Social News 16/6
Social Insurance Fund may get nod to invest in high-return projects

The Vietnam Social Insurance (VSI) reports accumulated revenue of a whopping VND500 trillion (about US$22 billion), so part of the fund may be used to invest in high-return national projects apart from the bulk being used now to buy Government bonds.

The organization plans to invest the fund in the banking sector, and some key national projects that are financially viable, said a VSI representative at a conference in HCMC last week.

In a bid to safeguard the fund from risks, VSI has issued a board resolution on the 2017 investment plan focusing on purchasing G-bonds.

The combined proportion of funds to buy G-bonds and lending to the State budget is around 85% of the total by the end of this year. VSI intends to make the most of the remaining capital for other investment forms in line with the Government’s Decree No. 30/2016/ND-CP dated April 28, 2016.

Specifically, the agency plans to diversify its investment channels, such as placing term deposits at banks, purchasing promissory notes, securities, and certificates of deposit at banks.

Bui Sy Loi, deputy head of the National Assembly’s Social Affairs Committee, said the fund has enjoyed higher returns than interest rates at banks, with last year’s average rate reaching 7.8%.

In the coming time, the NA committee recommends VSI invest in some financially viable projects of national importance for higher returns.

VSI said at the conference that the total number of enterprises partaking in social insurance, health insurance, and unemployment insurance was over 208,397 as of end-2016. Notably, 7.7% or 16,085 companies of the total were from the foreign direct investment (FDI) sector.

VSI has earned revenue of more than VND151.5 trillion from the business community, with over VND71.6 trillion, or 47.2% of the total, from the FDI sector. The total number of employees joining these insurance programs was over 8.7 million, with 3.7 million from FDI enterprises.

However, VSI deputy director Trinh Dinh Lieu said the total insurance premium arrears at FDI enterprises amounted to VND1.24 trillion, equivalent to 3.9% of the amount the agency should have collected.

Many enterprises have been late in paying insurance premiums for their employees due to business difficulties; some were even disbanded or suspended. Meanwhile, some companies deliberately tried to find ways to evade or delay their payments for other investment purposes.

These have had adverse effects on the legitimate rights and interests of employees, and social security in general.

Int’l students to learn about Vietnam agriculture

Twenty-six students from Vietnam and seven other Asia-Pacific countries will spend two weeks learning about sustainable agriculture and impacts of climate change on smallholder farmers in the country.

The students majoring in agriculture from Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, South Korea and will participate in a field trip to HCMC and the Mekong Delta from June 25 to July 7 to gain an insight into small farming households and the role of agricultural enterprises, governmental and non-governmental organizations in assisting smallholder farmers and improving food security in the region.

The program “Connecting students 2017” is co-organized by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Syngenta, a supplier of genetically modified (GM) corn varieties. The program is also supported by Winrock International, Rimfire Resources, MimosaTek and Grameen Intel.

Launched in 2010, the annual program benefits developing countries in the region. This is the second year Vietnam has been chosen to host the program.

Subscribers’ vexation

Enhancing the effectiveness of State management for the benefit of the society is a justifiable goal, but it is also generally agreed that even the right end cannot justify the means. When the means employed to achieve a righteous end causes public disturbance, tough reactions and protests are understandable. That can be the case of a new rule requiring all mobile phone subscribers to have their portraits submitted to mobile carriers to facilitate State management.

Angry voices are heard in local media these days, when the Ministry of Information and Communications orders mobile carriers to send digitalized data of subscribers, including their portraits, to the ministry within one year. Those subscribers who fail to have their photos submitted will have their mobile services suspended, in line with the Government’s Decree 49/2017, effective from April 24, 2017.

Local media is flooded with questions as to whether such a demand is logical or not, what the cost-effectiveness of the new rule is, and why the disturbance is unnecessarily imposed on not one or two, but tens of millions of people nationwide.

Under the decree, all mobile carriers will have to take pictures of those people subscribing to new mobile services after Aril 24, 2017, which is quite an easy job for them. For those people who have subscribed mobile phone services prior to this date, carriers will have 12 months to complete the required data.

