When Vice President Tran Van Huong approached General Hieu for the position of Special Assistant to the Vice President in charge of Anti-corruption with ministerial rank, General Hieu was holding the sinecure position of 1st Corps Deputy Commander/Operations in Da Nang. Vice President Huong chose General Hieu because General Hieu was the most honest officer among the general officers, and at the same token was just, straightforward and courageous in words and deeds, who would not be intimidated by any potentate.
General Hieu accepted the Vice President's offer, partly because he felt that his military skills was put to waste since he was placed in this sinecure seat in June 1971, partly because he realized corruption was the main factor that had been weakening the army and thought he might be able to remedy this situation by fighting against corruption.
General Hieu had tasted numerous encounters - small and big - with corruption in his personal experiences. Once he had his chauffeur return a box of condensed milk cans to the Military Supply Unit when he discovered that his wife had used the clout of his 22nd Division Commander position to purchase more than the six condensed milk cans that a soldier's family was allowed to buy in a month. In another instance, he ordered a lieutenant to take back a refrigerator and a television set that were taken to his residency as a compromising gift. General Hieu knew he was evinced from the 5th Division, because he was not a member of the corrupt Delta Clan lead by General Nguyen Van Minh. While working with other Generals who were tainted with corruption reputation, General Hieu firmly maintained his honesty stance. Brigadier General Tran Van Nhut once boasted in his article Toi Lam Tinh Truong (I Became A Chief Of Province) published in KBC magazine #17 issue that when he was appointed Chief of Province of Binh Long, unlike other chiefs of province who had to pay under the table from 2 to 8 millions piastres for their position, he was not required to pay off a cent to General Do Cao Tri. He failed to make the connection that it was because Binh Long, around that time, happened to be under the jurisdiction of General Hieu, 5th Division Commander, and General Tri respected General Hieu.
When he came to work at the Vice Presidency, General Hieu resorted to the same tactics that he used to apply in the battlefield, which was to attack with speed and at the heart of the enemy. Starting to work there in February 1972, by July he wrapped up his investigation into the pilferage of the Army Pension Fund. In order to conceal the role played by the Prime Ministry (Tran Thien Khiem) and by the Presidency (Dang Van Quang), President Thieu hastily used the Defense Ministry as the scapegoat and fired General Nguyen Van Vy. Following this scandal, General Hieu simultaneously established several dossiers of corruption practices pertaining to General Cao Van Vien (Chairman of Joint General Staff), General Tran Thien Khiem (Prime Minister), General Dang Van Quang (President's Special Advisor), and even President Thieu! As a pre-emptive measure, Thieu reassigned General Hieu to the position of 3rd Corps Deputy Commander/Operations in October 1973.
Nguyen Van Tin