Social Headlines December 15

Man burned when motorbikes collide

A man suffered serious burns after two motorbikes collided yesterday at noon on Highway 1A in Tam Hoa Ward in the southern province of Dong Nai's Bien Hoa District.

A man suffered serious burns after two motorbikes collided yesterday at noon on Highway 1A in Tam Hoa Ward in the southern province of Dong Nai's Bien Hoa District.

Police investigators report that the 30-year-old man, transporting three cans containing 30 litres of alcohol each, crashed into another motorbike. The alcohol apparently spilled, setting the man on fire. His motorbike was consumed by fire.

The victims are being treated in Thong Nhat General Hospital.

Police hunt for Gucci smuggler

Police in HCM City have asked for help from Interpol Vietnam in their search for the owner of two local Gucci-Milano stores for smuggling.

To avoid taxes, the owner, Tran Anh Tuan, is accused of transferring all of the luxury goods through Hong Kong before importing them into Vietnam. However, the real products were claimed as Chinese fake goods.

The police seized four trucks that were transporting the products to the basement of the Sheraton Hotel. The import taxes for 1,253 authentic Gucci and Dolce&Gabana items was over VND552 million, but Tuan had only paid VND27 million (USD1,300).

In April, Le Hong Duc was detained for smuggling and two customs officers were prosecuted for negligence. Duc was the one who helped Tuan expand his ring. Tuan had also paid a monthly wage of VND4.5 million to a female caretaker at his shop, and then use this caretaker’s name for various business contracts. In an attempt to avoid police scrutiny, Tuan paid another man VND38 million a month in order to use his name for operating licenses.

When a shipment was ready, the head of Tan Long Company, Nguyen Thuy Cuong, allegedly helped Tuan find suitable companies whose names could be used as exporters and importers for the purpose of faking bills.

According to the suspects’ own testimony and other evidence, Tuan had withdrew over VND45 billion from the stores’ accounts from 2009 to 2012. The police have identified Tuan as the main suspect of leader of this smuggling ring.

The police has asked Interpol Vietnam to issue an international warrant for Tran Anh Tuan, who is on the run. He has American citizenship.

“Say no to nylon bags” helps protect the environment

The program to limit the use of nylon bags has initially worked in changing Hanoians’ habit of taking that bags in daily life and shopping.

The outcome was reported during a conference, held by the Ha Noi Department of Natural Resources and Environment on December 12, to review five years of the implementation of the program in the city.

Addressing the conference, the department’s deputy director Pham Van Khanh said that different ways of communications has enabled the program to gain encouraging results from rural to urban areas, from markets, supermarkets and trade centers to households.

The message of “limiting the use of nylon bags to protect the environment” has become familiar to residents in the capital, he said.

At supermarkets and trade centers, nylon bags have been limited and replaced by other eco-friendly bags.

Started in 2009, the program has been implemented in all Hapro supermarket chains with 50,000 cotton bags distributed free to customers. In 2010, the program organized a campaign to distribute the bags in 28 districts and one town in the city as well as a campaign to collect used nylon bags to exchange for eco-friendly ones.

In 2011, the program expanded its communications campaign to women, housewives and entrepreneurs. And in 2013, it approached young generations at primary schools and universities under a campaign that introduce the youngsters to the risks caused nylon bags and call for the signing in of a pledge of “Say No to nylon bags” to protect the environment.

According to Pham Van Khanh, though residents have had initial awareness about the program and knowledge in the risks of nylon bags to living environment, the convenience and cheap price of nylon bags as well as the fact that there have not many products to replace, nylon bags have been just limited partly.

As a result, he said, the program needs to continue communication programmes to raise the awareness among the community, enterprises on the risks of nylon bags to the environment and encourage the use of environmentally friendly products.

The program also encourages the support and cooperation of enterprises, organizations so that they bring eco-friendly bags into trade centers and supermarkets.

Province allocates VND15.5 billion to relocate residents

Lam Dong province has allocated VND15.5 billion ($738,000) to localities to support residents seeking to move from disaster-prone areas and to stabilise the lives of migrants in the province.

The funding would also support work on infrastructure projects.

For example, residents in the area of Di Linh District whose houses collapsed following the appearance of cracks in the ground in October, and those who suffer from frequent landslides and flash floods in Da Huoai District, would be relocated.

The province would also use part of the funding to support production for ethnic residents.

Boats seized for stealing sand in southern province

Ba Ria-Vung Tau’s Environmental Police (PC49) yesterday detained nine boats after their crews were found stealing sand from Mo Nhat river in the southern province’s Tan Phuoc Commune.

