Vietnam to outpace most of the world in creating new rich families: study


People browse watches at a Calvin Klein kiosk inside a mall in Hanoi. The number of rich households in Vietnam is expected to jump 35 percent per year by 2020. Photo credit: Bloomberg The number of Vietnam’s rich households with financial assets of US$100,000 to $2 million is expected to reach 347,000 by 2020, a study shows. This represents an annual growth rate of 35 percent from 2014 to 2020, placing Vietnam third among 32 nations covered in the Economist Intelligence Unit research sponsored by Citi. By 2020, the total financial assets in Vietnam’s rich households should reach $68 billion as each would have the average asset of $196,000, according to the study. The study, released in late March, says this group, dubbed "the new wealth builders" or NWB, is the world’s fastest growing wealth segment. India took the top spot in producing wealthy households as the number of NWB households in this country is expected to jump by 47 percent in 2014 through 2020, to … [Read more...]

South Korea’s Emart has big plans for Vietnamese retail market


An Emart outlet in South Korea. Photo credit: Korea Tourism Organization Emart, the largest retailer in South Korea, has announced plans to open the first supermarket in Ho Chi Minh City this year with an investment of US$60 million. Representatives of the chain said at a conference on Tuesday it is going to build the 30,000 square-meter retail complex on its own, instead of partnering with a local company as previously planned. The development is located on Phan Van Tri Street in Go Vap, a northern district of the city that is considered an emerging urban area. Choi Kwang Ho, general director of Emart Vietnam, said it has been planning for the project for more than four years. Ho did not reveal the reason why the company chose not to move on with the partnership. He said the new retail complex will mostly sell products made in Vietnam, and it will include restaurants and entertainment facilities. Emart also planned for a second store in Tan Phu District, before reaching out to … [Read more...]

Officials return ‘offensive’ signboard they took from Saigon noodle shop


The signboard of the noodle shop Bun Bo Gan in District 4. Sub-district level officials in Ho Chi Minh City have returned a signboard containing wacky, trivial rules that they took away from a sidewalk noodle shop, following a public outcry. A spokesperson of District 4’s Ward 1 said on Wednesday that the officers who had confiscated the board will be reprimanded for their recklessness. The beef noodle soup stall Bun Bo Gan near Ton That Thuyet Apartment Building has attracted much public attention since its owner Nguyen Hoang Anh Dung, 48, introduced the board with a set of rules for his customers earlier this year. Many could not help but laugh after reading the rules. For example, customers are not allowed to badmouth the shop owner on social media. They cannot complain if the noodle soup is bad either. One of the rules says customers who do not have enough money to pay can use their marriage certificates or housing papers as mortgage. After photos of the signboard and … [Read more...]

Vietnam party chief to make China trip ahead of landmark US visit

US Democratic Leader, Representative

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) shakes hands with Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong (R) at the party's office in Hanoi March 31, 2015. Trong is visiting China next week ahead of a landmark US trip later this year. Photo: Reuters General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong will meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and other top leaders in Beijing in a four-day visit that begins April 7, the Vietnam Communist Party said on its website Wednesday. Trong is calling on China in the context of Vietnam and the US seeing a rapid thaw in bilateral relations. He would become the first Vietnam's Party chief to visit the US at a yet-to-be-announced date this year. Meanwhile, Vietnamese-Sino ties have remained rocky since May 2014. On May 2, China's deployment of a giant oil rig into Vietnamese waters triggered two months of skirmishes between coast guard and fishing vessels from both countries. China withdrew the rig in mid-July. Since then the two countries have sought to patch … [Read more...]

Cops, prosecutor indicted for coercing murder suspects into false confessions


Two of the seven people who were wrongfully detained and charged with murder in 2013 in the southern province of Soc Trang. Photo credit: VnExpress Vietnam’s highest office of prosecutors on Tuesday ratified charges against two police officers and one prosecutor in the Mekong Delta for coercing seven suspects in a 2013 murder case into false confessions. Dismissed officers Nguyen Hoang Quan, 38, and Trieu Tuan Hung, 34, of Soc Trang Province have been charged with "using torture" and could be jailed for up to seven years if convicted. Pham Van Nui, a member of the province’s prosecution office, faces charges of "dereliction of responsibility, resulting in serious consequences," punishable by jail terms of three to 12 years. According to the indictment, Soc Trang police detained six men and one woman, all living in Tran De District, a few days after 44-year-old Ly Van Dung, a xe om (motorbike taxi) driver, was found dead with multiple stab wounds near a highway on July … [Read more...]

