Social Headlines January 8

Vietnamese American wins $324mi California lottery

The co winner of the American US$636 million Mega Millions jackpot is Steve Tran, a Vietnamese American living in northern California, who emerged to claim his prize on January 2.

Tran said his family likes to visit San Jose because of the city’s large Vietnamese community. While visiting the area on December 13 to eat and shop, he bought 5 Quick Pick tickets from Jennifer’s Gift Shop, owned by Thuy Nguyen – also a Vietnamese national, who will receive US$1 million for selling the winning ticket.

The first winner was Ira Curry from Georgia who came forward to claim her prize on December 18.

Tran said he saw coverage that the winning ticket had been purchased in San Jose, but had forgotten about his purchase. Then he went on vacation, and forgot about the lottery altogether.

It wasn’t until a middle-of-the-night inspiration upon his return that he realized he had indeed purchased tickets in San Jose. He came forward Thursday, 16 days after the drawing, to claim the prize.

“I’m really sorry boss. I hit the jackpot. I don’t think I’m going to come in today, tomorrow, or ever,” Tran is reported to have told his employer.

The US$648 million jackpot is the second-largest lottery prize in US history. It started its ascent October 4. Lotto officials say 22 draws came and went without winners. Some US$336 million in tickets were sold for the December 17 drawing.

US announces Fulbright Scholarships for Vietnamese students

The US Embassy in Vietnam has announced the Fulbright Vietnamese Student Scholarship Program.   The scholarship will cover tuition and fees, monthly stipend, round-trip airfare to the United States and health insurance.

The US Embassy in Vietnam has announced the Fulbright Vietnamese Student Scholarship Program. The scholarship will cover tuition and fees, monthly stipend, round-trip airfare to the United States and health insurance.

Established in 1946 and funded by the Congress, the Fulbright Program aims to achieve mutual understanding through academic and cultural exchange. The Fulbright Vietnamese Student Program is a competitive, merit-based scholarship program. Successful candidates will pursue a Master’s degree program that begins in the academic year 2015-2016.

Competition is open to all applicants who meet the following minimum criteria: be a Vietnamese citizen; have at least two years of work experience after graduation by the time of application; have a valid minimum TOEFL iBT score of 79 or IELTS 6.5.

The Program supports master’s study programs in most fields of social sciences and humanities, including American Studies, Communications, Education, Economics, Business, Law, International Relations, Journalism, Library Science, Public Administration, Social work, Public Health, Public Policy, TESOL, Gender and Women Studies, etc.

To participate in the competition, applicants must apply online at: A complete online application package includes an application form, three letters of reference, diplomas and transcripts (including notarized English translations), TOEFL/IELTS score reports, and a curriculum vitae.

The deadline of application submission is 5:00pm, April 28, 2014.

Rescuing four foreigners near Truong Sa islands

Fishermen from the central province of Quang Ngai have rescued four foreign nationals in distress near Vietnam’s Truong Sa archipelago, the provincial Border Guard Command announced on January 7.

The foreigners asked for help when a fishing vessel owned by Nguyen Huu Phuc, a fisherman of Quang Ngai province, was operating in the waters near the Truong Sa archipelago on January 5.

Phuc sent a message to the Border Guard Command, briefing them on the rescue and the itinerary of the vessel.

All the foreigners are in good health condition and they will be brought ashore in a couple of days, according to Phuc.

Lao officials trained with political theory in Vietnam

The Ho Chi Minh National Academy for Politics and Public Administration held a closing ceremony for an advanced course on political theory for officials of the Lao People Revolutionary Party on January 6.

During the course, Lao trainees were provided with the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism, Ho Chi Minh’s Thoughts and lessons on the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam in national liberation in the past and renewal process at present.

They also learnt more about managerial and ruling skills and made fact-finding tours of some Vietnamese localities to share experience.

Addressing the function, Associate Professor Dr. Truong Thi Thong, Vice President of the Academy, said the trainees should continue to study and apply what they learnt to Laos’ situation.

School incident injures three students

Three sixth-grade students were hospitalised with serious injuries after a railing collapsed yesterday.

