Thứ Hai, 31 tháng 3, 2014

 Da Nang real estate market: soon ripe soon rotten

Danang, often cited as having the most beautiful beach on the planet, witnessed a remarkable surge in the development of luxury resorts in recent years. Now, many of them are sitting idle.

 Da Nang, real estate market, resorts, idle

Recently, while attending a press conference announcing yet another big real estate project in Da Nang, this reporter took a moment to ask the interpreter a few private questions. Did the woman, a Hanoian, have any personal plans to buy an apartment in the project and settle down in Da Nang?
The answer was an abrupt “No”. Of course, neither reporter’s question nor the reply were conveyed to the investor and the distributor – Savills Vietnam.
Real estate investors in the coastal areas of Da Nang might not hear answers like this when they consider developing projects here, but they would do well to listen.
Investors, mostly from Hanoi and HCM City, flocked to the Da Nang area seven years ago with their projects in tow. They had convinced themselves that the broad sand banks and world-renowned beach were the ideal site for new resorts. At the time, Hanoi and HCM City were witnessing a “land fever”, with real estate prices escalating daily. Certainly, they reasoned, it was only a matter of time before that same fever attacked Da Nang as well, with hefty profits accruing to those savvy investors who foresaw the inevitable.
A lot of resort projects were kicked off at that time. However, to the surprise of many, the Da Nang real estate market did ultimately follow Hanoi and HCM City – when it froze.
Analysts assert that the investors made a big mistake when they surveyed the Da Nang market. They paid little heed to the fact that sun shines reliably only for a period of three months a year, while it rains during the other six months. In winter, those idyllic, “world-class” beaches look gloomy and deserted. And with strong winds and heavy rains, the idea of frolicking in the ocean or strolling outside to enjoy the landscape is not something that most people find appealing.
Some who bought apartments in the coastal areas have said they felt compelled to bargain those apartments away after only a year or so of living there. Their plans for romantic walks on the beach were thwarted by the realities of the weather, forcing them to stay at home, lock the doors, and ramp up the air conditioners.
Another big mistake by investors was that resort development surged so rapidly that infrastructure development in the locality could not keep up. An executive of CBRE Vietnam, which acted as a consultant to a number of projects, admitted that many apartment buyers were surprised when they saw nothing but white spread-out sand banks.
With no service providers in the areas, no local residents and no visitors, a lot of the coastal resorts in Da Nang now look like the deserted land. It is even difficult for many to go out and buy essential goods, given the dearth of markets or shopping malls.
Some experts estimate it will take 10 more years to develop the necessary infrastructure to create a good living environment in the area.
The hasty investments have resulted in the establishment of a series of coastal projects during the period of 2007-2009 which are now sitting idle.
Real estate investors are no longer welcomed by Da Nang’s people, who largely resent that the projects have encroached on public beaches. Meanwhile, people in some fishing villages complain that they have suffered from the local authorities’ plans to facilitate the urbanization of their areas.
Political News Headlines 1/4

Regional leaders to attend MRC summit in Vietnam
Leaders of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand will attend the second Mekong River Commission (MRC) Summit in Ho Chi Minh City on April 5.
 Viet Nam, regional leaders, MRC summit, MDGs, WB aid
From left to right: Prime Ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam at the 1st Mekong River Commission Summit.-- Photo: VNA
In attendance will be Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, Lao PM Thongsing Thammavong, and Thai Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul at the invitation of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
Themed “Cooperation for Water, Energy and Food Security in Transboundary Basins under a Changing Climate”, the summit aims to strengthen a commitment to cross-border cooperation in the sustainable development of water and other resources of the Mekong River.
The first MRC Summit was held in Hua Hin, Thailand in 2010 to mark the 15th anniversary of the Agreement on Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin (1995 Mekong Agreement).
UN praises Vietnam for MDG achievements
Vietnam has made commendable achievement in realizing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), most notably in gender equality and poverty reduction, said United Nations Under-Secretary-General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

 Viet Nam, regional leaders, MRC summit, MDGs, WB aid
The UN official made the plaudit during a reception hosted by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi on March 31.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who is also Executive Director of UN for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), emphasized that social welfare is one of major concerns by many countries, and Vietnam has valuable experience to share in this field.
She said she hopes that Vietnam will continue providing support and fostering cooperation with UN agencies, including UN Women.
Deputy PM Minh  expressed his appreciation for the UN’s assistance for Vietnam over the past time, noting that gender equality is highly regulated in Vietnam and that at present, the country is furtherinstitutionalising it in the legal system.
Vietnam is actively implementing action programmes to ensure gender equality and protect the rights of women and girls which is demonstrated by the increasing involvement of women in the political system and other senior positions, he noted.
Vietnam vows to effectively use WB aid
Vietnam sincerely appreciates the invaluable assistance the World Bank (WB) has provided in bolstering the national development process, has said Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh.
At a March 31 reception for visiting WB Vice President for East Asia and Pacific Axel van Trotsenburg in Hanoi, Ninh noted that the country is one of the largest recipients of preferential loans from the WB.
Ninh welcomed the WB official’s return after his most recent visit to Vietnam in May 2013 while calling for more continued support from his organization, especially when Vietnam is in need of huge financial sources to implement its overall plan on economic restructuring.
For his part, the WB Vice President informed his host about the working results with local officials and the main purpose of his current visit to Vietnam.
He expressed his hope that the Vietnamese Government will continue utilizing WB aid effectively in its national development process in the future.
Vietnam, Algeria hold second political consultation
The second political consultation between Vietnam and Algeria was organised in Algiers capital city on March 30.

