Social News 11/6

Can Tho, US group to cooperate in biomass production

Can Tho, US group to cooperate in biomass production, Needy people in northwest provided with soft loans, Japan’s book on natural disasters introduced to Vietnamese, Financial mechanisms piloted for ODA-used health care projects

Authorities in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho had a working session with US-based Biomass Energy Systems, Inc. (BESI) on June 5 to discuss joint projects in waste treatment and renewable energy supply.

At the meeting, BESI energy director Alex Matthew said his corporation wants to support Vietnam, particularly the Mekong Delta, in developing biomass technologies.

According to him, the cooperation programme will send BESI experts to Vietnam for the installation of waste-to-energy machinery. Eighty percent of materials used to fuel the machines will be sourced from Vietnam, while the rest will be imported from the US. 

The whole process must be in line with BESI standard and will help the Vietnamese locality save production costs and utilise local materials.

Matthew said the development of a national master plan on biomass and renewable energy is key to the collaboration.

Eighty percent of Vietnamese population live in rural areas, where biomass energy sources are abundant. It is estimated that the country can produce about 30 million tonnes of biomass energy from agricultural by-products on a yearly basis.

Vietnam, Japan step up cooperation in health care

The MoU was signed within the framework of the investment promotion conference in Japan on June 5 

International Medical Development JSC of Vietnam’s TH Group will join hands with Japan’s International Total Engineering Corporation (ITEC) to build a high-tech health care complex in Hanoi. 

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect was signed in Tokyo on June 5 within the framework of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s ongoing visit to Japan. It is expected to become a typical project for medical cooperation between the two countries. 

Establish in 1981, ITEC is the first health service management consulting firm in Japan which aims to meet the drastic changes taking place in the Japanese health care field.

ITEC President Johtaro Seki said the group will help its Vietnamese partner access the most cutting-edge medical solutions, adding that the complex is designed to become a five-star general hospital with leading doctors from countries with developed medicine and nurses trained in Japan. 

TH Group Chairwoman Thai Huong said the 40-ha complex will offer medical prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services. 

Vietnamese and Japanese health sectors have signed a number of cooperation agreements in universal health coverage, new communicable disease prevention, human resources development and health equipment, among others. 

Of note, under the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, since 2012, Japan has helped train many Vietnamese nurses. 

Hanoi court gives jail sentences to transnational drug dealers

The Hanoi People’s Court on June 5 sentenced four defendants from 30 months to 20 years in prison for illegally shipping drugs to Russia.

Pham Van Tai, who was born in 1986 and resides in Mai Dich ward of Hanoi’s Cau Giay district, received a 20-year jail sentence. Nguyen Anh Tuan (born in 1981, Mai Dong ward of Hanoi’s Hoang Mai district) will be imprisoned for 18 years and Nguyen Huy (born in 1990, Cau Den ward of Hanoi’s Hai Ba Trung district) will serve 17 years in prison.

They were sentenced for illegal drug trafficking.

The court imposed a 30-month prison sentence on Nguyen Van Tuan (born 1984, Quang Thinh commune of Bac Giang province’s Lang Giang district) for not denouncing criminals.

The court found that Tai used to live in Russia and was acquainted with a Vietnamese national named Khanh, also living in the country. He returned to Vietnam in 2013 and, together with Khanh, formed a ring to transport drugs to Russia.

Each time he received an order from Khanh, Tai bought drugs and hid them in boxes of goods to send to Russia by air. On May 14, 2015, he hid nearly 200 synthetic drug pills in a coffee box which was found by Russian authorities.

On March 27, 2016, Ministry of Public Security offcers caught two persons on Chua Lang street of Hanoi’s Dong Da district while they were riding a motorbike with two methamphetamine packs weighing nearly 200 grams concealed in an electric cooker.

Basing on evidence collected from them, police arrested Pham Van Tai, Nguyen Anh Tuan and Nguyen Huy. Nguyen Van Tuan fled but was later detained.

From May 2015 to March 2016, Tai and his accessories trafficked 336.62 grams of different kinds of drug and nearly 200 synthetic drug pills, the court found.

Linens for Life project starts in Hanoi

he Linens for Life project, aiming to recycle used hotel linens and create livelihoods for the poor, was launched in Hanoi this month.

The project is run by Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP) and Sealed Air company.

“Linens for Life aims to provide a livelihood to local communities through creative conversions of used lines into items for sale,” said Stefan Phang, the project’s founder.

As Vietnam continues to grow, many international hotels have opened in the country in recent years. This makes more waste, which creates pressure on environment, said Phang.

Each hotel typically has six types of waste: used guest soap, guest amenities, condemned linens, plastic water bottles, buffet food and coffee grounds, Phang added.

The project will collect used linens from hotels, which range from towels, bed covers, cushion covers, curtains and staff uniforms. Then, they will allocate these materials to locals, providing them training on how to recycle and make new products – bed covers for hospitals, kids’ uniforms, bags, sleeping bags or cooking aprons.

“I strongly believe that people don’t want charity, they want to work. When we can give them livelihood, they are happy and confident that they can make money and value,” Phang said.

“The project is about environmental and social protection, and hygiene as well. That’s why we call it Linens for Life. It’s life and livelihood,” Phang added.

“In many health facilities in remote areas, it is hard to find a cloth for bed cover. Recently we have collected about 100 cloths and gave them to six communes of Son La province, the health officers here were very happy and appreciative. These cloths are then used to cover their equipment and used as bed covers,” said Deputy Director of CCIHP Pham Vu Thien.

Implemented in Cambodia, Philippines and Thailand with the support of 40 hotels, the project has uplifted more than 200 underprivileged people.

