Last update 7/20/2012 3:05:32 PM (GMT+7)

Khmer homes linked to grid

More than 6,000 households, most of them ethnic Khmer, in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Tra Vinh have been linked to the power grid under an ongoing project that seeks to achieve universal electrification.

At the end of the VND228 billion (US$10.94 million) two-phase project, nearly 19,000 households would have been connected. An additional 418 transformer stations would have been built to supply power to the families living in 83 remote villages in seven districts.

In just the first phase, the ratio of households with power will increase from 87 to 94 per cent.

Thach Tha My, a Khmer farmer living in My Chanh village, Chau Thanh District, said: "My family has 0.35ha of farm land. I used to buy power from neighbours at high prices for farming.

"Because many families share the same electricity line, the voltage is not stable.

"Thanks to the project, we now have electricity for household and agricultural purposes and no longer have to pay high prices."
Duong Huy Bao, deputy chairman of the village People's Committee, said villagers, many of whom are very poor, are happy to get power at more reasonable prices.

RoK helps Quang Nam build modern hospital

The Quang Nam Central General Hospital was put into operation on July 19 by the Ministry of Health and the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

The Republic of Korea (RoK)-funded hospital was equipped with modern facilities at an investment cost of more than US$45 million in the first phase. It houses 500 hospital beds and provides more than 1,000 medical services.

The centrally-run hospital has sent 45 doctors to training courses in the RoK in recent times. It will receive 40 professors and experts from the RoK’s Hallym University in August to train its staff to use the modern medical machinery and equipment.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien emphasised that the project marks a new development in multifaceted cooperative relations between Vietnam and the RoK.

The Ministry will create the best conditions for the hospital to operate and use Korean funds effectively, Tien promised.

Park Dea Won, KOICA President, said his agency will continue to mobilise sources to support Vietnam, especially in the healthcare sector. In the next five years, KOICA will provide equipment and technical support worth around US$5 million to the hospital.

Insects destroy big areas of aniseed

The Plant Protection Department in northern Lang Son Province on Wednesday reported that hundreds of hectares of anise in the province had been destroyed by undefined bugs.

The bugs, which cannot be killed with regular pesticides, have been growing in numbers since March and damaged more than 423 hectares so far.

Police seize 137 kilos of ivory from Kenya

Customs officials at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in  Ho Chi Minh City have seized a large haul of ivory worth an estimated US$218,000 from two Vietnamese passengers.

Dozens of pieces of ivory, weighing 137 kilograms, were found in their luggage on July 18 evening, the officials said.

The suspected smugglers were later identified as V.V.T. and N.V.T., who arrived at the airport from a Thai Airways flight coded TG556 that day.

The duo told the police that they had transported the haul of ivory labelled as goods on consignment from Angola to Kenya before being required to send the pieces to a customer in HCMC.

Banks to help build flood shelters

The Viet Nam Bank for Social Policies has planned to give loans to 700 poor households in 14 communes in seven central coastal provinces, including Thanh Hoa and Phu Yen where support will be given to help build flood shelters.

Each household that is seriously affected by floods will be given a 10-year-loan of less than VND10 million (US$480) with an interest rate of 3 per cent per year.

The loan plan follows a Government decision.

Vietnamese and Korean primary schools establish sister relations

The Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Quang Nam Province signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Tam Ky City on July 19, establishing sister relationships between local primary schools and their Korean counterparts.

As a result, 10 primary schools in Quang Nam province will be twinned with 10 others in the Republic of Korea (RoK).

Huynh Khanh Toan, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said the MoU provides a good chance for pupils from two the two nations to promote mutual exchange and learning experiences.

This is part of a KOICA-funded project to build 20 primary schools in central coastal provinces, including 10 established in Quang Nam since 2000.

After the project completed, KOICA has continued to provide learning facilities and the upgrading of schools.

Underground terminal, shops to be built in HCMC

A 45,000 square meter structural cluster including four metro systems and a trade center will be built underneath Ho Chi Minh City’s downtown at a total cost of over US$900 million.

The cluster will be built under a project jointly set up by the city Urban Railway Management Board and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

After the project is approved by the Government, city authorities will call for investment from private investors and proceed with procedures to obtain loans from Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) fund.

According to the project’s design, a central underground terminal for the metro lines will be located under the Ben Thanh market square, and the trade center will be under Le Loi Street in District 1.

Le Khac Huynh, deputy head of the standing office of the board, said two of the metro lines, No. 1 and No. 2, will be completed and put into operation in 2017.