Such a rule triggers public outrage, as it “causes difficulties for users and is not necessary,” says Sai Gon Giai Phong. The newspaper explains that when subscribing to mobile services, users already have to submit the scanned copies of their identity cards and other personal data with photos included in such papers, so any extra requirement for them to add portraits is a waste of time and money.

In explanations to local media, the Telecommunications Department under the Ministry of Information and Communications gives various important reasons to assert that adding portraits to subscribers’ data is of utmost importance for the benefit of the society.

Le Thi Ngoc Mo, deputy director of the Telecommunications Department, says in Dan Viet that full data of subscribers is critically necessary to safeguard national security and social order and safety, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of the people. She refers to the practice in some other countries such as the U.S., India and Pakistan, where subscribers have to submit not only photos, but also their fingerprints or even blood samples, all to ensure national security.

Asked about the data previously collected from subscribers’ legal papers, Mo says such personal data, and even copies of identity cards of subscribers available in databases or mobile carriers, can be falsified. A report from the Telecommunications Department, Mo says, shows that as of early 2016, data from over 80 million subscribers out of the total 120 million subscribers were incorrect, as identity cards could be forged beyond the recognition of mobile service agents.

“Without the corrective measures, certain subscribers can make unidentified phone calls or messages intended to cheat or harass others, send spam or even poisonous information beyond the control of management agencies,” she is quoted in Nguoi Lao Dong as saying. As such, the new requirement is meant to verify the personal status of each and every subscriber, according to Mo of the Telecommunications Department.

Such an argument is challenged by the widespread public.

Nguoi Lao Dong, quoting several people, says that if data including photos and fingerprints from legal papers like identity cards can be forged, then photos or portraits can face the same fate. “If mobile service agents can send fake information into the system, they could do the same with portraits,” the paper quotes a reader as saying. Therefore, the new rule only spells trouble, leading to a waste of time and money for both enterprises and the people.

As of the end of 2016, there had had some 140 million subscribers nationwide, according to Thanh Nien. To implement the new rule, all these subscribers will have to come to mobile service agents to have portraits taken, which is impossible due to such a huge number, economist Nguyen Minh Phong says in the paper.

In addition, extra costs will be huge. Each mobile carrier has over 1,000 agents, and if such agents have to acquire new equipment to conform to the rule, then cost will be hundreds of billions of Vietnam dong, says Thanh Nien.

National Assembly deputy Luu Binh Nhuong, speaking with reporters on the sidelines of the ongoing NA sitting in Hanoi, estimates the total social cost may amount to trillions of Vietnam dong due to the new rule, according to the news site of the Voice of Vietnam radio station.

Echoing the point, Lawyer Truong Thanh Duc with the law firm Basico says in Thanh Nien that if each subscriber spends just a few minutes to implement the rule, the total social resource spent on this move will be tremendous, let alone costs borne by enterprises. “Why did the State agency before issuing any new regulation fail to estimate the benefits in relation with the expenses? If the expenses outweigh the benefits, the rule should not be implemented,” he is quoted as saying.

Bui Trinh, an economic expert, also affirms the new rule is troublesome. Any policy before being issued must be weighed in terms of pros and cons, from reality in the society to possible impacts. “Don’t let it repeat the case of a rule by the Ministry of Transport to force drivers to change their driving licenses from paper to plastic, which was later dismissed by the Ministry of Justice as illegal,” says Trinh in Thanh Nien.

Nguyen Ngoc Son, dean of the Economy-Law Faculty of Ton Duc Thang University, says in Thanh Nien that stringent requirements for telecommunications already exist, but unidentified SIM cards for mobile phones are still awash, which is the fault of mobile carriers in their management, while subscribers are not to blame. It is the responsibility of such carriers as well as State management agencies to correct their faulty practices, rather than to place a new burden on users. The first step should be to deal with fake subscribers, singled out to be 80 million as stated by the deputy director of the Telecommunications Department early on, rather than to choose the easier way of forcing all subscribers to redo their contracts with carriers by adding portraits. Such an approach will only increase the subscribers’ vexation.