Linens for Life will be helpful in Vietnam and is expected to benefit 400 to 500 people here, said Phang.

The project started collecting used linen at Hilton and Melia hotel from June 3 and is calling for more hotels to join hands.

Vietnamese, Lao provinces share labour-related experience

Leaders of the Confederation of Labour of central Thanh Hoa province and the Federation of Trade Unions in the Lao province of Houaphanh exchanged experience during their talks in Thanh Hoa on June 6.

The two sides informed each other about the situation of workers and trade union activities in their respective provinces, highlighting the achievements the trade unions in Thanh Hoa and Houaphanh have obtained recently.

They also shared expertise in organising and directing trade union activities while reviewing the implementation of a memorandum of understanding signed in Houaphanh on May 26, 2016.

At the talks, the two organisations reached consensus on bilateral cooperation from now to 2020. Accordingly, they will continue the traditional solidarity and cooperation and sharing experience in trade union activities.

Aside from making annual mutual visits to exchange experience, they will educate local trade union members and workers about the other country’s labour-related regulations as well as the friendship between the two countries and between Thanh Hoa and Houaphanh.

The two sides will also encourage Thanh Hoa and Houaphanh businesses to make investment in line with the comprehensive cooperation programme for 2017-2020.

Needy people in northwest provided with soft loans

The Vietnam Bank for Social Policies has provided an average of over 5.3 trillion VND (233.2 million USD) in soft loans for more than 630,000 poor households in the Northwest every year to help them escape from poverty.

According to the Northwest Steering Committee, thanks to the soft loans, the region’s poverty rate fell from nearly 35 percent in 2011 to below 11 percent at the end of 2016 and about 375,000 jobs were created.

The loans also helped more than 368,000 students from difficult backgrounds continue their education; and build approximately 940,000 systems for clean water supply and rural environment sanitation.

The regional rate of bad debt only remained around 0.25 percent.

Since 2016, northwestern provinces have taken comprehensive measures to support impoverished households so that they can improve their income and take part in rural job matching programmes.

The region’s poorest districts have been offered more than 1 trillion VND (44 million USD) to remove slums; build schools and medical stations; and provide vocational training for the locals.

A recent report estimated that about 30,000 poor households and 3,573 people in the region have received support in the first quarter of 2017. The number of people escaped from poverty rose by 5 percent from the same period last year.

Health sector urged to develop traditional medicine

Preserving valuable traditional medicine is a vital task of the health sector, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said at a ceremony to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Traditional Medicine Management Department under the Health Ministry (1957-2017) in Hanoi on June 6.

The Deputy PM said the nation’s traditional medicine heritage has been passed down through generations, which should be used in combination with modern medicine.

On June 7, 1957, the Oriental Medicine Department, now the Traditional Medicine Management Department, was established under the Health Ministry. Since then, the traditional medicine sector has developed into a network of 64 public specialized hospitals and three private ones.

In addition, about 92.7 percent of general hospitals have a traditional medicine department or sub-department, and nearly 85 percent of communal medical stations provide treatment using both traditional and modern methods, according to Pham Vu Khanh, Director of the department.

Human resources training for the field has received attention, with a specialised training institute, and departments in many medical training establishments..

On the occasion, Deputy PM Vu Duc Dam presented the Government’s certificates of merit to outstanding collectives and individuals in the field.

According to the Ministry of Health, 1,300 medicinal plant species have been found in Vietnam, and herbal medicine is manufactured under the World Health Organisation’s good manufacturing practices.

Inter-ministerial workshop discusses climate change-related losses

An inter-ministerial consultation workshop on evaluating losses due to impacts of climate change is taking place in Hanoi with both local and foreign experts in attendance.

The two-day event, opened on June 6, was co-held by the United Nations Development Programme and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The workshop intended to provide updates on losses and vulnerability in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, raise stakeholders’ awareness of financial risks associated with climate change, and learn about tools for climate change risk management.

It also provided an opportunity for experts to share experience and useful policies for evaluating climate change-related losses.

Addressing the event, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hoang Van Thang said Vietnam is among countries heavily affected by climate change, including sea level and temperature rise and other extreme weather events. Over the past decade, the country annually reported over 300 deaths and missing and economic losses accounting for 1 – 1.15 percent of GDP.

He underlined the necessity for having methods and tools to assess losses associated with climate change, particularly identifying negative impacts of climate change in socio-economic development, economic and non-economic losses, residential relocation and resettlement, perpetual losses, recovery, social welfare, and compensation.

UNDP Vietnam Deputy Country Director Akiko Fujii suggested that Vietnam should also consider climate change-related losses in the future. 

She cited the fact that droughts caused by El-Nino between 2015 and 2016 have destroyed livelihood of millions of Vietnamese farmers and severely affected the local economy. Hence, the absence of a future mechanism to cope with such unexpected events will ruin the country’s socio-economic achievements.

Fujii recommended Vietnam to establish an inter-ministerial working group to collect data and analyse risks to produce more effective actions in response to climate change.-

Japan’s book on natural disasters introduced to Vietnamese

A book titled “Kyojinka: enhancing national capacity in combating natural disasters in Japan, Asia and the world” has been introduced to Vietnamese readers on the occasion of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s official visit to Japan. 

The book gathers research studies on natural disaster response of Japanese politicians, scholars and famous policy research organisations, as well as major lessons drawn by Japan during the combat. 

It is expected to provide a source of references to making policies, organizing and managing society for sustainable development, and overcoming challenges stemming from climate change.

Through the book, Vietnamese readers can understand more about the land and people of Japan, hence contributing to consolidating the friendship and cooperation between the two countries. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe once advised people to read the book as it tells how Japanese people cope with natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis and drought along with man-made disasters such as nuclear power plant incidents and wars. 

