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Bulgaria’s National Day marked in HCM City

HCM City eyes tougher conditions for migrants to become permanent residents  Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Construction has made a controversial proposal to raise the minimum living space required for internal migrants to register as permanent resident

Vietnamese and Bulgirian national flags (Source: internet)

The Ho Chi Minh City Union of Friendship Organisations and the Vietnam-Bulgaria Friendship Association of HCM City co-hosted a ceremony on March 2 to celebrate Bulgaria’s 140th National Day (March 3).

Speaking at the event, Hoang Thai Lan, President of the Vietnam-Bulgaria Friendship Association of HCM City, recalled Bulgaria’s history of national liberation 140 years ago, and thanked the country for its assistance in training thousands of Vietnamese cadres, experts and skilled workers.

She highlighted the 68-year history of bilateral relations between Vietnam and Bulgaria, saying that they have laid a solid foundation for growing friendship and cooperation in the fields of politics, trade, investment and people-to-people diplomacy, which have been nurtured by the two countries’ leaders and people.

Oleg Marinov, a representative from the Bulgarian Embassy in Vietnam and head of the Commercial and Economic Office in HCM City, underlined similarities and effective cooperation between Bulgaria and Vietnam, which has been developed based on their mutual respect, trust and support.

He spoke highly of the activities conducted by the HCM City Union of Friendship Organisations to maintain the relationship with the Bulgarian people, saying that Vietnamese people who once studied and worked in Bulgaria will serve as firm bridges to contribute to the development of the traditional friendship and fruitful cooperation between the two nations.

Hai Phong urged to fully tap its potential for stronger growth

Deputy PM Trinh Dinh Dung visits Vingroup's Vinfast automobile production project 

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has urged the northern port city of Hai Phong to fully tap its potential and advantages in order to boost socio-economic development, thus creating an impetus for the northern key economic region.

During a working session with the municipal authorities in the city on March 2, Deputy PM Dung said the city has several large and sustainable industrial and service projects, which are expected to help Hai Phong achieve high growth.

The city needs to continue restructuring its economy in tandem with reviewing and adjusting its planning scheme, with a focus placed on key industrial sectors, such as automobile production, sea tourism, urban infrastructure, economic and industrial zones, seaports and logistic services, he said.

Deputy PM Dung also visited the Hai Phong-based VinFast automobile production factory, where he spoke highly of the project investor Vingroup’s resolve to concentrate resources on producing Vietnam-branded automobiles.

The Deputy PM highlighted great potential of the domestic automobile market with over 90 million people and increasing incomes, and stressed that the sector’s localisation rate remains low.

The government has actively worked with relevant ministries and sectors to address difficulties facing the automobile industry, Dung said, affirming that the Government supports the development of the sector, thus creating a premise for the stronger growth of other supporting industries.

Developing the automobile industry will create jobs, increase State budget collection, boost economic growth, and reduce trade deficit, he noted.

The government hopes that Vietnam will soon have its own automobile brands which are able to compete with imported vehicles in terms of quality, design, features and prices, he said.

Dung urged the Vingroup to focus more on developing supporting businesses, increasing the localisation rate, and accelerating the construction progress of the factory and development of products.

The Deputy PM also asked ministries, sectors to complete relevant legal frameworks to facilitate domestic investments in the automobile sector, with priorities given to the supporting industry.

During his working visit, Deputy PM Dung also inspected the construction of Lach Huyen Port on Cat Hai island in Cat Hai district, affirming that the project aims to develop seaport services, thus meeting the international and domestic demand, as well as facilitating the city’s growth.

He urged contractors to accelerate the construction so that the project can be put into operation on schedule.

The Lach Huyen Port project, with a total investment of over 6.2 trillion VND (273.1 million USD), was launched on May 12, 2016. It is expected to be completed by April 2018 and put into operation by May 12, 2018.

According to the city’s report, Hai Phong achieved all set economic targets in 2017. The local investment condition continued seeing improvements. Hai Phong was considered one of the country’s most attractive destinations for investors, with strongly improved transport and urban infrastructure. In the year, the cross-sea bridge of Tan Vu-Lach Huyen was inaugurated, together with other key roads and bridges.