3 market watchdog agents arrested for extorting money from thieves


A parking lot of Indo-Trans Logistics in Da Nang where three market management officials caught two drivers stealing from a company's container. Photo credit: Lao Dong Police in Da Nang have arrested three market management officers for extorting money from two drivers of a transport company after catching them stealing from a consignment that they were delivering. According to investigators, Thai Van Hao, Dang Bao Long and Nguyen Phuoc Thanh of Da Nang Market Management Agency saw the drivers of Indo-Trans Logistics taking car tires out of a container in April 2014. The two drivers admitted to the theft. Instead of enforcing relevant laws, the officers ordered the drivers to give them VND18 million (US$835) as hush money, Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper reported. The drivers managed to borrow a total of VND8 million to bribe the officials, who at the end agreed to give them a discount and took VND7.5 million. The case was disclosed after the owner of the consignment, Dang Thao … [Read more...]

Pemex oil platform fire kills 4 in Gulf of Mexico, 302 evacuated


At least four people died after a fire broke out on a Pemex oil processing platform in the Gulf of Mexico early on Wednesday, leading to the evacuation of 302 workers, the Mexican state-run oil company said. The fire, which burned throughout the day, erupted overnight on the Abkatun Permanente platform in the oil-rich Bay of Campeche. Forty-five people were treated for injuries and 16 of them were hospitalized, two with serious injuries, Pemex said. At 8pm (02:00 GMT) on Wednesday, Pemex said in a message on its Twitter account that the fire had been put out. Eight firefighting boats had been brought in to battle the flames, Pemex said, noting that one of the fatalities was from the state-run giant and another was a contractor for Mexican oil services firm Cotemar. Two others have yet to be identified. Videos posted on Twitter showed the offshore platform engulfed in flames, lighting up the night sky, as rescue workers looked on from nearby ships. The fire broke out in the … [Read more...]

Vietnam PM says need for speed in sluggish privatization drive

Vietnam needs to quicken the privatization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as well as divestment from non-core businesses to raise capital and boost performance, the country's prime minister said on Wednesday. Nguyen Tan Dung made the call after just 29 SOEs completed privatization in the first quarter among the 289 targeted to undergo the process in 2015, dealing another setback to the government's reform plans for the $184 billion economy. "Privatizing SOEs is not only to get funds for investment in other important areas, but the ultimate purpose is to let companies operate more efficiently," Dung was quoted as saying in a government statement. Vietnam has been striving to trim state stakes in SOEs, many of which have low profitability and high levels of non-performing loans (NPLs). SOEs have been blamed for taking too many loans and slowing moves to bolster the economy and clean up a banking system blighted by bad debt. The drive has so far attracted little interest from … [Read more...]

Vietnam PM says need for speed in sluggish privatisation drive

Vietnam needs to quicken the privatisation of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as well as divestment from non-core businesses to raise capital and boost performance, the country's prime minister said on Wednesday. Nguyen Tan Dung made the call after just 29 SOEs completed privatisation in the first quarter among the 289 targeted to undergo the process in 2015, dealing another setback to the government's reform plans for the $184 billion economy. "Privatising SOEs is not only to get funds for investment in other important areas, but the ultimate purpose is to let companies operate more efficiently," Dung was quoted as saying in a government statement. Vietnam has been striving to trim state stakes in SOEs, many of which have low profitability and high levels of non-performing loans (NPLs). SOEs have been blamed for taking too many loans and slowing moves to bolster the economy and clean up a banking system blighted by bad debt. The drive has so far attracted little interest from … [Read more...]

China to toughen inspection on air quality data – Xinhua


Laborers work at a construction site near a smoking chimney in a suburb of Shanghai March 9, 2015. Photo: Reuters China's vice minister for environmental protection has announced a two-year inspection campaign to root out fake air quality data and accused some local governments of manipulating the data to meet national standards, state media said. The move comes as China has sought to improve transparency and compel polluters to provide comprehensive and real-time emissions data. Air pollution is one of the top items on the government's agenda since a choking smog dubbed the "airpocalypse" engulfed key Chinese cities in January 2013. Some local governments make monitoring stations fabricate or tamper with air quality data, state news agency Xinhua quoted Wu Xiaoqing, vice minister of environmental protection, as saying. Wu said that such acts severely compromise the credibility of the government and environmental protection agencies and harm environmental monitoring … [Read more...]