According to the World Bank, Vietnam will likely face damage of more than 141.2 trillion VND (6.7 billion USD) due to natural disasters such as typhoons, floods or earthquakes in the next 50 years.

As estimated, about 60 percent of the country’s total land area and 71 percent of its population are at risk of cyclones and floods, the bank said.

Financial mechanisms piloted for ODA-used health care projects

The Prime Minister has recently issued a pilot financial mechanism for health care projects using official development assistance (ODA) and preferential loans. 

Specifically, projects on infrastructure, social welfares and other fields that are unable to recover capital by the State will be provided with ODA and preferential loans. 

Others in localities will enjoy non-refundable ODA and partial State budget sponsor and could relend ODA and preferential loans in line with law. 

Projects that are able to fully or partly reclaim capital, particularly those conducted by public medical stations, will be eligible for non-refundable ODA, and allowed to relend 20 percent of their ODA loans and 50 percent of preferential loans.  

Projects run by non-public medical establishments could relend foreign loans. 

The decision will take effect on July 20.

Vietnam, Laos bust major drug ring

Anti-drug forces from Vietnam’s northwestern province of Dien Bien and Laos’ Oudomxay province have uncovered a major drug ring in Oudomxay.

At 8:00 pm on June 1, the two sides coordinated to arrest two drug traffickers and seize 30 cakes of heroin, 160,000 synthetic pills, and 37 million KIP (4,500 USD).

Later on June 2, the forces caught two other smugglers in Dien Bien, seizing two cakes of heroin and 2,000 synthetic pills.

The arrestees confessed to having bought the drugs in the shared border area.

In 2015, Vietnamese and Lao border provinces signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in preventing and combating cross-border drug crimes.

Binh Duong province houses first “book city”

The first “book city” in the country opened on in Thuan An town in the southern province of Binh Duong on June 1.

The book city, which covers 3,000 square metres with capacity for 50,000 books and 1,000 music discs, is located on the ground floor of Aeon Mall Binh Duong Canary on Binh Duong Boulevard.

It was launched by Phuong Nam Corp (PNC) at a total cost of 50 billion VND (2.2 million USD).

The book city targets readers aged 18-35 as well as children. It offers children’s books, learning aids and playgrounds.

Nearly 200 suppliers throughout the country provide goods to the book city, as well as 70 distributors of foreign-language books and 150 stationery brands.

The book city includes a bookstore, stationery shop, coffee shop, children’s entertainment area, multimedia recreation area, creative rest area and a reading area.

At the entrance of the book city, there is an online panel where visitors can search for book titles and stores. 

HCM City, Italy step up trade cooperation

Vice Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Huynh Cach Mang hoped that economic and trade cooperation between the city and Italy will be growing extensively, bringing practical benefits to both sides.

He made the statement at a ceremony held by the Consulate General of Italy in Ho Chi Minh City on June 2 to celebrate Italy’s 71st Republic Day.

Mang underlined that relations between the two countries have been treasured by generations of leaders from both sides. 

Ho Chi Minh City is a leading locality in Vietnam to promote collaboration with Italy, especially in trade and investment, he stressed.

Meanwhile, Italian Consul General Carlotta Colli stated that Vietnam-Italy traditional relations have been nurtured by the two nations’ leaders and people, particularly in investment, trade and culture.

Collaborations between the two sides have been branched out through people-to-people exchanges, she said, adding that Ho Chi Minh City was chosen to hold significant events of culture, fashion and trade between the two countries.

Last year, two-way trade stood at 4.7 billion USD, 603 million USD of which was contributed by Ho Chi Minh City. By May, 2017, Italy landed 27 investment projects valued at 68.5 million USD in the southern metropolis.

Science, tech sector urged to reform

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue has urged the science and technology sector to renovate and restructure to boost scientific and technological research to take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution or industry 4.0 and contribute to development.

Restructuring should improve scientific and technological capacity and potential, he said at a working session with the Ministry of Science and Technology on the operations of public units.

He asked the ministry to carefully study when downsizing its staff to avoid a shortage of skilled scientists.  

While reducing the number of people on the State payroll, the sector should also improve the capacity of remaining staff, he said.

Restructuring in the public sector does not simply mean reducing the number of staff but arranging staff sensibly with the aim of improving efficiency, he said.

Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Tran Van Tung admitted that the downsizing task faced difficult.

Few public officials voluntarily resigned while workers in some newly-established agencies under the ministry are young and have professional skills, making it hard to sack them, he said.

Regarding the ministry’s plan to shift basic research projects to universities while moving applied scientific research projects to establishment units, Hue suggested allowing the establishment of scientific and technological businesses at universities and research institutes to link research and practice.

At the meeting, Head of the ministry’s Personnel Department Tran Dac Hieu said the distribution of scientific units was unreasonable as most of them were located in big cities like Hanoi and HCM City while other localities have few such units.

He proposed dissolving inefficient scientific units to save State funds to have resources to increase salary for scientific staff and invest in important areas that are strengths of Vietnam.

95 works win 11th National Press Awards

As many as 95 excellent works by journalists throughout the country won the 11th National Press Awards and will receive prizes on June 21, the Vietnamese Revolutionary Journalism Day.

Journalist Thuan Huu, Chairman of the Vietnam Journalists Association and Chairman of the jury council of the 11th National Press Awards announced on June 3.

Seven journalism pieces will be presented the A prize, the highest prize of the Awards, 24 works the B prize, 39 works the C prize and 25 others the consolation prize.

According to the jury council, the entries vividly reported economic, political, security and defence matters of the country.

