Social News 18/12

Court hears appeal on Agribank corruption

Pham Thi Bich Luong

The Hà Nội People’s High Court started hearing an appeal yesterday on a high-profile corruption and economic mismanagement case at the State-owned Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) which resulted in the loss of over VNĐ2.425 trillion (US$106.6 million).

The case involves 18 defendants, 13 of whom are former Agribank officials, while four others are former customs officers and one is a former company director.

In a trial last December, Phạm Thị Bích Lương, 47, former director of the bank’s South Hà Nội Branch was identified by the Hà Nội People’s Court as the principal defendant.

She was sentenced to 30 years in jail for violating lending regulations and abusing her position. She was also found as having joint responsibility in the misappropriation of VNĐ1.6 trillion from the bank and ordered to pay back this amount.

Former Agribank General Director Phạm Thanh Tân received a 22-year sentence. Sixteen other defendants were handed between 30 months to 30 years imprisonment.

Five foreigners, including a Chinese national, three Canadians and one Italian, were alleged to have misappropriated assets from Agribank’s South Hà Nội branch but they fled Việt Nam and the investigation against them was suspended.

According to the ruling by the court, Canadian Ahmed El Fehdi and four other foreigners who hold important positions at the Enzo Viet Joint Stock Company, later renamed as Lifepro Việt Nam Joint Venture Company, connived with the Vietmade Joint Stock Company and the Lifepro Viet Nam Joint Stock Company to make up “ghost projects” to seek loans from the bank and appropriated more than VNĐ2.425 trillion from 2007 to 2011.

As the director of South Hà Nội branch, Lương asked Agribank’s board of directors to raise her authority to approve loans, sign mortgage contracts and disburse loans that the branch had provided for these projects.

Lương was identified as directing the compilation of a dossier seeking more authority to approve loans for the Lifepro Viet Nam Company based only on the information given by the firm without conducting background checks. She also intentionally ignored loan disbursement conditions set by Agribank’s board of directors for the supply of foreign currency loans in verification and disbursement processes of loans for the Lifepro Việt Nam Joint Venture Company.

She also failed to ensure strict inspections of how the money was to be used, and thus failed to figure out that her branch was cheated by the Lifepro Việt Nam Joint Venture Company.

After the first court appearance, Lương and a former official at Hà Tây Customs branch, appealed against the ruling. Sixteen others petitioned for relaxing their penalties; however one has withdrawn the petition.

At the court yesterday, Lương appealed against the whole content of the initial ruling, saying that what she did was in accordance with her position and responsibility.

Twenty lawyers defended the defendants in court yesterday, with Lương hiring three lawyers, the highest number.

The trial is expected to last for a week.

PM asked for urgent efforts to overcome flood consequences

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc have instructed ministries, sectors and central localities to mobilised all forces and resources to ensure safety and food for residents in flood-hit areas and minimising losses in human lives and property.

“Food and supplies must be brought to residential areas submerged by flood water or isolated at any cost,” he said while chairing an online meeting on December 17 on measures to overcome consequence of devastating floods in central localities from Thua Thien-Hue to Khanh Hoa.

The PM also urged localities to quickly evacuate residents from areas with high risks of flash flood and landslides.

He ordered localities to ensure safe operation of hydropower and irrigation reservoirs, contributing to reduce flood in downstream areas. 

The localities were requested to prepare forces and resources to restore houses and clean the environment to prevent epidemics after floods.

In the long term, the PM directed the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to coordinate with ministries and localities to make overall assessment on flood vulnerability in the central and Central Highlands regions, which will serve as reference for thorough solutions to the disaster.

Official statistics show that heavy rain and flood from December 12-16 left 15 deaths and missing, destroying more than 130 houses, inundating nearly 112,000 others. Over 10,000 hectares of rice fields and many infrastructure and transportation works were damaged.

According to Ho Quoc Dung, Chairman of the People’s Committee of south central Binh Dinh province, the province is among the hardest hit localities with 31 deaths so far this year, along with 348 houses totally destroyed.

He asked for the Government’s emergency aid in the form of food, medicines, school textbooks along with financial support to overcome flood aftermaths.

