Last update 3/12/2011 5:00:00 PM (GMT+7)
  

SOCIETY IN BRIEF 12/3

Crops in Mekong Delta threatened by drought, salinity

Over the last few weeks, salt penetration has stretched further inland in the Mekong Delta and together with drought conditions poses a grave risk of damage to the rice and shrimp crops.  

The sudden off-season rains during last weekend were insufficient for the parched area. Several canals in Soc Trang, Bac Lieu and Ca Mau provinces have been depleted to the extend that people can walk bare feet across them.

The drought has also worsened salt penetration in several provinces including Hau Giang where some rice production areas have been affected.

It is forecast that the cultivable area of rice affected by salt intrusion will increase from 12,000 hectares since last year to 20,000 hectares this year.

Le Phuoc Loi, head of the Hau Giang provincial Department of Irrigation said that the salt intrusion would envelop Long My and Vi Thuy districts and Vi Thanh town with salinity levels of2-11%. The salinity level able to cause damage to rice, fruit plants and seafood farming is 1.5%.

Authorities in Hau Giang Province have built an over 110 kilometer dyke to cope with drought and salinity.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said his ministry had plans to consolidate dykes, install pumping machines and use fast growing plants to arrest the problem. The ministry is also in the process of completing an irrigation plan blueprint to be submitted to the Prime Minister.

In the meantime, the Mekong Delta Rice Research Institute is preparing rice seedlings which would be much more resistant to salt penetration, drought and flood waters.

Money embezzled from Fatherland Front

The Party Inspection Committee of Kien Giang in the Mekong delta province will investigate a case of embezzlement of funds from the Fatherland Front.

The Fatherland Front has embezzled VND197 million from a fund meant for the poor and for flood victims and from the state budget as a temporary loan to Ms. Nguyen Thi Hong Tuoi, Chief of the Fatherland Front.

Tuoi returned back a large part of the fund money, although she had borrowed it for five months.

Heavy vehicular congestion on National Highway 18A

Heavy traffic congestion occurred on the section of National Highway 18A which passes through Cam Pha Town in Quang Ninh Province on March 9, as container trucks were unable to maneuver around on the slippery and muddy road.

The situation was worsened with other vehicles like cars, coaches and four wheelers jostling to free from the chaotic jam. Despite all efforts by the traffic police, the 10-kilometer long congestion took several hours to clear.

Binh Phuoc Province reports 11 A/H1N1 cases

11 persons have been detected positive with H1N1 virus in the southern province of Binh Phuoc.

Dr. To Duc Sinh, director of the Center for Preventive Medicine in the Province, said that 11 swine flu cases had been reported so far. Since March 3, many staff members of the Police Fire Department caught the flu infection. Medical workers examined them and took blood samples. Later, tests conducted at the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City showed 11 of the staff members were positive H1N1 cases of the deadly virus.

Medical workers at the Center for Preventive Medicine and the police hospital are keeping the patients in quarantine for monitoring and treatment and have disinfected all affected areas.

Over 300 companies to attend int’l industrial exhibitions in Mar

Two international industrial exhibitions will be co-located at Ho Chi Minh City’s Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center on Mar 23-25 to showcase a wide range of products and technology from more than 300 exhibitors, the organizers said.

A total of 243 exhibitors from 28 countries and territories will attend the 6th International Processing, Filling and Packaging Exhibition and Conference for Vietnam, shortly called Propak Vietnam 2011, said David Aitken, director of Bangkok Exhibition Services Ltd. from Thailand.

The other international exhibition is PIA Vietnam 2011, an event in processing engineering, instrumentation, laboratory and scientific equipment.

PIA Vietnam 2011 comprises Pharmatech Vietnam (international pharmaceutical and cosmetic processing, filling, packaging and ingredients exhibition) Instrument Vietnam (for instrumentation, measurement and testing) and Analysis & Lab Vietnam Exhibition.

The co-organizers are Bangkok Exhibition Services, Allworld Exhibition, and VCCI Exhibition Services, a unit of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry VCCI).

The organizers held a press conference on the events in Ho Chi Minh City on Mar 9.

Mr. Aitken said the Propak Vietnam exhibitors come from Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the UK, the US, Vietnam and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the PIA show’s targeted visitors are representatives from agro-industries; building and construction; chemicals; cosmetics, health and beauty; food and drink; medical, pharmaceutical and biotech; rubber and plastics; textiles; production and distribution, laboratories, among others, according to the organizers.

The Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center, the venue for Propak and PIA, is located in Phu My Hung Township in District 7.