Earlier on Wednesday, two ferries and seven other boats, four of which did not have license plates, were seized when their crews were seen stealing sand from the river. Some 380 cubic metres of sand were found on the boats.

According to PC49, the municipal Department of Transport had assigned clean up work in Phuoc Hoa Port on the Mo Nhat river to Quy Long Ltd, Co. However, the company apparently hired the nine boats to steal sand along the river to be sold elsewhere.

Illegal loggers caught in Ha Giang

Forest rangers in northern mountainous Ha Giang Province caught a group loading timber into a truck on Highway 2 yesterday morning.

Ha Quang Yen, the driver, could not show any legal documents to verify the wood’s origin.

The Ha Giang Forest Management Department seized the truck for further investigation.

Illegal logging is a growing problem in the province, where 342 forest law violations have occurred this year.

HCM City hospital offers free health checks

The HCM City University’s Medical Centre will provide free health checks and consultancy to 100 people with congenital cleft lips and palates on Sunday.

Those interested can register with the hospital’s customer care department at 54051010 or 39525353.

One in 500 children are born with cleft lips and/or palate and other facial deformities in Viet Nam, according to the centre.

On December 19 and 20, the centre will offer free testing and consultancy for 400 people at risk of dyslipidemia (too high or low blood lipid levels), such as people with diabetes or hypertension, men aged 45 and above, and women aged 55 and above.

Vietnamese citizens uprooted by typhoon

As many as 29 Vietnamese citizens uprooted by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines will be flown to HCM City on December 13-14.

According to the Vietnamese Embassy in Manila, 31 Vietnamese were displaced by the super typhoon. The first person returned to Viet Nam on December 9 and the remaining victims will be back later.

After the typhoon made landfall, the Embassy began work to bring the Vietnamese citizens to the capital city of Manila and help them with legal procedures for repatriation to Viet Nam.

On Thursday, the embassy, in conjunction with the Vietnamese Community in Manila, held a meeting with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to provide assistance worth US$1,000 each to help the typhoon victims settle in Viet Nam.

Super typhoon Haiyan, which swept through the Philippines in early November, was considered the most devastating storm to ever strike.

Ireland finances poverty reduction programme

Ireland has committed EUR13.29 million to a programme on socio-economic development in Vietnam’s disadvantaged communes (known as programme 135) over the 2013-2015 period.

A financial agreement to this effect was signed in Hanoi on December 13 between Irish Ambassador to Vietnam Damien Cole and the government’s Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) chairman Giang Seo Phu.

The funding will be used to help ethnic minority people escape poverty in Ha Giang, Cao Bang, Dien Bien, Bac Kan, Thanh Hoa, Quang Ngai, Kon Tum, and Tra Vinh.

It is also intended to assist improving living conditions in disadvantaged mountainous communes and narrow development gaps separating ethnic minority groups and the Kinh majority.

The Vietnamese and Irish Governments will evaluate the programme annually, identifying any difficulties and challenges as early as possible.

The Vietnamese Government is responsible for ensuring the money is not wasted.

CEMA Vice Chairman Son Phuoc Hoan said Vietnam has introduced many policies preferencing investment in ethnic minority and mountainous areas. International organisations have also supported Vietnam’s development goals and particularly Programme 135.

Hoan thanked the Irish Government for the financial aid and expressed hopes Ireland and other development partners will continue to support Vietnam’s poverty reduction programme.

Ambassador Damien Cole reiterated Ireland’s pledge to help improve living conditions for millions of poor people.

Stricter laws against child abuse needed

The Law on Child Care, Protection and Education lacked a clear definition of child abuse, experts from social organisations said at a conference in Ha Noi yesterday.

Nguyen Duc Manh, director of the Institute for Population, Family and Children, said the lack of such a definition created many obstacles in implementing the law, as violators found loopholes to deny responsibility.

“This is one of the main reasons why sexual abuse of children is increasing,” he said.

The number of rape cases where the victim was a child has been steadily rising, with 550 cases in 2011, 603 last year and 704 this year, according to the Supreme People’s Court.

The court judged more than 1,100 cases of child sexual abuse in 2011, 1,400 last year and 1,800 this year.

Manh said the law also failed to specify what organisations should do to prevent child sexual abuse and help the victims.

“Without such regulations, organisations cannot legally join hands with state managing agencies and non-governmental organisations in the field,” he stressed.

Nguyen Dinh Ton, an expert from the Viet Nam Association for Protection of Children’s Rights, suggested that the law should state that social organisations had the right to conduct dissemination activities and protect, care for and educate children, as well as contribute ideas to local authorities about protecting them.

