SOCIETY IN BRIEF 11/2
Tet for the poor

Despite economic difficulties, the Vietnamese government has paid special attention to the poor, especially during the lunar New Year (Tet) holiday.

Caring for the poor intensifies a few months before the Tet celebration. The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) has asked the government to earmark nearly VND400 billion for social policy beneficiaries, VND3.5 billion more than last year.
Presenting Tet gifts to the poor

It has also asked the government to allocate 23,000 tonnes of rice to needy people. MOLISA Minister Pham Thi Hai Chuyen said this is a major effort by the Party and State in the context of economic difficulties.

“The government has instructed local administrations to care for poor households to help them enjoy Tet. Vietnam is one of the ASEAN countries with extensive social welfare policies, especially for the poor. The government has requested provinces review those classified as poor households to make sure all of them have a jubilant Tet,” she said.

The Prime Minister in his recent instructions has required provinces to ensure a sufficient supply of goods to border, remote and ethnic regions. He asked ministries and provinces to follow Party guidelines and State policies on caring for the poor and social beneficiaries.

The Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) has allocated from its Fund for the Poor more than VND3 billion worth of Tet gifts. They will be sent to provinces, army units, remote areas and islands. VFF President Huynh Dam said that the Fatherland Front has encouraged organizations and individuals to care more for the poor.

“We have encouraged organisations and individuals to help the poor in a practical way. Many individuals have pledged to support the poor despite the economic doldrums,” he said.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has joined businesses in transporting affordable goods to remote areas to care for the low income-earners. MoIT Minister Vu Huy Hoang confirmed that provinces have prepared stockpiles of Tet goods since the middle of the year.

"With subsidies worth more than VND1 trillion, provinces have done their best to ensure a stable supply of merchandise for Tet,” said Hoang.

Provincial effort for the poor is part of Vietnam’s policy of fostering social welfare for all.

US Ambassador extends Lunar New Year message

US Ambassador David Shear has wished all Vietnamese citizens good health, joyous celebrations and future prosperity during the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival.

The diplomat starred in a video released by the US Embassy, introducing himself in Vietnamese.

He switched to English to describe his feelings about the Tet holiday in Vietnam. He noted this is the second time he has celebrated the festival with his family in Hanoi.

Ambassador Shear and his family prepared by decorating their house and buying Banh Chung ( a square cake made from sticky rice, pork and green beans) and traditional dried fruit from a local market to welcome guests on New Year’s Day.

Sitting comfortably in his room and singing along to a Vietnamese song about the festive holiday, he said the ubiquitous beauty of the peach blossoms and kumquat trees as one of his favourite things about Tet.

He sent is best New Year wishes to Vietnamese people wherever they live.

Early Tet for southwestern islanders

Yellow apricot blossoms and young green buds have begun to shoot and flower in Vietnam’s southwestern islands, signaling the approach of the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival and spring.

Navy Zone 5 will distribute gifts from mainlanders to soldiers garrisoned on the islands to help them enjoy the Tet holiday while guarding national territorial waters.

The naval units of Navy Zone 5 are currently busy preparing for the upcoming Tet holiday. Barracks are being repaired and decorated and flowers have been planted in surrounding gardens.

Nguyen Van Kinh stationed on the outpost island of Tho Chu said his first Tet far from home is exciting and he’s looking forward to celebrating the festival with other soldiers.

"At home, Tet is always a joyful occasion with family, relatives, and friends. Although I’m on duty far from home, I’ve received support and encouragement from colleagues and officials. We have a close relationship. Yesterday we found a beautiful apricot tree in the forest that will decorate the meeting hall. We also made 10 Banh Chung (cake made from sticky rice, green beans and pork) for Tet. We’re almost ready."

Captain Trieu Van Tuyen, a radar technician, said he has worked on the island for 17 years. When he began staying there, almost no residents lived and the garrison grappled with severe infrastructure shortages.

Tuyen recalled he was extremely worried when he decided to move his whole family to the island in 2007. But now he owns a house near his office. His children go to school on the mainland and his wife runs a grocery.

"In recent years, thanks to the support of the Party and government and the close relations between the army and the people, our Tet festival is more joyful. There’s almost no difference between Tet here and Tet on the mainland. Seniors, and juniors live in harmony. We encourage each other to celebrate the holiday but, at the same time, remain alert and protect the national territorial waters.

"On New Year’s Eve we will organise an exchange with the local Youth Union. We hope the living conditions of all Vietnamese people will improve."

Senior Lieutenant Colonel Pham Van Huy, commander of the Tho Chu Regiment, said a schedule for operation watch officers has already been outlined, guaranteeing a happy and safe Tet holiday for all personnel.