The flood-hit localities have proposed that the Government provide urgent aid of 5,850 tonnes of rice, 8 tonnes of water purification tablets, 325 tonnes of rice, maize and vegetable seeds along with over 1.3 trillion VND to restore farming, transport and irrigation infrastructure.-

Party official pays Christmas visit to Protestant community

Head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Mass Mobilisation Truong Thi Mai extended her Christmas wishes to Catholic dignities and followers when visiting the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (North) (ECVN) and the head of the Church Pastor Nguyen Huu Mac on December 17.

Mai hailed the priests and followers of the ECVN for observing the principle of living gospel and serving God while cooperating with people in the country to carry out policies of the Party and laws of the State.

She also expressed her hope that Protestant pastors will continue guiding followers in practicing their religion in line with the law, and contributing to the national construction and defence.  

Pastor Nguyen Huu Mac thanked the Party and State and the Vietnam Fatherland’s Front for supporting Protestants, affirming that the church will make more contribution to the nation’s development.

Binh Phuoc fosters border cooperation with Cambodian localities

Binh Phuoc provincial authorities and a visiting delegation from Cambodia’s provinces of Kratie, Mondulkiri and Tbong Khmum discussed border cooperation at a conference on December 17. 

At the event, the military command of the southern province and their Cambodian counterparts signed an agreement on coordinating activities and building a peaceful border in the first half of 2017.

Accordingly, the two sides will regularly exchange and update information about crimes, particularly armed robbery and violations of border regulations.

They will also promote communication work to raise public awareness about border regulations and legal documents.

At the same time, the two sides will work together to facilitate travel and business activities of border residents and enterprises.

Addressing the event, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Huynh Anh Minh reaffirmed the traditional relationship between Vietnam and Cambodia.

Binh Phuoc and the three Cambodian localities have developed fruitful socio-economic cooperation and ensured a peaceful border, Minh added.

Project aims to end violence against women, girl child

The Prime Minister has approved adjustments to a project supporting the prevention and combat of violations against women and girls in Vietnam, towards the successful implementation of the national strategy on gender equality in 2011-2020.

The project has a total investment of 2.56 million USD, funded by non-refundable official direct assistance (ODA) from the Republic of Korea.

Its specific objectives include developing a model of interference centre for prevention and elimination of gender-based violence, targeting victims of sexual violence. The centre, following the successful model in the Republic of Korea, will be located in the northern province of Quang Ninh.

The project will also support capacity training for policy-makers, experts, service providers in aiding victims of gender-based violence, along with activities to raise public awareness about preventing violence, especially sexual violence to women and girl children in public and at workplaces.

Photos commemorate national resistance

An exhibition of 80 photos featuring Vietnamese soldiers and people who took part in the resistance war has opened in downtown HCM City on the occasion of the 70th National Resistance Day. 

The National Resistance Day marks the issue of an appeal by President Ho Chi Minh in 1946, urging the entire people of Vietnam to resist the French’s attempt to restore colonial rule in Vietnam after the success of the 1945 August Revolution and establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

The exhibition includes rare photos of the establishment of the Vietnam People’s Army and its role in the war to maintain national independence in the 1941-1975 period.

All of the photos are printed on canvas and displayed outdoors. They can be seen until December 30, 2016.

Another exhibition under the same theme showing images of Hanoi’s soldiers and citizens valiantly fighting against French colonialists for 60 days (December 19, 1946 – February 17, 1947) are on display at the Vietnam News Agency (VNA)’s headquarters in Hanoi.

The monochrome photos were taken by VNA photo-journalists during the historical period. Through the images, visitors can understand more about the struggle and how the Capital Regiment and Hanoians protected the city.

In December 1946, the French sped up their attempts to re-occupy Hanoi and other areas to the north of the 16th parallel. On the evening of December 19, 1946, Vietnamese troops opened their attack on French positions in Hanoi, initiating the resistance war.

The next morning, Radio The Voice of Vietnam broadcasted President Ho Chi Minh appeal’s for national resistance.

Global companies fight climate change

Leaders of many companies in the world have repeated their consistent opinion on the need to reduce green house gas emission involving their factories.