“With such rights, organisations can call on all of society to participate in the struggle against child sexual abuse,” Ton said.

National statistics council needed

The establishment of a national statistics council was necessary to create a trustworthy, transparent and accurate nationwide statistics system, a recent conference heard.

Speaking at the conference, which was jointly held by the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the United Nations Development Programme, many delegates said that the quality of statistical data was an important issue, proven by a series of stories showing doubts over statistics used in different publications.

PhD Bui Tat Thang, head of the Institute of Development Strategy, said the public did not have a deep understanding about the statistics system, which caused inaccurate evaluations on the national socio-economic situation and affected people’s trust in the authorities’ policies.

According to Thang, the reason for inaccuracies was a lack of co-operation on statistical data between ministries, sectors and localities.

Co-ordination was among the key criteria of statistical work. Poor co-ordination among authorised agencies meant inaccurate statistics would be compiled, which failed to meet international standards, he said.

This has led to different results in final numbers. For example, statistics of trained workers or public debt at different agencies were proven different from each other.

PhD Nguyen Sinh Cuc of the General Statistic of Viet Nam said after ten years of enforcing the Law on Statistics, the authorised agencies still fail to bring together scientists and experts to create a comprehensive statistical system.

The latest study of the agency showed that about 100 countries throughout the world have established their own national statistics councils to provide consulting services and promote national co-ordination in the field.

In Viet Nam, there are about 40 units in charge of statistics. However, many have stopped operating, it said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister Nguyen Van Trung said the establishment of such a council would help effectively implement the general statistics system between ministries, sectors and localities.

Bakhodir Burkhanov, UNDP Vice chief representative in Viet Nam, reiterated that UNDP would support Viet Nam in building a national council, which was suitable for the country’s conditions and ensured the quality and effectiveness of its statistical activities, in accordance with international rules.

As planned, the establishment of a national statistics council would be part of amendments to laws, which would be submitted to the Government by the middle of next year.

Government seeks to stop ethnic nomads

The Government’s policy to support sedentary farming has been mostly successful, but thousands of people from several ethnic minority communities continue to lead a nomadic lifestyle, officials said at an online conference this week.

Tang Minh Loc, director general of Economic Co-operation and Agriculture Development Agency under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the “uncontrolled migrants” remained a headache for authorities at various levels.

They persist with their nomadic life despite the Government issuing special policies to support sedentary farming, according to the official.

He said that between 2005 and 2012, some 277,000 people were recorded as practising a nomadic life, just half the number in 1991-1995. In recent years, the number has dropped to 8,000 a year.

Loc said most of the “uncontrolled migrants” were from the Central Highlands and Dong Nam Bo (Eastern Nam Bo provinces).

In the past, they migrated in large groups, but this has dwindled to small ones now.

“Since 2006, the Government has allocated VND 6 trillion ($282 million) to help these people settle down. During the same period, local governments have also set aside VND2 trillion ($94 million) to support the new settlers,” Loc said.

In addition, the Ministry of Defence has set up 23 national defence and economic zones, and has welcomed more than 85,000 civilian households to live there.

A report prepared by the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs identifies poor environmental conditions, religious customs and traditions and economic hardships as main reasons for people persisting with the nomadic lifestyle.

“Up to 85 per cent of these migrating households belong to ethnic minorities, and 97.8 per cent of them are H’mong people,” the report says.

It says that because they lack production capital, these ethnic minority households practise subsistence farming.

More than 45 per cent of them live in temporary shelters, 70 per cent of the households don’t have access to clean water and 84 per cent live without electricity.

Their nomadic life has forced these households to live in small clusters inside the forest and practise slash and burn farming to grow short-lived crops.

As a result, they remain impoverished. Up to 70 per cent of their children are not able to get a proper education.

Nguyen Minh Tien, deputy chairman of the Ha Giang People’s Committee, said that from 1998 to 2013, some 7,000 people migrated from his province but only 204 people from other provinces had settled down in Ha Giang, he said.

“For more than ten years, we have made big efforts to help people stabilise their lives. But sometimes we feel it is beyond our capacity as the number of households classified as beneficiary households are so many, and we don’t have sufficient resources. The support we get from the central government is too little,” Tien said.

Bun Tho Lao, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee in EA Sup District, Dak Lak Province, said that from1995 to 2013, his district saw 14,134 migrants settling there, more than 80 per cent of whom were very poor.

“The great number of uncontrolled migrants coming to our district has caused a big problem for us in household registration as well as forest protection. That’s not all, they have derailed our district’s annual socio-economic development plan,” Lao said.

