Man gets 10 years for blackmailing fomer employer with bomb threat


Le Duc Minh stands trial in Da Nang on November 25, 2015. Photo: Nguyen Tu A court in Da Nang on Wednesday sentenced a man to ten years in prison for threatening to blow up a tourist attraction where he used to work and demanded his former employer to pay VND3 billion (US$133,000). Le Duc Minh, 40, told the court that he planned to blackmail the company in July, a few days after he was dismissed as a security guard. According to the indictment, he placed what looked like sticks of dynamite on the roof of a toilet inside the tourist attraction on July 12. He then called the director, threatening to blow up the place and demanding VND3 billion. During their negotiation, Minh agreed to reduce the money to VND2 billion. When he was waiting for the payment in a forest, he heard a car with sirens passing by. Thinking that it was a police car, Minh threw away his SIM card and fled. A manager from the tourist attraction reached the forest later with the money but did not see Minh. The … [Read more...]

Vietnam sees record number of new companies this year


An official receives business registration applications in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Kha Hoa Vietnam is estimated to have 94,000 new businesses established this year, the largest number in history, which is possibly thanks to more open business laws, a senior official said. Bui Anh Tuan, deputy head of the Business Registration Management Department at the investment ministry, said the number of new businesses has kept increasing since July, when the amended Business and Investment Laws took effect. There have been more than 40,800 new business since, up around 30 percent year-on-year. In November alone, the number was 8,400, up 8.2 percent from the same month last year. Tuan said that the country is now on track to have 94,000 new businesses by the end of the year, which is a record high. More than 74,800 companies opened last year. "It shows that the business environment has been untied," he said, as cited by a post on the government website. The amended laws allow businesses to … [Read more...]

Mekong Delta province withdraws illegal fines against 2 for Facebook comments

An Giang Province authorities announced on Wednesday that they have withdrawn the fines against a teacher and a public utility employee for criticizing a provincial leader on Facebook. Ho Viet Hiep, deputy chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, told Tuoi Tre newspaper the decision was made after local authorities found the fines were not legal. The teacher and the public utility employee will only receive a warning instead, he said. Recently, Le Thi Thuy Trang, a literature teacher at Long Xuyen High School and Huynh Nguyen Huy Phuc, an employee at the state-owned An Giang Electricity Company, were ordered to pay VND5 million (US$223) each. The duo has insulted Vuong Binh Thanh, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, on Facebook, according to the Department of Information and Communications. In October, Trang shared a news article about a central government’s proposal to have Thanh disciplined. According to previous media reports, she called the … [Read more...]

Vietnam suspends ‘vulgar’ YouTube show for insulting celebrities


A file photo shows (from left) the host Thuy Minh and two other MCs Le Minh Ngoc and Nguyen Ngoc Thach in an episode of the Bitches in Town show Cultural officials on Wednesday suspended a Vietnamese weekly talk show on YouTube after many celebrities complained that they were insulted by the host and her guests. Officials said more than 20 past episodes of the cheekily named "Nhung ke lam loi, or Bitches in Town" will have to be reviewed and those with inappropriate content must be removed. "The show contains vulgar and judgmental comments about other people, invades their private lives, hurts their reputation, and causes public outrage," said a statement released by broadcasting officials from the culture ministry. The talk show sparked anger among many celebrities with its latest episodes, when the host, Thuy Minh, and two other emcees - Le Minh Ngoc and Nguyen Ngoc Thach, told some singers to quit their job. In other episodes, they criticized the fashion style of several … [Read more...]

Vietnam legislators delay vote on bill that aims to bail out tax defaulters

Vietnamese lawmakers have delayed a vote on a controversial bill which aims to clear back taxes for some state-owned enterprises, local media reported Wednesday. The Ministry of Finance will revise the bill and submit it again to the National Assembly in March next year, a senior official was quoted as saying in news website VnExpress. The bill, originally scheduled for being voted on November 25 and taking effect on January 1, would set a number of state companies free from overdue tax obligations. It was expected that a total of VND10 trillion (US$438.58 million) in back taxes would be waived. Businesses eligible for the write-off were those which were in the process of selling shares or already allowed to shut down and unable to pay their back taxes, according to the bill. However, many economists and lawmakers criticized the government's proposal as being "unfair" to private businesses, hundreds of which have been named and shamed into paying back taxes in the past few … [Read more...]