 Viet Nam, regional leaders, MRC summit, MDGs, WB aid
The event was co-chaired by Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Phuong Nga and Secretary General of the Algerian Foreign Ministry Abdelhamid Senouci Bereksi.
The two sides briefed each other on their respective countries’ political and socio-economic situation and discussed measures to boost bilateral collaboration.
They agreed to increase delegation and people-to-people exchanges and expand contact between their businesses.
Both sides stressed the need to push forward the implementation of agreements signed during the 10th meeting of the two countries’ inter-governmental committee in Hanoi in January in order to further cooperation in security, trade, investment, education, culture and tourism.
In discussing regional and global issues of mutual concerns, the two sides saw eye to eye on the need to support each other at international forums.
During her stay in Algeria, Deputy Foreign Minister Nga also paid a courtesy visit to Algerian Foreign Minister Lamtane Lamamra and had a working session with Secretary General of the Ministry of Industrial Development and Investment Promotion E.H.Makboul.
The Algerian FM affirmed that Algeria prioritises enhancing ties with Vietnam.
He also stressed the importance of the two countries’ connections at international forums, including the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement and the South-South Cooperation.
For her part, Nga confirmed that in its foreign policies, Vietnam always treasures its ties with its traditional partners in Africa, including Algeria.
Deputy PM welcomes World Bank Vice President Axel Van Trotsenburg
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh held a reception for World Bank Vice President Axel Van Trotsenburg, who is on a working visit to Viet Nam, in Ha Noi yesterday, March 31.
Deputy PM Ninh thanked the guest for his assistance to Viet Nam, especially when it came to the approval of World Bank programmes and projects and the mobilisation of loans under concessional terms.
He hoped the World Bank would continue to help Viet Nam carry out socio-economic development plans, adding that the country would make effective use of the aid.
Trotsenburg said Viet Nam was an active and responsible country, as evidenced by its dynamic participation in World Bank policy dialogues. He pledged that the bank would always support Viet Nam in fields the country needed to enhance people's well being.
Deputy PM meets Harvard Viet Nam Programme advisor
Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc received Professor Thomas Vallely, advisor of Harvard's Viet Nam Programme, in Ha Noi yesterday, March 31. He expressed hope that Vallely would continue helping to consolidate Viet Nam -US co-operation, especially in education.
He hailed the contributions of Prof. Vallely as well as the staff of the Viet Nam Executive Leadership Programme (VELP), a collaborative initiative of the Vietnamese Government, the United Nations Development Programme and the Viet Nam Programme at Harvard's Kennedy School.
The VELP has created a forum for Vietnamese senior policymakers as well as business leaders to hold dialogues based on a foundation of practical research on policy challenges that Viet Nam and the world face, he said.
Professor Vallely spoke highly of Viet Nam's efforts to preserve cultural values as well as the country's socio-economic development over the past years.
He said he would try his best to enhance the quality of Vietnamese teaching at US universities, contributing to boosting education partnerships between the two countries.
Launched in 1988, the Viet Nam Programme aims to study Viet Nam's socio-economic development using a multifaceted approach that combines research, teaching and policy analysis.
Deputy PM bids farewell to Chinese ambassador
Deputy Prime Minister cum Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh hosted a March 31 reception for Chinese ambassador Kong Xuanyou who came to say goodbye at the end of his term in Vietnam.
Minh expressed his satisfaction with the constant development of the Vietnam-China comprehensive strategic partnership over the years and commended the Chinese diplomat’s positive contributions to consolidating bilateral ties.
Kong Xuanyou thanked Vietnam for its great assistance and close coordination that helped him fulfill his tasks and pledged his tireless efforts to further strengthen ties between the two nations no matter his future position.
150 exhibits prove Vietnam’s sovereignty over Paracel, Spratly Islands

 The exhibition of historical and legal evidences asserting that Hoang Sa (Paracel Islands) and Truong Sa (Spratly Islands) belong to Vietnam is held in the central province of Phu Yen from March 28 to April 3, on the occasion of Vietnam Seafood Festival 2014.

hoang sa, truong sa, paracel, spratly, evidence
hoang sa, truong sa, paracel, spratly, evidence

A map issued by China and Japan in 1947 shows that China’s territory ends at Hainan Island, not including Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.

