Social News 9/11

Manulife Vietnam donates nearly VND200 mil to Terry Fox Fund

Nearly 700 staff and agents of Manulife Vietnam, part of leading international financial services group Manulife Financial Corporation, have joined the 2017 Terry Fox Run, raising nearly VND200 million ($9,000) for cancer research and treatment.

This is the 17th consecutive year that Manulife Vietnam participates in the charity run.

Over the years, Manulife Vietnam has been contributing the most runners to the Terry Fox Run, which manifests the dedication of Manulife Vietnam’s staff to corporate social responsibility initiatives.

“As a leading life insurance company, Manulife understands that health is people's most valuable asset. Manulife Vietnam always encourages its staff and agents to lead healthy and active lifestyles through prestigious sporting events,” said Paul Nguyen, general director of Manulife Vietnam.

“Via these activities, besides improving physical health, we can provide practical contributions to people in need in our community," he noted.

This philosophy inspired Manulife Vietnam to become the main sponsor of Danang International Marathon for three consecutive years as well as to participate in other prestigious charity run programmes, such as Hanoi Run for Children.

In addition, Manulife Vietnam also encourages employees and agents to pursue healthy and active lifestyles through its yoga, biking, and running clubs.

State funeral to be held for woman donating US$8mn to Vietnam government

A state funeral will be held for a centenarian, who, along with her late husband, voluntarily donated an equivalent of over US$8 million to Vietnam’s revolutionary government back in 1945.

The Central Committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front will hold the state-level funeral for Hoang Thi Minh Ho, who passed away at 104 at her own home in Hanoi on November 5.

Ho was widow of patriotic bourgeois Trinh Van Bo, who voluntarily contributed 5,147 taels of gold to the revolutionary government in 1945.

One tael is equivalent to VND36 million (US$1,572) in the current foreign exchange rate.

Her coffin will lie in state at the National Morgue at No. 5, Tran Thanh Tong Street, Hanoi.

A memorial service will be held at the site from 11:15 am to 12:45 pm on November 14, according to her relatives.

She will be buried the same day at Mai Dich Cemetery in the capital.

Ho was born in 1914 in the capital city to a Confucian scholar and an opulent merchant in the then Hang Dao Street.

At 18, she married Trinh Van Bo before inheriting a house at 48 Hang Ngang Street and a silk store named Phuc Loi.   

Upon the resounding success of the August Revolution, an uprising launched by the Viet Minh (League for the Independence of Vietnam) against French colonial rule in Vietnam on August 14, 1945, through the introduction of an acquaintance, the patriotic couple at their discretion dedicated part of their house to the revolutionary officials as their workplace.

The couple was unaware that late President Ho Chi Minh, who led the government, was among the officials.

It was during his stay at the house that President Ho Chi Minh composed the Declaration of Independence which ushered in the birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

He served as its president from 1945 to 1969.

Only a few days after, in enthusiastic response to the government’s Tuan Le Vang (Gold Week), Bo and his wife contributed the enormous amount of the precious metal to the then empty state coffers.

The couple also played a crucial role as the campaigners of the Gold Week, raising 20 million French Indochinese piastre, the currency of French Indochina between 1885 and 1952, and 370kg of gold from local merchants and other social classes.

A street in Cau Giay District, Hanoi will be named for Trinh Van Bo, according to a resolution recently submitted by the Hanoi People’s Committee to the municipal People’s Council.

The street will be among the 20 new and five current ones that will have their lengths adjusted.

The municipal People’s Council fifth plenum, slated for early December, will consider the resolution for approval.

Trinh Van Bo Street is expected to span 1.2km and has a width of 7.5m.

It will stretch from the Nguyen Dinh Hoan intersection to the Phung Chi Kien T-junction.

Bo (1914-1988) was the youngest in a family of three children.

His father was Trinh Phuc Loi, a merchant in the early 20th century.

His mother, of Chinese origin, helped his father successfully run the Phuc Loi silk store, which not only supplied products to domestic clients but also traded items with neighboring countries and even China, India and Switzerland.

In 1932, he married Ho and elevated their inherited silk store to further prosperity.

ILO offers wage reform recommendations to Vietnam

Specialists from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on November 8 shared experiences in wage and social insurance issues and gave recommendations to Vietnam’s draft plan for reforming wage, social insurance and benefits for national contributors.

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, head of the steering committee for reforming wage, social insurance and benefit policies for national contributors, said the Vietnamese Government is drafting the reform plan, which is expected to be considered at the seventh session of the 12th Party Central Committee in May 2018.