Chemical in dialysate hundred times higher than allowable level

The test results of the investigation carried out by the Criminal Science Institute of the Ministry of Public Security indicated that the concentration of fluoride in water dialysis exceeds a certain level up to 245-260 rolling causing the catastrophe in Hoa Binh Hospital.
Tests of water used for dialysis showed that dialysate, the fluid in a dialysis machine, has high fluoride concentration; accordingly, it failed to meet water quality for dialysis.

Concerning to the dialysis catastrophe in Hoa Binh Hospital in the northern province of Hoa Binh infecting 18 patients and killing eight others, the provincial Department of Health June 26 decided to continue suspend director Truong Quy Duong for further investigation.

Before, director of Tram Anh Company Bui Manh Quoc, hospital employee Tran Van Son, and doctor Hoang Cong Luong had been detained for their involvement in the catastrophe.
Quoc was arrested on the charge of “accidentally causing human death because of violating career regulation”, Tran Van Son was prosecuted for irresponsibility leading to serious consequences while Dr. Hoang Cong Luong was facing prosecution of violating treatment regulation.
Before, director of the Department of Health Tran Quang Khanh said that Thien Son Pharmaceutical Company in Hanoi’s Cau Giay District is a medical supplier to clinics including dialysis equipment in the General Hospital Hoa Binh.
One day before the incident, on May 28, Thien Son hired Tram Anh Company owned by Bui Manh Quoc to carry out maintenance of RO water filtering system in Hoa Binh Hospital’ dialysis ward.

Subsidized medicine program achieves good results

Subsidized essential medicine program in the 2016-2017 period achieved good results, said the Department of Health in Ho Chi Minh City.
According to the Department, the quantity of medicine in the program increased and stores selling subsidized drugs have been mushrooming in the city. Consumption of these drugs also went up.
Subsidized drugs comprise 21 local drug groups: 176 active ingredients, 563 medications for normal and chronic diseases with huge demand. 

Some 12 new drugs are added into the list of subsidized medication, meeting the demand of infirmaries and pharmacies that participated in the program.
Of additional 164 participating drug stores, 154 private pharmacies and 10 stores of enterprises registered to partake in the program bringing the total number of subsidized drug stores to 4,016. Prices of subsidized drugs are 5-10 percent lower than market prices.
Sale figure of subsidized drugs gradually increased monthly; for instance the sale figure of subsidized medicine in 2016-2017 reached VND78.2 billion meanwhile sale figure in hospital pharmacies accounted for 30 percent of the program’s total sale figure in the city.
Tran Van Muoi who is in charge of the program said that enterprises well implemented the regulation of production plan and stock.
Hospital stores even sell subsidized drugs 5 percent lower than the current market price to offer patients good prices. The program contributed to maintain domestic medications’ price therefore.
To have good result, the program has received regular instruction from Party Committee, People’s Committee, and related agencies. 
Many hospital management boards adopted measures to encourage doctors to use domestic drugs in their prescription.
The Department of Health in coordination with media, pharmaceutical companies continued to increase information of the program plus enhanced inspection to distribution and sales of subsidized medicines.
Yearly, the health authority liaise with enterprises to find out more drugs for the program.
Overall, the program is also to help to raise participating enterprises’ capability and encourage them to invest in facilities and technologies as well as expand the consumption market to satisfy patients’ demand.

HCMC administrations urges people to strengthen environment protection

People’s Committee in Ho Chi Minh City urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resource to enhance information on environment protection programs.
Related agencies and people in districts, unions will carry out the program, including spreading information of environment protection and raising quality of the Environment Award for individuals, teams or enterprises that have great contribution in protecting environment.
The municipal People’s Committee also asked district people’s committees to call for people’s agreement in implement the regulation of environment protection by planting trees, build civilized lifestyle and keep the living space clean and fresh.

Chairmen of people’s committees in districts will be in charge of keep good hygiene in the jurisdictions. Enhancing inspection is needed to check locals’ obedience of the regulation.

HCMC might install smart pumps to cope with street flooding

HCMC leaders yesterday worked with Quang Trung Industry Joint Stock Company about pilot installation of a smart pumping system to cope with flooding in Nguyen Huu Canh street, Binh Thanh District.