hoang sa, truong sa, paracel, spratly, evidence

The map of Asia shows that China's southernmost territory is Hainan Island only. The map was published by the Philips New General Atlas in London (UK) in 1859. This is one of the 65 maps proving Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa on display at the exhibition. These maps were published by China and Western countries from the 17th century.

hoang sa, truong sa, paracel, spratly, evidence 

The map of An Nam (Vietnam today) by French Bishop Taberd in 1838. The map was drawn accurately by modern methods and was noted in three languages - Latin, Chinese and Korean. The map has the Paracel seu Islands (Hoang Sa) at the exact coordinates.

hoang sa, truong sa, paracel, spratly, evidence 

This ancient book clearly wrote that King Minh Mang assigned Mr. Pham Huu Nhat to take his soldiers to Hoang Sa to build sovereignty landmarks in 1836.

hoang sa, truong sa, paracel, spratly, evidence

The valuable document about Hoang Sa which was donated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in April 2009 by the Dang family on Ly Son Island, Quang Ngai province. The document was preserved by the six generations. This is the mission order by Quang Ngai’s feudal authorities sending three boats with 24 soldiers to guard Hoang Sa in 1834. The order consists of four pages.

hoang sa, truong sa, paracel, spratly, evidence

Vietnamese soldiers dug wells for fresh water on Hoang Sa in 1938. In addition to maps, precious materials, the organizers also display snails, corals and sand collected from Hoang Sa and Truong Sa by fishermen.

hoang sa, truong sa, paracel, spratly, evidence

The birth certificate of Mrs Mai Kim Quy, the daughter of Mr. Mai Xuan Tap, a meteorological staff on Hoang Sa, granted by the French government in 1940.

hoang sa, truong sa, paracel, spratly, evidence 
The sovereignty stele built on Hoang Sa in March 1938 by Vietnamese guards.
hoang sa, truong sa, paracel, spratly, evidence

A police officer takes photos of the official documents of the Nguyen Dynasty on Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.