Mai Van Thinh, Mai Van Khanh and Nguyen Tuan Phi, students at Son Tay junior secondary school in the central province of Ha Tinh’s Huong Son commune, were playing on the second floor when the railing suddenly fell down.

According to Le Van Thanh, the commune’s chief of police, preliminary investigation showed the railing had been loosely attached to the wall.

Beauty contest for Vietnamese youth in Japan

A boy from Hai Duong province, Nguyen Van Hieu, was voted Mr Vietnam and a Japanese girl of Vietnamese origin, Pham Miyuki, was crowned at a beauty contest for Vietnamese youth in Japan on January 5.

Under the auspices of the Vietnamese Embassy, the pageant is seen as a highlight of cultural activities among the Vietnamese community in Japan during New Year.

Head of the organising board Tong Kim Giao said the contest provided an excellent opportunity for Vietnamese people in Japan to come together and raise their profile.

He revealed more activities and events are scheduled this year to help young Vietnamese people bond and promote their homeland.

Mr Vietnam Nguyen Van Hieu said the competition helps unite Vietnamese people in Japan and strengthen diplomatic ties between the two nations.

The qualifying round took place in August 2013, drawing the participation of many young Vietnamese people living in Japan, Twenty-two contestants, including 12 girls, entered the final round.

The final was also a get-together for Vietnamese residents living far away from home with music performances, fashion shows and comedies presented by singers, actors and actresses flying from Vietnam.

Bitexco twin towers project suspended after incident

The city’s Department of Construction has suspended work on a downtown building complex after tonnes of steel fell off a crane truck at the site, destroying the fence of a nearby museum.

The accident occurred at the site of “The One” project invested in by the Bitexco Group at around 4am on Saturday. Around 40 tonnes of steel suddenly fell off a crane truck, destroying an iron fence bordering the HCM City Museum of Fine Arts in District 1.

According to the Bitexco project management board, the falling steel also snapped cables and electric wires on the street, but fortunately, no casualties were reported.

Tran Trong Tuan, director of the municipal construction department, said their inspectors would work with the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs to investigate the accident and find out why it had happened. They would announce conclusions reached as soon as possible, he said.

Tuan also said that representatives from Bitexco and the museum would discuss between themselves the issue of compensation for damages incurred.

His department has asked Bitexco and contractors to work with lighting, power and traffic agencies to clean up the site and ensure clear passage for pedestrians, Tuan said.

It has also ordered the investor to submit an updated construction plan incorporating due safety measures before it is allowed to resume work on the complex.

“The One” is a US$500 million complex that includes a trade centre, office and apartments for lease as well as a five-star hotel, the Ritz Carlton.

Covering an area of 8,600 square metres, the complex includes two towers of 55 and 48 storeys respectively. Work on the complex began in April 2012 and was scheduled for completion next year.

Free Tet travels offered for Binh Duong workers

Around 29,000 workers in the southern province of Binh Duong will profit from free bus tickets to return home for the coming Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday, the longest and most important festival in the year.

The Binh Duong Federation of Labour will offer 1,000 free tickets, worth 1 billion VND (47,600 USD), for disadvantaged workers to board buses to return home.

Vice President of the federation Bui Thanh Nhan said that businesses and grassroots trade unions in the province have also had plans to provide free buses or tickets to their workers.

Administration and HR Manager of the Protrade Garment Company, Nguyen Hong Anh, said the company will spend 1.4 billion VND (66,700 USD) on renting 20 buses with 50 seats each to take its workers home.

Additionally, trade unions will give some 300 free bus tickets worth 300 million VND (14,300 USD) to its members.

There are now 28 industrial zones in Binh Duong with hundreds of thousands of workers coming from various provinces from the northern to the southern regions of Vietnam.-

Wood-processing factory catches fire

A wood-processing factory in central Tam Ky Town caught fire yesterday morning, damaging all the equipment inside and 10 cubic meters of logs for an estimated loss of VND100 million (US$4,800).

A squad of 35 firefighters and five fire engines rushed to extinguish the blaze within one hour.