In the first two months of 2018, the city’s industrial production index went up 20.61 percent year on year. Its export revenue reached 1.14 billion USD, up 24.14 percent. Up to 16 million tonnes of cargo were handled at the Hai Phong Port, up 18.34 percent. It contributed over 9.1 trillion VND (400 million USD) to the State budget.

Party’s theoretical council talks building of capable cadres

Politburo member and Chairman of the Party Central Committee’s Organisation Commission Pham Minh Chinh

The Theoretical Council of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee in the 2016-2021 tenure convened the fifth meeting in Hanoi on March 3, focusing on the building of a contingent of cadres with adequate virtues and capabilities.

The event was chaired by Politburo member and Chairman of the Party Central Committee’s Organisation Commission Pham Minh Chinh; Director of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics Nguyen Xuan Thang, who chairs the Theoretical Council; and Standing Vice Chairman of the council Phung Huu Phu.

The meeting scrutinised a draft advisory report on the building of a contingent of cadres, especially those at the strategic level, with adequate virtues, capabilities and prestige for their tasks, thus helping to prepare a plan on the issue which will be submitted to the upcoming seventh meeting of the 12th-tenure Party Central Committee.

Building a contingent of cadres, especially those at the strategic level, with adequate virtues, capabilities and prestige for their tasks is defined by the Party Central Committee as the core of one of the six key tasks for the 12th tenure.

Some participants in the meeting said it is necessary to clarify the importance of personnel work. They proposed a strategy on cadres in the new context be built, aside from the issuance of a resolution on this issue at the seventh meeting of the Party Central Committee.

Many officials also suggested breakthrough solutions to build the contingent of cadres. They called for more attention to perfecting the assessment of cadres, controlling power, creating momentum for cadres, attracting talents, enhancing discipline, and creating mechanisms for people to contribute to the Party building.

NA Chairwoman offers incense to late President Ho Chi Minh

Chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan offered incense to late President Ho Chi Minh at the Da Chong (K9) historical relic site on March 3 

Chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan offered incense to late President Ho Chi Minh and planted a commemorative tree at the Da Chong (K9) historical relic site in Hanoi’s outlying district of Ba Vi on March 3 on the occasion of the 58th anniversary of the late leader’s launch of tree growing festival. 

Major General Nguyen Van Cuong, head of the Management Board of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum reported to the NA leader that the board’s staff has worked with Russian scientists in well undertaking the preservation of the embalmed body of President Ho Chi Minh.

He also reported that investments have been poured into the K9 relic site for the reception of local and foreign visitors, helping them have deeper insights into the revolutionary career of the late President.

NA Chairman Ngan was touched when visiting the K9 site, a venue where President Ho Chi Minh, Politburo and Party Central Committee members decided the country’s crucial issues during the anti-American war. K9 was also chosen to preserve the body of the late President from 1969-1975. 

She spoke highly of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Management Board staff’s efforts to accomplish the assigned political tasks, and expressed her hope that they will do more to serve visitors to the site as well as the mausoleum.

Traffic safety campaign targets students

A traffic safety campaign was launched in the northern province of Ha Nam on March 9, targeting better safety awareness of students when joining the traffic.

Jointly implemented by the provincial Traffic Safety Committee and the Japanese Honda Vietnam company, the campaign encourages the teaching of traffic safety in schools, while strengthening communications on traffic safety among workers in industrial parks.

At the launching ceremony, Honda Vietnam presented 1,000 helmets to the Ha Nam Traffic Safety Committee. Following the ceremony, local youngsters paraded major streets of Phu Ly city.

A similar campaign was also held in 2017 in Ha Nam, significantly contributing to ensuring traffic safety in the province.

According to the Traffic Safety Committee of Ha Nam, in 2017, the province saw 139 traffic accidents that killed 82 people and injured 84 others, a drop of 8 cases, five deaths and 4 injured people.

