Last update 1/22/2011 5:00:00 PM (GMT+7)


Hoang Sa yearbook launched

Dang Cong Ngu, chairman of the Hoang Sa District People’s Committee, launched a soon-to-be-published Hoang Sa yearbook in the central city of Da Nang on Wednesday.

The Hoang Sa yearbook contains hundreds of articles and images of people who lived and fought in the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands.

The yearbook was introduced at a meeting of veterans, who used to work in the Hoang Sa Islands including Tran Van Son, Vo Nhu Dan, Pham Khoi, Pham Xo and Nguyen Van Cuc.

They recalled the bitter and hard period when they collectively protected Vietnam’s territorial borders.

Mr.Ngu thought this to be a noteworthy meeting where they could express deep gratitude to all those who had dedicatedly fought to protect the islands.

The event also expressed their appreciation to individuals and organizations who had contributed in highlighting the activities of the Hoang Sa District in 2010.

Over 2,500 construction projects underway now, says ministry

Vietnam currently sees more than 2,500 housing projects and new townships under construction, according to the Ministry of Construction.

The ministry says every year the country plans to develop housing projects on 20-25 million square meters.

According to the country’s Urban Development Strategy, urban land area will increase to 460,000 hectares by 2025 from the current 105,000 hectares. By 2025, the urban area is expected to increase to 46% from the current 26%.

The ministry reported that the country currently has 752 urban areas, which was an increase of 123 areas compared to 1999 when only five cities were directly under the central government and 40 cities belonged to the provinces.

Urban population has increased to 22.3 million due to the rapid growth of urbanization in recent years, which accounted for 50% of the population as assessed in 1999.

The population growth rate in urban areas increases by an average of 2-4 percent annually and the housing area per capita in urban areas was 19.2 square meters as calculated in 2009.

City asks primary schools to check pupils’ briefcase weight frequently

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training has instructed primary schools to frequently check the weight of pupils’ briefcases to remind them to bring to school all necessary study equipment.

The department also asked primary school teachers to monitor the study behaviour and attitude of pupils towards their parents during parent teacher meetings. In case pupils have any problems, teachers must discuss these personally with pupils’ parents.

However, teachers must exercise discretion and not mention names of pupils in the meetings and avoid criticizing pupils, keeping the sensibilities of their families in mind.

Doctors pronounce burned journalist out of danger

A journalist who was doused in petrol and set on fire by a stranger in his own house in the Mekong Delta province of Long An Wednesday is out of danger.

Le Hoang Hung, 51, of Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper, had been in serious condition after being admitted to Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, but doctors said his life is no longer in danger.

He is able to eat but does not talk yet due to the severe burns, they said.

The Long An police are investigating.

According to preliminary reports, a stranger entered Hung’s house when he was sleeping alone on the second floor.

Tran Thi Lieu, Hung’s wife, was in another room with their two kids when he rushed in screaming: “Help me! Someone tried to kill me!” He was on fire.

She pushed him into the bathroom and sprayed water on him before taking him to hospital.

Hung was initially admitted to the Long An General Hospital, but because of the severity of the burns, he was transferred to Cho Ray a few hours later for intensive treatment.

The mattress on which Hung was sleeping, sheets, and pillows were burnt to ashes.

Lieu said Hung had recently told her about constantly getting threatening messages from unknown phone numbers and that he had planned to report to the police.

Girl raped, beaten and buried alive

Two men were arrested January 18 for raping, brutally beating and burying a 21-year-old girl alive under sand in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Chanh district.

Tran Xuan Canh, 18, of Ben Tre province and To Thanh Han, 20 of Tra Vinh province confessed to being drunk and wanting to “get some fun” while they were in Binh Chanh’s Tan Tuc town.

After raping the victim, they robbed her money, ruthlessly knocked her unconscious and started to bury her alive.

They ran away halfway when a local saw them.

Local police are seeking charges of rape, robbery and attempted murder.

On January 17, a local man was woken up in early morning by strange sounds and found out 2 shadows outside. Two people ran away when seeing him.

The man came closer and saw a naked girl with over half of body covered in sand. She was having very weak breaths.