Sports News Headlines 31/3

U19 Vietnam to face strong rivals at regional champs
Vietnam will play powerhouses Japan and Australia in the Group B of the ASEAN U19 Football Championships due to begin in Hanoi on September 5.
Group A consists of Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar.
Teams will compete in a round-robin format, with the two best teams from each group advancing to the semi-final rounds.
Japan and Australia are the two squads that were invited by the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF).
Vietnam lost 0-7 to Japan at an international tournament in Ho Chi Minh City in January 2014. Earlier they then defeated Australia 5-1 at the qualifying round of the Asian championship last October.
The tournament will last until September 13.
Bronze medal for Vietnamese gymnast at world tournament
Vietnamese gymnast Phan Thi Ha Thanh on March 28 secured a bronze medal at the 7th FIG World Challenge Cup in Doha, Qatar.
Ha Thanh, an outstanding athlete from the northern port city of Haiphong, earned 13,875 points, ranking third in the women’s balance beam event.
The gold medal went to Monckton Mary Anne of Australia with 14,700 points, while Larisa Andreea of Romania garnered silver medal with 14,850 points.
In the men’s parallel bars event, Dinh Phuong Thanh ranked 6th among eight competitors with 13,825 points. The gold medalist was Marcel Nguyen – a German-Vietnamese – and Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands, both earning 15,450 points.
This year’s Challenge Cup in Doha from March 25-28 attracted the world’s most outstanding gymnasts. Vietnam sent five competitors to compete in both women’s and men’s events.
Binh Duong overcomes odds to deliver win against Da Nang
Becamex Binh Duong defeated SHB Da Nang 3-1 yesterday afternoon in the 10th round match of the V-League, breaking their bad luck at Chi Lang Stadium.
Da Nang received the guests on their home turf with a weakened squad, as half-backs Phan Thanh Hung and Bojan Mamic had been suspended and captain Gasto Merlo had been injured. The only luck, however, they had looked forward to was the history between two teams. During the 11 matches they played against each other before, Da Nang beat Binh Duong six times and drew in another.
At the match yesterday, Binh Duong showed that they were the real insiders and mounted dangerous attacks, even though Da Nang scored the opening goal, thanks to midfielder Valentic Adrian's penalty shot in the 20th minute. At the 6th minute, forward Abass Cheikh Dieng of Binh Duong missed the chance to open the match's scoring with a right pass by midfielder Nguyen Trong Hoang.
And that was all coach Le Huynh Duc's team could achieve. During the second half, Abass Cheikh Dieng, captain Nguyen Anh Duc, and midfielder Nguyen Tang Tuan scored three goals for Binh Duong to end the match 3-1.
With the victory, coach Le Thuy Hai's team claims second place with 17 points, whilst Da Nang, with 12 points, is in 10th place.
In another match yesterday, Thanh Hoa drew 1-1 with Hoang Anh Gia Lai in Pleiku Staidium in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai. The win helped Hoang Anh Gia Lai jump to the 8th position in the table, whilst Thanh Hoa maintained their top position with 23 points after nine undefeated matches.
Women football remains 28th place on FIFA rankings
Vietnam’s female footballers maintained their 28th position in the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA)’s latest ratings.
On the FIFA rankings for the first quarter of 2014, Vietnam’s strong rival – Thailand – climbed two notches to 30th place thanks to their successful performance and championship title at the SEA Games 27.
In Asia, the Vietnamese women football team was among the top six, standing behind Japan, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Australia, China, and the Republic of Korea (RoK).
The world’s top three remained unchanged - the US, Germany and Japan.
It’s worth noting that UK football players went up three steps to rank 8th globally, while Australia was removed from the world’s top 10.
The FIFA ratings on the second quarter will be released on June 20.
Vodickova, Wild claim first place at Hue triathlon
Czech Radka Vodickova finished first at the Laguna Lang Co – Triathlon for Women, while Swiss Ruedi Wild was first place winner among men.
A total of 200 athletes from 28 countries and territories took part in the competitions, which included 1.8km swimming, 62km biking and 12km running races.
The March 27-29 event was organised by national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines and Laguna Lang Co resort.
Tien to compete in Sunchang tennis championships
Rising tennis star Nguyen Dac Tien will be Viet Nam's sole representative at the Sunchang International Junior Championships in South Korea in April.
The event will feature players from China, Kazakhstan, India, Thailand and Russia. The 14-year-old star won the boys' singles and doubles events at the ITF Asian U14 Championships-Division 2 in Viet Nam last year.
Binh Duong overcomes odds to deliver win against Da Nang
Becamex Binh Duong defeated SHB Da Nang 3-1 yesterday afternoon in the 10th round match of the V-League, breaking their bad luck at Chi Lang Stadium.
Da Nang received the guests on their home turf with a weakened squad, as half-backs Phan Thanh Hung and Bojan Mamic had been suspended and captain Gasto Merlo had been injured. The only luck, however, they had looked forward to was the history between two teams. During the 11 matches they played against each other before, Da Nang beat Binh Duong six times and drew in another.
At the match yesterday, Binh Duong showed that they were the real insiders and mounted dangerous attacks, even though Da Nang scored the opening goal, thanks to midfielder Valentic Adrian's penalty shot in the 20th minute. At the 6th minute, forward Abass Cheikh Dieng of Binh Duong missed the chance to open the match's scoring with a right pass by midfielder Nguyen Trong Hoang.
And that was all coach Le Huynh Duc's team could achieve. During the second half, Abass Cheikh Dieng, captain Nguyen Anh Duc, and midfielder Nguyen Tang Tuan scored three goals for Binh Duong to end the match 3-1.
With the victory, coach Le Thuy Hai's team claims second place with 17 points, whilst Da Nang, with 12 points, is in 10th place.
In another match yesterday, Thanh Hoa drew 1-1 with Hoang Anh Gia Lai in Pleiku Staidium in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai. The win helped Hoang Anh Gia Lai jump to the 8th position in the table, whilst Thanh Hoa maintained their top position with 23 points after nine undefeated matches.
Social News Headlines 31/3

Funeral held for Most Venerable Thich Tri Tinh

fire, stranded boat, NGOs, oxfam 
Most Venerable Thich Tri Tinh.

The Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) on March 29 held a solemn memorial service at Van Duc pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Duc district for the Most Venerable Thich Tri Tinh, who passed away the day before at the age of 98.
Born in 1917 in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap, Most Venerable Thich Tri Tinh took positions as First Deputy Patriarch and Chairman of the VBS Executive Council, and Deputy Chairman of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee during his lifetime.
He made significant contributions to gathering Buddhist followers in and out of the country to jointly build a strong Vietnam Buddhist Sangha.
He was conferred with a number of noble distinctions of the Party and State, including the Ho Chi Minh Order, Independence Order (first class), and Great National Unity Order.
The funeral, which will run until April 2, has received a lot of attention from mourners nationwide.
Party Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong, President Truong Tan Sang, and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung have sent floral tributes to the deceased.-
Blaze rips through 3000sq.m of wood
A fire broke out yesterday afternoon at a wood-producing company in Trang Bom District of Dong Nai Province, destroying nearly 3,000sq.m.
No injuries were reported. The workers said they were able to escape the fire but unable to control it.
More than 50 firefighters were deployed to the site and the fire was stopped after more than an hour.
Damages have not been assessed. The investigation is ongoing.
Nam Dinh children get ear check-ups
Around 11,000 hearing-impaired children in the northern city of Nam Dinh received free health check-ups yesterday.
The activity was co-organised by the local children's hospital and the city's Department of Education and Training.
Doctor Nguyen Tuyet Xuong, head of the hospital's ear, nose and throat department, said Viet Nam had an average of 1.7 million newborns each year, 7,000 of whom are at risk of congenital deafness.
Viet Nam has more than 1 million hearing impaired people, including more than 400,000 children of school age. The country houses 70 schools or centres that cater for people with hearing problems.
58 passengers saved from stranded boat
Border guards in the northern port city of Hai Phong saved a stranded boat with 58 passengers on board off the coast on Saturday.
The ship, captained by To Quang Trung of the city's Cat Hai Town, was adrift after its engine broke down in the sea while sailing to Cat Ba island on the same day.
The passengers also included five French tourists.
Heat wave spreads across the north
The northern and north-central regions are suffering a developing heat wave before experiencing a cold spell in a couple of days, according to central weather experts.
The heat wave, which is moving from west to east, caused weekend temperatures in several northern and north-central mountainous localities to increase to 35-38 degrees Celsius.
On March 30, the temperature reached a high of 40 degrees Celsius in Tuong Duong (central Nghe An province), and 38.2 degrees Celsius in Huong Khe (central HaTinh province).
In the capital city of Hanoi, daily temperatures also rose to 29-31 degrees Celsius, with a high humidity level of 97%.
However, a cold spell will strike the north on April 1, causing regional temperatures to fall considerably.
Meanwhile, a heat wave has baked the southern region for the past few days, with daily temperatures ranging between 33 and 38 degrees Celsius.  
Bomb left over from war found in garden
The Binh Phuoc Military Headquarter yesterday successfully decommissioned a 250-kilogramme bomb and a five-kilogramme cannon warhead found in a resident's garden.
Tran Minh Canh, who lives in Village 6 in Loc Hoa Commune in Loc Ninh District, came across the explosives while gardening last Saturday.
The bomb, which still had its detonator in tact, and the warhead were traced back to US troops who were in Viet Nam during the war.
The bomb and the warhead have been transported to a safe location.
UN expands aid to ensure social welfare in Vietnam
The UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) will expand its aid to support Vietnam’s efforts in enhancing social welfare and justice, a UN official said at a policy dialogue in Hanoi on March 31.
The function, held by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and UN Women, drew about 150 representatives of managerial agencies, international organisations, and Vietnamese and foreign experts.
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka underlined the importance of social welfare to the development of each country and the realisation of the eight Millennium Development Goals, which includes promoting gender equality and empowering women.
The official, who is also a UN Under Secretary General, added that UN Women has worked with the Vietnamese Government to foster equality and raise society’s awareness of ensuring women’s rights.
Meanwhile, Minister Pham Thi Hai Chuyen stated developing the social welfare system is among the top priorities of Vietnam’s socio-economic development strategy along with promoting gender equality.
At the dialogue, participants shared opinions on gender policies and laws, the employment of women, and the building and implementation of social welfare policies, among others.-
Oxfam starts poverty reduction project
Oxfam International in Viet Nam launched a new project analysing the country's poverty reduction policies yesterday.
From now until 2016, monitoring work will be carried out in 10 provinces and cities nationwide, with the implementation of policies at the local level under particular scrutiny. In-depth consideration of poverty in urban areas and among ethnic groups will also take place.
NGO to build kindergartens
The non-government organisation Saigon Children's Charity (SCC) will raise about $750,000 for the building of kindergartens in two poor districts in the southern province of Kien Giang.
A co-operation agreement to this effect was signed between SCC and the provincial Union of Friendship Organisations (UFO) in Rach Gia City on March 28.
Under the programme, 10 classrooms will be built each year, equipped with full teaching equipment and outdoor toys in order to create the best conditions for young learners.
Vietnam provides free medical check-ups in Cambodia
More than 1,000 patients in Cambodia’s Koh Kong province have been provided with free medical check-ups and treatment along with free medicine by a delegation of more than 40 voluntary nurses and doctors from Ho Chi Minh City.
