Administrative reforms are very important to the development of a nation, State managers and researchers agreed during a conference reviewing administrative reforms under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), reflected through chau ban (official administrative papers).
The Ministry of Home Affairs hosted the event in Hanoi late last week with the aim of acknowledging the value of administrative reforms under the Nguyen Dynasty.
The panelists discussed what can be learnt from the Kings’ policies and how the reforms continue to influence the country today.
Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Nguyen Trong Thua said "this is the good chance for us to acknowledge the great contributions of the ancestors in establishing and developing the country".
“By the way, we also have lessons learnt from administrative reforms in history, to apply to today’s society,” he said. “The conference is also a forum to research further and exchange knowledge about the regulations and remarkable achievements of administrative reforms in the history,” said Thua.
Opening the conference, Dang Thanh Tung, head of the State Department for Records and Archives, said at least one administrative reform was organised during each dynasty.
Chau ban, including laws, decrees, edicts and instructions for resolving problems in various fields such as politics, military affairs, foreign affairs, economy, society and culture, received the certificate of the Asian-Pacific Region’s Memory of the World Programme in 2014. They also recorded details of the administrative reforms of the Nguyen Kings.
When King Gia Long (1762-1820) started the Nguyen Dynasty, he made new policies such as naming the country Vietnam and introduce new seals and currency.
King Minh Mang (1791-1841) released a royal proclamation that ensured students of Quoc Tu Giam (a royal college built in 1803 in the imperial city of Hue) would receive allowances to encourage them in their study.
In addition, “thieves who confessed their guilt before being investigated would receive clemency”, wrote the king.
Phan Thanh Hai, Director of the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre, remarked that some policies of King Minh Mang still work in the modern society.
For example, he applied the law of hoi ty (a phrase that literarily means “keeping away”) in managing mandarins. Accordingly, people who share a blood line or have a close relationship won’t be appointed to the same office. In an exam, if the contestant and the mandarin working at the examination compound had a close relationship, one of them had to move to another place.
“The law is still up-to-date nowadays, it prevents corruption and collusion to unfairly benefit a single group,” said Hai.
Nguyen Thu Hoai from the National Archives Centre 1 said King Bao Dai tried to create administrative reforms though the country was colonised by the French.
He allowed to open a part of the Royal Citadel to visitors starting in 1938, to showcase a part of the chau ban for public exhibition in 1943, to name streets after Vietnamese famous people, and to allow Vietnamese workers to have a day off on May Day.