Vietnam Appoints President’s Ally as New Security Minister

Recent Features

ASEAN Beat | Politics | Southeast Asia

Vietnam Appoints President’s Ally as New Security Minister

Lt. Gen. Luong Tam Quang’s appointment strengthens the chances of his former boss becoming the next Communist Party chief.

Vietnam Appoints President’s Ally as New Security Minister
Credit: Photo 30053002 © Pipop Boosarakumwadi |

Vietnam’s parliament has approved the appointment of a close ally of President To Lam as the new minister of public security, bolstering the former’s chances of becoming the next chief of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV).

In a resolution yesterday, the National Assembly approved the appointment of Lt. Gen. Luong Tam Quang to the position for the remainder of the 2021-2026 term.

As VnExpress reported, Quang hails from Hung Yen Province in northern Vietnam and has been serving as a deputy head of the ministry. The 59-year-old has spent his whole career in the security sector, “where he held positions such as Head of the Economic Security Department and Deputy Director of General Economic Security.”

Quang succeeds former Public Security Minister To Lam, who was last month elected president, replacing Vo Van Thuong, who resigned his office for “violations” in connection with the country’s intensifying anti-corruption campaign. Thuong was just one of dozens of high-level officials, including his predecessor Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who have been forced to step down during the “blazing furnace” campaign, which has been waged with increasing heat and intensity by CPV head Nguyen Phu Trong since 2016.

The fact that Quang is widely viewed as an ally of Lam strengthens the chances that Lam will succeed the aging Nguyen Phu Trong as the general secretary of the CPV, at the next Party Congress in early 2026.

As the head of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and deputy head of the CPV Central Steering Committee on Anti-Corruption, Lam has been a key figure in executing Trong’s anti-corruption campaign. The investigative resources at Lam’s disposal have given him a powerful weapon against political rivals and allowed him to position himself in line to succeed Trong as party chief, Vietnam’s most powerful political post. Indeed, as the former U.S. diplomat David Brown noted in Asia Sentinel, “Lam seems to have deployed data that has blighted the hopes of at least four others who aspired to take over leadership of Vietnam’s ruling – and only – party,” including ex-President Thuong.

This privileged perch has also allowed Lam to survive his own brush with scandal, which came when he was photographed being fed a gold-encrusted steak at a London eatery owned by the celebrity chef Salt Bae.

Following Lam’s promotion to the presidency on May 22, however, much hinged on whether he could engineer the appointment of a close ally as one of his replacements. Quang’s appointment now all but ensures that he is at the forefront of the candidates to replace the 80-year-old Trong.

Lam’s appointment to the top job is not guaranteed, and there is a lot of time between now and the next Party Congress, but the appointment of his ally ensures his continuing vicarious control over the anti-corruption campaign and the means of taking down any potential rivals.

“The position of minister of public security is extremely powerful and the appointment of Quang, who is considered To Lam’s ally, will boost Lam’s chances greatly,” the Vietnamese journalist Nga Pham wrote on X. Lam was “now the number 1 candidate to succeed Gen Sec Nguyen Phu Trong,” she added in a separate post.

Should he win appointment as the next party chief, Lam would put a seal on a decade in which Vietnam’s security apparatus in general, and the MPS in particular, has come to dominate the Vietnamese political system. As Brown argued, Trong has advanced a vision of a Vietnam “where progress depends on purging cadre found not to have adhered strictly to Marxist-Leninist doctrine and socialist morality.” He added, “Looking backward from 2024, it’s clear that Trọng’s vision empowered MPS to play an outsized role in CPV internal affairs.”