The leaders comprised secretary of the HCMC Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan, deputy chairman of the city People’s Committee Le Van Khoa and agency representatives.
At the meeting, chairman of the company’s board of directors Nguyen Tang Cuong said that coping with flooding in Nguyen Huu Canh street needed a smart pumping system, automatically removing garbage and soil while pumping water out from the street.
The company’s system designed with centrifugal pumps moves water from low to high ground at the capacity of 27,000-96,000 cubic meters an hour. The pumps operating with oil or electricity will be connected with the available sewer system of the city.
Investment capital will total VND88 billion (US$3.88 million). The company pledged that it will not receive money if the system does not work.
Director of the Department of Transport Bui Xuan Cuong said that the agency had collected opinions from experts and scientists about the feasibility of the project. Most of them said no doubts about the pumping ability of the system.
Still, they said that the street has been flooded because the drainage system has been damaged due to depression in the area. Therefore more surveys should be conducted to prove that the sewer system is able to receive water volume from the pumping system. The project should count locations to install pumps and environmental impact.
Mr. Cuong said that radical solution to solve flooding in Nguyen Huu Canh street is to upgrade the street and rebuild the drainage system.
The Department of Transport has assigned Urban Traffic Management No.1 to be investor of a project to repair Nguyen Huu Canh street, part of a priority program to reduce traffic jam in the phase of 2017-2018 with the total investment capital of VND473 billion ($21 million).
Deputy chairman Le Van Khoa said that previously a delegation of agency representatives led by the Department of Transport had visited anti-flooding pumps of Quang Trung company at its plant in Quang Ninh province.
He required agencies to urgently study the sewer system, water flow and pump installation locations within ten days before reporting to the city People’s Committee to decide.
Secretary Nguyen Thien Nhan said that the pumping system project must meet all relevant requirements to be implemented, stressing that it is unfeasible for the city to spend VND88 billion on the system now.
He suggested the company to rent the pumping service with a specific and clear price frame.

SCG & Hanoi FC provide game-day fun

SCG partnered with the Hanoi Football Club on June 24 to create activities aimed at lifting professional football in Vietnam and encouraging youth development via sports.
At the V-league match between Hanoi FC and Hai Phong on the same day, SCG offered free tickets to hundreds of children and university students to watch the game, arranged pre-match activities, and donated sports facilities to local communities.
“Based on the principle of human development and sustainable development, SCG is delighted to partner with the Hanoi Football Club to inspire and engage Vietnamese youngsters in football,” said Mr. Montri Mahaplerkpong, Deputy Country Director of SCG Vietnam. “Creating more exciting activities on the field and improving the club’s performance will attract more fans to the stadium to watch the game and encourage the younger generation to develop via football.”
“As part of our corporate social responsibility (CSR), SCG continues to donate sports facilities, like football, badminton, and basketball equipment, to Hanoi neighborhoods to provide opportunities for local youth to have a healthy lifestyle in their free time,” he added. “This is in line with SCG’s corporate vision of creating better lives for Vietnamese.”
Early this year, SCG announced its sponsorship of the Hanoi Football Club in the 2017 and 2018 seasons out of a desire to support the development of professional football in Vietnam and as part of its corporate sustainable development strategy, with the goal of human development. The cooperation between the two also marks a milestone for SCG, as its first sports sponsorship in Vietnam.
SCG is widely known for supporting regional sporting talent to head to the global stage. It has sponsored Ariya Jutanugarn to become the world’s Number 1 golfer and also sponsors famous Thai football club SCG Muangthong United and the SCG Badminton Academy in Thailand.
Aside from sports sponsorship, SCG leads many CSR projects that focus on human development, such as the SCG Sharing the Dream Scholarship program, the SCG Sharing the Dream Playground at Hoang Van Thu Park in Ho Chi Minh City, and the SCG International Internship Program for university graduates, among others.