She was rushed to hospital in time.

After recovery, A.T.N.M told police the two guys approached her and used dirty words to ask her out.

Rejected, they pushed her to an empty place and committed the crime.

Russian expelled for killing Vietnamese in crash

A court in Ho Chi Minh City Wednesday agreed to deport a Russian man previously sentenced to 18 months in jail for hitting and killing a street vendor in a car crash.

The court approved the appeal lodged by Makhov Vladimir Vladimirovich, 44, in which he asked to be sent home instead of serving jail term in Vietnam.

The man was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by Binh Thuan Province People’s Court for “violating regulations on controlling vehicles on the road.”

On the evening of April 14, 2010, Makhov drove a car and hit a vendor man who was riding a bicycle in the resort city of Phan Thiet.

The man died on the way to hospital.

In his appeal, Makhov said he had paid VND50 million (US$2,500) as compensation to the victim’s family, and he himself had encephalitis and was traveling to Vietnam for treatment.

He added he had an old mother and two small kids who needed to be taken care of back home.

Orphanage shut, nun alleged to cause child’s death

A Ho Chi Minh City “orphanage” has been ordered to close after its owner was found to exploit orphans and even keep them sick to extract money from sympathetic people.

Nguyen Thi Van, 43, who claims to be a Buddhist nun, has been accused of not seeking medical treatment for Nguyen Thanh Hoa Quynh, a baby girl, who died January 1.

The city Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs said January 19 that all 13 children at the Tien Phuong 2 Pagoda will be transferred to the Thu Duc Teenager Village on Vo Van Ngan Street, Thu Duc District.

Van called her place in Binh Tan District as Tien Phuoc 2 Pagoda, and that too was a false claim according to the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha.

The case came to light after 57 women members of the Benevolent Heart Forum wrote to Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper, accusing Van of taking advantage of the public’s compassion to get rich.

An investigation was launched and authorities found that the so-called orphanage was operating without a license.

Van allegedly used the contributions meant for the orphans for personal purposes, including building houses and buying lands.

However, the Department said there is no evidence the children were beaten or abused and that Van misused donations.

It merely said Tien Phuoc 2 does not meet the standards required of a child care center.

Van admitted to investigators she had received more than VND1 billion (US$51,300) and €15,575 ($20,900) since May 2009.

No loud music or noise: new regulation

Starting February 15, it is illegal to play music or make loud noise recording over 70dBA in residential areas, according to a new regulation from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Specifically, for special areas like inside the premises of medical centers, libraries, nurseries and schools, the noise is limited to 55dBA from 6am to 9pm and 45dBA from 9pm to 6am.

Noise is defined as any sound produced, whether it is music, caused by production activities, construction, commercial activities or sounds from everyday-life activities.

Meanwhile, the noise limit inside normal zones including apartment blocks, private residential areas, hotels, and state offices is put at 70dBA from 6am to 9pm and 55dBA from 9pm to 6am.

The new regulation came into being after the public and the press seriously debated about excessive noise from loudspeakers or from neighboring houses.

Just last month, a man in the southern Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang was stabbed to death by his neighbor after he refused to turn down music.

Several others were also injured as two groups quarreled over whether the music’s volume should be lowered.

Reburial for war martyrs

The remains of 77 of 81 soldiers who died during the American War were moved to Sa Thay District martyrs' cemetery by the local People's Committee and Military Command in the Central Highland province of Kon Tum Wednesday.

The memorial and burial services for the soldiers are expected to be held as soon as possible.

The Sa Thay District Command discovered the unknown war martyrs' remains after a two-year search in a mass grave on top of Chu Tan Kra Mountain in the district's Sa Son Commune last month, said Tran Van Khanh, deputy chief of the command.

The soldiers were identified as belonging to Regiment 209 under Division 312, which mainly consisted of men from Hanoi, Khanh said.

The remains of four soldiers including Nguyen Dinh Tam, Le Van Xuyen, Luu Van Cap and Nguyen Van Tao were previously commemorated and buried in their hometown war cemetery in Hanoi's Gia Lam District.