In the first two months of 2018, 20 accidents occurred with 14 deaths, the same figures recorded in the same time in 2017.

Regulations flouted as unlicensed walkway built in Trang An Complex

A huge illegal walkway has been nearly completed at Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, Ninh Binh Province.

Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex was recognised as a UNESCO's World Heritage Site in 2014. Two year later, the prime minister approved the construction planning which banned construction at Cai Ha Mountain. In cases of renovation work, approval was required from state agencies.

However, Trang An Tourism Company dug through Cai Ha Mountain to build a long walkway to the top of the mountain last August. The construction was almost completed in six months and opened to visitors since the Tet Holiday. The 1-km-long walkway has many concrete pillars and over 2,000 steps. 

Trang An Tourism Company also built the toilets and altars along the walkway, seriously violating the regulations. The walkway was not fully completed in accordance with the original plan and has yet to receive a safety check by state agencies but thousands of visitors have used it to reach the mountain top.

Trang An Tourism Company have demanded the removal of the walkway, but for some reason, the construction was left alone until almost completed.

Ninh Binh Tourism Department reported and asked Ninh Binh Province People's Committee and Hoa Lu District People's Committee to deal with the violation and remove the walkway. However, the local authorities were reluctant to deal with the case.

Leaders of Hoa Lu District People's Committee said they were determined to deal with Trang An Tourism Company but all they did was giving warnings and hasn't issued administrative fines let alone stricter measures.

Ninh Binh Tourism Department confirmed that Trang An Tourism Company violated the regulations about managing and protecting Trang An Complex as well as forestry law.

Thua Thien-Hue records surge of tourists in two months

Tourist arrivals in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue in the first two months of 2018 rose sharply by 46.6 percent from a year earlier to over 715,960, partly thanks to various activities held during the Lunar New Year holiday (Tet).

Tourism revenue of local accommodation establishments is estimated at 249.2 billion VND (10.9 million USD) in the two months, up almost 13.8 percent from the same period last year.

On the six days of Tet from February 14 to 19 (the 29th day of the last lunar month to the fourth day of the Lunar New Year), the province welcomed more than 110,000 visitors and gained over 66.28 billion VND (2.9 million USD) in tourism revenue.

During the Tet holiday, the Flag Tower in the Hue Imperial City was decorated with 1,000 LED lights, becoming a highlight of the city at night.

Other relic sites such as the tombs of the Nguyen kings and Thien Mu Pagoda also organised a number of activities to serve tourists.

An exhibition was opened at the Tomb of King Minh Mang during Tet, giving visitors an insight into the life of the kings under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), the last ruling monarchical family in Vietnam.

Sung An Palace, located in the area of Minh Mang’s tomb, was also the venue of another exhibition that displayed the belongings of this king.

The Complex of Hue Monuments was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Vietnam after it was recognised in 1993.-

Con Son-Kiep Bac Spring Festival kicks off

The Con Son-Kiep Bac 2018 Spring Festival opened at Con Son Pagoda in the northern province of Hai Duong on March 3 (the 16th day of the first lunar month). 

The annual festival commemorates the death anniversary of monk Huyen Quang, who died in 1334 and was the third founder of the Truc Lam Zen sect.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Luong Van Cau highlighted the historical significance of the site Con Son – Kiep Bac, saying that it reflects great contributions of the Truc Lam Zen sect as well as monk Huyen Quang to the national construction and safeguard in the past. 

Also on the occasion, the provincial People’s Committee announced the Decision by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recognising the Con Son Tu Phuc Tu Bi stele in Con Son Pagoda as a national treasure.

The Con Son Tu Phuc Tu Bi stele dates back to the Le Trung Hung (16th -18th century) Dynasty under the reign of Hoang Dinh (Le Kinh Tong) (1601-1619). It is a precious material about literature, history and fine art, especially for the study of history of Con Son Pagoda. 

Words on the hexagon-shaped stele affirm that Con Son Pagoda was built from the 18th century, and it was where monk Huyen Quang was abbot.