HCM City urged to improve transport infrastructure

Deputy Transport Minister Nguyen Ngoc Dong said HCM City’s infrastructure projects had lots of problems during a meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on June 23.
Dong said even though HCM City was Vietnam’s key economic hub, its road infrastructure left lots to be desired and this was an obstacle to the city's development. HCM City must quickly finish slow road and metro projects including Ring Road 3 and the Ben Luc-Long Thanh Expressway.

"HCM City's infrastructure is a far cry from Hanoi's. In Hanoi, all roads entering the city are wide, there are routes to various provinces and the closed ring roads helps make travel to the airport easily. HCM City doesn't have closed ring roads and the road and traffic to Tan Son Nhat Airport is a huge problem," he said.

He urged the quick completion of Ring Road 2 and deal with difficulties in the construction of Ring Road 3 that play an important role in the city's and the region's traffic planning and economic development.

"There's congestion whenever goods are brought in from Cat Lai Port. There's hours-long traffic jams every few days. The damage to the economy is immeasurable," he said.

HCM City needs fund from the government to complete the Ring Road 3 and the metro line. Currently, the city is trying to improve the traffic around Tan Son Nhat Airport by government directive.

He said, "With a population of over ten million, HCM City needs its own urban railway network. Only three million-plus population cities already have metro lines."

Dong also constantly urged the government to give additional ODA to key traffic projects. With the current slow disbursement rate, contractors had sued and demanded the city to pay them interest. If no money is forthcoming, contractors may stop working or the project completion dates will be delayed by two years to 2022.

The Ministry of Transport will prioritise on-going construction and give the contractors funds first to complete the projects on time, ensuring the good relations with other countries and credits institutes.

HCM City to open maiden river bus route in August

Ho Chi Minh City is expected to operate its first-ever river bus route this August to help relieve the increasing traffic pressure on local streets.

After nearly eight years of preparation, the river bus route No.1 is set to connect Bach Dang Port in District 1 with Linh Dong Ward in Thu Duc District.
The 10.8-kilometer-long route will run along the Saigon River and Thanh Da Canal.

The construction of the second route stretching from Bach Dang to Lo Gom in District 8, measuring 10.3 kilometers, is anticipated to begin in 2018.

The two projects cost a total of VND125 billion (US$5.48 million).

The upcoming inauguration of the maiden river bus route has received quite positive feedback from local residents.

Nguyen Minh Phong, a student from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, expressed his joy at the new form of transportation.

“My house in District 2 is only 20 minutes away from the school. However, I’m often late for class due to serious traffic jams,” Phong said.

“I will absolutely switch to using the river ‘bus’ to avoid the jams as well as smoke and dust on the road,” he continued.

Nguyen Thi Huyen Mi, a law student, said she could not wait to get on the waterway bus.

“It will be a great convenience as my school is located near the Bach Dang Port,” Mi elaborated.

Trinh Thi Phuong Anh, a resident in District 6, considered the river bus a good way to ease road congestion and air pollution, and to take advantage of the city’s river and canal system.

According to Nguyen Kim Toan, director of Thuong Nhat Company, which is the investor of the river bus project, the new transport system has to meet a variety of requirements regarding esthetics, convenience, and punctuality.

Aside from providing a comfortable journey and sightseeing opportunity, these buses have to be on time in order to attract passengers, Toan stated.

A one-way journey will take approximately 21 minutes, during which the boat will drop by seven stops besides the two main terminals, Toan explained.

Each trip will cost VND15,000 ($0.66), he continued, adding that the fare would remain the same in the first one or two years.

While supporting the river bus, Associate Professor Nguyen Van Hiep, a lecturer from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, still voices some concern over the new means of transportation.

“Water pollution has to be addressed to maximize the potentialities of these river buses,” Hiep remarked.

“I have been on speedboats and cruises along the Saigon River so many times and I notice that garbage in the water affects the speed of the boats,” the expert explained.

It is necessary or dredge the river and deal with rubbish properly for the smooth operation of the waterway bus, thus attracting more passengers, he added.

Nguyen Ngoc Tuong, deputy head of the city’s Traffic Safety Committee, asserted that dredging activities should be carried out promptly to ensure pleasant scenery for passengers.

The project investor and the municipal Department of Transport should also inform local residents of the new transport service before its official opening.