During its stay from March 29-30, the delegation examined and distributed drugs to patients- mostly overseas Vietnamese and poor people- with diseases related to ophthalmology, reproductive health and bone & joint disorders.
Koh Kong Deputy Governor Pen Bun Chhuoi hailed the Vietnamese businesses and philanthropists for their coordination with the provincial Overseas Vietnamese Association to take care of local people’s health.
“Charitable activities run by Vietnamese philanthropists in Koh Kong have made practical contributions to the Cambodian Government’s poverty reduction policy which is a testament to the longstanding friendship between the two nations”, he noted.
Hanoi students learn about legislature
Over 200 university students across Hanoi gathered at a conference in the capital on March 29 to learn about the National Assembly and its operations.
Vice Chairman of the NA Office Nguyen Sy Dung described it as an open forum where lawmakers could introduce basic information about legislature, thereby improving social and political awareness among students via discussions.
Andrew Holt from the British Embassy expressed his hope that the Vietnamese NA will further encourage students to pay attention to issues regarding politics and policy.
He made it clear that the embassy will help more students meet and talk with NA deputies.
Many students voiced wish that the legislative body launch a forum exclusively designed for students, offering young generations a chance to exchange and improve interpersonal skills.
Int’l training centre of trade lawyers inaugurated
A centre to train international trade lawyers, the first of its kind in Vietnam, made its debut in Hanoi on March 29.
The centre was established under the Prime Minister’s decision on approving a project to develop a staff of lawyers to serve the international economic integration for 2001-2020
Nguyen Thai Phuc, Director of the Academy of Justice, said that the centre will help train qualified lawyers who have a good command of English and profound knowledge of international trade.
To prepare for its first training course by the end of this year, the centre has selected qualified and prestigious partners to assist with developing the training programme and staffing it with experienced Vietnamese and international lecturers.
In addition, it will cooperate with English training centres from around the world to organize training courses as soon as practical.
In the first four years, the entire funding for the centre will come from the state budget. From 2018, the centre will create funding sources from tuition, funds or projects.
IFAD’s US$34 mil for Vietnam’s climate change response
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on March 28 signed a funding agreement in its headquarter in Rome,to provide US$34 million to help Vietnam cope with climate change.
The signatories to the agreement were Vietnamese ambassador to Italy Nguyen Hoang Long and IFAD President, Kanayo F.Nwanze.
The aid will be funded under the most preferential conditions to carry out a project to develop rural areas sustainably and cope with climate change in the Mekong River Delta, especially in Ben Tre and Tra Vinh provinces.
More than 30,000 households, mostly women and ethnic minority groups will benefit directy from the project which focuses on raising awareness and strengthening capacity to respond to climate change.
IFAD President, Kanayo F. Nwanze praised Vietnam’s agricultural and rural development achievements and poverty reduction efforts as well as its effective use of IFDA’s funding over the past 20 years.
He affirmed that his organization has pledged to continue supporting the implementation of cooperative projects with Vietnam.
For his part, ambassador Long thanked IFAD’s support for Vietnam over the years and spoke highly of the shift of IFAD’s cooperation in helping Vietnam to cope with climate change – a difficult issue which Vietnam need to resolve.
The Vietnamese diplomat said that Vietnam needs international cooperation to improve the quality of development. He also assured that Vietnam will use the funding effectively and expressed hope that IFAD will greatly assist Vietnam’s programs on sustainable development of rural areas, climate change adaptation and poverty reduction.
Ho Chi Minh memorial complex in Thailand gets underway
A ceremonial ground-breaking for the President Ho Chi Minh memorial complex in Nakhon Phanom province, about 800km north-eastern of Bangkok, was held on March 28.
The complex, located on a site where President Ho once lived near the Vietnam-Thailand Friendship Village in Noongyath commune, is expected to be completed and open to the public by September 2015.
Addressing the ceremony, Chargé d’affaires of Vietnam in Thailand Pham Thanh Nam expressed his high appreciation for the strong support from local authorities and the overseas Vietnamese community for their support for the endeavour.
“Together with the Friendship Village, the Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex is one of the largest overseas memorials to honour the beloved Vietnamese leader. This is a reflection of the fine development in the strategic partnership between Vietnam and Thailand,” he noted.
Nakhon Phanom Governor Adisak Thepart praised the positive contributions of Vietnamese nationals in Thailand and their important role in boosting socio-economic development and pushing up the integration process in Nakhon Phanom province as well as Thailand in general.
Thepart described the Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex as a symbol of fruitful bilateral relations which shows the good sentiments of Nakhon Phanom people towards Vietnamese friends.
During his visit to Thailand in 2013, Vietnamese Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong visited the Friendship Village in Nakhon Phanom province and presented a gift package of VND30 billion to help construct it.
HCM City learns Seoul’s urban development experience
Experts from Seoul and HCM City on March 28 shared experience in addressing challenges arising from urban development.
Nguyen Trong Hoa, Director of the HCM City Development Research Institute, said in the development process, big cities in the world including HCM City and Seoul have faced challenges in urban planning, transport infrastructure development, environmental pollution and effects of climate change.
“It is necessary to strengthen cooperation among cities and research institutes to solve these problems in the most effective and efficient manner,” he said.
Chang Huyn Lee, Director of the Institute of Seoul Studies, recalled 20 years ago, Seoul also encountered similar difficulties in environmental pollution and urban planning, and his institute provided consultancy for the local authorities to tackle these matters.