The terminal will be built 40 meters underground for four metro systems and it will be surrounded by shops. The total area for these facilities is nearly 20,000 square meters.
Meanwhile, a trade center covering around 25,500 square meters will be located underground along Le Loi Street.

The trade center will serve the needs of shopping for passengers and part of the profit gained from the center will be used to make up for the investment cost of the metro routes, he explained.

The model that combines a metro system and a trade center has been applied successfully in many other countries around the world, Huynh said.

Of the total cost of $900 million, $479 million will be for the trade center, and the rest for the terminal.

Work on the project will greatly affect existing underground structures in the downtown area. Therefore, the relocation of these systems, including telecommunication, electricity and water infrastructure, will be carried out properly under instructions of the city People’s Committee, Huynh said.

Work on the No. 1 metro line, which will link the Ben Thanh market area to Suoi Tien in District 9, is scheduled to start on August 28, 2012 and be completed in 5 years, he said.

Besides the four metro lines under the proposed project, the city is planning to build three others in different areas, he added.

HCM City nurse wins national contest

Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung of HCM City's Tu Du Obstetrics Hospital has won an annual contest for paediatrics nurses and delivery nurses.

The final of the contest was held in HCM City on Monday following preliminary contests held in several places in the country from which the finalists were chosen.

More than 6,000 nurses from 130 hospitals around the country had taken part in the contest.

They shared experiences and strengthened their knowledge in a contest that ultimately aims at improving their skills and is organised by the Viet Nam Nurses Association and FrieslandCampina Viet Nam's Friso brand of milk.

Official held for revealing State secrets

Police in Ho Chi Minh City have arrested a state official for providing secret State materials to overseas reactionary organizations.

The official, Pham Chi Dung, who had been working for a State agency in HCMC, was arrested on July 17 for further investigation, police said.

Police also searched his home and office for materials related to the case.

A source said that after four reactionaries, Le Cong Dinh, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Le Thang Long and Nguyen Tien Trung were tried in January 2011 for “working to overthrow the people's administration”, some reactionary organizations that these men had been involved in continued conducting acts of sabotage against Vietnam.

After a lengthy investigation, police had collected enough evidence to conclude that Dung was the person who has provided those organizations with secret materials.

Dung had received thousands of dollars as reimbursement from these organizations, investigators said.

At the above-mentioned trial, the Ho Chi Minh City People's Court sentenced Thuc to 16 years in prison and ordered that he be kept under surveillance by local authorities for five years after serving his sentence.

Trung was sentenced to seven years in prison and three years under surveillance by the local authorities.

The two others, Dinh and Long, were given five-years in prison followed by three years of surveillance.

Danang exchange fosters Vietnam-Thailand friendship

Nearly 30 students and lecturers of Vietnam and Thailand have taken part in an exchange programme in Danang City from July 10-19 to promote mutual understanding.

They had the chance to study Vietnamese and Thai languages, and make a fact-finding tour of major tourism destinations such as like Cham Museum, Ngu Hanh Son (Marble Mountains), and ancient city of Hoi An recorgnised by UNESCO as the World Heritage Site.

The Thai students also visited the Han market, enjoyed Tuong (classical drama) and played folk games to explore the distinctive daily customs of the locals.

Director of Danang University Tran Van Nam said the program not only promotes cultural exchange between youth from the two nations, but also strengthens long-lasting bilateral relationships. It also helps students sharpen their teamwork and leadership skills in the lead up to the establishment of the ASEAN sustainable development community in 2015.

This year’s programme, hosted annually in rotation by Vietnam and Thailand, was jointly organized by the Ministry of Education and Training and the Thai Embassy.

ADB supports urban development in Vietnam

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to provide technical assistance for upgrading 2nd-tier cities in Quang Nam, Dak Lak and Ha Tinh provinces.

The agreement was made at a meeting with representatives of the three provincial People’s Committee in Buon Ma Thuot on July 18.

Under its commitment, the ADB will provide US$1 million for the cities of Tam Ky (Quang Nam), Buon Ma Thuot (Dak Lak) and Ha Tinh to improve the transport and drainage systems, prevent floods, manage solid waste and increase communal ability and awareness.

The short-term goal of the ADB project is to help these cities improve their investment plans in line with the environmental and social security regulations of Vietnam and the ADB.

Another goal is to provide fresh impetus for the East-West economic corridor and the Central Highlands to develop sustainably.
The project is expected to get off the ground in 2013.