Xe Om service enters digital age

Xe Om service enters digital age

The Malaysia-based company behind taxi-booking app GrabTaxi has launched a new service hosting motorbike drivers that you can call from your smartphone in Ho Chi Minh City.

GrabBike, which is available in the GrabTaxi app, allows users to order a xe om (motorbike taxi) via the popular iOS and Android app.

A GrabTaxi representative said Vietnam is the first market to roll out the GrabBike service. It will pilot the service in HCMC before extending it to other cities or countries.

Using GrabBike will be safer than hailing a traditional xe om, as information about the driver, his photo and the bike’s license plate will be displayed. Users will no longer have to worry about haggling or being ripped off as the estimated fees will be displayed on the app.

Those who sign up to become drivers must provide full personal information such as a state ID, drivers’ license, residency certificate and such.

GrabTaxi, which started in 2012, is currently in six markets across the region, including Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia. GrabTaxi is facing growing competition with new entrants such as Easy Taxi and Uber entering the region.

Project targeting low-income earners introduced in Ha Nam

A World Bank-funded project targeting low-income earners has been introduced in the northern province of Ha Nam.

The 55.6 million USD project, supported by the World Bank is being carried out nationwide from 2013 to 2018.

The “Innovation Targeting People on Low Incomes in Vietnam” project aims to create opportunities for Vietnamese businesses to access to loans and capitals so that they can enhance their proficiency in implementing innovations through applying, perfecting and expanding their operations, as well as commercialising technology to improve living standards for low-income people.

Developing traditional medicine, information technology and communication, agriculture and aquiculture are at the heart of the project.

Addressing at the conference to introduce the project, Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Planning and Development’s Agency for Enterprises Development Nguyen Hoa Cuong, who is also director of the project, called on enterprises, organisations and individuals to seek new ideas and possible innovations suitable for the province, especially the local medicine.

The provincial researchers, enterprises and managers discussed prioritised sectors as well as proposing measures.

The conference focused on investment in processing technologies for export products such as cucumber, cherry tomato, Japanese pumpkin and mushroom.

Vietnam welcomes over 7.2 million foreign visitors in 11 months

Vietnam received more than 7.2 million foreign tourists the first 11 months of this year, a 5.4 percent increase over the same period last year.

Hong Kong (China) topped the list of countries in the number of visitors to Vietnam , with a surge of 161.2 percent, followed by Germany (151.3 percent) and Russia (125.2 percent).

Especially, the country witnessed a sudden rise in the number of arrivals from Russia , with nearly 50,900 people in November, up 340 percent against the previous month.

The figure is expected to continue growing in the time to come as many Russian travel agencies already booked tours to Vietnam, especially the southern central region and Phu Quoc Island in the south, by next April.

During the 11-month period, the tourism sector served 36.4 million domestic tourists, up 8.9 percent year-on-year.

Last year, Vietnam received 7.5 million international tourists, a 10.6 percent rise over 2012, contributing 200 trillion VND (9.4 billion USD) to the State budget, or accounting for approximately 6 percent of the country's GDP.

The country expects to welcome 8 million foreign and 37.5 million domestic tourists by the end of this year.

Vietnam travel agencies join Cambodia Sea Festival

Vietnamese tourist companies joined foreign partners at the third Sea Festival held in Cambodia on December 12-14.

The festival took place in the coastal city of Koh Kong, about 250km southwest of the capital Phnom Penh, with the aim of developing the local marine tourism

Tens of thousands of visitors were drawn to the event which covered a food expo, a trade fair, a workshop on climate change, art performances, and sports events.

The first Sea Festival was held in the port city of Sihanoukville in 2011 and the second in Kep city last year.

The three cities are home to beaches listed among the most beautiful coasts in the world.

Tourism is one of the economic spearheads of Cambodia with the stable growth of 15-20 percent, making great contributions to the domestic gross production.

In January-October, Cambodia welcomed 3.6 million foreign tourists, a year-on-year rise of 6 percent. Vietnam topped the list with about 630,000 arrivals.

Last year, the country greeted 4.2 million overseas visitors and earned 2.6 billion USD in revenue.

Can Tho keen to develop rural areas

The People’s Committee of Mekong Delta Can Tho City has targeted to have 20 out of its 36 communes meeting all 19 criteria of the national new-style rural area building programme by 2020.