US Senator Menendez indicted for corruption says ‘will be vindicated’

US Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey was indicted on corruption charges, allegations that the high-ranking Democrat vowed to fight at a news conference on Wednesday night. Menendez was indicted by a grand jury in New Jersey for accepting gifts from Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist, in exchange for using the power of his Senate office to benefit Melgen's financial and personal interests, according to the court filing. Speaking in Newark, New Jersey, as dozens of supporters cheered and applauded, Menendez told reporters the prosecutors in the case were "dead wrong" and he intended to prove it. "I ask my friends, my colleagues and the community to hold their judgment and remember all the other times when prosecutors got it wrong. ... I will be vindicated," Menendez said. "This is not how my career is going to end." He was scheduled to appear in court in Newark on Thursday, his spokesman said. The allegations against Menendez, a senior lawmaker on foreign policy and … [Read more...]

Despite strike, Vietnam is Asia’s new manufacturing powerhouse

Workers of

Pou Yuen Vietnam gather for a negotiation with labor union officials at their factory on the fifth day of their strike in Vietnam's southern Ho Chi Minh CityMarch 31, 2015. Thousands of workers at the major factory in southern Vietnam went on strike for the fifth day on Tuesday in protest over social insurance cover, in rare show of labor unrest in a country positioning itself as a future Asian manufacturing powerhouse. Witnesses in the industrialized suburbs of Ho Chi Minh Citysaid hundreds of workers massed peacefully inside and outside the factory owned by Pou Yuen Vietnam, a footwear maker for firms that include Nike Inc and Adidas and brands like Lacoste, Converse and Reebok. Photo: Reuters If you thought Asia's manufacturing giants are just China, South Korea and Thailand, say hello to a new one: Vietnam. Its benchmark purchasing managers' index for manufacturing has expanded -- a reading above 50 -- every month since Aug. 2013, according to HSBC and Markit Economics. That … [Read more...]

Iran talks stretch into another day; deal seen close but elusive

Major powers and Iran stretched marathon talks on Tehran's nuclear program into a second day past their deadline, with diplomats saying prospects for a preliminary agreement were finely balanced between success and collapse in the coming hours. The negotiations, aimed at blocking Iran's capacity to build a nuclear bomb in exchange for lifting sanctions, have become bogged down over crucial details of the accord, even as the broad outlines of an agreement have been reached. After negotiators blew past the original self-imposed deadline of midnight on Tuesday, they remained locked in talks through to the early hours of Thursday in the Swiss city of Lausanne. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said they would stay at least until Thursday in an effort to seal the "political" agreement, a milestone towards a final pact due by the end of June. In a potentially hopeful sign, French Foreign Secretary Laurent Fabius returned for more talks … [Read more...]

India’s IT plans suffer from power cuts, congestion – and monkeys


A pet monkey rides on a recovery truck in Kolkata in this July 28, 2009 file photo. As India launches an $18 billion plan to spread the information revolution to its provinces, the problems it faces are a holdover from the past - electricity shortages, badly planned, jam-packed cities, and monkeys. The clash between the old world and the new is sharply in focus in the crowded 3,000-year-old holy city of Varanasi, where many devout Hindus come to die in the belief that doing so will give them salvation. Varanasi is also home to hundreds of macaque monkeys that live in its temples and are fed and venerated by devotees. But the monkeys also feast on the fiber-optic cables that are strung along the banks of the Ganges river. "We cannot move the temples from here. We cannot modify anything here, everything is built up. The monkeys, they destroy all the wires and eat all the wires," said communications engineer A.P. Srivastava. Srivastava, who oversees the expansion of new connections … [Read more...]

Yemen Houthi fighters backed by tanks reach central Aden


Followers of the Houthi demonstrate against the Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, in Sanaa April 1, 2015. A unit of Houthi rebels and allies backed by tanks pushed into central Aden, the main foothold of fighters loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, witnesses said on Wednesday, despite a week of air strikes by Saudi-led coalition forces. The alliance of mainly Sunni Gulf Arab states has also attacked the northern Shi'ite Houthis from the sea but their advance toward the southern port city has been relentless. Hadi's aides expressed alarm. "What's happening now would be a disaster for Aden and its people, if Aden falls," Reyad Yassin Abdulla told Al Jazeera television. The Houthi movement was jubilant. "We can say that after a week of bombing on Yemen the aggressors have not achieved any result ... The victories in Aden today embarrass this campaign and silenced the aggressor states," Houthi spokesman Mohammad Abdulsalam told the militia's al-Maseera television. Asked for his … [Read more...]

