Social News 12/3
Deputy PM urges more drastic fight against smuggling, counterfeits

The fight against smuggling, trade fraud and counterfeits must be stronger and more drastic with visible results, Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh directed at a meeting in Hanoi on March 9. 

Deputy PM Binh, who is also head of the National Steering Committee on the Prevention and Control of Smuggling, Trade Fraud and Counterfeit Goods (Steering Committee 389), asked the committee, ministries, agencies and localities to point out existing shortcomings and adopt practical and drastic solutions to the effort, including identifying smuggling and fraud tricks, even transfer pricing and tax evasion that result in significant loss of tax revenue to the State budget. 

They were also required to strengthen inspection and clearly determine responsibilities of top leaders in each area in case of any violation. 

He also stressed the need to review and fine-tune legal regulations and fix overlapping management during the fight.

At the meeting, the Steering Committee 389 reported that ministries, agencies and localities discovered 211,559 violations last year, up 2.55 percent year-on-year and brought to court 1,560 cases involving 1,863 people. 

More than 18 trillion VND (786.1 million USD) worth of administrative fines and taxes were added to the State budget, a 33.57 percent increase from 2015. 

Vice Chairman of the Hanoi municipal People’s Committee Le Hong Son said the city’s Steering Committee 389 dealt with 23,000 violations and prosecuted 305 cases with 222 violators last year. 

In the first two months of this year, the city uncovered 4,984 cases involving in the production and trading of fake and pirated goods and collected 931 billion VND (40.47 million USD) for the State coffers. 

Among 29,693 violation cases in Ho Chi Minh City, 3,312 ones concerning the trafficking of illicit and smuggled goods and as many as 3.16 trillion VND (137.4 million USD) in taxes were collected. 

According to Son, counterfeit manufacturers and traffickers are using increasingly complicated and sophisticated tricks, including selling Chinese goods labelled as “Made in Vietnam” during the campaign “Vietnamese prioritise Vietnamese goods”. 

On smuggling at sea, Commander of the Vietnam Coast Guard Lieut. Gen Nguyen Quang Dam said 46 foreign vessels were caught smuggling petrol to retooled Vietnamese fishing boats which was later sold to offshore fishing vessels. 

Director General of the Vietnam Customs Nguyen Van Can, for his part, updated the meeting about the illegal import of cocaine and new kinds of drug into Vietnam via airline and waterway, saying that several shipping firms were found to be involved.

Tay Thien festival commences in Vinh Phuc

Tay Thien festival, one of the major spiritual events in the north, began in Tam Dao district, Vinh Phuc province on March 12, drawing a wave of local residents and tourists.

The festival is taking place in Tay Thien site within the Tam Dao National Park with a diversity of flora and fauna, beautiful landscapes and favourable climate conditions.

It is held annually on the fifteenth day of the second lunar month to commemorate Mother Lang Thi Tieu, who made great contributions to national defence and agricultural development during the era of Hung Kings. 

The site was recognised as a national historical relic site in 1991 and a special national relic site in 2015. There are numerous temples in the site, including Thuong temple, Tam Toa Thanh Mau temple, Co Chin temple and Thong temple.

Vinh Phuc is home to several popular tourist destinations, including the Tay Thien site, Tam Dao Resort, Tam Dao National Park and Dai Lai Lake. It also owns bountiful tangible and intangible cultural values with 1,000 relics.

Vietnam’s images promoted at ASEAN Plus Three Festival

The Vietnamese Embassy and students in Cambodia presented their homeland’s identities at the ASEAN Plus Three Festival, held at the Royal University of Phnom Penh on March 11.

The event gathered young people from the 10 ASEAN nations and the bloc’s partners of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. It aimed to create an opportunity for regional students who are studying in Cambodia to exchange with one another and popularise their countries’ special features.

The booth of Vietnam featured a map of the country that includes Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagoes, books on the life and career of late President Ho Chi Minh and other Vietnamese celebrities, along with publications about the country’s beauties.

Visitors to the booth showed their interest in the country’s traditional costume “ao dai” and cuisine.