This positive move will add to the governments’ efforts to realize the Paris Agreement on Climate Change adopted last December. 

An increasing number of companies have begun to realize that environmental protection is a core part of their business strategies. 

In Asia, palm oil companies, whose products directly involve logging and burning trees, have joined emission reduction efforts. 

In Japan, hospitals, big companies, and schools restrict the use of lifts and encourage people to walk. Producers give priority to developing products with longer life expectancy.  

In the US, many companies pledged to reduce carbon emission by 50% and use only renewable energy. Johnson&Johnson declared to cut 80% of carbon emission by 2050. 

Dell pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 50% in 2020 compared with 2012 and convert half of its used energy to renewable energy by 2020. Nike plans to use 100% of renewable energy by 2025.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has approved a mandatory system for collecting data on ships’ fuel consumption. 

Ships of 5,000 gross tonnage or more will have to record and report their consumption for every type of fuel. IMO Secretary General  Kitack Lim said the move will contribute remarkably to the fight against climate change.

Independent airlines and the aviation transport sector in general have become more responsible for their environmental impacts. 

Jetstar Group has implemented a program on minimizing greenhouse gas emission, calling on passengers to contribute a donation per flight and committing to support environmental sustainability.

YouthSpark Live 2016 enables Vietnamese youth to capture opportunities

Microsoft Corporation and Vietnet Information Technology Center has jointly organised YouthSpark Live Event 2016.

YouthSpark Live is a Microsoft's global campaign to provide young people global-wide with necessary technology skills which will accelerate them forward, and get connected to programmes that will help them get there.

With the aim to  inspire youth to get connected, integrated, and develop themselves with technology, YouthSpark Live provided participants with opportunity to network, and exchange views with outstanding Vietnamese and international experts in technology sector. 

Over 100 students from upper secondary schools, vocational schools, and universities participated in the event.

At YouthSpark Live 2016, participants have chances to experience activities that help improve their computational thinking, such as “Computer Science Unplugged activities”. 

Participants got trained on using technology tools, such as Office Mix to support their study. 

Beside, in the panel discussion on “Factors to encourage the youth to explore and use technology for study and career development”, ICT and STEM experts sent a strong message that technology is the foundation for much of today’s innovation, young people should explore and use it to develop themselves and contributing to  improve national economy.  

In addition, all students had great experience with the ICT and STEM activities such as 3D scanning and robot coding. 

This activity not only facilitates networking but also enables the youth to merge themselves into a creative and scientific environment without any limitation. 

The experiments helped them discover their personal abilities and improve their digital skills. 

YouthSpark Live is a Microsoft initiative consisted of 30 different programmes to support the youth around world. 

“Microsoft is co-operating with the Vietnamese government and NGOs to implement programmes to support training human resource for Vietnam's future development. 

More specifically, Microsoft YouthSpark supports disadvantaged youth to access technology education to improve their skills, and thus have better career opportunities. 

“YouthSpark Live would be a special experience for youths to begin discovering their potentials and passion in computer science and ICT,” said Nhi Le, Microsoft Vietnam Philanthropies lead. 

On this occasion, Microsoft organised an awarding ceremony for Microsoft YouthSpark scholarships for female students in technology. 

Eighty outstanding female students majoring in Computer Science from top eight universities in Vietnam won Microsoft scholarships for their great effort in pursuing their passion in technology.   

Phan Thi Hong Hanh, a student of Polytechnic University, has shared her experience in encouraging her colleagues to pursue their aspiration and dream. By learning hard to become good at technology skills and knowledge, they will enhance women's role in the development of Computer Science and ICT in the future. 

Find out more information about this programme, its free courses and materials at YouthSpark Hub and or

“One and a half hours” concert

Legendary American singer Billy Joel once said “Music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by.” The Cham (Touch) volunteer group in Hanoi proved it by organizing a recent fund-raising concert named “One and a half hours”.

The sound of guitars and drums checking amplifier levels as people started filling into Hanoi Rock City’s concert hall signaled the imminent start of the “One and a half hour” concert. The title said it all. For one and a half hours, the audience was about to enjoy some original music created by young artists. 