Junior tennis tournament opens in Sóc Trăng

More than 300 players are participating in the National Junior Tennis Tournament, which is being held in the southern province of Sóc Trăng.

The athletes, aged 12 to 18, are from 21 teams nationwide, including the Military, Hà Nội, Bắc Giang, Sóc Trăng, Lạng Sơn, Bình Dương, Tây Ninh and Lào Cai teams. The athletes are competing in both the men’s and women’s singles and doubles category.

The event will give young players a chance to hone their skills and gain experience, as well as get selected for the national teams.

The event will last until July 3.

Thanh Hóa beat Đà Nẵng at V.League

LC Thanh Hóa defeated Đà Nẵng 3-2 in the 14th round of the national premiere league at Thanh Hóa Stadium on Saturday.

Thanh Hóa started attacking as soon as the referee blew his whistle. Lê Quốc Phương opened the score for Thanh Hóa in the 14th minute.

Fifteen minutes later, Đà Nẵng’s Phan Văn Long levelled the score at 1-1.

After the break, Thanh Hóa continued dominating the match, and their efforts were rewarded with Pape Omar Feye and Lê Văn Thắng scoring the goals in the 69th minute and 76th minute, respectively.

In the remaining time, Đà Nẵng who last won the league in 2012 and were the runners-up in 2013, tried their best to narrow the gap to 2-3 with a goal by Eydison Teofilo Soares.

With this victory, Thanh Hóa topped the ranking with 29 points and Đà Nẵng ranked eighth with 18 points.

“Thanh Hóa showed a different face in this match. We played actively and effectively, so we are worthy of the win. This was very valuable three points, as Đà Nẵng are a strong candidate for this year’s tournament,” said coach Ljupko Petrovic of Thanh Hóa. 

Meanwhile, coach Lê Huỳnh Đức said he was sorry for his team’s loss.

“We exerted ourselves. We deserved to have one point. The host team played very well, especially on the attack line,” said Đức.

In the other match, Sông Lam Nghệ An (SLNA) drew 1-1 with Quảng Ninh Coal. Despite not beating their rival, coach Nguyễn Đức Thắng was satisfied with his players’ performance.

“After two months of training, we improved many things. We started well and played unitedly. Trần Phi Sơn played a key role for SLNA. We scored first but were levelled in the final minutes,” said Thắng.

Elsewhere, Hoàng Anh Gia Lai bested Becamex Bình Dương 2-1, Khánh Hòa lost to Quảng Nam 0-3, HCM City beat Long An 3-2, Sài Gòn crushed Cần Thơ 2-1, and Hà Nội won Hải Phòng 2-0. 

HCM City and Long An Province to ensure safety of agricultural products

HCM City Food Safety Management Board and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Long An Province signed an agreement regarding the production, trade and consumption of agricultural products for the 2017-20 period.

Under the agreement, they will strictly control safety in the cultivation, breeding, fishing, production, processing and slaughter of agricultural products.

They will co-operate with each other to check and supervise areas of vegetable and fruit cultivation, animal breeding and fishing in Long An Province, which provides products for the city’s markets.

They also will co-ordinate with each other to find the origin of products which violate regulations on food safety and hygiene.

Through this co-operation, enterprises and co-operatives as well as producers in the province will have favourable conditions to access the city’s wholesale markets, stores and supermarkets.

The board and department’s staff will exchange experiences in management and market information to improve effectiveness in production and consumption.

Long An Province is the first province to sign an agreement with the HCM City Food Safety Management Board. 

Young Vietnamese scientists present research in RoK conference

The fourth annual Conference of Vietnamese Young Scientists (ACVYS) took place in the Republic of Korea (RoK) on June 25, featuring nearly 100 reports and research presented by Vietnamese scholars and students living in the host country.

The event was held by the Vietnamese Students’ Association in Korea (VSAK) at Gachon University, Seongnam City, Gyeonggi Province with about 300 Vietnamese and foreign academics and students from universities across the RoK in attendance.

Opening the conference, VSAK President Pham Hai Chien said, with the goals “connecting knowledge, igniting passion”, the ACVYS lets young scientists present their latest research and share their interests and experience in biotechnology, mechanical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, information technology, telecommunications materials science and more.