Nguyen Huu Huan, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Tuy Duc District, Dak Lak Province said that to solve the problem of uncontrolled migration, it is important to forge close co-ordination between provinces from where the people depart and those that they go to.

“Good co-ordination will ease the life of migrants and help them settle down quickly,” Huan said.

According to Loc, northern mountainous provinces are currently executing 65 projects with funding of VND 1.5 trillion ($72.1 million) from the State budget to help the migrants settle down.

However, as of 2012, only VND 482 billion ($22.65 million) of this amount had been disbursed.

Dak Lak Province has 14 projects with total funding of VND 1.048 trillion ($492 million), but only VND 287 billion ($13.5million) has been disbursed.

Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said uncontrolled migration remained a thorny issue.

“The key reason is poverty. The migrants move from difficult areas to difficult areas. This movement has added more challenges to local authorities.

“We need to work together to come up with workable measures and harmonised policies between departure provinces and arrival provinces,” Phat said.

He asked provinces that have many people migrating out to mobilise all resources available to help poor households develop production and adopt new policies to help them quickly stabilise their lives.

Provinces receiving many migrants should also extend their support and help the migrants settle down quickly, Phat said.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will do its best to ask the government to allocate more funds to help the migrants and adopt more policies to support them in stabilising their lives as quickly as possible,” Phat said.

Japan-funded project helps Ben Tre farmers

A Japanese government-funded project to improve livelihood for the poor in Binh Dai district, southern Ben Tre province, was launched on December 12 by the provincial agriculture and fishery development centre and Japan’s Seed to Table organisation.

The 55,000 USD project will be carried out in Long Hoa, Dai Hoa Loc, Phu Long, Chau Hung, and Thanh Phuoc communes, Binh Dai district from now until 2014.

The project is to encourage local people to apply sustainable farming methods and train breeding techniques, while providing them with equipment to keep water in dry season. It targets to set up a cow bank.

In 2012-13, the 40,000 USD project to improve livelihood for households involving small-sized organic agriculture production was implemented in five communes. It set up five duck bank with the involvement of nearly 570 households.

Traffic safety conference to be held next January

A conference on traffic safety will be organised in Hanoi on January 17, 2014 with the participation of numerous domestic and foreign scientists and managers, according to National Traffic Safety Committee.

At the event, the delegates are scheduled to discuss scientific research outcomes and share experience in ensuring traffic safety as well as application possibility in Vietnam.

They will propose concrete measures for traffic safety and order in the country for the years to come.

The committee said traffic safety, transport infrastructure, means of transport, traffic participants and post-traffic accident response are topics that dominate the conference.

Research and feasible solutions for the control of overloaded vehicles, the management of roadway, pavements and parking lots in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as well as the replacement of public transport means for individual ones will be tabled.

The conference will also announce research outcomes of legal norms regarding the management of transport infrastructure along with analysing shortcomings and bottlenecks in this field.

The committee encourages agencies, units, organisations, scientists and managers both at home and abroad to make reports and propose initiatives in ensuring traffic safety.

All opinions and recommendations will be sent to the committee’s headquarters at 80B Tran Hung Dao, Hanoi, or via its email:diendanatgt@gmail.com and mobile number: +84439414550.-

State Audit steps in to save Hanoi sky train

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Hong Truong just inked a document proposing the State Audit of Vietnam (SAV) carry out a review of an aerial urban railway between Hanoi’s Cat Linh and Ha Dong areas in December 2013, according to Vietnam Investment Review.

The auditing agency has been asked to get involved due to delays of the sky train project and reports that show a considerably higher construction cost than previously estimated.

The key transport project got approval from the prime minister as an engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) contract. The project’s key bidding package (package 1) involves design, equipment supply, materials and construction and was granted to China’s Railway 6th Bureau Group Company.

Apart from technical infrastructure, the Chinese contractor would also provide 13 trains, each consisting of four carriages with a carrying capacity of around 300 passengers per time.

The launching ceremony took place in October 2011 and local developer granted the EPC contract, valued at 350 million USD, to the Chinese side back in May 2009. The document stipulated that construction must not exceed 48 months except for delays caused by uncontrollable factors.

In the four years since, the project timeline has been revised several times, now with a deadline of June 2015.

According to Ministry of Transport (MoT) appraisals, total completed work by the end of November 2013 was 2.230 trillion VND (106 million USD), 28 percent of the project’s total value.

As well as construction, it is important to have a business established to conduct management and operations right from the outset, though as of yet there is no such business, making it difficult to source manpower to eventually work on the train’s operations.