Myriads of works introduced standout examples and models in economic and trade development as well as activities to prevent economic depression, alleviate poverty in remote areas and the fight against corruption and hostile forces.

Some works were appraised for their professionalism and attractiveness and great influence on society.

Organised by the Vietnam Journalists Association, the annual National Press Awards this year received 1,637 entries.

Vietnam military delegation visits Cuba

A high-ranking military delegation led by Defence Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich, is on an official friendly visit to Cuba from June 4-7.

The visit is made at the invitation of Sen. Lieut. Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frias, Minister of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces (MINFAR).

The trip aims to enhance the ties of the two countries’ armies, while affirming the viewpoint and foreign policy of the Party, State and army of Vietnam in the relations with Cuba. It also contributes to strengthening special solidarity between the two countries and armies.

In March this year, Minister Sen. Lieut. Gen Leopoldo Cintra Frias led a delegation from the MINFAR to visit Vietnam at the invitation of Defence Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich.

Exhibition on film, television technology to be held in HCM City

The fifth Vietnam International Exhibition on Film and Television Technology – Telefilm 2017 will be held in Ho Chi Minh City from June 8-10.

The annual event will feature 250 booths with participation of over 150 agencies from the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, Malaysia and host Vietnam. It offers a platform for businesses to meet and seek cooperation opportunities, according to the organising board.

Various conferences and seminars will be organised to update information and share experiences on specialised areas. New development trends of the world’s major television channels will also be discussed at the event.

Telefilm is an important event for the television industry in Vietnam, as well as local and foreign firms in the field to enhance cooperation.

Friendship club for Vietnam, Spanish-speaking countries debuts

A friendship club for Vietnam, Spain and Latin American countries made its first public appearance in Ho Chi Minh City on June 2.

It looks to help promote cooperation in economics, culture, tourism and education between Vietnam’s individuals, organisations and businesses with their peers in Spain and other Latin American countries. 

Nguyen Quoc Viet, Standing Vice President of the club, said the club will have non-profit activities, introduce socio-economic and cultural achievements of Spanish-speaking countries to Vietnam and vice versa, organise people-to-people exchanges, and connect trade, cultural, tourist and educational activities.

Nguyen Van Manh, Vice President and General Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Union of Friendship Organizations is President of the club.-

Immunisation Week raises awareness of vaccination’s importance

Vaccination is one of the greatest medical success stories that save 2-3 million lives every year, said Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long at a meeting held in the central province of Quang Ngai on June 3 in response to the World Immunisation Week 2017.

Long stressed that over 600 million doses of various vaccines have been given free to Vietnamese women and children under the National Expanded Programme on Immunisation over the past three decades. 

A line-up of new vaccines have put into use, reducing deaths caused by infectious diseases, he underlined, adding that immunisation achievements have made significant contributions to protecting and improving healthcare, particularly for children in Vietnam.

However, the country still faces challenges, like late or insufficient immunisations for children in remote areas, which could spark a return of several contagious diseases, he said.

He took the occasion to call Vietnamese parents to vaccinate their children and medical staff to ensure safe and effective immunisation.

Hospitals need to provide infants with hepatitis B immunisation within their first 24 hours, he added.

A representative from the World Health Organisation in Vietnam lauded achievements of the National Expanded Programme on Immunisation in the past 30 years. 

This year, the immunisation week highlighted the important roles of vaccines on people’s lives and sustainable development goals. Vaccines help change life and enable children develop healthily and have bright future.

The Immunisation Week was initiated in 2011 by the World Health Organisation. Some 180 countries and territories worldwide have joined the event.

To respond to the event, Quang Ngai province committed to promoting the immunisation campaign in the locality. Vaccination will be delivered to over 22,800 pregnant women, over 21,000 women of childbearing age and nearly 23,000 children over 1 year old.

Russian Language Week launched in Hanoi

The Russian Centre for Science and Culture launched the Russian Language Week in Vietnam in Hanoi on June 5.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Russian Ambassador to Vietnam Konstaintin Vasilievich said that to many Vietnamese generations, Russian language is not only a symbol of past struggle for independence and freedom but also a tool for future development.

The ambassador thanked Russian language experts, translators and lecturers for their efforts to bring Russian culture and literature to Vietnam and strengthen the mutual understanding between Vietnamese and Russian people.

Meanwhile, Director of the Russian Centre for Science and Culture Natalia Valenrievna Shanfinskaia said that the Russian Day was first launched on June 6, 2011 on the birthday of Russian poet Alexandr Sergeevich Pushkin on June 6 under a decision of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The event is a good chance for Russian language loversto join activities to support Russian linguists in Vietnam through pupularising modernteaching methods.

On the framework of the Russian Language Week in Vietnam, Russian linguists will join many seminars on the language and update new materials on Russian teaching methods.

Dialogue discusses environmental protection measures

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry jointly held a policy dialogue on environment and sustainable development in Ho Chi Minh City on June 5.

Participants from various enterprises in the southern region and relevant agencies focused on issues related to the adjustments and completion of the Law on Environmental Protection and relevant legal documents, as well as resources for sustainable production and consumption, environment treatment technology and a number of urgent environment problems in the southern region.

They also discussed challenges facing enterprises in observing legal regulations in protecting the environment, the control of water environment pollution, the assessment of environmental impacts as well as the management of harmful waste and environment monitoring.

According to MoNRE Deputy Minister Nguyen Linh Ngoc, Vietnam is burdening many pressures from socio-economic development activities.

Currently, the country has 67 industrial parks and 532 industrial clusters operating without complete wastewater treatment system, along with more than 5,000 craft villages directly affecting the community.

At the same time, 36 industrial production facilities need special monitoring and 132 projects are rated as unfriendly to the environment, he noted.