"This year we have made a lot of improvements to the material and spiritual life of the soldiers, as well as to the duty roster. The soldiers are in a high state of readiness. Some units will have to complete guard duty before they celebrate Tet. During the Tet holiday, we will cooperate with the commune People’s Committee and Youth Union to host cultural and sports activities."

At Radar station 600 on Nam Du Island in Kien Giang province’s Kien Hai district, the warm Tet atmosphere was palpable.

Military personnel, teachers, the staff of An Son commune People’s Committee, and many local women worked together to make Banh Chung. Nguyen Thai Viet, vice chairman of the commune People’s Committee, said the New Year’s Eve party will farewell a number of soldiers and staff returning to their native villages for Tet.

"To ensure a happy Tet for the locals, we will hold an exchange featuring performances with all border guard stations and naval forces in the province. We have set up teams to deliver gifts to the disadvantaged and policy beneficiary households," Viet said.

To have a joyful festival, more than 70 tonnes of food and other festive commodities have been prepared to transport to the islands.

Students in Cuba meet for Tet celebration party

Vietnamese students in Cuba have gathered in Havana for their traditional Lunar New Year (Tet) celebration party.

Like other Vietnamese living overseas they all wished to enjoy the Tet holiday as in the homeland. Only a few of them were lucky enough to return home on this occasion.

Even without seeing peach or apricot blossoms—two symbols of Tet in the northern and southern parts  of Vietnam—many looked quite happy at a party hosted by the Vietnamese Embassy in Havana where they had the chance to meet old friends and make new acquaintances enjoy traditional music and dance performances, and taste special Tet dishes.

A group of four new students Oanh, Vi, Le, and Phuong—revealed that this was their first Tet celebration abroad. “Art performances and other cultural exchange programmes have made me feel less homesick,” Phuong said.

“I really miss the joy of going shopping and decorating the house as part of Tet preparations,” Le said.

All these new arrivals in Havana wished to study well and reunite with their families early.

What about the feelings of those students who have stayed in Cuba for a long time?

Vu Anh, a fourth-year student at Santa Clara University, said he is now used to Tet celebrations with my international friends Cuba.

“Cultural exchange not only helps strengthen friendship among Vietnamese students but also promotes solidarity with foreign friends,” Anh said.

Vietnamese students at Santa Clara University often gather on Lunar New Year’s Eve in the hope of welcoming in a lucky and prosperous year both for themselves and their families at home.

They are all dressed in traditional costumes including Ao Dai (long dress) while performing music or culinary art.

Though living far from the homeland they are set to preserve and promote Vietnam’s traditional culture.

Japan funds school, hospital projects

The Japanese Government has agreed to finance school and hospital projects in the northern province of Hung Hen and Phu Tho.

A signing ceremony for non-refundable aid from the Japanese Government that will fund the projects was held in Hanoi on February 8.

Accordingly, the Japanese Government will provide US$ 110,000 to equip facilities in Pho Noi General Hospital in Hung Yen province.

Another US$108,000 will be allocated to the construction of new classrooms at Van Linh Primary School in Van Linh commune, Thanh Ba district, Phu Tho province.

Addressing the ceremony, Hideo Suzuki, Charge d’affaires at the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam, said he hopes that the projects will help improve healthcare services at the hospital and learning environment for Van Linh students.

Provincial representatives thanked the Japanese Government for its aid and pledged to use it effectively.

Live TV programme delivers Tet wishes to Truong Sa

On the occasion of the approaching Lunar New Year festival, a TV programme themed “Towards Truong Sa” was broadcast live on February 7 from central Khanh Hoa province and two sites on the island district.

From Truong Sa district, Pham Van Hien, Chairman of the Truong Sa District People’s Committee, and lieutenant-colonel Tran Minh Thuan, head of Nam Yet island, said that thanks to special attention paid by the Vietnam Navy Service, Khanh Hoa province and people nationwide, many infrastructural works have been built, giving a face-lift to the district and its communes and meeting local people’s needs.

Localities ensured sufficient supply of safe food, food stuff, vegetables and fruits, as well as art and sport programmes to welcome the biggest festival of the Vietnamese.

Le Thanh Quang, member of the Party Central Committee and Secretary of the provincial Party Committee, wished local officials, soldiers and people a happy and warm New Year. He expressed his hope that they will obtain more achievements in 2013 and overcome all difficulties to maintain the country’s sacred territorial waters.

Earlier, the Naval Region 4’s High Command sent three ships, carrying Tet gifts from mainland to the island district.