Vietnam’s pharmaceutical market alone will continue to see high annual growth of 25 percent, reaching some US$2 billion in 2012, according to the Vietnam Pharmaceutical Management Department. This will be the compelling factor attracting foreign investors to pour capital into this market.

US NGO to build library in central province

American non-profit organization Library of Vietnam Project will start building a public library in the central Thua Thien-Hue Province’s Nam Dong highland District in the second quarter this year.

The library will be built on a 230-square-meter site at a cost of US$58,000, with $48,000 coming from the US organization and the rest from local resources.

It will have books on various subjects, computers, and textbooks.

LOVP has built many such libraries around Vietnam -- in Ho Chi Minh City and Vinh Long, Kien Giang, Quang Ngai, Quang Nam, Quang Tri, and Thai Binh Provinces.

LOVP was founded by F.J.Chuck Theusch, a veteran who once fought in Vietnam.

It accepts donations from the public to build libraries that it says have distinctive rooflines, ramps for access for handicapped people, outdoor balconies, and other facilities.

LOVP hopes to build central libraries in all 600 districts in Vietnam and many more smaller satellite facilities costing up to $15,000.

Vietnam sets aside $270 million for student loans

The Vietnam Bank for Social Policies has lent VND2.5 trillion (US$121 million) out of the VND5.5 ($266 million) reserved for student loans this spring.

In Thursday meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan, the social bank said its lending had been delayed as it did not receive the remaining VND3 trillion ($145 million) on schedule.

In mid February, the government requested the Ministry of Finance and the State Bank of Vietnam to promptly provide this amount to the social bank.

At present, the amount is being transferred to the social bank.

Under the national credit program for poor students, the social bank has provided a total VND27 trillion ($1.3 billion) in loans to over 2 million poor students for the past three years.

The government aims to lend poor students another VND19 trillion ($919 million) in upcoming years.

Local companies offer jobs to workers from Libya

Khang Thong Group, Viglacera, Toan Phat and other companies are willing to offer new jobs to Vietnamese workers returning from the civil war in Libya.

According to the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, as of May, Ho Chi Minh City-based Khanh Thong Group would offer jobs in its Happy Land project with a

monthly salary of US$ 150 to 300.

Viglacera Corporation in the northern province of Quang Ninh is willing to employ 1,000 construction workers for its member companies.

Hanoi’s Toan Phat Industrial Construction Joint Stock Company, or Topaco, has informed International Manpower Supply and Trade Company (Sona) of its intention to hire from the latter’s workers in Libya 40 engineers and project supervisors for US$ 350 - 1,000 per month as well as 350 construction workers and welders for US$ 200 - 250 per month.

For their parts, Hanoi’s Vinaconex 6 Joint Stock and Cau Duong companies also plan to recruit from the workers returning from Libya.

As the civil war broke out in Libya last month, the Vietnamese government made every effort to bring its migrant workers home. So far, 8,700 workers have come back safely.

The remaining 300 workers will soon take flights home.

Meanwhile, over 1,000 workers are returning by sea and will arrive on March 21.

TB epidemic plagues Vietnam: conference

In Vietnam there are 32,000 deaths from tuberculosis and 180,000 new cases reported every year, according to a report made at a national conference on TB prevention in Hanoi Wednesday.

The actual number of infections, however, could be double, a doctor said.

The World Health Organization ranks Vietnam 12th in terms of the social cost of tuberculosis, Dr Dinh Ngoc Sy, director of the Central Lung Hospital, said.

However, treatment of the disease in the country is inadequate to contain its spread.

Dr Doan Van Hien of the Central Lung Hospital said 8-11 percent of TB patients getting free treatment under the National TB Program go on to develop multi-drug resistant TB because of failing to adhere to the treatment regimen.

As a result, their treatment lengthens from eight to 18 months and becomes more expensive.

Dr Pham Thanh Binh of the southern Ben Tre province said a shortage of medical staff specializing in TB and inadequate infrastructure at local clinics worsen the condition of many patients before they are transferred to provincial-level hospitals.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Xuyen said the Ministry will increase its spending to US$341 million for a national program to reduce infections by half in the next five years and eradicate the disease by 2030.

Market inspectors seize 1,900 dodgy helmets

They found poor quality and fake helmets at two unlicensed units in Ho Chi Minh City.

A Ho Chi Minh City market management team yesterday seized around 1,900 poor quality and fake crash helmets, including unfinished ones, and helmet-manufacturing equipment from two illicit units.

At a unit in Binh Hung Hoa Ward, Binh Tan District, the Market Management Team 3A found more than 600 unfinished helmets and devices and materials for production.