Prior to the opening ceremony of the festival, there was a ceremonial water-carrying parade staged by hundreds of people from Con Son Pagoda to Con Son Lake, where monks and nuns offered incense. 

The festival, to run until March 10, will also feature a string of cultural and sport activities such as incense offerings, worshipping rituals at Ngu Nhac Mountain, a mud banger festival (an ancient game involving tossing a large, shaped piece of clay, approx. 30kg and trying to make the loudest bag from it smashing apart), a wrestling contest, and a cake making contest.

Covering a total area of eight hectares in Chi Linh district, the Con Son-Kiep Bac historical site is entwined with the lives and causes of Tran Hung Dao and the Great Man of Culture of the World, Nguyen Trai. 

The site was a defence line built at the end of the 13th century to protect the Thang Long Imperial Citadel. It witnessed important battles between the Tran dynasty army and the Yuan-Mongol invaders. 

Con Son, surrounded by pine trees, saw the pure and upright life of Nguyen Trai (1380-1442), one of Vietnam’s most famous poets and writers. 

With its special values, the Con Son – Kiep Bac was recognised as a national heritage site in 1962 and a special national heritage site in 2012. In 2013, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism named the Spring Festival in Con Son Pagoda and the Autumn Festival in Kiep Bac Temple as national intangible cultural heritages.

Quang Binh: Cau Ngu Festival of Canh Duong commune held

The Cau Ngu, or Whale Worshipping, Festival kicked off in Canh Duong commune, Quang Trach district, central Quang Binh province on March 2 (the 15th day of the first lunar month) with a hope for bumper hauls of fish and safe voyages in the year.

Dau Van Hai who chaired the festival celebrations said that the festival has been held annually in the commune for hundreds of years, aiming to encourage fishermen to actively participate in production, support each other at sea, and help protect the nation’s sovereignty over sea and islands.

This year, the festival was organised more eventful as a step to become a tourism product so as to attract more visitors to the locality.

From the early morning of March 2, crowds of fishermen and ship owners flocked to Ngu Linh Mieu and An Cau Ngu temples to offer incense and present offerings to Whale Saints who protect fishermen at sea.

Canh Duong commune owns a fleet of over 700 fishing vessels, 360 of which operate offshore.-

Various activities to celebrate International Women’s Day

A wide range of activities will be held in celebration of the International Women’s Day (March 8), Vice President of the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU) Nguyen Thi Tuyet said at a press conference in Hanoi on March 2.

One of the highlight events will be the annual Kovalevskaya award ceremony in Hanoi on March 6 to honour outstanding women in scientific research development. 

The VWU will coordinate with the Border Guard High Command to launch a programme to support disadvantaged women living in 90 border and island communes across the country with effective production and poverty reduction.

Other activities will be held on this occasion include the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Vietnam Women Newspaper (March 8, 1948) and a female start-up day.

The Vietnam Women Museum is hosting a photo exhibition themed “Mother and Nature”.

International Women's Day (IWD) has been observed since the early 1900s - a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialised world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

This global day aims to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

This year’s theme is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.

Đồng Nai switches to sophisticated aquaculture methods

The Đồng Nai Province People’s Committee has approved a detailed zoning plan for a 700ha concentrated aquaculture area that will use advanced techniques in Nhơn Trạch District.

Most of the area will be devoted to breeding brackish water shrimp and oyster.

The cost of infrastructure will be more than VNĐ226 billion (US$9.9 million), with the money coming from the Government and other sources.

The facility will develop the district’s aquaculture in a safe and sustainable manner, increase its value and farmers’ incomes, and protect the environment, according to the People’s Committee.

Each sub-area for breeding shrimp will be at least 50ha and use sophisticated techniques and farming models like super-intensive farming.

The south-eastern province has 32,000ha of water surface used for aquaculture, including 2,000ha of brackish water in Nhơn Trạch and Long Thành districts.

Brackish water shrimp is one of its key seafood exports.

To sustainably develop, many farmers in the province have switched from traditional farming to modern techniques in recent years.