Russian news agency highlights VN's Tet

Russian news agency ITAR-TASS on Saturday published an article on the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet) festival written by correspondent Yuri Denisovich from Ha Noi .

The article said that similar to Asian countries, Tet is regarded as the nation’s most important event. Vietnamese people welcome Tet by preparing offerings for the dead to remember them.

During Tet, Vietnamese people often go to pagodas to pray for the souls of the dead, and wish every member of the family health, security and prosperity in the New Year, the article added.

It mentioned the legend of the green Chung cake, a food that is ubiquitous during Tet, and described the customs of using peach, apricot, kumquat and bonsai trees to decorate homes on this occasion.

The article concluded that Tet is the occasion for Vietnamese people to visit each other and wish for good things in the 2013 Year of the Snake.

Vietnamese welcome New Year with hope

The entire of Viet Nam was bathed in a happy and hopeful atmosphere with hope for the better year in 2013, as localities nationwide organised a wide range of activities to usher in the Year of the Snake.

In the capital city of Ha Noi , tens of thousands of people gathered at Hoan Kiem Lake to watch the firework show. The city has been decorated with lights, flowers and banners for the biggest festival of the year.

Most people wish for a happy new year and health for their families and friends, and prosperity for all people every where.

In the southern economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City, all main streets were decorated with illuminations. Since early in the evening, the city downtown was thronged with people.

Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thuyet Phong, a Vietnamese resident in the US , said he is very happy to return to the homeland for Tet. “Each time returning for Tet, we always hope to see further development and more well-off people in the homeland,” he said.

In the central city of Da Nang , it has become a tradition for locals to gather along the banks of Han river on New Year’s Eve to watch the fireworks and celebrate the first moments of the year. The crowd was even bigger this year, not only because of the fine weather, but also the organization of the largest flower festival at the area.

In downtown Ca Mau city in the southernmost region of the country, the atmosphere was animated and joyful. Roads were crowded with people and vehicles.

Colourful fireworks greeted the New Year in Ca Mau. There were displays in seven of the city’s nine districts so people did not have to travel far to enjoy the spectacle.

Vietnamese in Egypt, France enjoy Tet

The Vietnamese Embassy in Egypt organised a celebration on Saturday to welcome the traditional Lunar New Year of the Snake.

The event drew the participation of Vietnamese people in Egypt , embassy staff, agencies and international friends.

Addressing the function, Vietnamese Ambassador Dao Thanh Chung reviewed the country’s achievements, including in external affairs and international integration.

Viet Nam and Egypt will mark their 50 th anniversary of diplomatic ties in 2013, said the ambassador, adding that stronger development will boost bilateral relations between the two countries.

In the warm atmosphere of the celebration, Vietnamese people listened to President Truong Tan Sang’s New Year message, and enjoyed the performances of staff and students living in Egypt .

Also on Saturday, overseas Vietnamese and French guests gathered at the Vietnamese Culture Centre in France (VCCF) to mark the Lunar New Year festival. The event is one of numerous VCCF activities to celebrate Tet.

An exhibition called “Vietnamese traditional Tet” by artist Vuong Pat Cam, featured simple yet pure Vietnamese decorations, which are typical of Viet Nam.

Na Meo market - friendship bridge between Viet Nam, Laos
 
Na Meo market has long been one of the most interesting trade fairs for both Vietnamese and Lao people living along border between Viet Nam’s central province of Thanh Hoa and Laos’s Huaphan Province.

The market not only serves as a place for people from the two countries to do business, but also a venue for them to meet and socialise, so it has also been dubbed "Unity Market".

The market opens once a week on Saturday morning in Thanh Hoa Province’s Na Meo commune, about 300m away from the Viet Nam-Lao border.

During Tet , the market becomes busier than usual.

People from different ethnic groups such as the H’Mong and Thai cross rivers and mountains to visit the market, as well as traders from Huaphan Province.

Lo Y Van from Huaphan’s Viengxay commune said she woke up at 3:30am and travelled more than 20km to reach the market despite the cold weather.

She brought home-grown vegetables to sell to earn money to buy clothes and books for her children.

Some of the specialities on sale at the market include roast porcupine and other local products.

Na Meo market opened in 1989. At the market, both the Vietnamese dong and the Lao kip are accepted, while people overcome the language barrier by using hand signals to bargain for goods.

While some people visit the market to purchase specific items, others go merely out of habit, and the market has become a cultural bridge for the two countries.

Head of the Na Meo border gate Nguyen Quang Dung said the market played an important role in production and life of people who lived along the border.

“This is a key supply chain for consumer goods and production materials,” he said.

