Social Headlines December 21

Cold spell continues to chill northern region

A cold spell will continue to blanket the north of Vietnam in the next few days, worsened by frost in the mountainous region, according to the National Hydro-meteorological Forecasting Centre. The ongoing cold spell began five days ago.

A cold spell will continue to blanket the north of Vietnam in the next few days, worsened by frost in the mountainous region, according to the National Hydro-meteorological Forecasting Centre. The ongoing cold spell began five days ago.

The temperature was recorded at minus 0.9 degree Celsius in Lai Chau province’s Sin Ho district and minus 1.1 degree Celsius on Mau Son peak in Lang Son province, a rare phenomenon in the tropical country.

However, the centre said that the weather will be better during the Christmas holiday.

The temperature is forecast at 18-20 degree Celsius in the day time, and 11-13 degree Celsius at night.-

Agribank employee arrested for using fake gold as collateral

An employee of Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) has been arrested for being involved in using fake gold as collateral to withdraw VND19 billion (USD904,761) from the bank.

Fake gold used as collateral to withdraw VND19 billion (USD904,761) from the bank

Before his arrest on December 18, Duong Thanh Tuan worked at the Dam Cam transaction office, under Agribank’s Cai Nuoc branch in Ca Mau Province. Tuan was detained along with his younger brother, Duong Van Gioi and Gioi’s friend, Phan Van Hai.

Gioi and Hai are close friends. According to the initial investigation, due to his debts, Hai told Gioi to ask for Tuan’s help in using the collateral to get loan from the bank. Tuan agreed to help Hai.

Since 2009, Gioi and Hai have been buying fake gold and hired a number of farmers and students to bring the gold to the banking office where Tuan worked to get loans.

Since 2009, as many as 60 people brought this gold to the bank and received a total of more than VND19 billion. With the support by Tuan, the gold was verified as real.

After the investigation started, Tuan, Gioi and Hai turned themselves in and confessed on December 17.

The economic police board of Ca Mau Province determined that all the gold used as the collateral is fake.

Personal vehicle restriction not yet workable, say experts

A scheme to restrict personal vehicles to ease congestion in big cities just submitted by the Ministry of Transport to the Government will not work unless public transport can meet 30% of commuter demand, experts said.

Speaking to the Daily, many experts explained that at the moment the commuter bus was the only means of transport that could replace personal vehicles as metro would not be ready until 2018.

In the scheme, the Ministry of Transport expresses concerns that the number of personal vehicles will rise staggeringly in the next couple of years when tariffs are brought down under Vietnam’s commitments to the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

According to the ministry, the growth of personal vehicles in big cities was rapid in the 2002-2012 period.

Under-seven-seat cars and motorcycles in Hanoi grew by an average of 17.23% and 11.02% per year respectively. Meanwhile, the respective figures in HCMC were 14.88% and 9.79%.

Undeveloped transport infrastructure fails to meet the demand, leading to regular traffic congestion. Therefore, the need to control personal vehicles in certain hours in downtown areas and in streets where there is a high traffic volume in rush hours is urgent.

To control personal vehicles effectively, the ministry proposes increasing the frequency of bus services and offering reduced bus fares during hours when personal vehicles are banned as well as setting up more parking lots to meet the parking demand of those using public transport.

Besides, the services of leasing motorcycles and electrical bicycles for riding in downtown areas and in places where cars and motorcycles are limited should be encouraged.

Talking about the feasibility of the scheme, Associate Professor Pham Xuan Mai from HCMC University of Technology said that the ideas given were good but impractical.

Foreign countries only limit the use of personal vehicles when they have developed metros and buses. Meanwhile, the only means of public transport in Vietnam is the commuter bus service but it has met only 10% of commuter demand, and thus people have no other choice but to use personal vehicles.

“The restriction on personal vehicles can only work once public transport can meet 30-40% of commuter demand,” Mai said.