The establishment did not have a license while the products were of poor quality.

But the most serious offence was affixing counterfeit stamps on the products.

At 15 Binh Phu Street, District 6, the team found 500 helmets, another 800 of them in an unfinished state, and production materials.

Again, the quality was found to be low and the officials seized them.

Do Thi Thanh Loan, deputy head of the team, admitted however that the helmets were fashion and sports helmets for which there are no quality regulations yet.

Thus, market management forces have difficulty in pinning any charges on their producers, she said.

Vung Tau dug up giant shell

A giant seashell was dug up when workers were mining sand at a beach 10 kilometers from Vung Tau City.

Nguyen Van Tai of southern Long An province, owner of the mining business, paid his workers who discovered the shell VND 5 million (US$ 241) to own it.

The 60 centimeter long and 43 centimeter wide shell, weighing nearly 25 kilograms, is still in good condition.

The large shell has drawn a lot of curious locals to Tan’s house. Some elders claimed it was the biggest they ever saw.

VN students named Australian youth ambassadors

Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland State named dozens of its oversea students as ambassadors to promote its international education March 5.

Nguyen Thi Ngoc Han, 24 and Tran Quoc Duy, 29 were appointed as this year’s Vietnamese ambassadors, along with 27 other students from 23 countries.

Their honorary role is to promote Brisbane as an international student destination to their home countries, said the city’s Lord Mayor Campbell Newman.

Han, who just finished her graduate degree in Business Management at Queensland University of Technology, is pursuing her PhD in Public Relation.

She was among the finalists of last year’s “Queensland Business Icon”, a contest to find young business talents of the state.

Quoc Duy, an Education Management graduate student at University of Queensland used to be a leader at the youth leadership program SSEAYP (Ship for South East Asia Youth Program) in 2008.

The pair, together with other fellow ambassadors will perform their role in a year-long program.

School boss’ jail term cut in teen student sex

A 54-year-old high school boss had his sentence reduced by one year and a half after being found guilty of having paid sex with his underage students, some as young as 13.

The court in the northern province of Ha Giang today sentenced 54-year-old Sam Duc Xuong, former principal of Viet Vinh High School in Bac Quang District to 9 years in jail during a closed-door hearing.

At the first instance trial, he was sentenced to over 10 years.

Xuong was found guilty of paying to have sex with female students from 13 to 18 years of age from July 2008 to August 2009.

Meanwhile Nguyen Thuy Hang and Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy, who were found to have procured sex for Xuong five times, were sentenced to 36 months and 30 months under probation respectively.

Hang herself used to have sex with Xuong for VND4 million before turning into a pimp.

For a virgin, Xuong would pay VND3 million to VND4 million for one night and pay a VND500,000 commission to Hang.

After the case was cracked open, police found out that a provincial mayor could have been involved in Hang and Thuy's underage sex ring.

Nguyen Truong To, former chairman of the Ha Giang Province People’s Committee and 15 others were suspected of having sex with minors sourced from the above ring.

But last year, the local prosecuting office dropped charges against them all due to insufficient evidence.

Apart from To, other high officials involved are Dinh Xuan Hung, director of the Ha Giang Province Social Policy Bank and three provincial police officials.

Woman gets life for torching in-law to death

A Ho Chi Minh City court Wednesday sentenced 39-year-old Huynh Thi Ngoc Loi hailing from the city’s district 7 to life imprisonment for burning her mother-in-law to death and destroying property.

Loi and Nguyen Tho Tuan have been living together without a marriage certificate since 2000.

In December, 2009, due to long-running conflicts, Tuan left their house for his mother’s residence located at District 10’s Le Hong Phong Street.

Furious, Loi intended to set him on fire after she thought he abandoned her.

On the afternoon of January 4, 2010, Loi purchased two liters of petrol and started to act.

However, Tuan just suffered from minor injuries while his mother sustained severe burns and later died in hospital.

Trial delayed for official accused of power abuse

The appeal hearing of former chairman of HCM City's Hoc Mon District's People's Committee Nguyen Van Khoe along with his accomplices has been postponed for lack of witnesses, the city's court announced this morning.

According to the jury’s chairman, the court will hold another trial after subpoenaing vital witnesses. But they didn’t give the specific time of the new trial.

This is the second time the court has postponed this case after the first delayed appeal hearing last November due to absence of Khoe’s defending counsels.

Earlier, the jury board questioned in turn Khoe along with his five accomplices allegedly involved in this case.

Khoe only admitted two charges of abusing his official capacity to influence others and appropriate property while he denied all accusations of receiving bribes worth VND1.4 billion from Tran Thi Ha, former director of Thanh Phat Company.