He added that urban planning, environmental pollution and climate change are global issues, so a city can benefit and receive much needed support from cooperation with other cities in the world to resolve them.
Delegates also proposed participating in the Megacity network which was launched by the Institute of Seoul Studies and discussed opportunities for future cooperation in the related field.
Standard stamp required for imported condoms
A senior population official has suggested stamping all condoms imported into Vietnam to ensure they are safe with users.
All imported condoms that have passed rigorous quality standards should be stamped, said Duong Quoc Trong, Director of the General Office for Population and Family Planning (GOPFP), at a seminar in Hanoi on March 28.
Trong made the recommendation after a GOPFP survey reveals that there are roughly 30 types of condoms in Vietnam imported from China, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Germany, and Indonesia, and some others are of unknown origin.
Japanese condoms have the highest price while those imported from China are sold at the lowest.
Delegates heard speakers dwell on the importance of establishing quality control standards for condoms to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
They suggested the Health Ministry to publish a circular on national standards of contraceptive devices, including condoms, to ensure protection and safety for all.
The event was jointly held by the General Office for Population and Family Planning and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Vietnam.
Thanh Hoa mobilises int’l aid from NGOs
The central province of Thanh Hoa held a conference on March 28 seeking to solicit  financial aid from more than 50 international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in attendance.
Speaking at the event, Vice President, Nguyen Dinh Xung, said that during the 2005-2013 period, the province had received substantial support from NGOs.
It was reported that in 2013, 64 NGO-funded programs and projects were implemented in Thanh Hoa with total funding reaching US$9 billion. They focused on such fields as agriculture, rural development, health, education, natural disaster mitigation, and climate change adaptation, helping improve local livelihoods, reduce poverty and protect the environment.
Some effective models which have been replicated include a microfinance fund for women sponsored by Save the Children US, a mangrove forest plantation and management by CARE, and a livelihood programme for children by World Vision.
Nguyen Song Hoan, director of the provincial Foreign Affairs Department, said that Thanh Hoa attaches importance to expanding cooperation with NGOs, considering this an important task.
The province will continue to strengthen the mobilization of support from NGOs, oversee the use of aid, and facilitate NGO operation in the locality.
Hoang Van Hoang, President of the Thanh Hoa provincial Union of Friendship Organizations, called on NGOs and international development partners to further assist vulnerable groups in society to escape poverty.
Photo exhibition in support of endangered species
A week-long photography exhibition is underway in central Danang city to raise public awareness of the importance of conserving endangered species and their habitats.
The event, which opened on March 27, is part of a bio-diversity conservation project launched by the GreenViet Biodiversity Conservation Center.
The exhibition showcases 100 photos, with four of them portraying the beautiful red-shanked douc langur (leaf eating monkey).
Posters and slogans calling for public support for the preservation of this rare Indochinese species are also displayed at the exhibition.
Son Tra peninsular is the habitat for around 300 red-shanked douc langurs, which are listed in Vietnam Red Book as endangered species, urgently in need of protection.
Denmark increases support in food safety, clean technologies
The Danish embassy on March 28 pledged to increase financial support to underwrite small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Vietnam with a focus on food safety and clean technologies.
The support will be provided under the auspices of the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) Business Partnerships programme which has provided over US$74 million in aid for 300 pilot projects and over 150 long-term partners in Vietnam since 1997.
Danish ambassador to Vietnam John Nielsen expressed hope the DANIDA Business Partnerships (DBP) programme, along with DANIDA’s business tools, will contribute to reducing poverty and maintaining sustainable development in Vietnam.
Denmark and its partners have shared with Vietnamese companies their knowledge and tactics in the field of food safety and clean technologies, he said.
In the context of Vietnam’s stable economic growth in recent years, DANIDA’s future cooperative programs will focus on maintaining sustainable economic growth, transferring green technologies, generating jobs and improving the environment, he concluded.  
Doctor awarded French Legion of Honour Order
French Ambassador to Vietnam Jean - Noël Poirier on March 27 presented France’s Legion of Honour Order to Doctor Nguyen Thi Hoi, recognising her significant contributions to medical cooperation between the two countries.
Associate Professor Hoi was former deputy head of the HCM City Pasteur Institute, and vice president of the Vietnam Red Cross. Currently, she is Vice President of the HCM City-based Vietnam-France Friendship Association.
The 81-year-old woman has spared no effort to develop the medical sector in Vietnam and joined humanitarian work run by French organisations for 27 years.
She has lobbied government and non-governmental organisations of France to raise nearly EUR2 million for 312 projects in 53 provinces and cities across the country.
Hoi is the fifth Vietnamese woman receiving the French honour. Other recipients were former Vice Chairwoman of the National Assembly‘s External Relations Committee Ton Nu Thi Ninh (1997 & 2013), former headmaster of the Marie Curie High School (2004), Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien (2009), and former war correspondent Nguyen Thi Xuan Phuong (2011).
Bird flu awareness campaign unveiled
A communication campaign against the spread of AH5N1 and AH7N9 strains of bird flu to humans was opened by the Ministry of Health in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on Saturday.
The campaign aims to raise awareness among government agencies and people to prevent the disease from spreading to humans.
