National Assembly deputies were discussing amendments to the Maritime Code of Vietnam and to the draft Law on the Elections of Deputies to the NA and elections for People's Councils.

The discussions were chaired by Vice Chairman of the National Assembly Uong Chu Luu on June 3.

Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang said that although the 2005 Vietnam Maritime Code was rather comprehensive, it still needed amendments. During the implementation of the law, many articles and provisions were found to be too general and in need of guiding documents.

"At present, many recently promulgated legal documents relate to the management of maritime activities. There is an imperative need to amend the Maritime Code to make it conform with other legal documents," Thang said.

During the discussion, most delegates agreed on the need to amend the Maritime Code to provide favourable conditions for the country to develop and integrate internationally. However, they said, any changes to the 2005 code, must be in line with the 2013 Constitution and international laws to which Vietnam was a signatory. They must also contribute to protecting Vietnam's sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as its national jurisdiction on the sea.

During their discussion, delegates added 108 new Articles and amended 107 others. As a result, the new draft Maritime Code of Vietnam has 366 Articles – an increase 105.

Later in the morning, NA deputies discussed the draft Law on the election of NA deputies and People's Councils. They pushed for fairness and transparency of the election process, and increasing the political representation of women and ethnic minorities.

Deputy Le Thi Yen from Phu Tho province, Nguyen Van Minh from Ho Chi Minh City and many others said the law should specify the number of political representation of women and ethnic minorities in the NA and the People's Councils.

Nguyen Huu Duc from Dong Thap province, Au Thi Mai from Tuyen Quang province and Nong Thi Lam from Lang Son province said the representation of ethnic people in these two bodies should reflect the number of ethnic people living in the electorate. They also proposed that the law should mandate a minimum percent of female and ethnic representatives in local and national government bodies.
In the afternoon of June 3, Nationbal Assembly deputies agreed there was a need to issue a Law on Referendum. In regard to the scope of such events, many deputies agreed they should be held nationwide.

"Issues put forth for referendum must be of over-riding importance to national interests, and to the legitimate rights and interests of most people in society," said deputy Dang Dinh Luyen from Khanh Hoa province.

"With issues influencing life of people in a particular locality, the current law already regulates mechanisms ensuring the contribution of opinions from people directly affected."

In connection with people or organisations with the right to request a referendum, many deputies favoured option No.1 that states that the NA Standing Committee, State President, the Government or at least one-third of the NA deputies have the right to call one.

They said that would maintain the importance of referendums and conform with the Law on Organisation of the National Assembly. This also means that the Fatherland Front does not have the right to call a referendum.

On calculating the result of a referendum, many said they should be deemed lawful if more than half of listed voters went to the ballot box.

"If 50 percent of listed voters go to the polls, the vote would be considered successful," said deputy Pham Xuan Thuong from Thai Binh province.

"It would be difficult if we required two-thirds of listed voters to vote and that an issue [put for referendum] would be enforced if it received more than two-thirds of consensus."

Deputy Le Dac Lam from Binh Thuan province also said it would be unfeasible if up to two-thirds of legal votes were required.-VNA