Vo Tan Thanh, VCCI Vice President in Ho Chi Minh City said that Vietnam has yet to pay adequate attention to the protection of environment. Climate change and extreme weather conditions require the country to change its growth model towards minimising and stopping the exploitation of fossil fuel and increasing the use of renewable and green energy.

He called for business community to green the production through the increase of advance technology.

Nguyen Van Tai from the Vietnam Administration of Environment said that the MoNRE is working to implement the Prime Minister’s direction on a number of urgent solutions on environmental protection, laying the foundation for sustainable economic development in coming years.

Also on June 5, as part of the Action Month for the Environment and World Environment Day 2017, another conference was also held in Vung Tau city, the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau on measures to enhance public awareness of risks to health and environment due to burning activities.

Hoi An prepares for int’l silk and brocade festival

The central town of Hoi An is preparing for the 2017 International Silk - Brocade Festival at Silk Village from June 11 to 13 to honour artisans, traditional craft villages and famous silk and brocade making sites at home and abroad.

Part of the sixth Quang Nam Heritage Festival, it will see silk producers from Vietnam, China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand, Italy, Germany, Australia and France showcasing their latest silk and brocade products.

Local and foreign designers are expected to introduce their new fashion collections at the event.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to watch silk fashion shows featuring 18 collections by local and foreign designers.

The sixth Quang Nam Heritage Festival will take place from June 7 to 14 in the towns of Tam Ky and Hoi An and some other parts of the province.

It will include an international chorus contest from June 7 to 11 featuring more than 1,000 artists from 10 countries and territories, an international kite festival from June 8 to 11, the Quang Nam Heritage Fair from June 9 to 14, the World Windsurfing Championships from June 11 to 14,  and an international food festival from June 12 to 14.-

Thai Binh removes 250 kg wartime bomb

Sappers in the northern province of Thai Binh safely defused a 250-kg bomb left from wartime on June 5.

Local residents in Hung Ha district’s Cong Hoa commune found the bomb on June 4, when upgrading a dyke section along the Luoc River.

After receiving information on the whereabouts of the explosive device, local authorities had laid siege to the dangerous area and deployed troops for safeguarding.

The bomb was moved to a safe place on the same day and defused the next day.

An estimated 800,000 tonnes of unexploded bombs and mines leftover from wartime are buried over 20 percent of the country’s territory, mainly in the central region, according to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. Leftover wartime bombs and mines have claimed about 42,130 lives and injured 62,160 others across Vietnam.

It is estimated it will take 100 years and 10 billion USD to clear post-war mines remaining in Vietnam, the ministry said. 

The Vietnamese government approved a 2010-2025 national programme on tackling post-war bombs, mines and unexploded ordnances on April 21, 2010, known as Programme 504. Its goal is to use national and international resources to minimise the effects of UXOs on social-economic development, defence and security, while ensuring safety for people and helping victims reintegrate into society.

Seminar spotlights 55 years of Vietnam-Laos special ties

A seminar was held in Phan Thiet city, the south central province of Binh Thuan, to look into the five and a half decades of the special friendship and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos.

The event was held by the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics, the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, the National Academy of Politics and Public Administration of Laos, and the Lao Academy of Social Sciences.

Deputy Director of the Ho Chi Minh academy Le Quoc Ly said in the initial period of the fight against colonialism, the two countries formed a military alliance to combat the common enemy. Volunteer soldiers of Vietnam came to join the Pathet Lao armed forces in the struggle. 

The two sides’ undaunted fighting spirit, sacrifice and close coordination took the countries’ resistance war against colonialism to glorious victory, which was marked with the signing of the Geneva Accords in 1954, he noted.

Thongsalith Mangnomek, Director of the Laos’s National Academy of Politics and Public Administration, said the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and the Communist Party of Vietnam have maintained solid relations as seen in the issuance of harmonious policies on the countries’ solidarity. The cooperation and special solidarity between the two Parties and States are flourishing with the assurance of leaders of both countries.

In the face of complex and unpredictable global situation and each country’s development demands, Vietnam and Laos give the top priority to promoting their traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation to a new level under the motto of pragmatism, quality and effectiveness. 

They also agreed to bring economic ties on a par with the sound political relations, and enhance Government-to-Government, locality-to-locality and business-to-business partnerships to boost connectivity and mutual support between the two economies, he added.

It was reported at the seminar that Vietnam’s investment in Laos has amounted to nearly 4 billion USD since 1989. Bilateral trade exceeded 800 million USD in 2016. Vietnam has continually supported its neighbouring country in poverty reduction and national development. The two sides have also worked to bolster transport connectivity and facilitate trade and investment cooperation.

Kien Giang strives to develop sustainable tourism

The southern province of Kien Giang has stepped up efforts to turn tourism into its key industry by 2020.

According to the provincial Tourism Department, Kien Giang welcomed more than 2.4 million tourists in the last five months, 42.4 percent of year’s plan and up 3.6 percent year-on-year. Of the number, foreign visitors increased more than 13 percent.

Kien Giang hosted the National Tourism Year - Phu Quoc - Mekong Delta in 2016, which helped the province to improve its tourism products and attract more visitors.

Tran Chi Dung, head of the department stressed that the province is striving to build on the momentum from the National Tourism Year. The province has called for more investment as well as improvement in services and human resource quality, along with building tourism products.

In the first five months of 2017, more than 850,000 tourists came to the province’s Phu Quoc island, a rise of 30 percent year-on-year, said Huynh Quang Hung, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Phu Quoc district.

Phu Quoc is expected to receive about two million people this year, mostly during Miss Grand International 2017 in October, Christmas and New Year 2018, Hung added.