Nguyễn Văn Nhân, deputy head of the Nhơn Trạch Economic Bureau, said the use of anti-sunshine nets to cover shrimp ponds and plastic sheets on pond beds has become popular in the district.

The area of shrimp farms using them has increased from 10ha in 2015 to 56ha this year, he said.

Nguyễn Văn Hùng, one of the first farmers in Nhơn Trạch’s Long Thọ Commune to switch from traditional to advanced farming techniques, said the model has proved effective since it helps farmers control the quality of water, thus reducing disease risks.

“This model has attracted many farmers.”

Besides shrimp, the province also has many areas in Định Quán and Trảng Bom districts and Biên Hòa City farming freshwater fish like snake-head and anabas.

Last year it established four aquaculture areas applying Vietnamese good agricultural practice (VietGAP) standards in Tân Phú, Định Quán, Vĩnh Cửu and Nhơn Trạch districts. They farm blue-legged prawn, white-legged shrimp, tra fish and snakehead fish, and anabas.

This year it will develop four more in Định Quán, Tân Phú, Vĩnh Cửu, and Xuân Lộc districts, according to the Fisheries Sub-department. 

Last year the fisheries sector produced nearly 58,000 tonnes, 51,000 tonnes from aquaculture and 7,000 tonnes from fishing, according to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.    

The value of the output was VNĐ1.9 trillion ($83 million), a 6.5 per cent rise from 2016.

Traffic accident’s initial cause revealed

Driver’s fault was to blame for a traffic accident in the Central Highlands province of Kontum, killing one person and injuring 19 others early Thursday morning, an initial investigation revealed.

The coach driver, who died in the accident, allegedly changed gears when the vehicle was going down the pass, making the coach become unstable and lose control, said Khuất Việt Hùng, vice chairman of the National Committee for Traffic Safety.

The accident occurred when the 45-seater coach collided with a barrier then overturned and plunged into an abyss at a section of a local road running through Lò Xo Pass in the province’s Đắk Glei District.

The coach, with registration number 90B-005.32, was travelling from Hà Nam Province to Gia Lai Province.

Hùng said no record of the coach was sent to the monitoring system of the Directorate for Roads of Việt Nam. The system did not receive any data from the coach’s black box on the day of the accident.

The coach owner had failed to show the transportation business licence to authorised agencies, which means the coach was illegally transporting people, Hùng said.

In a related movement, the committee has submitted a proposal to the transport ministry to urgently consider the re-designing of barriers along roads, especially roads running along passes, across the country.

The barriers should be re-designed to minimise road accidents, the committee said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister cum chairman of the committee, Trương Hòa Bình, sent his condolences to the victims’ families after he was informed of the accident on Thursday.

Local police are working hard to identify the cause of the accident.

Bulgaria and Việt Nam – old friendship in a new multilateral world

On March 3, the Republic of Bulgaria celebrates the 140th anniversary of its liberation. Chargé d’Affaires Marinela Petkova of Bulgarian Embassy to Việt Nam sends a message to celebrate the friendship between the two countries.

One of the oldest countries in Europe, founded in 681 AD, Bulgaria has endured difficult times and risen to establish itself as an active and trustworthy actor on the international scene – living in peace with its neighbours.

This was Bulgaria’s stance when it assumed on January 1, 2018, its first ever Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Using the opportunity at hand to use its term at the helm of the EU to accelerate joint efforts in certain areas of importance, Bulgaria has put forward as a key priority the need to provide tangible European perspective for its neighbouring countries of the Western Balkans, and to ensure comprehensive regional connectivity.

For Bulgaria, to lend a hand to all the Western Balkans countries on their European path, based on their fulfilment of the criteria and their merit, aspires to maintain sustainable peace and security throughout Europe.

The other three main priority areas of the Presidency include the future of Europe and its young people to be realised through economic growth and cohesive policies, digital economy and skills needed for the future and security and stability for a stronger Europe, including more effective management of migration policies.

We strive to fulfil the above by forging consensus and finding common solutions, as the slogan of the Bulgarian Presidency ‘United we stand strong’ goes back not only to the history of our own statehood but reminds us of the strength that comes from unity and solidarity.