Alternative rok and indie rock were the main genres featured in the concert. The songs had titles like “Geek”, “White monster”, “The alley”, and “It seems”. Their lyrics reflected everyday things happening in the artists’ lives, which seemed to touch the audience’s heart. Excited clapping, waving and screaming blended into the catchy beats and thrilling melodies. 

“One and a half hours” was not just a pure concert; it was a fund-raising event, organized by the Cham (Touch) group of students who want to help children, especially child patients. 

Thien Trang, leader of the group, said “Child patients spend a lot of time in the hospital so they have less opportunity to study or have fun than other kids. So we decided to organize music and art classes in the hospitals, to let them communicate with each other between treatments. We believe art has a special pervasive power and can be absorbed much more easily than other kinds of knowledge. The “One and a half hours” concert is held to raise money for the classes.”

Cham’s activities receive strong support from the community. Several sponsors have been lined up. Dang Hong Quan, head of Gau Uniform marketing team, said “Our company has been collaborating with Cham for a long time in many of their charity activities. We appreciate their good intentions and we want to contribute to making their wish come true, which is to make life better.”

Indeed, Trang believes the “One and a half hours” concert can make life better in many ways. “We believe the concert will be an interesting way for young people to have fun. The bands performing at our concerts are mostly underground artists who desire an opportunity to promote their original music to the public. So we want to connect them with an audience in a fun musical atmosphere”, said Trang. 

The concert featured 5 young bands and some solo artists from Hanoi, some of them quite well-known among today’s underground artists. They brought along their best original works and performed them with high spirit, not forgetting to ask for donations to help child patients.  

Duong The Trung, a member of Green 8+1 band said “We have great passion for music and consider playing music a hobby and a time to enjoy ourselves. But when we got an invitation from the Cham group, we were delighted and felt this would be a good opportunity to promote ourselves. It’s also our contribution to society. We’re calling on people to donate money for the children. If we are invited to other meaningful events like this, we’ll be very willing to say yes.”

The audience responded enthusiastically to Trung’ words, buying gloves and beanies sold at the concert to raise money over and above the ticket fees. Phan Hoang said “I really enjoyed the music tonight. The artists featured in the concert are young bands with unique music styles. Their songs are original and catchy. Enjoying music while doing charity work at the same time is the best of both worlds for me!”

After the concert, the Cham volunteer group will use the proceeds for a trip to Cao Son commune, Hoa Binh province, to organize art classes for the children there.

Vietnamese law to recognize transgender people in 2017

The legislation, approved late last year, has been hailed as a step in the right direction to promote and protect transgender rights.

The newly amended Civil Code, which will take effect in January, will for the first time allow people who have undergone gender reassignment to register under the new gender.

Transgender people's personal rights will be protected by the law, which was passed by legislators in late 2015 in a breakthrough vote.

Huynh Minh Thao, an activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, said: “Transgender people will no longer be rejected at school and at work. They will be able to live the life they want.”

Transgender people around the world continue to be the target of attacks and discrimination.

The Trans Murder Monitoring Project, a global initiative, recorded 1,731 murders of transgender people around the world between 2007 and 2014. According to Human Rights Watch, even in developed nations such as the US and Canada, systematic stigma and marginalization remain. Several countries keep enforcing laws that prohibit “posing” as the opposite sex.

Vietnam has been viewed as one of the most progressive countries in Asia on LGBT rights.

But the country itself has been sending mixed messages. For instance, it lifted a ban on same-sex marriage ceremonies in 2015, but the government has yet to offer gay couples real legal recognition.

And under a 2008 government decree, sex reassignment is strictly limited to only those without complete sex organs and those with both male and female sex organs. Procedures are only allowed at a few designated hospitals. It remains to be seen if the new Civil Code will make it easier for transgender people to access health services.

According to media reports last year, officials estimated that there were about 500,000 people nationwide whose assigned genders were incongruous with their gender identity.

HCM City’s new road named Vo Chi Cong

An east ring road in Ho Chi Minh City has been named Vo Chi Cong after a former President of the State Council, former Chairman of the National Defence Council and former Deputy Prime Minister.