Seconding the opinion, Nguyen Huu Nguyen from the Southern Vietnam Economic Center (SVEC) said that if vehicles were banned at this place, congestion would happen at another place as the number of vehicles was unchanged.

Even the solutions to increase bus services and build parking lots in suburban areas to encourage the people to take public transport are also practical, he said.

According to Nguyen, it is not easy to have land sites to develop parking lots and there is a likelihood that traffic congestion will happen near parking lots.

Besides, operating more buses may not be a solution as such big vehicles are also one of the causes of traffic congestion.

Illegal fireworks seized in Ha Noi

Police in Ha Noi City seized 23 kilograms of illegal fireworks in the Dong Anh District yesterday.

Police in Ha Noi City seized 23 kilograms of illegal fireworks in the Dong Anh District yesterday.

Nguyen Thi Kim Hoa, 42, a resident of the district’s Dong Hoi Commune, was arrested while carrying fireworks on her motorbike. Hoa allegedly admitted that she spent VND6 million (US$285) to purchase the fireworks to resell for a profit of VND2 million ($95).

The case is under further investigation. Earlier on Sunday police caught another woman from the city’s Gia Lam District carrying 28 kilograms of illegal fireworks.

Firm fined for storing smuggled sugar

The People’s Committee of southern Tay Ninh Province has fined a private business VND18 million (US$857) for storing smuggled goods.

The firm, Men Khen in Hoa Thanh district, was found to be storing 5,000kg of Thai sugar. The firm’s owner admitted that the sugar had been smuggled from Cambodia and was to be packed and labeled as a Vietnamese product for sale during the upcoming Tet (Lunar New Year) festival.

The local market watch department has confiscated Men Khen’s sugar.

Last month, the department unearthed several similar cases of smuggled goods being stored, and seized over 2,000 packs of cigarettes and 100 bottles of wine.

Construction of new Tropical Disease Hospital begins

Construction of a new Central Tropical Disease Hospital started on December 19 in Dong Anh district, Hanoi.

Addressing the groundbreaking ceremony, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said the current Tropical Disease Hospital, a first class central speciality hospital, was overloaded with its operations limited to a 2,000 sq.m area in Bach Mai Hospital campus.

The new hospital will resolve the problem and improve treatment quality for contagious and tropical diseases.

The minister called for improving hospital staff quality and quantity once the move to the new location takes place.

The first phase of the new hospital’s construction will be implemented in the 2013-2015 period to provide 500 beds for the sick.

The new hospital will cover 58,000 square metres and will include a main building, a nutrition faculty, anti-infection houses, and other auxiliary works.-

Expressway section gets ready

A 20km section of the HCM City - Long Thanh - Dau Giay Expressway will open to traffic in late December, the investor of the project has said.

A 20km section of the HCM City - Long Thanh - Dau Giay Expressway will open to traffic in late December, the investor of the project has said.

Mai Tuan Anh, director of the Viet Nam Expressway Company (VEC), said the section of the expressway from the Eastern Ring Road (also called the Second Ring Road) in HCM City’s District 9 to National Highway No 51 in neighbouring Dong Nai Province is scheduled to begin temporary operation on December 30.

This section will shorten the distance from HCM City to Long Thanh from 45km to 22km, and from HCM City to Vung Tau from 120km to 95km.

The HCM City – Dau Giay – Long Thanh expressway is 55km long, connecting HCM City with National Highway No 51, Long Thanh International Airport and National Highway No 1A.

It requires total investment of about VND20.630 billion (nearly US$978.3 million). Capital will come from loans provided by the Asian Development Bank, official development assistance (ODA) loans from the Japanese Government and counter-capital from the Vietnamese Government.

Anh said the new expressway would help ease traffic congestion on National Highway 1A in the Southern Economic Zone covering HCM City, Bien Hoa and Vung Tau.