Parallel to Bulgaria’s aspirations within the EU are Việt Nam’s and ASEAN member states’ efforts to build a prosperous regional community through consensus and balance.

Việt Nam’s impressive rate of social and economic growth and its constructive foreign policy position the country as a valuable international partner with increased regional significance – with hosting APEC 2017 the latest attestation to that.

The constructive engagement of Bulgaria and Việt Nam in the multilateral fora offers further avenues for co-operation, grounded in the frameworks of the enhanced partnership between the European Union and ASEAN and within the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), with focus on connectivity projects, economic development and trade, people-to-people contacts and ties in education and research.

The Bulgarian Presidency of Council of the European Union will aim to contribute to the efforts of the EU in strengthening ties with partners in Asia, including through widening the scope of free trade deals and partnership agreements, as well as addressing common security, reconstruction and development challenges.

Bulgaria places a strong emphasis on further utilising the existing formats for greater Europe-Asia co-operation. For Southeast Asia this would mean a reinforced EU-ASEAN Dialogue and a strengthened and value-added ASEM process.

There is particular interest to take ASEM co-operation further, as it offers concrete opportunities for flexible, equal footing, across the board. It is important to build upon the good practices within the ASEM areas of tangible co-operation like innovation, youth, connectivity, identifying projects that meet the sustainability criteria and moving forward on issues such as digital trade and e-commerce.

Given the importance Bulgaria attaches to the ASEM process we are hosts of two high level meetings within the ASEM platform – the 8th ASEM Culture Ministers’ Meeting on March 1-2 and the 13th ASEM Finance Ministers’ Meeting on April 26.

As we mark the National Day of Bulgaria here in Việt Nam, we proudly celebrate 68 years of diplomatic relations and friendship between its peoples. Nowadays, the Bulgarian Embassy in Hà Nội is a constant witness of the resilience of this relationship. It comes from many of the thousands of young Vietnamese who lived and studied in Bulgaria and who have ever since referred to Bulgaria as their second homeland. The vibrant Việt Nam-Bulgaria Friendship associations in the cities of Hà Nội, HCM City and Hải Phòng are the core of this community.

Today Bulgaria and Việt Nam exchange regular visits at the highest political levels. Their national assemblies collaborate through the established Groups of Friendship. Economic co-operation has been guided through the yearly meetings of the Joint Economic Commission. The ties between the local authorities have been strengthened by direct city-twinning agreements.

Striving to secure rich bilateral ties Bulgaria and Việt Nam have the potential to carry on the relationship into an outward-looking, advanced, multifaceted and multilateral co-operation for the benefit of our both peoples, with the conviction that in the modern world, official relations between states must be surpassed by creating one prosperous community of friends.

Poetry Day wraps up with art performances

Vietnamese and foreign visitors gathered at the Temple of Literature yesterday to celebrate the Việt Nam Poetry Day, which falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month every year.

Various cultural activities such as photo exhibitions, poem recitals and art performances took place to end the celebration which started from February 27.

Themed ‘Literature Going with the Nation’, the festival focuses on problems in society and support workers, farmers and soldiers who have been trying to build and protect the country, according to poet Hữu Thỉnh, chairman of the Việt Nam Writers Association.

“It’s a rendezvous for poets and readers,” he said. “Here, poets can find their readers and readers can find the love and sympathy expressed through poems.”

Thỉnh said the organising board has selected ‘sail’ as a romantic symbol of this year’s event.

The poetry festival welcomed Japanese poets to recite their works and meet with local poetry lovers. 

Additionally, a special space was designed for children, the future generation who will become poets and poem readers. Educational expert Nguyễn Thụy Anh, who initiated Đọc Sách Cùng Con (Reading with Children) Club managed the space.

"Our booth attracted many children who came to play games to discover Vietnamese poetry and poets," she said.

"I feel happy that the little readers were interested in reading and poetry. I just regret that the Poetry Day doesn’t take place at weekend to lure more students."