This is a difficult job since the scope of the plan is large, Hue said, adding that it covers the public sector and State-owned and private enterprises, relates to social insurance policies – one of the pillars of social welfares, and impacts almost all people of working age and retirees.

ILO Vietnam Director Chang Hee Lee said the national policy on wage and social insurance is a key socio-economic policy that affects all citizens’ livelihoods and businesses’ competitiveness. Across the world these policies can be controversial, and it is hard for governments, trade unions and employers to reach consensus, he added.

According to the ILO official, minimum wage functions limitedly in some spheres of a market economy. Collective bargaining between employers and employees is the key process to specify actual levels of pay and other working conditions.

He said that collective bargaining has yet to develop in Vietnam. Meanwhile, the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement requests the ratification of the ILO Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, which will promote wage bargaining.

Lee suggested Vietnam improves wage statistics and enhance the capacity of the National Wage Council’s secretariat in monitoring minimum wage’s impacts and ties between wages and jobs.

He also asked for a formula estimating adjustments to minimum wage or fixed parameters in that formula so that adjustments to minimum wage are predictable.

Regarding ways to improve salaries in the public sector, the official said this is a complex problem as it relates to many different factors, including the size of the public sector which is huge in Vietnam, the pay gap between public and private sectors, and pay levels for different positions.

He suggested a basic wage in the public sector be specified according to the rank employees hold while allowances should be concrete numbers instead of coefficients.

At the meeting, ILO specialists also recommended Vietnam to change its social insurance policy step by step and expand insurance coverage.

Quang Ninh appraises biodiversity preservation plan

The north-eastern border province of Quang Ninh has held a meeting to appraise its biodiversity preservation plan through 2020, with a vision toward 2030.

The plan aims to promote biodiversity preservation and development, especially the natural ecosystem and rare species, to serve sustainable development, environmental protection, climate change adaptation, and ensure ecological security.

The province hopes to increase the forest coverage by 55% by 2020 and 58% by 2030 and will prioritise the protection of endangered species.

The plan will be carried out in three phases. In 2018-2020, Quang Ninh will upgrade existing nature reserves and establish Dong Rui – Tien Yen wetland nature reserves, and Co To and Dao Tran marine nature reserves.

The province will launch Dong Son-Ky Thuong, Yen Tu and Bai Tu Long floral gardens and Bai Tu Long and Dong Son-Ky Thuong fauna gardens in 2021-2025, along with mountainous and maritime biodiversity corridors and Quang Hanh limestone nature reserve. 

The plan also sets measures for implementation regarding capital, human resources training, science-technology, policy mechanisms, information communication, and livelihood improvement.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Dang Huy Hau suggested reviewing the proposals to expand areas for the Dong Son-Ky Thuong nature reserve and forecast risks and difficulties in implementing the project such as socio-economic development speed, declining water resources in some lakes, and the extinction of rare species.

He stressed the need to implement the project to protect the environment, preserve biodiversity and develop the local economy.

The official urged the consultant company involved to complete the plan before November 15, 2017.

Quang Ninh is home to 4,350 species of fauna and flora, including 154 species listed in Vietnam’s Red Book. However, local ecological systems are being damaged by human activities. Tigers, bears and horses have vanished from the province while coral reefs have been spoilt.

The province’s Bai Tu Long National Park, named the 38th ASEAN Heritage Park in 2017, has saved, taken care of and released to nature over 200 forest animals and five sea turtles. It has also worked with international organisations to preserve sea turtles, enhanced management capacity and biodiversity conservation, and supported eco-tourism and environmental education.

Researchers back stronger Vietnam-China relations

Promoting relations between Vietnam and China in a pragmatic and effective manner for mutual benefits meets the aspiration of the two countries’ Parties and people, researchers said at a forum held in Hanoi on November 8.

President of the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences Nguyen Quang Thuan said Vietnam and China are members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. 

The two sides have joined multilateral cooperation mechanisms and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The Communist Party of Vietnam and Government always want to develop comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership with China and support China to make more active contributions to the maintenance of peace, stability and cooperation in the region and the world.

At the same time, Vietnam is keen to maintain the stable and healthy relations with China to promote peace, stability and stronger cooperation, Thuan said.

As the bilateral relations are entering a new period of development, the two countries should devise new policies to elevate their ties to a new height while strengthening cooperation to balance economic partnership and increasing exchanges in politics, external affairs, culture and defense, he added.