Vietnam treasures strategic partnership with Germany: president


President Truong Tan Sang (L) shakes hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during his visit on November 25, 2015. Photo credit: VNA Vietnam attaches great importance to developing the strategic partnership with Germany, President Truong Tan Sang told German Chancellor Angela Merkel during their talks on Thursday as part of his visit to the European nation. The Vietnamese leader expressed his wish that Germany will maintain its position as Vietnam’s leading European partner in trade-investment, science-technology, education-training, vocational training and employment cooperation. The development of Vietnam-Germany ties in both depth and width has great significance for Vietnam when the country is speeding up its international economic integration and major bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements, of which the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement is a high priority, he said. Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany values Vietnam’s position in Southeast Asia and … [Read more...]

Vietnam province asks tourists to stop giving kids money to end begging


Children in Ha Giang Province. Photo: Truong Giang Authorities in Ha Giang Province, a new travel destination in the northern highlands, are asking tourists to stop giving money to its children because such an act may lead to more school dropouts. Trieu Te Vinh, the Party secretary, said his province has been drawing more tourists lately, especially at the end of the year when the blooming season begins on its buckwheat fields. The province, home to 1,000 hectares of buckwheat fields, just wrapped up its buckwheat festival on November 15. During the four-day event, tourists filled up all hotels, guesthouses and many residents’ houses as well. But many tourists, out of pity for children in the impoverished province, have given them money. "The children now stand along the road waving their hands for money," Vinh said at a tourism promotion conference in Ho Chi Minh City Monday, as cited by Saigon Times Online. He said he has ordered travel agencies to ask tourists to only … [Read more...]

Chinese man shot dead in front of home in Da Nang


The house where the Chinese man lives with his Vietnamese wife. Photo: Nguyen Tu A Chinese man died after an identified man shot him in the stomach in front of his house in Da Nang City on Thursday. At around 7:30 a.m. the Chinese man known only as Liu, 31, was about to drive his three-year-old daughter to school when a masked man, who was sitting on a parked motorbike, shot him with a short gun. Liu collapsed and his bike fell on him. His daughter was safe inside the house at the time. The masked man reportedly fled the scene immediately. Liu’s wife and father-in-law rushed out from the house and brought him to hospital, where he succumbed to his injury at noon. According to some eyewitnesses, the masked man had waited in an eatery near Liu’s house for a while before the latter showed up. Liu is married to a 23-year-old Vietnamese woman. He moved in her parents’ house in Da Nang three years ago. Police are searching for the shooter. … [Read more...]

Execs at construction firm face charges for Hanoi water pipe ruptures


Workers in Hanoi check a part of Song Da water pipe after it broke in July 2015. Photo: Dan Ha The Ministry of Public Security are seeking criminal charges against nine executives at a state-owned construction firm for numerous ruptures on a major Hanoi water pipe over the past three years. Investigators at the ministry said in their proposal to the Supreme People’s Procuracy that the group of nine from Vinaconex Corporation should be charged with "violations of construction regulations causing serious consequences." They said Tran Cao Bang, director of the Fiberglass Pipeline Company at Vinaconex, who was in charge of quality checks and production of fiberglass pipe had the main responsibility. Vinaconex was in charge of the US$70-million Song Da pipe system which runs 45.8 kilometers through the city downtown and provides clean water for around 70,000 families. But investigation found the project uses fiberglass pipes of poor quality that could not sustain the water … [Read more...]

Vietnam’s inflation slows to decade low


A woman buys meat at a market in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Dinh Phu With no significant price rises in major commodities and services, Vietnam's consumer price index continued to grew slowly in November at the rate of 0.07 percent from the previous month, the General Statistics Office of Vietnam has reported. Compared to December last year, it was up 0.58 percent, the lowest in the past 10 years. Nine out of the 11 products and services in the CPI basket such as food and dining, and housing and construction materials saw very small increases, around 0.05-0.32 percent, from October. The prices of postal and telecom and transport services declined 0.1 and 0.38 percent, respectively, according to the report. In a recent report to the legislature, the government forecast Vietnam's inflation will be less than 2 percent this year. The target for next year is under 5 percent. … [Read more...]