The road connects Phu My Bridge with the Hanoi Highway.

At the ceremony, the leaders of Ho Chi Minh City reviewed Comrade Cong’s revolutionary activities and great contributions to the Vietnamese Party and State in the cause of the national construction and defence.

Not only is the naming of the road a tribute by the Party, Government and people to the former leader, but it also educates younger generations about the national patriotic tradition and national pride.

Vietnamese comedian sentenced to 18 months for child molesting in US

The 38-year-old man, who has also been recorded as a sex offender, is expected to be deported later this month.

Vietnamese actor and comedian Hong Quang Minh, who goes by the stage name Minh Beo, has been sentenced to 18 months in state prison for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy in California.

Orange County prosecutors on December 16 said the 38-year-old man must also register as a sex offender for life, according to media reports.

Minh was arrested on March 24 on charges of having oral sex with a 16-year-old boy and attempting to commit a lewd act upon a child under 14 years old.

During a 15-minute trial in August, Minh pleaded guilty to the sexual crimes and was sentenced to 18 months in state prison.

On December 16, the man failed to get a reduced sentence.

California law states that when a person is sentenced to state prison for a crime, he will receive two days of credit for every one day served. As Minh has been detained since late March, he will complete his 18-month sentence at Theo Lacy jail by December 19.

It is likely that he will be deported from the US within 72 hours after being released.

On March 20, Minh reportedly spoke to a group of dancers at a talent show at a radio station in Huntington Beach, telling them he was holding auditions for a project in California.

He was then accused of orally copulating a boy on March 23 when the victim came for an audition, according to prosecutors.

The boy reported the incident to police. The next day, an undercover police officer acting as a 13-year-old boy managed to contact Minh, who was arrested for attempting to set up a meeting with a child under 14 years old with the intent of committing a sexual assault, according to prosecutors.

Minh is a famous comedian in Vietnam. He went to the US on March 18 to perform in California.

Vietnam launches online meal plan software for schools

Vietnam’s health and education ministries recently launched an online platform allowing schools to design nutritiously balanced meal plans for students from a bank of 360 dishes.

The platform, accessible at, comprises of 120 pre-designed meal plans featuring 360 unique dishes for use throughout the year.

The meal plans are categorized by age groups and regions, with each category showcasing dishes with appropriate nutritious values for that specific age group, using popular ingredients of that region.

The software also allows schools to compile their own meal plans based on the available dishes, calculate the nutritious values of their current meal plans, and estimate the costs for such meals.

The platform is part of the ‘School Meal’ project, which aims at eradicating nutrition-related diseases and physical shortcomings among Vietnamese children by providing schools with balanced meal plans.

Launched since 2012 by the Vietnam branch of Japanese food maker Ajinomoto, the Vietnamese ministries of health and education, ‘School Meal’ has helped more than 2.6 million students at nearly 3,700 schools countrywide get access to balanced diet.

Ngu Duy Anh, head of the Student Affairs Bureau under the education ministry, said the project’s foremost mission is to raise awareness among schools in Vietnam on the importance of nutrition for children.

According to statistics provided by Vietnam National Institute of Nutrition, the country is fighting a two-front war in improving nutritious health of its younger generation, as children in rural areas have been suffering from malnutrition while those in the cities are facing risks of obesity.

Micronutrients deficiency is common among both groups of children, the institute noted.

People with rare blood type join donor club

Nearly 200 people in Vietnam with the rare Rh- blood type have registered for a local donor club to readily answer any emergency calls for life-saving blood transfusions.

The Rare Blood Club was established in 2001 by the Blood Donation Center of Ho Chi Minh City for people with the extremely rare Rh- blood type in Vietnam to be at-the-ready in case their blood is needed for emergency medical use.

Out of every 10,000 Vietnamese people, only four or five are born Rh-, about 0.04% and 0.05% of the population.

From its initial 12 members, the club now has grown to 198 active members, most of whom are labor workers, barely able to feed themselves yet willing to give away their precious blood to save lives.

Le Van Long, 45, a construction worker in Ho Chi Minh City has been a frequent blood donor for the past 20 years.