According to VEC, during the temporary operation, vehicles allowed to travel include motorbikes operating at under 70km per hour, three-wheeled taxis, tractors, vehicles carrying toxic and inflammable goods, trailers, tank trucks, 10-tonne and over trucks, and 20 – 40 feet-long trucks.

They will be allowed to travel between 60 and 100 km per hour on the expressway during the time, said Anh.

He said a toll-collection station would be placed at km11 in Long Phuoc Commune in HCM City’s District 9.

During the first stage, the new expressway will have eight toll lanes (four lanes on each side) and will be enlarged to 14 lanes when completed.

Vehicles under 12 seats and buses under two-tonnes will have to pay VND2,000 per km.

Twelve- to 30-seat and two- to four-tonne trucks will pay VND3,000 per km, and 31-seat buses and four-10 tonne vehicles VND4,000 per km.

The builders of the expressway are a consortium of the Construction Engineering Co. No 6 (Cienco 6), Construction Engineering Co, No 8 (Cienco 8) and the Korean construction and engineering company POSCO.

The Viet Nam Expressway Company is the investor of the HCM City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay Project.

HCM City opens career counselling service for students

The city’s Department of Education and Training has launched an occupational counselling project for high school students that will help them better choose a field of study.

Carried out by the department with the Green House Joint Stock Company, the programme includes a website and a newly opened centre for students.

The centre aims to link enterprises and schools in HCM City and its neighbouring provinces in carrying out a number of activities.

Students will be able to visit factories, trade villages, areas of aquatic breeding and sapling cultivation, and have talks with businesspeople and professionals.

More than 100 companies have signed an agreement with the centre to take part in these activities.

In addition, the centre will help students with soft skills such as communication and time management.

The website provides curricula and videos on occupations that can be viewed by students, teachers and parents.

Do Quoc Anh, head of the Ministry of Education and Training’s southern representative office, said that money and time had been wasted in the past because students did not have sufficient guidance about potential career paths.

The counselling provided by the centre would help students choose the right path, Anh said.

Pham Ngoc Thanh, head of the Department of Education and Training, said that high school students had often felt confused about which occupation to choose, and many of them depended on their parents.

Improving care for the vision-impaired

The southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau has hosted a December 19 seminar aimed at improving the quality of and ease of access to medical care for the vision-impaired.

The southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau has hosted a December 19 seminar aimed at improving the quality of and ease of access to medical care for the vision-impaired.

A collaboration between the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Provincial Eye Care Centre and Australia’s Brien Holden Vision Institute, the seminar brought together medical experts, local government representatives, and spokespeople from disability rights and charity associations.

HCM City Eye Hospital specialist Tran Hoai Long distinguished between blindness and vision impairment, explaining patients suffering the latter can improve their sight through appropriate treatments for cataracts, glaucoma, eye trauma, and refraction disorders.

World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics indicate the number of people with some form of vision impairment is three times higher than those suffering blindness. Vietnam has approximately two million blind citizens who have yet to receive treatment due to economic difficulties.

Seminar participants highlighted the importance of ensuring the vision-impaired are aware of treatment options. They called for more political and charitable assistance to help these patients access appropriate healthcare services.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau Provincial Eye Care Centre Director Doctor Nguyen Viet Giap, thanked the Brien Holden Vision Institute for helping to establish the provincial eye care unit, greatly improving the chances local residents receive regular consultations and better healthcare services.

Law building a key task for State management of religions

The Government Committee for Religious Affairs and relevant State management agencies will focus their efforts on completing the legal framework for religious affairs in 2014, particularly revising the Ordinance on Belief and Religion.

In addition, the committee will strengthen external relations, consolidate State-level cooperation and combat hostile forces in terms of religion and human rights.

These are among the tasks set at a conference to review the performance of State management regarding religious affairs in 2013 and implementing 2014 duties, held in Hanoi on December 19.

In the following year, the agencies will also give guidance to religious organisations in how to organise conferences, national and international meetings in accordance with the law and the organisations’ charters.