Guo Weimin, Vice Minister of the State Council Information Office, said China hopes to promote the stable and sustainable friendship and cooperation with Vietnam.

The forum enables Vietnamese and Chinese researchers to seek to deepen the Vietnam-China comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership and maintain peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific region, he added.

During the event, participants also shared information and experience regarding the Party building and management in the two countries as well as the bilateral cooperation within the APEC framework.

AIIB wants to help Da Nang develop infrastructure

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) wants to boost cooperation in infrastructure investment with Da Nang so as to help promote the development of the central city of Vietnam, AIIB President Jin Liqun told local officials on November 8.

Talking to Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Truong Quang Nghia, the AIIB leader, who was in Da Nang to attend the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week, said rapid urbanisation and strong development in many aspects have required infrastructure to be expanded in Da Nang.

Compared to many other localities, Da Nang’s infrastructure has been built in a relatively methodological and synchronous manner. However, problems will soon arise and local advantages and beauty will be affected if infrastructure is not further upgraded, he said.

Jin noted that AIIB is interested in major projects of Da Nang because of their feasibility and the city’s sound management of previous loans.

Aside from big transport projects, the bank is also ready to invest in electricity and water supply projects and developing the western area of Da Nang if the city has demand, he added.

Introducing local achievements, Secretary Nghia highlighted the synchronous construction of infrastructure, rapid urbanization and socio-economic development of Da Nang over the last two decades.

He thanked the AIIB President’s attention to local infrastructure projects, noting that Da Nang will soon provide information about those projects so as to enhance development cooperation.

On November 7, Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Huynh Duc Tho met with World Economic Forum (WEF) Managing Director Philipp Rösler, who was also taking part in the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in the city.

Rösler said he is impressed with Da Nang’s accomplishments, especially in infrastructure development and tourism growth, congratulating the city on being chosen as the venue for the Week.

Chairman Tho asked the WEF Managing Director to connect international businesses who are interested in investing in the city’s prioritised areas like information technology, high technology, health care, education, tourism and logistics.

He proposed his guest consider choosing his city to hold the upcoming WEF on East Asia.

Rösler valued the proposal, noting that he and the WEF managing board will consider this idea with reference to the Vietnamese Government. He added Da Nang is suitable for organising this important event.

Hanoi seminar marks 100th anniversary of Balfour Declaration

A seminar took place in Hanoi on November 7 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration and discuss its impacts on the Middle East, especially Palestine.

The event was held by the Embassy of Palestine to Vietnam in partnership with the Institute for Africa and Middle East Studies (IAMES), with Palestinian Ambassador Saadi Salam and scholars from the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences in attendance.

A seminar takes place in Hanoi on November 7 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. (Photo: Institute for Africa and Middle East Studies)

Addressing the seminar, Saadi Salam said Arthur Balfour, a then-British foreign secretary, decided to change the faith of Palestine by promising to hand over the land he did not own to Zionist in the 1917 declaration.

The declaration had completely changed the history of Palestinian people, making thousands to live in exile, he stressed.

The seminar also featured the screening of the short film “100 Balfour Road” and a discussion around the declaration, its consequences and the struggle for freedom of Palestinians.

Cambodia’s 64th Independence Day marked in HCM City

The Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations and the Vietnam-Cambodia Friendship Association in Ho Chi Minh City held a ceremony on November 8 to mark Cambodia’s 64th Independence Day (November 9).

Speaking at the event, President of the association Truong Minh Nhut affirmed that Vietnam and Cambodia hold good neighbourliness, time-honoured friendship and comprehensive cooperation. 

The two countries have strived to consolidate and develop the friendship and cooperation and coordinated closely at international forums in order to lift the bilateral relations to a new height, for the interests of the two peoples and for peace, stability, development cooperation in the region, Nhut added.

Cambodian Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Im Heng recalled the struggles for national liberation of the Cambodian and Vietnamese people.

The sacrifice of the two nations has created traditional friendship and solidarity which have become a valuable treasure and nurtured by the two countries’ leaders and people.

He took the occasion to thank Vietnam for helping his country escape from the Pol Pot genocidal regime and gain independence.

Manulife Vietnam donates nearly VND200 mil to Terry Fox Fund, ILO offers wage reform recommendations to Vietnam, Quang Ninh appraises biodiversity preservation plan, AIIB wants to help Da Nang develop infrastructure