“SAV was asked to step in to ensure investment procedures are followed and the contract is adhered to, as well as to ensure there are no losses sustained by the state,” said Truong.

A lack of experience and the poor capacity of the developer and Project Management Unit overseeing the EPC contract were blamed for the project’s poor performance.

Head of the Railway Project Management Unit Tran Van Luc said that despite its position as a major railway contract in China, China Railway 6th Bureau Group has little experience with international EPC contracts.

“Consequently, although the EPC agreement rules that the contractor must take charge of design, equipment, and execution, our management unit has had to take part in nearly every phase of the project,” Luc added.

“The contract and associated consulting unit are too dependent on instructions from the developer.”

According to a source from the MoT, current regulations on management and execution of EPC contracts lack more specific regulations on the responsibilities of parties in terms of progress and investment.

Site clearance has been a major problem with the project. At current, there is still an issue with clearing 3km of the 13km main line and 800 metres of the 1.5km approach line whereas site clearance was slated to be finished by February 2010.

“It is hoped the SAV will identify the problems and help revive progress of this important project,” said a source from the MoT.

The Hanoi urban railway line project’s Cat Linh-Ha Dong route is being developed by the Vietnam Railway Administration.

Total investment capital – 8.770 trillion VND (552 million USD), of which 419 million USD is sourced through Chinese loans.

The project envisions building a 13km long aerial tram line with a maximum velocity of 80km per hour per (average speed: 35km/hour). Estimated transport capacity is 28,000 passengers/hour/one direction, with 12 train stations.-

Vietnamese youth active at world festival

The Vietnamese delegation has taken part in an array of important activities at the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students in Ecuador.

At a forum called “Vietnam youth in the national process of renewal, construction and defence”, deputy head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations Tran Dac Loi gave a brief of Vietnam’s history, renewal process and national construction.

He stressed that the country has been realising its international integration policy and willing to be a friend and a trustful partner with all countries around the globe.

Representatives from India, Russia, Ukraine, Peru and Venezuela praised achievements recorded by Vietnamese people, saying that Vietnam is an example of national defence and construction to other countries.

At the international anti-imperialism tribunal co-chaired by Vietnam, a documentary film about Dioxin/Agent Orange consequences was screened, touching participants deeply.

A Vietnamese representative talked about the lingering impacts of more than 80 million litres of herbicide that the US army sprayed onto the country during the war time, and called for all nations to fight for the termination of mass destruction weapons, including nuclear, chemical and biological ones.

Earlier, Vietnam also joined other delegations at symposiums about poverty alleviation, cultural preservation and development, and the role of the youth in the current time.-

Christians lauded for contributions to provincial growth

Vice Chairperson of the People’s Committee of northern Ha Nam province Tran Hong Nga on December 13 lauded the local Christian community for their contributions to the locality’s socio-economic development.

The official made the praise at a get-together with the catholic and protestant dignitaries in the province on the occasion of the upcoming Christmas festival.

He extended Christmas greetings to all catholic and protestant dignitaries and followers and voiced his hopes that they will do more for the country’s socio-economic development.

Over the past time, Ha Nam’s authorities have given importance to creating every possible condition for religions to operate in line with law.

Numerous measures were also adopted to improve the living standards of local residents in general and religious followers in particular.

On behalf of the dignitaries, father Bui Ngoc Tuan, in charge of the Ha Nam parish, thanked the local authorities for their concern and support to the Christian community.

In the coming time, Ha Nam’s dignitaries will continue encouraging the Christian followers to uphold the patriotism, abide by the law and contribute to the country’s socio-economic development, he said.-

VNA, Algérie Press Service establish cooperative ties

The Vietnam News Agency (VNA) and the Algérie Press Service (APS) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation in Algiers on December 12, charting their cooperation course in the coming time.

The signatories were VNA Deputy Director General Le Duy Truyen and APS Chief Information Officer (CIO) Abdelli Mustapha.

Both sides will exchange photos and text and video news in English and French, assist each other in technical and professional issues, and work together at international forums.

They will conduct high-level visits to discuss bilateral connections and development orientations and exchange correspondents to help them sharpen their skills.

On the occasion, the VNA and APS officials shared experience in information services and professional activities.

APS officials were keen on how VNA built up its own TV Channel (VNews) as the Algerian agency is preparing for launching its TV channel.

Deputy Director General Truyen praised APS for providing VNA with information on Algeria, North Africa and the Middle East.

The two sides also reached consensus on orientations for cooperation in human resources training, especially improving French and Arabic languages for VNA’s journalists.

Source: VNS/VNA/VOV/Dantri

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