A photo exhibition on Vietnamese writers and poets who participated in the Tết Offensive in 1968 was held on the margins of the event.

Such activities are important steps to turn Việt Nam Poetry Day into Việt Nam Literature Day, Thỉnh added. 

Since its debut on Nguyên Tiêu Day (the 15th day of the first lunar month) in 2003, Việt Nam Poetry Day has become a national tradition. 

Starting out as an initiative of the Việt Nam Writers’ Association, Poetry Day has been held in many provinces and cities to honour poetry, which has long been an integral part of Vietnamese culture.

Đồng Tháp Province’s intense focus on tourism

Đồng Tháp Province is focused on developing its infrastructure and boosting tourism by 2020, a deputy director of its Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has said.

The province is home to many popular tourist attractions like the Tràm Chim Tourism Area, Xẻo Quýt relic site, Tháp Mười Lotus Field, Sa Đéc flower village and homestay services.

Many of these attractions allow tourists to experience being a local for a day, with activities such as rice harvesting, catching fish with nets, tending vegetables, and catching ducks.

They can also enjoy camping, rowing, and rural food and visit handicraft villages.

The Tháp Mười Lotus Field in particular features many lotus dishes and is one of the most popular weekend attractions for tourists from the delta and HCM City. 

Community-based tourism is also seeing rapid development with households and villages investing billions of đồng into newer tourism activities such as homestay services and harvesting fruits in orchards.

By 2020 the province aims to improve tourism infrastructure such as roads, transportation and accommodation, especially around major attractions, and facilitate packaged tours.

It will also evaluate each tourist area to focus more on their specialties, diversify their products and services, and build their brands.

Đồng Tháp is considered to have very high tourism potential due to its abundance of historical sites, cultural values and rich eco-systems.

Two years after the unveiling of the 2015-20 Đồng Tháp Tourism Development Project, which focuses on improving training in tourism services, developing each region’s specialty and linking Đồng Tháp with other popular tourist destinations as part of larger package tours, the province has seen a big rise in visitor numbers and revenues.

In February around 700,000 tourists visited the province, 60 per cent higher than in the same month last year. Tourism revenues were VNĐ96 billion, 200 per cent higher than last year. –

Festival to promote learning keeps time-honored tradition

When a new lunar year arrives, many family clans and residential areas nationwide organize activities to honor individuals who have achieved outstanding academic results during the year and encourage them to continue learning.

Such activities promote the Vietnamese traditional fondness for learning and hope for new achievements in the year to come.  

The 2018 Tet is special for Pham Thi Hong Loan, a future teacher of the Pham Duy clan in Nhan Chinh village, Ha Nam province. She passed the entrance exam for the Hanoi National University of Education and will study at its branch in Ha Nam.

Loan said she was inspired by the clan’s outstanding role models, who were honored at previous spring festivals to encourage the family’s learning tradition.

Loan said receiving the clan’s award will motivate her to study in the future.

“I’m very happy to be among Pham Duy's descendants to receive the clan’s scholarship. The award recognizes my efforts and is a great encouragement for me to strive for higher achievements in the new school year,” said Loan.

Since 2005, the Pham Duy clan has held a festival to honor those with outstanding academic and work achievements, and called on clan members to donate to their learning promotion fund.

Pham Duy Vuong, Deputy President of the Pham Duy Family Council in Nhan Chinh village, said “The event is important to us, especially the young people. Through the award, we want to encourage our tradition of learning. We hope the awardees will remember their ancestors and be inspired to make even greater efforts. The event is usually organized at the beginning of a new lunar year to inspire students to study harder in the new year.”

A learning promotion festival is often held every year on the second or third day of the first lunar month, beginning with new-year writing. The elders give calligraphic words to the children and review the clan’s learning tradition.

Duong Van Tien, deputy head of the learning promotion board of Duong Kinh Bac Family Council, said “We consider it a festival in which all clan members get together and encourage each other. It is also an opportunity to sum up what we did during the year and set future orientations. The festival has inspired the clan’s children to do their best.”