Kien Giang province has built its tourism brand as a safe and friendly destination for domestic and foreign visitors. It also hopes to complete a tourism development plan and implement essential infrastructure.

In addition, the province has focused on mobilising resources to improve key tourism zones and repair local relics, as well as build more cultural and sport centres.

Quang Ninh: two historical places named national relic sites

Don Cao Dong Trieu (Dong Trieu military post) and An Bien Temple in Dong Trieu town, the northern province of Quang Ninh were recognised as national relic sites at a ceremony held in the locality on June 4.

The event was organised to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the Fourth Revolutionary Base-Tran Hung Dao base or Dong Trieu Base (June 8, 1945).

At the ceremony, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Dang Thi Bich Lien noted the historic values of the two relic sites. 

An Bien Temple was built to commemorate General Le Chan, a native Dong Trieu woman, who contributed to the two Trung sisters (Hai Ba Trung)’ uprising against Han Chinese invaders in 40 B.C.

Meanwhile, Dong Trieu Base was important in the period before the August Revolution.

Some of Don Cao Dong Trieu has been destroyed. The remainders include houses of French soldiers, prisons, blockhouse systems and tunnels.

Dong Trieu has huge potential to develop cultural and spiritual tourism, the deputy minister stressed, adding that Dong Trieu town and Quang Ninh province need to improve communication works to raise public awareness of protecting historical relic sites so the sites can become tourist attractions.

Pu Luong Nature Reserve protects rare animals

The management board of Pu Luong Nature Reserve in Bac Thuoc district, north central Thanh Hoa province, has implemented a research project to preserve the Asian black bear and palm civet between 2017 and 2019.

The project aims to record the number and distribution of the two animals, food resources and possible threats to devise measures to move them off the list of endangered species.

Director of the management board Le The Su said the three-year-old project will invite experts to provide inspection and preservation training for 20 officials.

A dozen workshops will be held to raise local awareness of protecting the rare animals.

The number of Asian black bears and palm civets at Pu Luong has declined due to illegal hunting and deforestation.

An Asian black bear weighs 80-180kg with round-shaped ears, a white V-shaped chest and a short tail.

A palm civet has a pale yellow or buff-grey body with 4-5 black bands on its back.

WB approves 72.52 million USD loan for Da Nang infrastructure

The World Bank (WB) has approved a loan of 72.52 million USD for infrastructure projects in the central city of Da Nang from its International Development Association.

The city said the fund would help support the city’s infrastructure projects, including a separated sewage discharge system for coastal tourism sites of My An and My Khe area in Son Tra Peninsula.

The fund will also support integrated bus and Bus Rapid Transit network and Intelligent Transport System (ITS) projects and upgrades to the bypass road system of the Da Nang-Quang Ngai Expressway in Hoa Vang district.

The city also asked the WB to increase its funding for wastewater treatment and drainage channel projects.

The city’s efforts to treat wastewater have been lacking, with seven of 15 wastewater gates discharging water into the sea untreated.

Da Nang has met deadlines for development projects funded by the WB over the past many years.

In 2013, the WB agreed to provide 202 million USD for a 272-million USD sustainable development project to help improve the city’s Bus Rapid Transit network, build new roads, and revamp the existing drainage system.

Charity gala raises support for children with heart diseases

A charity gala in Hanoi on June 4 raised more than 21 billion VND (924,800 USD) to support disadvantaged children with heart diseases.

The event, held by Vietnam Television (VTV) and military-run telecommunications group Viettel, was part of the VTV’s Operation Healthy Heart programme, now in its ninth year. It took place amidst the Action Month for Children, drawing officials, doctors and philanthropists.

Speaking at the gala, National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan said the programme has given a bright future to poor children with congenital heart diseases.

She also applauded donations from VTV’s Tam long Viet (Vietnam’s heart) fund, Viettel and domestic and foreign sponsors who have funded 120 billion VND (5.28 million USD) for heart surgeries for 3,500 disadvantaged children over the past nine years.

On the occasion, the “Operation Healthy Heart” programme and the Vietnam Red Cross Society launched a texting campaign until July 13 to call for assistance for the children. People can send their support by texting “TTCE” to 1409, with each message donating of 18,000 VND (0.8 USD).

The programme expects 3,000 children to receive surgeries and 30,000 others to have heart disease screening from now to 2020.

Statistics from the World Health Organisation show that there are 44,600 children under six years old with congenital heart diseases in Vietnam. About 60 percent of them are from low-income families.

Some 8,000 – 10,000 children are born with congenital heart diseases in Vietnam each year. Fifty percent of them have serious diseases and need immediate surgery.

General Association of Vietnam-Belgium convenes congress

The General Association of Vietnam-Belgium (GAVB) convened its Congress at the Vietnamese Embassy in Brussels, Belgium on June 4.

In his speech at the event, Ambassador to Belgium Vuong Thua Phong lauded the GAVB’s efforts to develop relations with both domestic and foreign organisations and maintain sound cooperation with the authorities of the host country.

The Vietnamese Embassy in Belgium is always ready to support the association’s activities, he said.

The ambassador suggested that the GAVB promote communication works to attract more Vietnamese overseas in the coming time, and praised the association’s plan to set up chapters in Belgium’s localities to expand its activities.

In its 2014-2017 tenure, the GAVB paid special attention to connecting with associations of Vietnamese people in other European nations like Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. It also organised many cultural and sport activities for he Vietnamese community in Belgium.

At the congress, Vietnamese expats suggested the association should have its official headquarters to facilitate its activities.

A new executive board with nine members was elected at the congress with Huynh Cong My re-elected as Chairman for the GAVB’s new tenure.