According to the committee, in 2013, State management of religious affairs was strengthened and made more effective, making positive changes in religious life.

Major religious festivals and rituals were held solemnly, attracting a large number of followers and other people, thus building their trust in the State and Party’s consistent policy on religious affairs.

During the year, religious-related external relations were promoted, creating conditions for the religions to join international activities, thus enriching Vietnam’s comprehensive international integration policy, the committee added.

The committee and State management agencies spent time dealing with arising religious affairs and putting forth recommendations to the Government on the issue.

Christmas greetings extended to Catholics

Vice President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Vu Trong Kim has extended season’s greetings to Catholic dignitaries and followers in Phat Diem diocese, Kim Son district, northern Ninh Binh province.

While visiting the diocese on December 19, the VFF Vice President wished local priests, clergymen and Catholic followers a peaceful and merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

He affirmed the significant contributions of Kim Son’s Catholic followers to the achievements made by Ninh Binh province over the past time.

Kim voiced his hope that they will overcome all difficulties to join compatriots of other faiths to carry out the Party’s policies and follow State laws in consolidating national unity and making more contributions to national development.

Bishop Joseph Nguyen Nang thanked Party and State leaders for their festive well wishes and promised to continue supporting dignitaries, clergymen and Catholic followers to “be good in both life and religion” and “live the Gospel in the heart of the nation”.

*** Also on December 19, officials from the Central Steering Committee for the Central Highlands visited Catholic and Protestant followers in provinces in the Central Highlands to wish them a merry Christmas.

The delegation led by the committee’s deputy head H’Ngam Nie Kdam called at the Office of the Bishop of Da Lat diocese and the Catholic Solidarity Committee of Lam Dong province.

H’Ngam Nie Kdam thanked the bishop and priests for assisting the State in efforts to improve the living conditions of local people. She asked them to continue guiding the followers in leading good secular and religious lives, contributing to building a prosperous country.

Earlier, the delegation also met and extended season’s greetings to Catholics and Protestants in Dak Nong province.

Protestant dignitaries thanked the local authorities for taking measures to improve both the spiritual and material lives of religious people and for allowing the building of many places of worship as well as the operation of various Protestant groups.

Another delegation of the committee joined leaders of Kon Tum province in well-wishing trips to churches and religious communities.

Social workers need professional training

Less than 10 per cent of social workers are adequately trained, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) across 41 cities and provinces.

The survey, which collected information from over 60,000 people engaged in social work, also revealed that nearly half of them were trained workers, of which 19 per cent had received professional training in related areas such as sociology or psychology.

The survey comes as demand for social workers has surged with a dramatic shortage of workers in the field.

Nguyen Van Hoi, deputy head of the Department for Social Protection told Giao duc va Thoi dai (Education and Times) newspaper that approximately 40 per cent of the Vietnamese population needed social work services.

These people include 7.5 million elderly people, 5.4 million disabled people, 1.4 million underprivileged children, 180,000 people living with HIV and nearly 200,000 drug addicts, he said.

According to MOLISA, only 32 out of 63 provinces and cities had social work centres, with the country planning to roll out more centres in remaining localities by 2015.

According to Pham Thi Thanh Tam, director of REACH centre, a local non-government organisation specialising in development activities, none of the centre’s staff had professional qualifications in social work.

She said the centre had had to organise internal training programmes for their employees, realising the lack of prior knowledge among its staff.

Tam said that a lack of understanding of professional qualifications in specific fields made it difficult to recruit qualified social workers.

Tam urged that more schools specialising in social work training be set up, and said that more educational institutes needed to establish programmes to fill the skills shortage, adding that social workers could develop valuable knowledge on community development and project management skills.

Despite the fact the demand for social workers has remained high, students trained in social services have shown little interest in actually pursuing careers in the field.