Turkey vows to find “dark forces” behind Istanbul hostage-taking


Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (C) prays during the funeral ceremony of prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz at the courtyard of Eyup Sultan mosque in Istanbul April 1, 2015. Photo: Reuters Turkey's justice minister said on Wednesday two militants who seized an Istanbul prosecutor had "held a gun to the nation" and vowed to find the "dark forces" behind them, after all three died in a police rescue attempt. Two members of the extreme leftist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) took prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz, 46, hostage in his Istanbul office on Tuesday. Kiraz had been leading an investigation into the death last March of Berkin Elvan, 15, who died nine months after falling into a coma after being hit by a police tear gas canister during anti-government protests in 2013. The hostage-taking was in revenge for his death, the DHKP-C said on its website. "We don't see this as an attack on our deceased prosecutor, but on the whole justice system. It is a gun … [Read more...]

Vietnam moves towards greater rights for crime suspects


Nguyen Thanh Chan (C) has made headlines in Vietnam since April 2014 when he had his name cleared after serving 10 years as part of a life sentence for murder. Photo credit: Lao Dong Vietnam’s top prosecutor’s office has made draft amendments to criminal justice procedures that give crime suspects more rights during interrogation, including the one to remain silent. The People’s Supreme Procuracy’s draft came at a time when several cases of wrongful conviction have been drawing a great deal of public attention and often blamed on investigative agencies. Le Huu The, deputy chief of the Procuracy, said at a meeting with the National Assembly’s judiciary committee Monday that their recommendation of the right to silence means that suspects have a right to not make any statement or any confession that can be used against them during the trial, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported. He said further that a basic premise of the code is "presumption of innocence," … [Read more...]

Police launch criminal investigation into scaffolding collapse that killed 13


The site of a scaffolding collapse that left 13 dead and 28 injured in the central province of Ha Tinh on March 25, 2015. Photo: Nguyen Dung Police in the central province of Ha Tinh on Tuesday started a criminal investigation into a scaffolding collapse that killed 13 workers and injured 28 others on March 25, after finding signs of violations of labor safety rules. Le Van Thong, vice director of the province’s construction department, said local agencies’ initial findings showed that the accident at the construction of a Taiwanese-invested steel mill-port complex could be caused by the failure of the scaffolding’s hydraulic lifting system. About two-third of the system’s cylinders broke down, he said. However, they will have to work with inspectors from the construction ministry and foreign experts to find out why the cylinders did not work, as the system used advanced and sophisticated technologies, according to Thong. The iron structure, which was 25 … [Read more...]

Vietnamese received 8 yrs for selling lover to Chinese brothels for $130


The four young men are sentenced to seven and eight years in jail at a Hanoi court for trafficking a girl to China. Photo credit: VOV A court in Hanoi on Tuesday sentenced four young men to seven and eight years in jail for selling a girlfriend of one of them to brothels in China. Tran Dinh Luat, ex-boyfriend of the victim, and his accomplices were arrested after a Vietnamese employer agreed to let her come back to Vietnam in late January, local media reported. According to the indictment, Luat, 25, started a romantic relationship with the victim a month after he met his accomplices, all in their early 20s, and started their trafficking scheme. They were looking for teenage girls to deliver to China and after days not finding anyone, Luat decided to offer his girlfriend, then 16. He asked her out in April, 2012, and tricked her to cross the China border to sell to a brothel owner. It’s not clear how much the transaction cost but Luat himself received VND2.8 million … [Read more...]

Foreign-flagged ship probed for illegal oil trading on Vietnamese waters


Vietnamese Coast Guard officers seal the diesel oil they found on the foreign ship. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre The Vietnamese Coast Guard is still investigating a foreign-flagged ship for allegedly smuggling diesel oil to Vietnam, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported. Last Saturday, a Coast Guard vessel spotted suspicious-looking Shoel Maru, a ship registered in the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, around 110 nautical miles of Con Son Island off the southern coast. The police then searched the ship and found 611,000 liters of diesel oil with no documentation of origin. The Thai captain of the ship known as Wathanachai also failed to produce his license. There were nine Thai crewmen and a Cambodian onboard. Initial investigation showed the ship was involved in illegal oil trading with Phuoc Loi, a Vietnamese ship. The Shoel Maru was then towed to Phu Quoc Island in Kien Giang Province for further investigation. … [Read more...]