Vietnam now has 1 million families who have earned the title "Family of Learning", 60,000 clans recognized as a "Clan of Learning", and 210,000 communities recognized as "Learning Communities".

Report gives recommendations on water pollution control

A report on water pollution in Vietnam was announced in Hanoi on March 2, providing an array of policy recommendations, including the building of a law on water pollution control.

The report was jointly implemented by the Coalition for Clean Water and the Centre for Environment and Community Research (CECR) under the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Organisations in four years.

Addressing the announcement ceremony, Nghiem Vu Khai, Vice President of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Organisations pointed to the necessity to pay greater attention to water pollution control as well as the role of the work in economic development. He stressed the urgent need to build a law on water pollution control and execute measures to manage water pollution.

Meanwhile, CECR Director Nguyen Ngoc Ly said that the report includes careful research and analysis of legal policies on protecting the surface water environment, building a model to approach the ecosystem and promote measures to prevent and control pollution.

Environment experts lauded the report for touching a wide range of issues, including the current situation and impacts of water pollution to people’s health and the economy, shortcomings of the legal system in managing water pollution, as well as international experience in the field.

They also gave their ideas on how to complete and build relative regulations, including issuing a waste discharge licence, and strict inspection and handling of violations, as well as the engagement of the community in the work.

Mobile users go ‘all-in’ on last day of 50% top-up bonus

Widespread network jams were reported across online banking services and electronic payment systems in Vietnam on February 28 as mobile users rushed to top-up their prepaid account balance on the last day that local carriers could offer bonuses of up to 50% the top-up value.

A circular issued in December by the Ministry of Information and Communications restricts the maximum top-up bonus to 20% across all prepaid accounts, effective from March 1 this year.

Previously, the promotion ceiling was 50% of the top-up value.

Advertisements and social media campaigns orchestrated by top Vietnamese network operators had been calling February’s promotions “the last chance” for mobile users to get 50% more for what they pay before the circular goes into effect.

“I’ve already bought six top-up cards with the face value of VND500,000 [US$22] each this morning. It’s my last chance to enjoy a 50% bonus, so it pays to spend a little more than usual,” said Hoang Tung, a resident in Ho Chi Minh City.

Others with a bank account capable of making online transactions opted to top up their balance via the carriers’ online payment gateways, causing widespread network jams.

The online edition of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported on February 28 that network congestion was an issue for all the three biggest network operators in Vietnam – Viettel, MobiFone and Vinaphone.

Meanwhile, online banking systems of local banks and other third-party payment applications also suffered from the same problem on the ‘national top-up day,’ as dubbed by Vietnamese netizens.

A spokesperson from ZaloPay, a digital wallet service run by Vietnamese technology giant VNG, told Tuoi Tre there was an unusual surge in transactions made on February 28 as a result of ‘final’ promotion campaigns run by mobile carriers.

According to the spokesperson, on Wednesday morning alone there were ten times more top-up requests made through the payment system than usual, with the total top-up value being 20 times higher than a normal day.

“The large volume of transactions happening at the same time led to a temporary jam in the network. A short delay is expected as the system takes time to process all the payments,” the spokesperson said.

Cau Ngu Festival of Canh Duong commune held

The Cau Ngu, or Whale Worshipping, Festival kicked off in Canh Duong commune, Quang Trach district, central Quang Binh province on March 2 (the 15th day of the first lunar month) with a hope for bumper hauls of fish and safe voyages in the year.

Dau Van Hai who chaired the festival celebrations said that the festival has been held annually in the commune for hundreds of years, aiming to encourage fishermen to actively participate in production, support each other at sea, and help protect the nation’s sovereignty over sea and islands.

This year, the festival was organised more eventful as a step to become a tourism product so as to attract more visitors to the locality.

From the early morning of March 2, crowds of fishermen and ship owners flocked to Ngu Linh Mieu and An Cau Ngu temples to offer incense and present offerings to Whale Saints who protect fishermen at sea.

Canh Duong commune owns a fleet of over 700 fishing vessels, 360 of which operate offshore.

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