and waste, bureaucracy, arrogance, authority; practicing thrift…"

Venerable Hue Thong from the Vietnam Buddhist Shangha in Ho Chi Minh City proposed to add “anti-individualism, anti-factions and interest groups in the state apparatus" to this article.

At the same time, he also suggested "Assets of officers and state employees from violations are confiscated."

Pastor Huynh Huyen Vu proposed that the State President should also be the Party General Secretary.

"The power of the President should be wider to decide important issues of the country," he said.

Ta Lam