No one was injured in the blaze.

Director of the Tam Ky forestry processing company Le Xuan Lam told Viet Nam News that the blaze could have resulted from a short circuit or the logs may have caught fire in the oven.

Meanwhile, a huge fire broke out on Sunday’s evening, causing an electrical leak, at a motorbike accessories store on Vuon Cam Street in northern border Cao Bang City.

Firefighters battled the fierce blaze for four hours before they brought it under control. No injuries were reported. The cost of the damages was estimated in billions of dong.

The causes of the fires are currently being investigated.

Police crack down on overloaded trucks

The Viet Nam Road Administration will install 53 mobile scales on highway routes to crack down on overloaded trucks. They hope to prevent traffic accidents and road damage caused by trucks.

The decision comes close on the heels of the administration’s installation of 10 mobile scales in 10 cities and provinces to curb the use of overloaded trucks. The trial checks were very successful after three months of implementation.

According to the administration, mobile scales worth VND2.2 billion (US$103,400) each will be set up along key highway routes where heavy trucks and container trucks gather.

The vehicles would be checked round-the-clock. The drivers of overloaded trucks would be fined and face other serious consequences, such as having their driving licenses revoked, paying a fine and having excessive cargo confiscated.

Statistics from the administration show that after three months of implementation the traffic police have cracked down on more than 3,360 overloaded trucks and taken off 7,270 tonnes of excessive cargo.

More than 750 drivers had their driving licences revoked and the fines collected amounted to VND1.4 billion ($65,800).

Speaking at a recent conference, Le Dinh Tho, Deputy Minister of Transport, said the violations by overloaded trucks have been reduced during this period after enforcing rules and checking these vehicles.

Tho asked the local traffic administrations and traffic police to investigate transport activities at ports and storage in industrial zones to assure that truck drivers did not dodge routes where the scales were installed.

Nguyen Van Thanh, Chairman of the Viet Nam Automobile Association, said that many trucks deliberately avoided the check points, especially during bad weather. They travelled by other routes to avoid weight checks.

“Fining drivers will not solve the problem as many drivers are forced to carry overloaded cargo by their employers,” he said

Duong Hong Thanh, deputy director of HCM City’s Department of Transport, said it was necessary to control the loading capacity of cargo at ports or storage facilities, as 80 per cent of trucks departed from these locations.

He also suggested that a regulation on fining employers of truck drivers, together with seizing violated vehicles and cargo, would be more effective.

He added that all ports were equipped with scales, but many trucks carried excessive cargo to assure extra profits from deliveries.

Nguyen Van Quyen, vice head of the administration, said that apart from checking the weight of trucks, the ministry should also strengthen inspections on vehicles travelling on roads and fine all violators of the law.

Poultry sellers plug holiday demand with unverified birds

Large quantities of smuggled chicken are being found in makeshift markets around Ha Noi and HCM City to meet rising demand for the coming Tet (Lunar New Year).

The surge in demand has prompted the sale of chicken with unknown origins in almost all temporary markets in the capital, while illegal activities relating to the chicken trade were being undertaken illegally in about 100 places throughout HCM City,

In Ha Noi’s Tu Liem District, the area is becoming known for having the highest amount of contraband chicken, with sellers unable to provide documents verify the origin of poultry being sold to local consumers.

At the Gate of the Academy of Finance’s collective quarter, where there are typically 5-7 chicken coops for sale, chicken vendors claimed the poultry had been raised in the neighbouring provinces of Bac Giang, Hung Yen, and Vinh Phuc. However, none could provide quarantine documents to verify the source of the chickens being sold for between VND100,000-110,000 (US$4.8-5).

The sale of unverified poultry has risen rapidly throughout both major cities.

In Cau Giay District, unverified chickens are being sold in temporary markets near Tran Binh and Hoa Bang streets, Nghia Tan market, and on Quan Hoa River bank.

One local seller argued the current law didn’t require sellers to verify their chicken.

“It is unnecessary to have quarantine papers for the chicken because they are all raised by farmers in rural areas,” the local man told Gia dinh & Xa hoi (Family & Society) newspaper.