Pope in Africa says dialogue vital to avert violence in God’s name


Pope Francis waves to faithful as he arrives for a Papal mass in Kenya's capital Nairobi, November 26, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Thomas Mukoya Pope Francis said on Thursday dialogue between religions in Africa was essential to teach young people that violence and hate in God's name was unjustified, speaking in Kenya which has been the victim of a spate of Islamist militant massacres. Bridging divisions between Muslims and Christians is a main theme of his first tour of the continent that also takes him to Uganda, which like Kenya has been victim of Islamist attacks, and the Central African Republic, riven by sectarian conflict. "All too often, young people are being radicalized in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies," the pope told Muslim and other religious leaders gathered in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. "Ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue is not a luxury. It is not something extra or optional, but essential," he said at a … [Read more...]

Dinner disaster: Saigon restaurant, patrons fight over rat in seafood hot pot


A rat allegedly fished out from a hot pot at a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo supplied by a customer It was a Friday night like any other Friday night at Lau Cua 245, a crowded seafood hot pot restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City. But suddenly everybody stopped eating. A group of diners had just asked the manager to come over and take a look at something strange in their soup: a dead rat. Hoa Tranh, one of the customers, wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday that her family was having a party. "When we almost finished eating, we saw a dead rat at the bottom of the hot pot and were completely frightened," Tranh said, also posting a photo as evidence. Tranh said the manager Tran Ba Loc first apologized and offered to charge the group of 18 nothing for their meal. But her brother said when the family asked Loc to write a report about the incident and promise to take full responsibility in case any of them became sick, the manager changed his mind and accused them of putting the rat … [Read more...]

Russian tourist recovers from surgery after neck broken by strong waves in Nha Trang


The Russian tourist at Khanh Hoa Province General Hospital. Photo credit: VnExpress A hospital in the central beach town of Nha Trang said on Wednesday that doctors have successfully performed a procedure to repair the cervical spine for a Russian tourist who had his neck broken when swimming. News website VnExpress reported that Denis Gurov, 33, and his friends reportedly came to a beach on Tran Phu Street to swim on Monday. A strong wave hit him and knocked him down. He was unable to move and washed away from shore. His friends tried to approach him but another wave, around two meters high, made them unable to swim further. Beach guards with lifebuoys managed to approach the Russian tourist and pulled him ashore. He was paralyzed and suffered from a cervical spine fracture. He is now recovering after the surgery at the Khanh Hoa Province General Hospital. Nha Trang authorities said the rainy season had caused rough seas with strong and dangerous waves, so they had assigned … [Read more...]

‘Child brides’ suffer, but African Union seeks to end custom


Albertina Ricardo, 17, sits next to her child in Inhambane, Mozambique Lucia Felix, a 15-year-old Mozambican girl, dreams of returning to her village school but instead she must prepare for motherhood after she was chosen for an arranged marriage and became pregnant. She is one of the millions of "child brides" across Africa who are married before their 18th birthday, with many already wed when they are younger than 15. This week, the African Union will meet in Zambia to hold its first conference on "Ending Child Marriage in Africa" -- a small step in efforts to protect girls such as Lucia. "One day, a young man arrived here to choose a wife from several girls and he chose me. Then I got pregnant," she told AFP, speaking under a mango tree in the courtyard of her family's home in the southern village of Jangamo. Lucia, who is eight months' pregnant, had just returned from the doctor after contracting malaria and she complained of pains in her belly. Millions of "child brides" … [Read more...]

