Updated: 02/27/2013 14:23 | By Agence France-Presse

Vietnam reporter fired for criticising ruling party chief

A Vietnamese journalist said Wednesday he had been fired from his state-run newspaper after criticising the head of the ruling Communist Party in a personal blog.


Nguyen Dac Kien was sacked from the Family and Society newspaper less than 24 hours after he published an essay on his blog -- which quickly went viral -- criticising a speech by the party's general secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.

The newspaper falls under the remit of the Ministry of Health.

Vietnam, a one-party state that forbids political debate, routinely jails or places under house arrest activists and bloggers for publicly expressing dissent and challenging the communist party's rule.

"I am not surprised. After what I wrote (my removal from the paper) was easy to predict," Kien, who had worked at the newspaper since 2008, told AFP by telephone.

"I disagree with his (Trong's) speech... I think it is unacceptable," the 29-year-old reporter said.

The newspaper said in a statement that Kien was sacked for "violating the operation status of the newspaper" and would have to take "personal responsibility" if prosecuted.

Speaking on Monday Trong, one of Vietnam's most powerful leaders, accused people calling for political reforms in the authoritarian state of showing "political, ideological and moral deterioration".

"Who wants to deny the Communist Party's leading role? Who wants pluralism and a multi-party system? Who wants separation of power?... This must be nothing else but deterioration," he said.

Responding in his essay, Kien said Trong had "no right to address the whole country" and only certain communist party officials wished to preserve the protected status of the party in political life.

"You cannot say that it's the aspiration of the Vietnamese people... only embezzlement and corruption, running counter to the benefits of the people and the nation, are deterioration," he added.

The reporter, who is married and has one young son, told AFP he was prepared for difficulties after his sacking but was worried about the impact on his family.

"I will continue to pursuit my path fighting for democracy in this country," he said.

Vietnam ranks a dismal 172 out of 179 countries on the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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