Vietnamese Deputy Ambassador to RoK Tran Anh Vu noted that the 15,000 Vietnamese students and alumni in the RoK form the second largest foreign student society in the country. 

He lauded the knowledge and skills they obtained in the RoK, contributing greatly to Vietnam’s economic development, adding the event marks the 25th anniversary of Vietnam-RoK diplomatic relations.

Highlights at this year’s conference were reports on the Industrial Revolution 4.0, Vietnamese-Korean automatic translator Utagger, energy transition and the East Sea issues.

Traffic accidents, deaths drop in six months

More than 9,500 traffic accidents occurred across the country in the first six months of this year, killing more than 4,100 people and injuring over 7,000 others, according to the National Committee for Traffic Safety.

The figures represented a drop of 636 in the number of accidents, 229 in the number of dead, and 1,004 in the number of injured compared to the same period last year.

The deadliest accident occurred in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai at the beginning of May when a coach crashed into a lorry, killing 13 people and injuring dozens of others.

In June, more than 1,500 traffic accidents were recorded with over 600 dead and 1,300 injured.

Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia front chiefs meet outstanding students

The Presidents of the fronts of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam had an exchange with outstanding students from the three nations at the Vietnam National University in Hanoi on June 25.

Opening the event, President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee Tran Thanh Man stressed the necessity for the younger generation to keep the three countries’ traditional solidarity.

He urged the youth to spare no effort to foster their capacity and do together more for their homelands and the tri-lateral ties.

President of the Lao Front for National Construction Saysomphone Phomvihane asked the students, particularly Lao students in Vietnam, to support one another in learning. 

He thanked Vietnamese teachers for their assistance towards Lao students in Vietnam.

On behalf of the participating students, La Thi Thu Hue, from the University of Languages and International Studies, showed her pride in the strong friendship shared among Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

She pledged to work with her Lao and Cambodian peers to contribute to the relations’ growth.

The exchange featured performances of signature music of the three nations.

Vietnam hosts UN staff officer training course

A training course on UN peacekeeping for staff officers funded by the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) opened at the Vietnam Peacekeeping Centre in suburban Thach That district, Hanoi on June 21. 

The three-week course drew the participation of 24 officers, including those from partner countries of GPOI – Cambodia, Indonesia and Mongolia.

They are working as managers and planners for the preparation and deployment of individuals and units to UN peacekeeping operations, and those who are planned to perform duty in UN peacekeeping missions.

In his opening speech, Lt. Gen. Pham Hong Huong, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army, said the course aims to prepare forces for effectively joining UN peacekeeping activities, contributing to implementing Vietnam’s consistent external policy of peace, cooperation and development, multilateralisation and diversification of relations. Vietnam is a realiable friend and partner and a responsible member of the global community, he stressed.

The course is hoped to equip officers with professional knowledge, skills and experience, contributing to improving peacekeeping work for Vietnamese officers.

Cần Thơ court hears traffic inspectors’ bribery case

The People’s Court of southern Cần Thơ City on Thursday opened the second day of trial to hear the case of seven traffic inspectors accused of bribery.
The inspectors are Dương Minh Tâm, 37; Đoàn Vũ Duy, 39; Võ Hoàng Anh, 35; and Nguyễn Trần Lưu, 40; as well as Lý Hoàng Minh, 32; Hồ Công Thiện, 40 and Trần Lập Pháp, 31 tuổi.
Two other defendants -- Trần Tường An, 39, and Nguyễn Văn Cần, 30 -- are also accused of the same crime.
According to the indictment of the People’s Procuracy of Cần Thơ City, the accused were prosecuted and brought to trial on charges of bribery in connection with an amount of nearly VNĐ4 billion (US$177,700).
During 2013 to 2016, the seven accused colluded with Trần Tường An and Nguyễn Văn Cần to negotiate with some local transport enterprises and neighbour provinces in the Cửu Long Mekong Delta to impose fines for minor traffic violations only.
Transport enterprises and individuals were forced to pay cash or transfer at least VNĐ1 million to VNĐ28 million per month to the above mentioned defendants upon violation of traffic regulations.
In four years, the defendants received nearly VNĐ4 billion from several enterprises and individuals.
According to the indictment, five defendants -- Dương Minh Tâm, Đoàn Vũ Duy, Võ Hoàng Anh, Trần Tường An and Nguyễn Văn Cần -- were charged with "taking bribes" and will receive the highest sentence of life imprisonment or death penalty if found guilty.
On the first working day, the trial panel began a questioning session to clarify the offense of each defendant in the case. The trial is expected to be completed within three days and sentencing will take place on Friday.