The city approved an investment of nearly 2.3 trillion VND (109 million USD) to build an additional eight communes in Co Do district as new-style rural areas in the 2015-2020 period, which brings the district’s all nine communes to meet the requirements of the program.

According to Dao Anh Dung, the Vice Chairman of the Can Tho People’s Committee, the investments will be spent on personnel training and improving local infrastructure, including inter-communal roads, irrigation works, while developing agricultural production areas, setting up cooperatives, and promoting other public services.

The programme is implemented in two phases, with three communes being recognized by the end of 2015 and six others in between 2016 and 2020.

The district expects to raise its per-capita income to 49 million VND (2,300 USD) and reduce the poor household rate to less than 7 percent.

Ca Tho has two communes meeting all 19 criteria of the national new-style rural area building programme. The 34 remaining communes have met from 5 to 18 criteria.

The city has invested more than 2.8 trillion VND (133 million USD) to build facilities in its all 36 communes.

The programme has helped improve local people’s living conditions with a substantial improvement in infrastructure and services, and reduce the poor household rate to 3.4 percent from more than 8 percent in 2009.

In 2013, the local residents’ per capita income was 58 million VND (2,700 USD), the highest level of the region.

Rare pheasant spotted in central province

A silver pheasant listed as rare and threatened in Viet Nam by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has been spotted in a forest in central Quang Binh Province.

The pheasant was photographed by a trapping camera in Khe Nuoc Trong forest in the province's Le Thuy District.

Silver pheasants live throughout Southeast Asia and China. In Viet Nam, the species is threatened due to Agent Orange sprayed during war, as well as deforestation and illegal hunting.

The province's Forest Ranger Department said silver pheasants were rarely seen in the area, although the Vietnamese pheasant was a common sight.

Two detained for human trafficking

Border army officers in Lai Chau Province said yesterday that they detained two residents of Sin Ho border district for alleged involvement in a human trafficking network.

The two were identified as Tao Van Pan, born 1979, and Lo Thi Chom, born 1991.

On Saturday, they were caught while trying to transport Phan Thi Nhun, born 1999, from Sin Ho District's Nam Cha Commune to sell in China. They promised her a job in Phong Tho District.

Pan said he went to China in February and met a woman who told him that he could sell Vietnamese women for 23,000 – 25,000 yuan (US$3,700-4,000).

The case has been transferred to Lai Chau police.

Troubled cargo vessel saved by Coast Guard

Coast Guard officers of the Second Regional Coast Guard based in Quang Nam managed yesterday to bring a troubled cargo vessel to Da Nang.

Hoa Mai-25 issued a distress signal on December 12, while carrying 1,500 tonnes of cement from Hai Phong to Da Nang in stormy weather. When the ship was anchored near Con Co Island, its anchor broke.

A Coast Guard rescue boat found the vessel 40km off the coast of Da Nang. Nine sailors were on board.

KOVA awards honor influential researchers

The 12th annual KOVA Awards on Saturday honored four groups and eight individuals for their outstanding contributions to the fields of applied science and technology and social welfare.

Nguyen Thi Doan, chairwoman of the KOVA Awards Committee, said at the ceremony that the KOVA Awards have heightened the country's socio-economic development.

The awards should be expanded to include scientists working for the army and police forces, and highlight female scientists' achievements, Doan said.

Established by the KOVA Paint Group in 2002, the awards have been given to more than 230 groups and individuals. The organisation aims to encourage students, individuals and groups – especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds – to pursue innovation in science, technology and social welfare.

One applied science and technology award went to a group from the Institute of Medical Equipment and Construction Design under the Ministry of Health. To solve a growing problem of bacterial contamination in medical units and hospitals, the group built 1,500 automatic hand-washing facilities with filtered hot and cold water.

A group of pharmacists and engineers from Binh Dinh Pharmaceutical and Medical Equipment Company received an award for creating and manufacturing a generic freeze–drying injection, which has been used to treat cancer at 25 hospitals.

A group award for outstanding contributions to society went to the Kon Chieng Commune's Women's Union in Mang Yang District for their hunger and poverty reduction programme aimed at ethnic minority women in the Central Highland province of Gia Lai.

Vietnam-Finland Innovation Programme enters second phase

The Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) and the Finnish Embassy in Vietnam jointly held a ceremony in Hanoi on December 12 to launch the second phase of the Vietnam-Finland Innovation Programme.