The ASEAN Plus Three Festival also featured singing and dancing performances, folk games, traditional dishes, and film screening of the participating countries.

Through this event, the Vietnamese Embassy and students hoped to promote the images of Vietnam among regional peers and help to enhance mutual understanding and trust in the region and between ASEAN and its partner countries.

Competition features Central Highlands wooden folk sculptures

A wooden folk statue carving competition kicked off on March 10 at KoTam EcoTourism Destination in Ko Tam Village, Ea Tu Commune, Buon Ma Thuot City, the central highlands province of Dak Lak.

As part of the sixth Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival and Central Highlands Gong Festival 2017, the competition gathered 70 artisans from five provinces in the Central Highlands and the central provinces of Quang Nam and Khanh Hoa.

Contestants will show their talents through wooden statues which feature nature, local lifestyles, and people of ethnic groups in the Central Highlands.

The wooden folk sculpture embodies not only belief of animism but also a unique and long-standing handicraft of ethnic groups in the Central Highlands, said Vo Van Canh, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Dak Lak at the opening ceremony.

The contest, which runs through March 13, provides a venue for artisans to exchange experience on folk wooden sculpture while contributing to preserving traditional cultures, he added. 

The same day, a street festival also took place in Buon Ma Thuot City with gongs performances and elephant parades by thousands of artists from five Central Highlands provinces and the central provinces of Quang Nam, Quang Ngai and Phu Yen. The event also witnessed the participation of four folk art delegations from Romania, the Republic of Korea, Laos and Cambodia.

National pharmaceutical trading centre launched

The Ministry of Health launched a national pharmaceutical trading centre at a ceremony in Hanoi on March 10.

According Resolution No. 112/NQ-CP issued by the Government on December 30, 2016 on the establishment of the national pharmaceutical trading centre, the facility will work under the Ministry of Health and be responsible for tenders for drugs and drug price negotiations in accordance with law.

Nguyen Tri Dung, an official from the ministry’s department of finance and planning was appointed as director of the centre.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said the government had permitted medical establishments to work directly with drug suppliers in tendering and price negotiations which caused price differences between medical establishments as well as regions.

The launch of the centre will help change the way the drug prices are decided, she noted, adding that the tendering will be conducted at three levels – national, provincial and unit levels to put forth reference ceiling and floor prices.

The prices of expensive and proprietary drugs will be determined through negotiations, she said.

The minister hoped that the centre will help better manage the drug prices.

Long An, Chinese locality strengthen cooperation

The Mekong Delta province of Long An wants Chinese firms, including those from Baise city, to connect with local enterprises to buy local agricultural products and invest in industrial parks.

Chairman of the Long An provincial People’s Committee Pham Van Ranh made the statement during his reception for a delegation from Baise in Guangxi province, China led by Xiaochun Peng, Secretary of the Party Committee of Baise City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on March 12.

He also expressed his hope that the Chinese city will help local exporters ship their products to China, adding that joint cooperation programmes will be accelerated and reviewed to promote the development of the two localities.

Xiaochun Peng, also Director of the Standing Board of the Baise Municipal People's Congress, hoped that the visit would promote agricultural and industrial cooperation between the two localities. Exports of Long An’s key agricultural products such as dragon fruits, limes, bananas to his city will be increased.

The two sides will develop cooperation mechanisms to strengthen bilateral ties between the two localities, he added.

Long An has 772 foreign direct investment projects from 33 countries and territories with a total registered capital exceeding 5.1 billion USD. Of which, China had 126, ranking fourth among investors in the province.

Long An has focused on restructuring agricultural production on a large scale and collective manner.

Specialised crop zones have been set up, such as high-quality rice growing areas in Dong Thap Muoi district, dragon fruit orchards in Chau Thanh district and lime gardens in Ben Luc and Duc Hue.

Long An has more than 7,700 hectares of dragon fruit growing area, mostly in Chau Thanh district, producing 260,000 tonnes per year.

Ninh Binh: Needy children receive free heart checkups

Nearly 200 deprived children in the northern province of Ninh Binh were provided free cardiac examinations and consultancies by doctors from the National Heart Institute and provincial obstetrics and paediatrics hospital on March 12.