Long found out about his rare blood type in 1996, and has donated blood, without fail, on a tri-annual basis.

“That doesn’t include the many times when I was called in for emergency blood transfusions,” Long said, referring to cases when there was no blood readily available for a patient in need.

Long, like many other members of the club, has become a “living blood bank,” as referred to by Dr. Pham Van Quan, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Blood Donation Center.

“Whenever there was a call from the center, they are willing to put aside their personal errands to donate blood to much-needed patients,” Quan said.

According to Quan, apart from Ho Chi Minh City, members of the club are scattered across many southern Vietnamese provinces such as Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, and Ba Ria – Vung Tau.

For some members such as Tran Thi Loan, of Binh Phuoc Province, joining the club was a way of paying it forward after her life was saved by blood from a donor.

Four years ago, Loan experienced complications during labor. She and her child only made it through the operation alive because of a timely blood transfusion.

“I have been a member of the club since,” Loan said. “Apart from regular blood donations, I join my fellow club members in raising public awareness and encouraging those with the rare blood type to become donors as well.”

Quang Ninh welcomes 8.3 million visitors this year

Quang Ninh province has received 8.3 million visitors, including 3.5 foreigners, so far this year, according to the provincial Department of Tourism.

The provincial tourism industry has made significant progress, contributing to its socio-economic development, said a representative from the Tourism Department on December 16 at a conference.

The province has improved tourism activities, especially building strategies and orientations and issuing policies to develop tourism space. It has also expanded markets by promoting tourism on media and key markets, diversifying tourism products and ensuring safety for tourists to Quang Ninh.

Thanks to great efforts, it is estimated that tourism has generated US$565 million in revenue.

Next year, Quang Ninh will strive to improve the quality of tourism staff and coordinate with other localities and businesses to develop tourism products in hopes of exceeding the 8.5 million visitor benchmark.

Chợ Rẫy Hospital ties up with private firm for healthcare

Chợ Rẫy Hospital and Vạn Khang SOS Company yesterday signed an agreement for developing a home-based healthcare service and emergency aid system outside hospitals.

The hospital will provide its ambulances and medical staff for the services.

To use the services, people have to download an app of VK-SOS from App Store, Google Play or, and register their information or that of their relatives with the company.

Doctors who live near the patient’s house will receive the information from the operator and call the patient to make an appointment.

Assoc Prof Dr Nguyễn Trường Sơn, the hospital’s head, said the hospital is overloaded and providing home-based healthcare services would help ease the pressure, he said.

The Government encourages this kind of service, he added.

Dr Lê Trường Giang, chairman of the city’s Public Health Association, said the service would help seniors with chronic diseases and patients having difficulties travelling to be examined and treated.

Gov’t urges more energy saving

Saving energy and using energy in an efficient and economical manner should be the national goal in the coming years, Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng said yesterday, at a conference reviewing five years of implementing the Law on Economical and Efficient Use of Energy.   

The Ministry of Industry and Trade reported that the national programme on economical and efficient use of energy in the period of 2011-15 saved 5.65 per cent of total consumed energy in the same period, equivalent to saving more than 11 million tonnes of oil.

In particular, the energy consumption of industrial manufacturing sectors has declined steadily. The steel industry’s energy use fell 8.09 per cent, the cement industry’s 6.33 per cent and the textile industry’s 7.32 per cent.

In households, about 700,000 solar energy water heaters have been installed, saving about 1.0 billion kwh per year, equivalent to over VNĐ 1.6 trillion ($70.3 million).

However, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoàng Quốc Vượng pointed out a number of shortcomings in implementation of the law. For example, he said, enterprises and organisations still found it difficult to access low-interest loans and tax reductions and exemptions when implementing energy-saving projects.  

Deputy PM Dũng said at the conference that many localities have enforced the law effectively, including Hà Nội, HCM City, Đà Nẵng, Hải Phòng and Cần Thơ. However, energy saving activities in some sectors, such as transport, construction and agriculture, were limited, he added.

He said penalties for those violating the energy savings law were not a sufficient deterrent, with most being issued with warnings or information about energy saving regulations.