Speaking at the event, MoST Deputy Minister Tran Quoc Khanh said that the second phase will be implemented until February 2018 at a total investment of 11 million EUR, 90 percent of which come from official development assistance of the Finnish Government.

The programme works closely with leading national and international partners to seek appropriate solutions to improving the innovative system in Vietnam, with the purpose of boosting the country’s sustainable economic growth through increased production and export of innovative products and services.

According to the programme’s director Tran Quoc Thang, in addition to supporting businesses in terms of innovation in four major cities of Hanoi, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho, the second phase will also focus on intensifying innovation training in line with international standards in the country.

The first phase of the programme was carried out from 2009-2013. It helped Vietnam better its legal framework to encourage innovation, and provided support for businesses in this field.-

Construction starts on new branches of central hospitals

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung attended a ceremony on December 13 to launch the construction of two new hospitals in Phu Ly city of northern Ha Nam province.

The new hospitals are branches of Vietnam-Germany Friendship and Bach Mai Hospitals in Hanoi, two leading medical establishments in the country.

They are among five new modern hospitals to be built under a Prime Minister-approved projects aiming at easing the burden on major hospitals in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Built at an investment of nearly 5 trillion VND (235 million USD) on an area of 21 hectares, the new facility of Vietnam-Germany Friendship Hospital is designed to be a surgical centre with 1,000 beds.

Meanwhile, the new branch of Bach Mai Hospital will be a general hospital with 1,000 beds and capable of providing treatment for serious cardiovascular, cancer and respiratory diseases.

The two hospitals are scheduled to become fully operational in December 2017.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, PM Nguyen Tan Dung said that once operational the two new facilities will help ease the current overload at the Vietnam-Germany Friendship and Bach Mai Hospitals, and improve medical care for patients in the region.-

HCMC celebrates VPA’s 70th anniversary

Ho Chi Minh City on December 14 hosted a variety of activities to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Vietnam People’s Army (December 22).

A photo exhibition focusing on the Vietnam People’s Army and soldiers in everyday life is being held at the Youth Cultural House.

On display are more than 100 photographs taken by notable photographers Tu Luong Van, Nguyen Hong Nga, Ha Quoc Thai, Nguyen Van Khanh and Tran Thi Tuyet Mai.

The photographs were taken during their working visits to historical sites and army units. The exhibition will last through to December 17.

Meanwhile, a book collection comprising nearly 100 stories, poems, pieces of music, and scripts written about the people’s soldiers, heros and heroines was also introduced to readers.

These works were made after the authors visited Dien Bien Phu historical site, Truong Son cemetery, Quang Tri citadel and Truong Sa (Spratly) island.

The same day an art performance in praise of the Vietnamese People’s Army and soldiers was also held at the Youth Cultural House.

Front leader extends Christmas greetings to HCM City Protestants

President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF)’s Central Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan extended season’s greetings to Protestant priests and followers during his visit to the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South) (ECVS) in Ho Chi Minh City on December 13 in the lead up to Christmas.

He spoke highly of the church’s charity activities, while expressing his hope that priests Protestant and followers will continue making more contributions to the socio-economic development and charity activities, and joining patriotic emulation movements, thus strengthening the national solidarity.

The VFF President informed the priests and dignitaries at the church of religions’ social activities nationwide, particularly their involvement in pre-school education.

He said authorities at all levels are willing to create conditions for religions to take part in social activities in line with law, adding that the Party and the State always respect the people’s rights to religious freedom in accordance to legal regulations.

Priest Phan Vinh Cu, Head of the ECVS, thanked the authorities for their attention to the Christmas season as well as facilitation for the church’s activities.

On the same day, the VFF President also visited Le Duc Thinh, who was granted the title Knight of the Grand Cross by Vatican, at his home in the city’s District 7.

Le Duc Thinh is the first Vietnamese Catholic to receive the title from Pope Benedict XVI, and also the first Catholic in Asia to be honoured in this way.

The title Knight of the Grand Cross was first introduced in 1831 for Catholics who have made a significant contribution to the church and charitable organisations in their countries.

VFF President extends Christmas greetings to Dong Nai Catholics

President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF)’s Central Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan extended season’s greetings to Catholic dignitaries and followers during his visit to the Xuan Loc Bishop Office in southern Dong Nai province on December 13 in the lead up to Christmas.