An estimated 63,000 people and 3,000 vehicles regularly use the Na Meo border gate each month.-

Fireworks displayed in Hoang Sa Archipelago for first time

Thousands of inhabitants in Ly Son Island of Hoang Sa (Paracel in English) Archipelago in Saturday night gathered to view a fifteen- minute wonderful fireworks display that was, for the first time, launched on the outpost island in the New Year's Eve

Ly Son's inhabitants enjoyed fireworks display in the sky of the Paracel Archipelago in the midnight of New Year's Eve.

Before the fireworks, they enjoyed cultural art performance by famous artists from the mainland at the exhibition of the Paracel Fleet.

Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Nguyen, President of the Ly Son District said that people were very excited because of the first time fireworks performance on New Year Eve.

Military command boards of Da Nang City and Quang Ngai Province said that they transported 1,000 fireworks several days before the New Year (Tet in Vietnamese) to launch the fireworks.

Traditionally, large cities nationwide launch fireworks every year. This year the Government wanted to make Tet holidays of Ly Son's inhabitants more meaningful with excellent art and fireworks display.

Ly Son is one island of the Paracel Archipelago in the East Sea that belongs to Vietnam but China conquered some of its islands after a battle with the Republic of South Vietnam’s troops in 1974.

Poor families greet Tet in new homes

The southern province of Bac Lieu presented 40 houses to poor households of the Khmer ethnic group in the locality on February 9.

The houses, built at a total cost of 45 million VND, are a joint effort of the Party, State and local community to give every family a warm and joyful Tet holiday.

The new homes are part of two projects to build 1,000 houses for poor Khmer families financed by local funds and the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations (VUFO).

Vietnamese people welcome Tet in Germany

The Association of Vietnamese in Berlin-Brandenburg (Germany) and the Cultural Association in Berlin’s Lichtenberg district organised a celebration to welcome the traditional Lunar New Year (Tet) Festival on February 8.

Speaking at the event, Vice Chairman of the Association of Vietnamese Chu Tien Tang reviewed the association’s activities over the past years, and expressed his delight at the increasing number of Vietnamese people taking part in cultural activities held by the association.

Chairman of Lichtenberg’s Cultural Association Doris Kluge spoke highly of the cooperation between the two associations to jointly celebrate Tet and organise cultural and sporting activities.

Participants were introduced to Vietnamese people’s Tet customs. They also had a chance to enjoy musical performances and taste traditional Vietnamese dishes at the celebration.

The Association of Vietnamese in Berlin-Brandenburg has existed since the reunification of Germany. The association has held many Vietnamese classes for second generation Vietnamese and organised numerous cultural and sporting activities focused on the Fatherland for Vietnamese people in Berlin and Brandenburg.

Vietnamese community in Paris welcomes New Year

The Vietnamese Embassy in France in coordination with the Paris City Hall hosted a reception on February 8 on the occasion of the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival.

It is the first of many large-scale activities that will be held in France this year to celebrate 40 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Addressing the event, Vietnamese Ambassador to France Duong Chi Dung highlighted the great contributions that the Vietnamese community in France has made to the development of Vietnam-France friendship and cooperation as well as national construction.

Mayor of Paris Bertrand Dalanoe said that the city is proud of its Vietnamese community, and their cultural activities have helped Parisians learn more about Vietnam.

He also recalled his visit to the country in the past and affirmed that the Tet holiday is a real festival in the city.-

Vietnamese in Egypt, France enjoy Tet

The Vietnamese Embassy in Egypt organised a celebration on February 9 to welcome the traditional Lunar New Year of the Snake.

The event drew the participation of Vietnamese people in Egypt , embassy staff, agencies and international friends.

Addressing the function, Vietnamese Ambassador Dao Thanh Chung reviewed the country’s achievements, including in external affairs and international integration.

Vietnam and Egypt will mark their 50 th anniversary of diplomatic ties in 2013, said the ambassador, adding that stronger development will boost bilateral relations between the two countries.

In the warm atmosphere of the celebration, Vietnamese people listened to President Truong Tan Sang’s New Year message, and enjoyed the performances of staff and students living in Egypt .

Also on February 9, overseas Vietnamese and French guests gathered at the Vietnamese Culture Centre in France (VCCF) to mark the Lunar New Year festival. The event is one of numerous VCCF activities to celebrate Tet.

An exhibition called “Vietnamese traditional Tet” by artist Vuong Pat Cam, featured simple yet pure Vietnamese decorations, which are typical of the Tet holiday in Vietnam.
overseas vietnamese, tet, poor people, tet gift, island
 
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