Pham Cam Ky, director of the provincial obstetrics and paediatrics hospital said that the free checkups will help detect congenital heart diseases among children so that they can have timely intervention. 

This also allows local doctors to learn from National Heart Institute doctors, he said, adding that his hospital plans to coordinate with central hospitals to offer further free checkups to the disadvantaged in the locality.

Impoverished families were also helped to apply for financial support from humanitarian organisations so that their children can have heart operations.

On March 11-12, the Department of Health and the Vietnam Red Cross in the central province of Quang Tri worked with Minh Duc Charitable Foundation to conduct free medical examinations, provide free medicine and present gifts to 5,000 poor people and 1,000 needy children in Hai Lang district.

Finland-funded programme backs local innovative projects

The Vietnam – Finland Innovation Partnership Programme Phase 2 (IPP) held the IPP Harvest Day in Hanoi last week to review its activities and orchestrate its exit phase with an emphasis on creating partnerships, sustainability and impact.

The event, which took place on March 10, included an exhibition of the IPP’s projects, a review and graduation ceremony for the Training of Trainers 2 programme on innovation and entrepreneurship in collaboration with universities, co-creation and networking activities, and the announcement of the IPP exit plan and launching the IPP Alumni Network.

Over the past two years, the IPP has provided support for 32 company projects and ecosystem development projects across Vietnam, said IPP Director Tran Thi Thu Huong.

The IPP has also trained 47 innovation consultants, coaches and lecturers on innovation and entrepreneurship. At this event, sub-project teams demonstrated their achievements and shared experience, she noted, adding that it was an opportunity for team members, innovation and entrepreneurship lecturers and startup supporters to meet up, share their needs and challenges and plan for shared goals.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Tran Quoc Khanh lauded the success of the programme which helped many products from startup businesses gain a foothold in domestic and foreign markets.

The ministry has been working with other agencies to complete legal framework and develop support mechanisms and policies for startups so that they can tap their potential, the deputy minister stressed.

He said the programme has helped Vietnam develop a healthy ecosystem for innovative startups.

Hà Nội seizes 1,000 litres of home-made liquor

Hà Nội’s market management force on Thursday seized 1,000 litres of homemade alcohol from a local shop.

According to market management team six of Nam Từ Liêm District, the seized alcohol was mostly rice wine infused with animals or wild fruit and herbs.

The shop owner, Nguyễn Văn Khương, 37, said he purchased the booze from wine-making households in northern Hưng Yên province, then transported it to Hà Nội to sell for VNĐ30,000 per litre.  

Khương didn’t produce any trading license or origin certification paper for the alcohol.   

The increase of alcohol poisoning cases in the city has been blamed mainly on drinking cheap wine without origin at street restaurants.   

Most of the poisoning victims are labourers from rural areas who work in Hà Nội.

Health inspectors and market management forces have been strengthening inspections of wine production and trading establishments to tackle the problem.

The city’s health department is considering banning eateries from selling alcohol of unclear origin.

It is also conducting an awareness drive for business owners on the possible consequences of consuming alcohol of unclear origin.    

Drinking home brews can have bad consequences. Hà Nội-based Bạch Mai Hospital’s Poison Control Centre receives hundreds of alcohol poisoning cases each year.

On March 6, 7 and 8, the centre’s doctors treated four serious cases of homemade alcohol poisoning. All patients were treated immediately by hemodialysis, doctors said, however two patients were in critical condition situation.   

From February 22 to March 8), 14 total cases of methanol poisoning from homemade alcohol were treated at the centre, with one patient dieing.

Patients originally complained of headaches, tiredness and nausea. At the hospital, their blood tests showed blood methanol concentrations of 40 to 318mg per deciliter.

Kong director Jordan Vogt-Roberts to relocate to HCM City

As Hollywood blockbuster ‘Kong: Skull Island’ dominates Vietnam’s box office on its opening day, its director, US filmmaker Jordan Vogt-Roberts, has a plan in mind to resettle in Ho Chi Minh City, where he will be working on a personal film project.