Exhibition spotlights Vietnam’s sea, island culture heritages

An exhibition on Vietnam’s sea and island culture heritages opened on June 9 in Tam Ky city as part of the 6th Quang Nam Heritage Festival 2017.

The event is designed to provide visitors an overview on Vietnam’s sea and islands throughout historical periods through a number of documents, ancient maps, records of the Nguyen Dynasty affirming Vietnam’s sovereignty over Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagos. 

Also on display are ancient items featuring the country’s sea and island cultures as well as festival costumes and working tools of people in coastal regions, helping visitors gain a better understanding about the life of fishermen. 

In addition, cultural heritages, sea and island tourism, folk performances and sea products of coastal localities are displayed at the exhibition, jointly held by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the People’s Committees of Quang Nam and central coastal localities.

The event, which runs through June 14, also provides an opportunity to localities to accelerate cultural exchanges and share experience in managing cultural activities, while promoting Vietnam’s cultural values as well as sea and island tourism potential.  400 role models nationwide commended at Hanoi ceremony

A commendation ceremony for 400 exemplars in various fields across Vietnam was held by the Central Council for Emulation and Reward in Hanoi on June 10.

Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, First Vice Chairwoman of the central council, said the emulation movement has spread among people from all strata and in all spheres, which has helped the nation to successfully carry out socio-economic development tasks.

She said the 400 role models, introduced by localities, ministries, sectors and central organisations, represent millions of collectives and individuals nationwide who are devoting themselves to their work and study, thus substantially contributing to national development and protection.

About 88 percent of the honoured models are individuals while the remaining are collectives.

The role models come from all walks of life, from farmers who excel in their farm work, war veterans who have helped one another escape poverty, and outstanding workers. Notably, there are many young talents who were born in the 90s and are dynamic in the country’s integration period.

The oldest among the exemplars is the 71-year-old Vu Van Thuan, who made outstanding contribution to the new-style rural area building in Hai Duong province. The youngest is Huynh Hoang Khanh, 14, who is an excellent student inventing a number of useful ideas at the Him Lam Ethnic Minority Boarding School of Hau Giang province.

In his speech, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong said aside from the 400 role models at the ceremony, there remain countless unsung examples in numerous areas across the country.

They are driven by patriotism, the resolve to enrich themselves and the homeland, and the aspiration to grasp new scientific and technological knowledge, he said, describing them as the core of the emulation movement.

He also asked the Central Council for Emulation and Reward, ministries, sectors, localities, the Vietnam Fatherland Front and organisations at all levels to launch widespread emulation movements to arouse people’s patriotism and national pride.

Action month urges joint efforts to assist drug users

A ceremony was held in northern Bac Giang province on June 10 to launch the Action Month for Drug Prevention and Control, calling for joint efforts to assist drug users.

The event is also Vietnam’s response to the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (June 26).

This year’s action month aims at intensifying drug prevention, control and detoxification, urging more attention to and less discrimination against drug addicts, and encouraging the community to support drug addicts in rehabilitation and integration.

In his opening speech, Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung said the drug situation remains complicated, noting that there are more than 210,000 drug users nationwide, over 70 percent of whom are under 35 years old and 35 percent have previous convictions and offences.

Drug production and trafficking are increasing, and the use of synthetic drugs is surging among young people, he added.

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh said one of the causes behind the drug problems is the inconsistent viewpoints and low awareness of authorities and people on drug abuse and detoxification. The incomplete legal system and relevant mechanisms and policies for the work also hinder the drug fight, while communication activities have not achieved desired effectiveness. 

He added that the mobilisation of domestic and foreign resources for the drug fight failed to meet demand.

The Deputy PM requested ministries and sectors to fine-tune relevant mechanisms and policies, and enhance educational campaigns to raise public awareness and encourage people to denounce drug crime. Meanwhile, grassroots authorities need to help drug users to rehabilitate and integrate into the society.

He also called on businesses, organisations and religious followers to support drug combat efforts and provide jobs for rehabilitated persons.

After the ceremony, hundreds of officials and civil servants of Bac Giang province took part in a parade to convey the messages of the Action Month for Drug Prevention and Control and the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Toll exemption for certain vehicles in Quảng Bình

Certain types of vehicles will be exempt from paying toll at Quán Hàu Toll Station and toll stations belong to transport infrastructure investor TASCO in the central province of Quảng Bình, said Nguyễn Văn Huyện, director of the Directorate for Roads of Việt Nam. 

The toll exemption was expected to be effective this month, according to Huyện.

Vehicles eligible for the waiver include Type 1 and Type 2 vehicles owned by permanent residents of and organisations or enterprises headquartered in districts of Quảng Ninh, Lệ Thủy and Đồng Hới City, Quảng Trạch District and Ba Đồn Town as well as public buses running on the route, he said.

Type 1 vehicles include cars with less than 12 seats and trucks weighing less than two tonnes, he said.

Type 2 vehicles include cars with 12 to 30 seats and trucks weighing from two to four tonnes.

The People’s Committee of Quảng Bình Province is responsible for directing concerned authorities to identify the number of vehicles eligible for the waiver.

The decision was made following the province’s request to remove toll fee for vehicles at toll stations on National Highway 1A which pass Quảng Bình Province.

Residents from Lệ Thủy and Quảng Ninh districts and Đồng Hới City have often complained to local authorities that they did not use BOT sections but still had to pay the fee.

Last Thursday locals caused a congestion on National Highway 1A for many hours when they gathered at the stations with their vehicles to protest against the high toll fee.

Provinces, cities must strengthen management of overloaded vehicles

The number of overloaded vehicles plying on roads is high because of the mismanagement by provinces and cities, Nguyễn Văn Huyện, director of the Directorate for Roads of Việt Nam (DRVN), said.

