Vietnam's often passive national assembly has voted down a controversial $56bn high-speed rail project linking the capital, Hanoi, with Ho Chi Minh City.
The decision has both political and economic significance.
Deputy Nguyen Minh Thuyet, vice chairman of the NA Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children, said “If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time the National Assembly (NA) has rejected a big project submitted by the government.”
As for the overall merit of the project, Deputy Duong Trung Quoc said the NA’s vote was not a definitive rejection of the project so much as a demand that the Government do more careful research.
Opponents had been critical of the project's potential to raise the national debt, as well as the uncertain projections for usage. The proposed 1,600km trajectory was also much longer than the 800km limit at which transit analysts say high-speed rail is competitive with air travel.
Vietnam assembly derails high-speed link [Financial Times]
In historic 'no' vote, National Assembly shows its mettle [Vietnam.net]