The leader of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party and the man behind the country’s sweeping corruption crackdown attended a meeting with police forces on Monday to consolidate his control and call for stronger efforts.

Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong was the guest of honor at the Ministry of Public Security's year-end national conference, where he delivered a speech.

He said the police had done a good job in 2017 of containing crime and investigating major corruption cases.

Vietnam started its mission to stamp out corruption many years ago, but it has been forging ahead “stronger than ever” in recent times, he said.

Corruption cases dating back years have been dealt with, winning widespread public attention and support, he said.

He added that the police had helped investigate and prosecute hundreds of people for corruption, including high-ranking officials and powerful Party members.

The 73-year-old leader has been at the front line of Vietnam’s corruption crackdown the past year.

Scores of officials and executives from state oil giant PetroVietnam and the banking sector have been arrested.

The biggest casualty so far is Dinh La Thang, who has been charged with mismanagement when he was board chairman of the state oil giant between 2006 and 2011, before his political career took off as Minister of Transport in Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s cabinet.

Thang, 57, was fired as Party Secretary of Ho Chi Minh City and dismissed from the Politburo, the Party’s decision-making body, in May last year when the PetroVietnam case emerged. He was arrested in early December and prosecuted two weeks later.

Thang and 21 other former PetroVietnam execs are in the dock including runaway bigwig Trinh Xuan Thanh, who police said turned himself in last August after fleeing to Europe.

The trial is taking place at the same time as a separate one in HCMC, where a $400 million fraud case involving Vietnam’s Construction Bank is being heard.

Trong said that the police have to keep the corruption fight as tough and strong in 2018.

“Our main mission is to secure the direct and absolute leadership of the Party over the police force,” Trong said.

He also asked the police to prevent political apathy and tighten discipline within the force.

The conference will wrap up on Tuesday.

By Xuan Hoa - - January 16, 2018