Addressing the recent rise of un-quarantined poultry, the Ha Noi Sub-department of Animal Health said regulations concerning the chicken trade needed to be tightened.

According to a decision by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2005, only those raising more than 100 domestic fowls and slaughtering more than 50 chicken were required to conduct quarantine procedures.

Without piece meal providers needing to verify their produce for quarantine purposes, authorities face a dilemma in helping distinguish between smuggled and local poultry being sold to consumers.

According to the Animal Health Sub-department of HCM City, illegal activities relating to the chicken trade were being undertaken illegally in about 100 places around the city, including in Districts 5, 8, 12, Go Vap, Binh Chanh, and Hoc Mon. The department also noted the situation had worsened in the lead up to the Tet festival.

On streets such as Pham Hung, Le Van Luong, and Nguyen Van Linh, unverified chickens were being sold between VND10,000-20,000 ($0.5-1) for each. However, it is suspected many of the live unverified chickens are slaughtered in insanitary locations such as street pavements.

According to the deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Animal Husbandry Department Nguyen Duc Trong, it is almost impossible to completely prevent the illegal import of chicken into the country due to the lucrative nature of the business.

Fewer buses to operate in HCM City during Tet

HCM City bus services will be truncated during Tet (the Lunar New Year) later this month though additional trips will be made on five routes passing through bus stations and tourist attractions.

According to the HCM City Public Transport Operation and Management Center, bus operations will remain normal until January 29, operating from around 4am to 10pm.

On the 30th -New Year’s Eve -buses on most routes will stop operating at noon.

But on three routes – No.1 (Ben Thanh – Binh Tay Market), 20 (Ben Thanh – Nha Be), and 90 (Binh Khanh – Can Thanh) – they will continue until 5pm.

On Lunar New Year most buses will operate from 8am to 5pm, except on some routes where normal schedules will resume.

During the next few days the centre will adjust schedules to meet demand.

In all some 83,000 trips will be cut on 107 routes during the nine-day holiday when demand is traditionally low.

Nearly 15 tonnes of seasoning seized

The Ha Noi police, working with the market watch force, confiscated a large quantity of illegal seasoning and dry fruits yesterday in Gia Lam District’s Ninh Hiep Commune.

The police and market watch workers checked two lorries on Highway 1B and discovered they were transporting 14.5 tonnes of mi chinh seasoning (monosodium glutamate), 4.5 tonnes of sugared fruits and thousands of door hinges. The seasoning and dry fruits were packaged in white bags with Chinese trademarks.

The drivers said that they were hired by the Truong Xuan Co Ltd to transport the goods to be sold in Ha Noi, however, they were unable to show papers indicating the origins of the goods.

Government closes bottled water companies in Dak Lak

Fifteen local companies have had their operations suspended after bottling and selling bottled water that failed to meet food safety requirements.

The Central Highland Dak Lak Province People’s Committee found that most of the violators could not provide legal documents, including food safety certificates, to prove the quality of their products complied with regulations, and some were found to be processing water using unhygienic methods.

Their products, sold under the labels Voka, Hero, Panona, Kim Anh, and Vita Water, have been banned from sale to avoid endangering public health.

Free surgeries for children with deformities

Voluntary surgical doctors from the US- based non-governmental organisation ReSurge International are providing free reconstructive surgeries for poor children with deformities in the central province of Ninh Thuan.

The operations will take place from January 6-16 at the Ninh Thuan General Hospital .

More than 200 poor children suffering from harelips, cleft palates and other deformities have registered for free check-ups provided by the organisation.

ReSurge International also has a long-time partner in Vietnam. The organisation has operated thousands of life-changing surgeries for Vietnamese poor children.-

Tet gifts come to poor children in Ha Giang

Five hundred gifts were given to poor students in Sung Tra commune, Meo Vac district, the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang on January 6 to help them enjoy a happier Tet (Lunar New Year) festival.

The gifts, worth more than 100 million VND (4,700 USD), including clothes, Milo milk and notebooks, were presented by Thanh Nien (Youth) Newspaper and Nestle Vietnam Co. Ltd in conjunction with Ha Giang Newspaper.