He said he just received a bribe of VND400,000 million from Ha, adding he also borrowed another VND1 billion from her to fix his house and gave VND600 million back to her later.

Last August, Thanh Nien reported the HCMC court handed down a 26-year-jail term to the former head of Hoc Mon District for accepting VND1.4-billion (US$71,942) in bribes and abusing power to approve two infrastructure projects.

Khoe was convicted of receiving bribes and a haft a rhino horn worth $10,000 from Tran Thi Ha and her deputy Ha Van Hoa to approve a housing estate and an industrial zone in the district’s Dong Thanh Commune in late 2002 and early 2003.

He also asked them for cash and gifts worth a total of $15,000 and VND780 million ($40,082) to bribe other officials, his subordinates, to secure the approval, despite the fact that Thinh Phat didn’t have the financial capability to build them, the trial heard.

As cited by Thanh Nien, Tran Van Te, former chairman of Dong Thanh People’s Committee, was sentenced to 13 years in prison also for power abuse and receiving bribes.

Duong Minh Trung, former chief of Hoc Mon District Division of Planning and Investment, and Nguyen Van Do, another former official from Dong Thanh Commune, were given seven year imprisonment and three year suspended sentence respectively for abuse of power.

Dang Cong Danh, former director of Danh Khoa Company, meanwhile, received eight years for brokering bribes between Khoe and the husband and wife team of Ha and Hoa.

According to the court, with approval for the two projects, Ha and Hoa also secured loans of 3,000 taels (approximate 3,600 ounces) of gold and VND18 billion from the Cho Lon Branch of the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank).

The scheme was a scam with the bank as the victim, the HCMC People’s Court said, sentencing the married couple to life for “offering bribes” and “committing fraud to appropriate properties.”

Ha and Hoa were ordered to pay back the loans as compensation to Agribank, but as the bank didn’t claim the compensation at the trial, the gold and money would be transferred to the state budget, the court said.

The court also handed down a 12-year jail term to Tran Van Tuyen, former director of the bank’s branch for violating lending regulations.

Tuyen’s subordinate, Luu Thi Minh Hieu, was given 10 years on the same charges, while Nguyen Cong Dinh, a bank employee, was sentenced to seven years in prison for receiving bribes.

Vietnamese businessman donates $2 million to Laos

President of the confederation of overseas Vietnamese association in Laos Hoang Dieu handed over US$50,000 to the Laos national war veterans association in Vientiane today.

The money is the gift of CEF of the Long Thanh Golf Trading and Investment Joint Stock Company Le Van Kiem, who once fought in the Laos battle field, bringing his total donation to Laos to $2 million.

The money will be used to add budget to the construction of the Vietnam-Laos fallen combatant cemetery in Ban Kang, Vientiane province, where 24 Vietnamese and Lao soldiers were buried.

To date Le Van Kiem contributed $200,000 to the building of the cemetery.

The same day, President Hoang Dieu, on behalf of Vietnamese Labor Hero Le Van Kiem, gave $108,000 to the Central Committee of the Laos People’s Revolutionary Party in order to serve the ninth National Party Congress.

Rare white-cheeked gibbon seized in HCMC

Ho Chi Minh City's environmental police and Forest Control Department today seized a white-cheeked gibbon in the city’s district 8.

Nguyen Van Phuoc, who runs a motorbike repair small shop on Ngo Si Lien Street, Ward 14 nearby, told Tuoi Tre this morning a local found the gibbon hiding in the bushes.

Phuoc together with some people caught the animal and then tied it to the tree.

He added someone asked to buy it for VND1 million (US$50).

At the afternoon the same day, relevant agencies made a report about the case and handed over the gibbon to a wildlife rescue center in Ho Chi Minh City’s Cu Chi District before releasing it to forest.

No one can prove the origin of the creature.

White-cheeked gibbons have a scientific name as Nomascus (Hylobates), whose habitat is Northern and North Central Vietnam.

Such gibbons are domestically classified into Group 1B, which is protected against any illegal capture, breeding or trading or hunting.

Two die probably from street racing

A fatal road accident was reported this afternoon in Long Hau industrial zone, hamlet 3, Long Hau commune, Can Giuoc District in the southern province of Long An, killing two young men and seriously injuring another.

The two perished victims were later identified as L.T.T and N.T.T, both hailing from Phuoc Vinh Tay commune, Can Giuoc district while N.T.N suffered from severe wounds.

Earlier, local people told police that one hour prior to the accident they heard a big sound from the motorcycle’s engines of a group of street racers.