Despite an imperfect premiere ceremony where fire engulfed a giant foam model of King Kong outside a Ho Chi Minh City mall, ‘Kong: Skull Island’ grossed over VND18.2 billion (US$812,500) in Vietnam on March 10, the highest-ever opening day revenue in the country’s box office history.

An estimated 162,000 moviegoers hit the cinema on the day to watch the movie, the first Hollywood blockbuster to be filmed mainly in Vietnam, according to CGV, the film’s distributor in the Southeast Asian country.

Kong’s director Jordan Vogt-Roberts landed in Ho Chi Minh City on March 11 morning to attend a series of promotional events, which included a press briefing, a movie screening joined by Vietnamese celebrities, and a dinner with special partners at the Times Square tower in District 1.

During his time in the southern Vietnamese metropolis, the US filmmaker afforded Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper an interview where he shared his experiences working on the most ambitious film project of his career to date, as well as his personal plans for the future.

Vogt-Roberts admitted to having faced tremendous pressure while working on the $180 million blockbuster, as his previous independent projects only had an average budget of around $2 million.

The director said all he could do was try to make a film that everyone could enjoy, in response to reviews by moviegoers who said his film failed to live up to their expectations and lacked the emotional depth of Peter Jackson’s 2005 masterpiece ‘King Kong.’

Having visited locations in Hawaii, Australia and Thailand for the setting of ‘Kong: Skull Island,’ the director opted for Vietnam the moment he saw the breathtaking landscapes of the country’s northern region.

Vogt-Roberts recalled having found himself overwhelmed by the beauty of the views, landscapes, colors and shapes of the Vietnamese provinces of Ninh Binh, Quang Ninh and Quang Binh that he and the crew had never seen before.

It was at that moment that he knew no other place would be a more suitable home for Kong, the magnificent king of all monsters.

The director was intrigued by the idea of shooting the film at a location where no other Hollywood film crew had set foot on before, and which would certainly leave international viewers in awe, wondering where on Earth those beautiful landscapes could be.

"I honestly don't think the rest of the world truly knows how beautiful this country is and how amazing the people are and how incredible the food is," he said.

He had tasked himself with showing the world how beautiful Vietnam really is, even before a unanimous vote by members of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) nominated the Kong director to become the country's next tourism ambassador in the 2017-20 tenure.

All 13 members of the VNAT council backed Vogt-Roberts’ nomination during a voting session on Thursday, an offer the U.S. director delightedly welcomed.

He said no words could describe how proud and humbled he was to receive the honor, or how passionately he was in love with the Southeast Asian country.

He believed that Vietnam would soon be a destination favored by international tourists after the success of the film, just as how Thailand and Cambodia have been following other Hollywood blockbusters, and that his mission was to promote Vietnam through the box office.

The director said he had already thought of selling his residence in Los Angeles to buy a house in Ho Chi Minh City, where he would be working on a personal film project with the participation of Vietnamese and international actors and actresses.

He said he would be working with not only those in the film industry but also artists in other domains, as they are a great source of inspiration full of energy and potential.

Indonesia returns 27 Vietnamese fishermen

Indonesia on March 13 repatriated 27 Vietnamese fishermen who were detained from four months to over one year in Tarempa island for illegal fishing in Indonesia’s seas.

They are in the group of 74 fishermen, with most of them from the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang and other provinces of Binh Dinh, Tien Giang, Ben Tre and Ca Mau, who were returned in this year’s first batch.

From the start of the year to March, Indonesia has apprehended 16 ships with more than 170 Vietnamese fishermen aboard.  

Nguyen Thanh Giang, who is in charge of consular affairs from the Vietnamese Embassy in Indonesia, said that about 150 Vietnamese fishermen detained in the country are waiting to return home. However, the figure is projected to rise as the fishing season has started.

According to the immigration agency of Tarempa, in the past three months, 83 Vietnamese fishermen were detained on the island, a surge compared to the total 70 fishermen captured in 2016.
Deputy PM urges more drastic fight against smuggling, counterfeits, Tay Thien festival commences in Vinh Phuc, Vietnam’s images promoted at ASEAN Plus Three Festival, Hà Nội seizes 1,000 litres of home-made liquor