According to documents, about 400 soldiers died while fighting against US forces on the top of the mountain in 1968.

Gambling on the rise ahead of Tet

As Tet nears, gambling activities for cash have intensified in Ho Chi Minh City, with gamblers ranging from not only professional punters but also workers and students.

Baccarat, card games, black jack, and dice were the most seen at many gambling areas as Tuoi Tre reporters have found out in the past several days.

Four days ago, in front of a construction site on Nguyen Van Huong Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, we found many groups of workers playing baccarat, “tien len” or climbing card and bau cua ca cop (a Vietnamese game similar to Crown and Anchor), for money.

A manual worker named Ph. was having meals from a lunchbox while playing baccarat. In a blink of an eye, he lost more than VND1 million (US$50) to three other gamblers.

Getting bitter about his loss, Ph. continued playing but after several more games, he lost a further VND2 million (US$100).

At another place, a young man named L. took out a drinking glass bottle and shattered it to threaten other baccarat players to whom he had lost some money.

Filled with terror, they gave the angry man back all of the money.

About 11 pm January 16, we found a ‘casino’ of baccarat involving dozens of people in lane 158 of Hoa Hung Street, Ward 13, District 10.

On the front door, there were men guarding the casino. Locals said the place was set up nearly a year ago and usually operated until 7 am.

In Binh Thanh District, we found a larger casino on a lane leading out onto Vo Duy Ninh Street. There were about 30-40 playing “tài xỉu,” a gambling game similar to roulette, at the time we came.

From information supplied by our readers, we also identified many other illegal casinos, including those in Wards 8 and 9 of District 4, in Ward 8 of District 5, and at Kinh Te Bridge area that links Districts 4 to 7.

To curb gambling, Ho Chi Minh City police have ordered their units in 24 districts in the city to take urgent actions to crack down on casinos before the upcoming Tet which falls in early February.

Gambling for money is illegal in Vietnam except for special government-approved casinos that are open only to foreign passport holders.

Huge blaze hits company in Binh Duong

A big fire hit the Long Huei Huei helmet manufacturing company in Song Than 2 industrial zone in the southern province of Binh Duong early morning, burning down helmets, machines, and other facilities.

Fortunately, no human casualty or injury has been reported so far.

Local authorities mobilized around 15 fire trucks and tens of firefighters to extinguish the fire.

The blame was finally controlled five hours later.

Witnesses told police that some workers in the company covering 10,000 sq.m fortunately escaped death because they went outside timely.

The cause of fire is under investigation.

More children study English

Nearly 17,000 first graders have been attending intensive English classes in the 2010-2011 academic year, according to the Ho Chi Minh City Education and Training Department.

Schools in district 1 are on top with 1,622 students followed by Tan Binh district with 1,569 students.

But the number could be higher.

“At first, most parents registered their children for the classes. But after knowing about the strict studying conditions and that they must take Cambridge University’s Starters, Movers, Flyers Tests upon completion and have to pay test fees (about US$19 per exam), they almost quit”, said Le Ngoc Diep, head of the primary education section of the city education and training department.

The students have been studying English for 8 periods per week.

This program is set to end in the 2nd semester of this year. The “Family and Friend” coursework published by Oxford is being used as teaching materials.

Drought-stricken farmers allocated water

Power companies in northern Viet Nam have agreed to release valuable water from electricity reservoirs to help farmers overcome severe drought.

Deputy general director of Electricity of Viet Nam (EVN) Dang Hoang An said yesterday that the company had complied with a request from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to make two releases of water from reservoirs at the end of this month and in February to try and save crops.

About 2.7 billion cu.m of water, equivalent to the amount stored in Hoa Binh, Thac Ba and Tuyen Quang reservoirs, the biggest in the north, will be allocated to water more than 635,000ha of crops.

The current shortage of water in the north and northern centre of Viet Nam makes it difficult for both agriculture and electricity to maintain operations.

The National Centre for Hydro-meteorology Forecasting said water levels in the main northern reservoirs was lower than average as the region had almost no rain since last October. No further rains are expected until the end of April.