Besides this, they are not making use of the mobile weighing stations, he added.

Reports by the DRVN have shown that from April 21 until May 20, inspectors of local departments of transport used mobile weighing stations to check more than 26,300 vehicles, and discovered that more than 2,600 violated weight norms. The inspectors then withdrew more than 1,000 driving licences and imposed administrative fines of VNĐ26.6 billion (US$1.2 million).

The DRVN’s hotline system received reports from residents that many oversized and overloaded vehicles were plying in different provinces and cities, damaging highways, such as the highways No 18, 1, 20 and 27.

Director Huyện has asked provinces and cities that do not use mobile weighing stations to immediately operate them, especially in the localities with main highways, including Hà Giang, Bắc Kạn, Sơn La, Bình Định, Đắk Nông and Bình Thuận.

Inspectors from the local transport departments and the Roads Management Department must strengthen their check on ports, big plants and enterprises in industrial zones and construction materials mines. They must conduct patrols regularly on roads with large number of lorries and give strict punishment to those violating the rules, he said.

Hanoi to face water shortage in summer

Hanoi is expected to face water shortage of up to 100,000 cubic meters a day during this summer, the municipal Department of Construction has announced.

The shortage is caused by lower supply from a local water plant, the department director Le Van Duc said on June 9.

All water plants in Hanoi have a combined capacity of around 925,000 cubic meters per day, according to the department.

One new facility with a capacity of 30,000 cubic meter a day was at Bac Thang Long Water Plant last year. However, this fails to increase the total capacity of the city, as the water source, the Da River, currently runs low.

With water demand normally increasing by 12% during the hot summer, it is estimated that many parts of the city will experience water shortage, the department admitted.

The shortage ranges from 70,000 to nearly 100,000 cubic meters per 24-hour period.

The affected areas include Buoi Street in Ba Dinh District and Thuy Khue Street in Tay Ho District.

Clean water supply is also expected to fall short for residents living on streets including Hang Buom, Tran Nhat Duat, Hang Tre, Hang Gai, and Hai Ba Trung in Hoan Kiem District.

Several streets in Dong Da District including De La Thanh, Lang, and Thai Thinh 2 will also be affected.

Officials of the municipal Department of Construction have asked employees of all water plants citywide to run their facilities at maximum capacity in order to alleviate the coming problem.

The department said it may supply clean water to affected areas by tank trucks, if necessary.

Landfill operator notorious for causing Saigon stench fined US$66,000

Vietnam’s environment ministry has fined the operator of a major landfill site in Ho Chi Minh City more than VND1.5 billion (US$66,100) for illegally discharging sewage.

Vietnam Waste Solutions, Inc. had failed to build sewage treatment facilities and had discharged sewage that exceeded safety limits, authorities said.

The company has been ordered to treat the remaining sewage stored at the site by August.

The 138-hectare (341-acre) Da Phuoc site is about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) south of the city center and is the culprit behind a stench that has plagued the city’s southern suburbs for months.

The smell gets particularly bad overnight and during the rainy season between July and September.

Many residents, including those in the affluent Phu My Hung area, filed complaints last year saying that the stench had become unbearable.

The city’s largest landfill site was put into operation in 2007 with total investment of more than US$107 million, and currently treats 5,000 tons of garbage daily.

Authorities plan to move the waste disposal facility out of the inner city to a new site that is under construction in Long An Province, about 60 kilometers away.

They have also pledged to spend more than VND1 trillion (US$44 million) over the next four years as part of broader efforts to solve the odor problem, including covering the costs of relocation and planting new trees.

The city said it will also encourage investors to provide waste management services to collect and recycle between 1,000 and 2,000 tons of solid waste per day.

Vietnamese in Qatar unaffected by diplomatic crisis: envoy

Amid diplomatic tensions between Qatar and its neighbors, Vietnamese citizens living and working there are somewhat worried but their lives "remain stable," the Vietnamese embassy has said.

Ambassador Nguyen Hoang said the embassy has been active in keeping the community updated and has “urged local people to stay calm and closely watch the developments of the situation.” 

According to the embassy, nearly 2,000 Vietnamese people are living and working in Qatar, including 1,800 unskilled workers in construction companies. 

The rest works in aviation services, sanitation and beauty care. Meanwhile, nearly 20 families of Vietnamese doctors, engineers working in universities, research institutes as well as oil and gas groups, live in the capital of Doha.

Hoang said he would coordinate with Vietnamese and Qatar agencies to protect Vietnamese citizens and their properties.

A group of Arab powers cut ties with Qatar on June 5 accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and Iran, according to media reports.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain first made the move, and then Yemen, Libya's eastern-based government and the Maldives joined later. Transport links have been shut down, triggering supply shortages.

Nguyen Trung Hieu, who works in Qatar and serves as a liaison for the Vietnamese community, told VnExpress that the situation remains stable.

"I have seen no change,” he said. “Last night, when our family went to supermarket, we still found ample supplies. Food prices are stable."

Qatar, a small peninsular nation of 2.5 million people that has a large US military base, has denounced the diplomatic cut-off, saying it is based on lies. It has often been accused of funding Islamists, as has Saudi Arabia.

HCM City plants trees in response to World Environment Day

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport and District 2 People’s Committee held a tree planting ceremony today (June 10) in response to World Environment Day.

All told, approximately 160 variegated trees were planted in District 2 at the park under the Saigon Bridge on Nguyen Van Huong Road.

Tran Quang Lam, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Transport said the planting not only responds to World Environment Day but is part of activities to turn the City into a green and clean urban metropolis.

He noted that the City plans to plant roughly 7,000 trees this year and to cover some 200,000 square metres with green trees and other vegetation over the next several years.


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