Dũng attributed the problems to lack of co-operation among authorised agencies to strengthen management and supervision, as well as the low awareness of enterprises and households.

In reply to the ministry’s report that 85 per cent of the people had been informed about energy savings, he said it would require time for people to internalise the change and act on it.

Deputy PM Dũng said Việt Nam would have to import coal for power generation starting next year, and would likely import liquified natural gas from 2023 to ensure energy supply. Thus, the development of renewable energy and the efficient use of energy would play a key role in reducing dependence on imported energy.  

He asked the ministry to collect and study opinions from authorised agencies and come up with solutions for implementing or amending the law, if necessary, before January 30, 2017.

He also asked the ministry to work with other ministries in formulating a national programme on efficient and economical use of energy in the period of 2016-20, and submit it to the Government before January 31, 2017.

Petrol station blaze burns dozens of bikes

A petrol station was engulfed in flames in HCM City yesterday evening, destroying some dozens of motorbikes nearby.

The station, located on Quang Trung Street in the Gò Vấp District’s Ward 8, suddenly burst into flames at about 5pm, after several loud explosions.

Fire-fighters managed to completely put out the blaze after an hour and a half, but not before at least 35 motorbikes were damaged or destroyed by the fire which also spread to a couple of clothing stores nearby.

The police are investigating the cause of the fire. 

Uni students bring Santa to the poor

Most people enjoy the festive season with families and friends, but for many others, especially those who are poor or ill, they may be struggling with homelessness or feelings of loneliness on Christmas or New Year’s Eve.

To spread a little joy and fun this season, students from the Social Work Club at the  Foreign Trade University in HCM City are taking part in an annual charity campaign “Đông trao yêu thương” (Giving Love in Winter).

The Social Work Club, whose slogan is “Spend Your Heart, Spend Your Love”, has two main activities: “The Loving Meal” and “The Dreaming Christmas Tree”.

More than 30 students cook and distribute meals as part of the Loving Meal campaign. They delivered 600 meals to patients at the HCM City Oncology Hospital on December 1 and young patients at HCM City Pediatrics Hospital 1 a week later.

“I’ve seen many poor and homeless people on the street, but I was reluctant to help them because of embarrassment. Then The Loving Meal gave me a chance to give meals to people in difficulty, which has been extremely meaningful for me,” said Hoàng My, a 19-year-old volunteer.

As part of the Dreaming Christmas Tree activity, the students recently travelled to Nhơn Trạch District in Đồng Nai Province to ask poor children what they would like to have for Christmas.

The students then returned to HCM City and placed presents under a Christmas tree at the university campus. After two weeks, 90 gifts had been carefully prepared for the kids.

“They are young, so their wishes were innocent. They made us think about how to make up for their losses, so we came back and really wanted to organise this activity,” said Giang Nguyên, the leader of “Dreaming Christmas Tree”.

Trịnh Thúy An, a seven-year-old girl, told the students that she wanted a crayon set and colouring notebook, while a girl named Phạm Thị Tuyết Minh said she wanted a desk for studying.

Trung Kiên, 7, hoped for a superman figure, while a young boy named Nguyễn Hiệp Huy wanted new clothing.

Though they are only material objects, the gifts have spiritual value as well. By helping make their dreams come true, the university students see themselves as compassionate stand-ins for Santa Claus.

The students will deliver the gifts to the children in Nhơn Trạch District in Đồng Nai Province on December 14 and 16. 

All of the student volunteers are passionate about raising funds and calling on sponsors for their charity campaign. Despite the hot weather of HCM City last month, they travelled to many universities, high schools and parks to sell corn milk and cakes to raise funds. 

Fortunately, other students at Foreign Trade University and local universities, as well as Diệu Pháp Pagoda and other sponsors, gave the club many donations. 

Even though they had difficulties during fundraising, including a lack of peers and the pressure to raise money, they were able to overcome them.

“Without the Loving Meal or Dreaming Christmas Tree activities, my Christmas would not have been complete,” one student volunteer said.

Anh needs two-month rest before back to football

Vietnamese midfielder Nguyễn Tuấn Anh has had a knee surgery and needs at least two months to return to football.