Vietnam junior golf tournament tees off

The Vietnam Junior Open 2017 starts June 22 and runs through June 25 at the Bluffs Ho Tram Strip 18-hole championship golf course in the province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, reports the Tienphong Online Newspaper.

About 90 junior golfers comprised of 70 local players and 20 foreigners registered for the tournament, the biggest junior golfer challenge sponsored by the Vietnam Golf Association.

Yen Bai works to care for HIV/AIDS-affected children

The northern mountainous province of Yen Bai has carried out a lot of measures to protect and care for children affected by HIV/AIDS.

The province has more than 2,000 children affected by HIV/AIDS, of whom 70 are living with HIV and 460 at high risk of getting HIV.

To date, over 95 percent of these children have been provided with services in health, education, nutrition and entertainment, and social welfare policies, depending on their age and demand.

All local HIV/AIDS treatment clinics and staff were equipped with knowledge and skills on caring for children affected by this disease.

The provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs guided its sub-departments at the city, district and town levels to implement the Prime Minister’s decision on taking action for children affected by HIV/AIDS, and expand care services for the needy at high-risk communes.

The department has also coordinated with the HIV/AIDS Prevention Centre in stepping up communications to avoid discriminations against HIV/AIDS-affected children and in providing them with free check-ups, consultations and treatment.

The children have been provided with health insurance cards, while those at high risk of getting HIV have received early screening tests.

Since 2012, the Department of Child Care and Protection under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and several non-governmental organisations have supported Yen Bai in implementing a project on connecting services for children affected by HIV/AIDS in several communes in the mountainous districts of Van Yen and Van Chan, benefiting hundreds of children.

As a mountainous province inhabited by many ethnic minority people with limited awareness, Yen Bai will continue stepping up measures to change locals’ awareness in order to make a breakthrough in the protection and care for HIV/AIDS-affected children.

It will also work to attract more financial assistance from central agencies and social organisations to do this work effectively.

Writing contest on Vietnam-Russia friendship launched

The Vietnam-Russia Friendship Association under the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations has launched a writing contest on Vietnam-Russia friendship on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Russia’s October Revolution (November 7, 1917).

The contest aims to highlight the significance and historical role of Russia’s October Revolution to Vietnam’s revolution as well as deepen the traditional friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

All Vietnamese and Russian citizens can participate in the contest. Entries should be written in Vietnamese and Russian with no more than 2,000 words and can be attached with photos or audiovisual materials. 

There will be one special prize worth 30 million VND (1,320 USD), three first prizes, five second prizes, 10 third prize, and 20 consolation prizes.

The entries should be submitted between June 19, 2017 and March 30, 2018. The prize announcement is slated for June 2018.

Second ISSF spotlights Industrial Revolution 4.0, smart city

The second International Student Science Forum (ISSF) took place in Ho Chi Minh City on June 22, focusing on the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and smart city development.

The three-day forum attracts the participation of 108 students from 10 countries.

They are set to present opinions on the role of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 in global development and smart city models and solutions.

Smart city services and citizens’ roles are also part of the discussion.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Nguyen Duc Nghia, Vice President of the Viet Nam National University Ho Chi Minh City (VNUHCM), said the southern city is leading Vietnam in innovations for sustainable development and integration. 

The forum helps Vietnamese students exchange views and learn from their international peers, he added.

On the sidelines of the forum, international students will visit the Ho Chi Minh City high-tech industrial park and take part in exchange activities with students from the VNUHCM.

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