Sung Tra is home to 700 ethnic minority households, with more than half living in difficulty.

On this occasion, Ha Giang Newspaper also granted gifts to 22 underprivileged households in Sung Tra commune, and 10 million VND (470 USD) to two homeless orphans in Ta Lung commune, Meo Vac district.

Earlier, 98 gifts including blankets, mosquito nets, clothes and instant noodles were given to poor ethnic households and outstanding students in the district’s Lung Chinh commune by the National Institute of Education Management and the Vietnam KSC Fashion Joint Stock Company.-

20,000 tonnes of rice proposed to poor households for Tet

As much as 20,000 tonnes of rice has been proposed to support households in need of food aid and those suffering serious damage caused by natural disasters on the occasion of the upcoming Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday.

Eleven provinces hard hit by last year’s storms made the proposal, including the three central localities of Quang Binh, Nghe An and Quang Tri.

In an effort to meet the request, the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs is hastening the fulfilment of relevant formalities to submit the appeal to the Government for its early approval.

The ministry directed localities to check the number of beneficiaries of social welfare, including poor households, to ensure a happy Tet for all of them, said deputy head of the ministry’s Social Welfare Department Thai Phuc Thanh.

The provinces were also asked to pay attention to preventing the misappropriation of donations.

According to initial statistics, more than 60,000 tonnes of rice was donated to people in natural disaster-vulnerable areas.-

Vietnam, Laos work closer to repatriate remains

Vietnamese Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh and his Lao counterpart Douangchay Phichith have agreed to intensify the search for and repatriation of remains of Vietnamese volunteer soldiers and experts who laid down their lives in Laos.

At their talks in the Lao capital Vientiane on January 6, both ministers voiced their pleasure at practical cooperation outcomes in various fields.

They agreed that the two sides will increase collaboration in such spheres as personnel training, experience and delegation exchanges, and the building of a friendly and sustainable borderline.

The two officials were also updated on each country’s socio-economic situation, the ministries’ operations and issues of mutual concern.

The Lao host thanked Vietnam and its army for their practical help to Laos, adding that the Lao People’s Army together with the Vietnamese army will nurture the sustainable development of the countries’ special ties.

For his part, the Vietnamese minister conveyed his congratulations on the 65 th founding anniversary of the Lao People’s Army and said Vietnam will exert all efforts to develop both countries’ relations for regional and international peace and stability.

During their stay in Laos, members of the Vietnamese delegation also visited the Mechanised Infantry Regiment No. 1 of the Lao People’s Army.-

Employment creation, poverty household decrease most important task

In an online meeting held by the Ministry of Labor, Invalid and Social Affairs on January 6, employment creation and poverty household decrease are the most important target for 2014.

The meeting proposed targets for 2014 including employment creation for 1.6 million people; vocational training provision to 1.7 million people and poverty household slide by 2 percent. Moreover, it should raise living condition of beneficiaries of social policies and families in serving the cause of the nation’s revolution.

The meeting reviewed achievements and shortcoming of last year. In 2013, more than 1.5 million laborers are in employment, accounting for 96.45 percent of the target. Of whom, 1.4 million laborers worked in local enterprises and 88,155 people went abroad to labor. More than 1.7 million were provided vocational training including 450,000 laborers in rural areas.

In addition, the rate of poor households reduced to 7.8 percent and 82 percent of disadvantaged children are taken care. The percentage of poverished children was down to 5.6 and most of children below six years old can access to free-of-charge medical services in public clinics.

The shortcoming of the year 2013 are that many laborers were still seeking jobs; workers face difficulties due to their low income; laborers’ skill can not meet the employment market and enterprises; there is a big gap between regions.

Attending the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said the sector should focus on employment management, vocational training and labor export. In 2014, concerned agencies should be more determined in dress some labor export companies which collect higher than regulated level. Names of these companies will be publicized on media.

Moreover, the sector has to take care of families in serving the cause of the nation’s revolution and fight against drug and prostitution.