Anh suffered an injury two months ago, during his training his Japanese Yokohama FC. It cost him a spot on the national team competing at the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup, which saw Việt Nam’s defeat at the semi-finals.

Anh--who will return to his former club Hoàng Anh Gia Lai for V.League 2017--had his operation in Singapore on December 15, and Hoàng Anh Gia Lai official Nguyễn Tấn Anh said he will remain in the country for one week before flying home.

Tấn Anh said after two months--if he recovers well--he can play the first leg of the V.League, which will kick off on January 8.

Analog switch-off in 8 provinces on Dec. 30 

Analog signals will be switched off in eight provinces - Bac Ninh, Binh Duong, Ha Nam, Hai Duong, Hau Giang, Hung Yen, Vinh Long and Vinh Phuc - on December 30. — Photo

 Analog signals will be switched off in eight provinces - Bac Ninh, Binh Duong, Ha Nam, Hai Duong, Hau Giang, Hung Yen, Vinh Long and Vinh Phuc - on December 30.

The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) sent an official announcement to the provincial People’s Committees asking them to ensure that residents are prepared for the change.

To spread the information, the People’s Committees have asked television and broadcasting stations and departments of information and communications to increase information on the digitalisation in the last two weeks of December.

Provinces are also asked to inform people about the supporting switchboard at 05111022.

By August this year, five cities and provinces switched off analog signals, including Ha Noi, HCM City, Can Tho, Da Nang and Hai Phong.

Le Van Tuan, deputy director of the Authority of Radio Frequency Management under the MIC, said that the eight provinces were ready for the analog signal switch-off.

Speaking at the meeting, Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan asked departments to focus on STB support for poor and nearly-poor households in the eight provinces. He also asked the Authority of Radio Frequency Management to research plans on using bandwidths liberated after the television digitalisation. 

Govt orders check into Da Phuoc waste facility

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh has ordered the Government Inspectorate to work with relevant ministries and agencies to look into investment, construction and waste treatment activities at the Da Phuoc integrated waste management facility in HCMC, according to the Government Office.

The order comes after HCMC recently sent the central Government a report on its handling of a complaint by Doan Van Duc about Da Phuoc’s investment, construction and management activities.

The Government Inspectorate will have to collaborate with the ministries of construction, planning-investment and natural resources-environment, State Audit and HCMC authorities to jointly conduct a review of Da Phuoc’s operations and propose remedial measures. The results will be sent to the Prime Minister before April 1 next year.

In a working session early this month with Vietnam Waste Solutions (VWS), the operator of Da Phuoc facility in Binh Chanh District, city authorities agreed on a change to new waste treatment technology at Da Phuoc to restrict burying more waste and thus reduce odor from spreading.

The landfill at Da Phuoc is now as high as 25 meters while the approved height is 40 meters. In the next five or seven years, Da Phuoc might not be able to take more waste.

The city is speeding up work on a waste management project in neighboring Long An Province, and calling for investment in waste treatment projects using advanced technology to ease mounting waste treatment pressure.

Vietnam Airlines offers free transport on aid supplies to flood hit people

The National flagship Vietnam Airlines has transported free of charge 30 tons of supplies donated by the Vietnam National Search and Rescue Committee,to flood hit areas in the Central region on December 17.

Accordingly, aid items for families in the central flood-hit areas have been carried in flights from Hanoi to Da Nang, Quy Nhon and Cam Ranh on the early morning of December 17; and then deliveried to provinces, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen.

The relief agency will free freight, fuel surcharges and other fees related to the transport of goods by air.

Photo exhibition honors Vietnamese military force

A photo exhibition 70th anniversary of National Resistance Day (on December 19) opend at the Nguyen Hue walking street in Ho Chi Minh City on December 16. 

The display features more than 80 pictures honoring and highlighting victories, achievements in building and protecting the city of the Vietnam People's Army in different periods.

The event also aims to celebrate the 72th founding anniversary of the Vietnam Peoples’ Army (December 22), the 27th anniversary of All People's National Defense (December 22), and the 56th anniversary of National Liberation Front for South Vietnam (December 20).


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