According to the initial investigation, the victims could participate in the street racing.

Police are investigating the case.

Street racing is illegal under Vietnamese law.

Russia garment factory fire kills 5 Vietnamese

At least five Vietnamese died Thursday in a garment workshop fire in Ivanteyevka, a town in Russia’s suburban Moscow.

The five dead bodies - two women and three men - were found on the scene.

Russian news agency Itar-Tass quoted an official from the investigation council as saying that the fire broke out at about 1 p.m. local time and investigators were still working there.

The workshop, about 80km northeast of Moscow, is owned by a Vietnamese man with Vinh as his name, a source said.

The Vietnamese embassy in Russia has sent representatives to the scene.

Two die sawing bombs for scrap

A terrible explosion broke out from an artillery shell in southern An Giang province yesterday, killing two people and seriously injuring one other.

All of the victims are of Khmer ethnic group, of Phuoc Loc hamlet, O Lam commune, Tri Ton district.

At 10 a.m yesterday, after stumbling across an artillery shell, Chau On, 29, asked Danh Thuong, 25, to join him in dismantling the shell to get scrap metal for sale.

While they were sawing the shell, it suddenly exploded, killing Chau On immediately and severely wounding Thuong who later died in hospital.

Chau Uol, 54, who was near to the scene at the time, was critically injured, too.

The explosion also caused serious damage to a house.

The shell is a 105 mm artillery one, which could have been left there from the war in South Vietnam before 1975, said local authorities.

Previously, some similar cases occurred in the province’s Tri Ton and Tinh Bien districts, causing many casualties, the authorities said.

Cop beating civilian to death arrested

Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Van Ninh of Hoang Mai District was taken into custody Monday for allegedly beating to death Trinh Xuan Tung, a 52-year-old resident of Hai Ba Trung District.

Ninh was removed from his position March 2 after Tung’s family filed a law suit against him, accusing him of beating and breaking Tung’s neck.

According to the family, Tung went to Hanoi’s Giap Bat Bus Station February 28 by a motorbike taxi (xe om) but when they were nearing the place, police stopped them.

The reason is that Tung took off his helmet just before the driver pulled off the bike. In Vietnam, people must wear protection helmets when traveling on motorbikes.

The driver argued with the police.

Tung was then beaten by Ninh and three other guards from the station when he tried to stop the argument.

Later he was detained in a local police station where his condition worsened and he was rushed to hospital that night.

He died Tuesday after two of his cervical vertebrae were badly injured, leading to limbs and respiratory muscles paralysis.

The bus station’s guards who joined the abuse were also summoned by police for further investigation.

City forces teachers to teach classes without pay

The authorities of Vinh city in Nghe An Province have recently issued a directive requiring 181 teachers in the public sector to teach after-school classes without receiving payment.

They explained that these junior high school teachers have been paid without having to teach any classes, triggering an annual deficit of VND8 billion (US$387,000) in the local budget.

The city’s authorities issued a similar directive last year, asking those teachers to provide after-school tutorial sessions without payment, as a means to offset the deficit.

The directive, however, was largely ignored, prompting the authorities to issue another one earlier this year.

Few schools, however, have followed the latest directive but bypassed it instead by reshuffling the teaching schedules of the mainstream classes so that their teachers fulfill the teaching requirements and do not have to teach after-school classes.

Ministry prepares to revise Personal Income Tax Law

With rising inflation, the Ministry of Finance has tasked the Tax General Department with preparing amendments to the Law on Personal Income Tax.

Following public opinion on the failures of the personal income tax law to consider the impact of the recent rising inflation, the Finance Ministry has asked the Tax General Department to propose amendments and keep them ready for submission to the Government when requested.

An authorized source said the ministry will continue collecting relevant feedback from other agencies, the mass media and the public to make the amendments most conformable to the country’s actual conditions.

The Tax General Department will hold an internal meeting to discuss and reach a consensus before consulting other departments of the ministry, said an official in the tax department.

Amendments will involve adjusting the tax rates, the taxable income threshold and tax deductions for family considerations, the official said.

Under the existing law, the starting taxable income level is VND4 million (US$192) per month and the fixed rate of deductions for family considerations is VND1.6 million ($76) per month per dependant.

Given the living costs are now much higher than before, many economists have recently suggested that the starting taxable income level be raised to ten times the minimum salary, currently ranging from VND830,000 (US$40) to VND1,550,000 ($74.5), depending on where the taxpayer lives and works.

They also advised that the deductions for family considerations be proportional to tax rates.


 
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