One of the reasons, according to Do Bich Thao, lecturer of the Faculty of Social Work at Ha Noi National University of Education, is that students whose majors are related to social situations are taught to attain general knowledge about social work rather than to really apply what they learn to practical situations.

“There are still some shortcomings in social work training created by theory-oriented curriculums, a shortage of lecturers with practical experience and limited opportunities for applying knowledge,” she added.

Additionally, students with relevant majors deliberately chose other careers with higher levels of perceived prestige. Experts say that this can be traced back to the lack of community understanding towards social work.

“Many people still do not know that social workers do. Some even think they do charity work,” said Vu Thi Kim Dung, head of the Social Work Faculty at Ha Noi National University of Education.

Presently, there is no specific agency responsible for issuing certificates and organising certificate tests for social workers.

Le Chi An, a lecturer from the HCM City Open University suggested an association for social workers was needed to provide practical experience for those who wanted to devote their career to social work.

Conference promotes mathematics application in practice

How to apply effectively mathematics in socio-economic development is the main major subject discussed at the Vietnam International Applied Mathematics Conference which began in Ho Chi Minh City (VIAMIC 2013) on December 19.

Jointly organised by the Vietnam Society for Application of Mathematics (VSAM) and Sai Gon University, the two-day event attracts over 100 Vietnamese and foreign mathematicians.

Speaking at the opening, Dr. Tong Dinh Quy, Vice President and General Secretary of VSAM underlined the significance of applied mathematics to production, business and service fields, saying that it is considered as an important tool to raise the competitiveness of the economy.

He therefore called on enterprises to make investment in and support research projects in the field.

The conference received nearly 50 research papers, introducing the latest advances in applying maths and information technology in managing economics, finance and risk.

Participants also gave opinions on what must be done to further develop mathematics in Vietnam.-

Workshop reviews breastfeeding support programme

The Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) held a workshop to review a workplace intervention to support breastfeeding programme in Hanoi on December 18.

VGCL Vice President Nguyen Thi Thu Hong said the confederation’s researches show that about 83 percent of female employees cannot breastfeed exclusively in the first six months after giving births.

This year, the VGCL has coordinated with the Alive and Thrive (A&T) to carry out the programme.

It has compiled 16,000 leaflets to provide breastfeeding knowledge for female workers in 25 businesses in where 25 breastfeeding rooms have been set up to support over 4,000 workers who raise infants, she said.

Trade unions at all levels have worked with businesses to popularise policies on female workers and maternity leave, and breastfeeding information to some 5,000 targeted workers, she added.

To promote the programme’s effectiveness, participants at the event urged trade unions to further disseminate breastfeeding practices and labour policy among female workers as well as persuade enterprises to set up more breastfeeding rooms.-

Vietnam-France University to become hi-tech incubator

France will continue support for the University of Science and Technology of Hanoi (USTH) or Vietnam-France University in an effort to turn it into a hi-tech talent incubator in Vietnam.

French Ambassador to Vietnam Jean Noel Poirier made the affirmation at the new school year opening ceremony in Hanoi on December 18.

The USTH, established under a bilateral cooperation agreement between the Vietnamese and French Governments, is one of France ‘s largest projects in Vietnam , he noted.

At the event, Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan hailed outstanding achievements reaped by the university’s teachers and students over the past academic year.

He said he hopes that the university will become a silver lining in the cause of basic and comprehensive education renovation.

According to USTH Rector Prof. Pierre Sebaab, active cooperation between Vietnamese and French working groups in training, scientific research and management is vital to effective collaboration between the two nations in knowledge and technology.

A balanced bilateral cooperation will ensure the long-term success of this cooperation project, he stressed.

Set up in 2009, the university boasts a staff of professors and doctors from leading universities in France and Europe . It provides training to both Vietnamese and foreign students, including those from France , Spain , Laos , the Philippines and Nigeria .

Also at the ceremony, the USTH presented degrees to its graduated students and scholarships to students with outstanding performances.-
Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/Nhandan/SGGP