Mud from Brazil dam burst is toxic, U.N. says


The Bento Rodrigues district is pictured covered with mud after a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst in Mariana, Brazil, November 6, 2015. Mud from a dam that burst at an iron ore mine in Brazil earlier this month, killing 12 people and polluting an important river, is toxic, the United Nations' human rights agency said on Wednesday. The statement contradicts claims by Samarco, the mine operator at the site of the rupture, and Samarco's co-owner, BHP Billiton, that the water and mineral waste contained by the dam are not toxic. Citing "new evidence," the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement the residue "contained high levels of toxic heavy metals and other toxic chemicals". The agency did not identify the studies that were the basis for the evidence or say who conducted them, and a spokesman in Geneva was not immediately available for comment. The owners of Samarco, Brazil's Vale SA (VALE5.SA) and Australia's BHP, said they are … [Read more...]

Vietnam’s state enterprise sector is not making money despite huge debt pileup


A file photo of a ship belonging to Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) A recent government report has again shed light on the vulnerable situation of Vietnam's state-owned enterprises, whose revenues rise slowly but debts pile up quickly. The combined revenues of 781 businesses owned wholly or partly by the government grew only 1 percent last year to VND1,709 trillion (US$74.63 billion), local media reported, citing the government report prepared for the National Assembly. Their net profits fell 1 percent to nearly VND187.7 trillion ($8.19 billion). The report also focused on 93 of the biggest companies, including industry leaders or monopolies such as Electricity of Vietnam, PetroVietnam, and Vietnam Airlines, to see how they had performed financially. Together these conglomerates saw a year-on-year increase of 8 percent in their debts to over VND1,567 trillion ($68.43 billion) last year, of which foreign debts accounted for 24.3 percent. A third of the giants exceeded … [Read more...]

U.S. has urged legal reforms abroad to block Islamic State recruits


Islamic State fighters wave flags as they take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province, Syria June 30, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Stringer The U.S. Justice Department has provided specific suggestions to governments in Europe and elsewhere on how to strengthen counterterrorism laws in order to arrest would-be foreign fighters before they join groups like Islamic State, according to a policy paper reviewed by Reuters. U.S. government officials distributed the paper to overseas government agencies earlier this year as part of a push by the Obama administration to track and stem the flow of homegrown foreign fighters from Europe bound for Syria and Iraq, a person with knowledge of the matter said. Following the Paris attacks earlier this month and this week's security crackdown in Belgium, European law enforcement and intelligence agencies are under pressure to disrupt the replenishment of Islamic State's forces and prevent battle-hardened militants from … [Read more...]

Russia and Turkey refuse to back down in row over jet downing


Pilots of a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jet prepare before a flight at the Hmeymim air base near Latakia, Syria, in this handout photograph released by Russia's Defence Ministry October 5, 2015. Russia sent an advanced missile system to Syria on Wednesday to protect its jets operating there and pledged its air force would keep flying missions near Turkish air space, sounding a defiant note after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet. Underscoring the message, Russian forces launched a heavy bombardment against insurgent-held areas in Latakia on Wednesday, near where the jet was downed, rebels and a monitoring group said. The United States and Europe both urged calm and continued dialogue in telephone conversations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, a sign of international concern at the prospect of any escalation between the former Cold War enemies. The downing of the jet on Tuesday was one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a NATO member and … [Read more...]

Windsor Plaza Hotel awarded ‘Top 100 trusted service’

Café Central An Dong, the widest range buffet restaurant in the city

The lobby of Windsor Plaza Hotel at 18 An Duong Vuong Street, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City Windsor Plaza Hotel has received an award in the category "Excellent F&B service" in Top 100 trusted products and services 2015. This result is from a survey on product and service prestige conducted throughout big cities in Vietnam. Operating since 2004, Windsor Plaza Hotel, one of the 5-stars Saigon hotels, located between the city's convention centers and historic Chinatown in District 5, features authentic Vietnamese hospitality and world-class facilities. This is also a great place in dining service with both western and local delicacies. Uniquely Ngan Dinh Restaurant populated for nearly 20 years, offers Cantonese, Sichuan, Chao Zhou's spectacular cuisine. In celebration of 23 years of operation, Ngan Dinh Restaurant offers 23 percent off on total bill for guests with particular menu. Ngan Dinh Restaurant especially discounts 30 percent every Monday for Windsor VIPCard members from now … [Read more...]