He took the occasion to inform the bishops and dignitaries at the office about the progress in the relationship between Vietnam and the Vatican, including the outcomes of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to the Vatican and his talks with Pope Francis in October.

The VFF President quoted Pope Francis’s remarks to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at their talks that Vietnamese Catholic should be good citizens and should work with the nation to build a country of prosperity and happiness.

He spoke highly of the diocese’s charity activities and urged the dignitaries, with their role and prestige, to increase dialogue and connections with local authorities and the VFF to strengthen national solidarity.

Bishop Nguyen Chu Trinh said the diocese raised 126 billion VND to help the poor this year, adding that Xuan Loc diocese has 248 parishes with 940,000 Catholic followers.

On the same day, the VFF President called on Dong Nai province’s Committee for Catholic Solidarity.

He affirmed that the VFF Central Committee will do its best to help the Vietnam Committee for Catholic Solidarity at all levels to fulfil its task as a bridge connecting Catholics nationwide, thus contributing to the national great unity.

Dak Lak improves living conditions for border residents

The Central Highlands province of Dak Lak plans to build additional eight clusters of communes in disadvantaged and border areas by 2020, said Mai Hoan Nie Kdam, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee.

Accordingly, the clusters will be built in Lak, Krong Buk, Krong Nang, M’Drak, Ea Sup and Krong Pak districts at a total cost of 97.5 billion VND (4.6 million USD).

Each of them will include a market, roads to the communal centres, water and electricity systems and boarding schools.

Since 2009, the province has invested more than 22 billion VND (1 million USD) in building 13 clusters of communes in far-flung ethnic minority-inhabited areas.

Seven of which have been completed, creating favourable conditions for local residents to meet and exchange goods, thus gradually improving their incomes. The locality is now calling for more financial assistance from the Government and ministries to complete the clusters under construction and build new ones in a bid to boost local socio-economic development and improve people’s living standards.-

Soc Trang enhances efforts to ease difficulties of Agent Orange victims

The Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin in southern Soc Trang province has conducted a range of activities in support of local AO victims since it was established five years ago.

It was reported at the association’s second congress for the 2014 – 2019 term on December 12 that with nearly 8 billion VND contributed by donors from both inside and outside the province, the association has presented gifts and houses to victims as well as organised free medical checks and built a day care centre for them.

In the coming years, the association will continue to work to ensure proper implementation of the government’s relevant preferential policies for AO victims. It will also joining hands in the fight for justice for the victims led by the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) .

Soc Trang has 14,000 AO victims, of whom 9,000 are direct victims of the toxic chemical.

All cities and districts in Soc Trang have established their own organisations of Agent Orange/Dioxin victims with a total of more than 3,800 members.

Between 1961 and 1971, US troops sprayed nearly 80 million litres of herbicides, including Agent Orange, which had a dioxin content of up to 61 percent, on 3 million hectares of forest in southern Vietnam.

The largest chemical war in the history of humankind conducted by the US army exposed about 6.8 million Vietnamese people to Agent Orange/dioxin. Hundreds of thousands of them have died, while millions of other victims and their descendants are day and night struggling against diseases, the after-effects of the toxic chemical.

Since it was founded in 2004, VAVA has been responsible for assisting AO victims and protecting their interests.

Training programme on coping with climate change reviewed

The Ministry of Education and Training and the UNESCO in Vietnam co-organised a ceremony in Hue city, Thua Thien – Hue province on December 13 to review the Education Initiative for Sustainable Development (ESD) project.

The project aimed to provide knowledge and skills to the students, their parents and society to adapt to climate change, prepare them to cope with natural disasters and help them preserve biodiversity.

The initiative also aimed to set up an online training programme for elementary school teachers in Thua Thien-Hue.

Two years after being implemented, the programme has successfully trained 2,500 students and their parents in five primary schools in Thua Thien – Hue province on climate change and natural disasters.

The selected schools were helped to develop and implement their plans on assessing and preventing possible disasters and threats, as well as train their teachers.

The province and the district authorities were assisted to develop an action plan and a strategy to minimise the risks in the management of Vietnamese heritages, particularly the Hue Citadel, and improve decision making based on the use of satellite images.


climate change, christmas, low-income earners