It encourages people to ensure food safety, detect and inform about bird flu outbreaks to health and agricultural authorities, co-operate with market watch officials to keep out smuggled poultry and poultry products, and ensure personal hygiene and hygiene in poultry farming and slaughter.
It urges government to strengthen oversight of measures to prevent the flu from spreading to humans.
According to figures from the Ministry of Health, since the beginning of last year China recorded 394 human cases of people flu, of whom 121 died.
After a period when the disease seemed to be in retreat, it reared up sharply early this year in China, with 247 infections reported in the first three months, 1.6 times up from the same period last year.
The H7N9 strain has also been reported in Malaysia, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
As of March 25, some 400 cases have been reported from around Asia, including 121 deaths.
H7N9 bird flu has been reported in 15 Chinese provinces and cities, including in Guangxi and Guangdong, the provinces bordering Viet Nam and having tourism and trading exchanges with it.
In Viet Nam, the Government and provincial authorities have taken strong measures and so no cases have been reported in the last one year.
This has come in for great appreciation from the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.
The H5N1 strain is also under control and the disease has not occurred for a long time.
The campaign, organised by the ministry with support from the Unilever Viet Nam Foundation and Lifebuoy, will see the ministry and other agencies further boost activities to prevent the disease.
On the same day Can Tho City leaders and representatives of the ministry and 20 southern provinces and cities oversaw measures to combat the disease in Tan Thoi commune in Can Tho.
UN official calls for preventing violence against women, children
An official from the United Nations (UN) has called for people to work together to prevent violence against children and women.
UN Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka made the appeal while working with the Ministry of Education and Training in Hanoi on March 29.
She warned that 1.2 billion women worldwide are suffering from violence and inequality. Hence, the community should take responsibility to prevent this situation, Phumzile said.
The UN organisations are also actively carrying out a number of programmes enhancing public awareness of the issue, she added.
Deputy Minister Nguyen Thi Nghia highlighted the role of women and said Vietnam is leading Asian nations in the gender equality index as a result of the Party and State’s laws and policies.
The ministry has also integrated gender equality and domestic violence prevention programmes into the teaching curriculum at schools nationwide, which has received support from many international organisations and already sparked success, Nghia noted.
She said such a move should be spread wider in the capital and the country in the coming time.
Hanoi is piloting a programme on building safe schools and promoting the youth’s role in anti-violence against children and women with the participation of around 30,000 students. Around 500,000 are expected to take part in the future.
Handbook helps nurses better support hearing impaired
A handbook providing tips for nurses to better communicate with people unable to hear and help them integrate into the community made its debut on March 29 in Ho Chi Minh City.
The booklet, along with a Vietnamese-subtitled DVD on life skills and sign language, was issued by the Centre for Research and Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CED), the only social organisation for the deaf in Vietnam .
It shapes part of a project enriching teaching and learning documents for people who have problems with hearing, sponsored by the non-governmental Education for Development (EFD).
The brochure provides information on ways of communication used by hearing-impaired people and a number of steps to assist them in studying and protecting their ears.
Additional documents should be made available for the hearing impaired to support their future social integration and independent life-leading, said Director of the centre Duong Phuong Hanh, who is also Secretary General of International Federation of Hard of Hearing People (IFHOH) and President of the Asia-Pacific Federation of the Hard of Hearing and Deafened (APFHD).
Vietnam has more than 1 million hearing impaired people, including over 400,000 children of school age. The country houses 70 schools or centres that cater for people with hearing problems, and these are mainly found in big cities.-
Power sector needs recharge
Engineers check equipment at Nhon Trach 2 power plant in Dong Nai. Experts are saying that the country's power market needs to become more competitive. - VNA/VNS Photo Huy Hung
HCM CITY (VNS)- Experts called for improving competitiveness to develop the country's power market at a seminar organised last week in Ha Noi by the Viet Nam Energy Association.
While the power generation market is fairly competitive, State-owned Electricity of Viet Nam remains the sole distributor, and demanded a rise in prices to offset rising costs.
The association's chairman, Tran Viet Ngai, accepted the need to increase electricity prices but said it should be based on market forces and that the Government should amend the laws and eliminate the monopoly in the sector.
"If the market is determined top-down like now, it cannot operate healthily," he said.
Other experts said that only when consumers are able to choose the seller would there be a truly competitive market.
A plan drafted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade envisages Viet Nam having a competitive retail power market after 2023.
"We began to create a competitive system for the power market since 2005 but it will be finished only in 2023," said Nguyen Minh Due from Ha Noi Polytechnique University.
"It is too long a period and will have a bad impact since a monopoly still exists and causes great losses to the electricity sector and the economy."
Ngai said that after 10 years of having a competitive power generation market, the country is no closer to meeting the requirements of true competitiveness, namely effectiveness, fairness, and healthy competition.
EVN remains the largest power producer.
Ngai pointed out that while Article 19 of the Power Law stipulates the setting up of an independent electricity regulatory agency, nothing has been done about it yet.
Many delegates said the Government should create a power ministry to help develop with a master plan, development, policy making, and restructuring and equitising the industry.
Duong Quang Thanh, deputy general director of EVN, protested about the fact that the competitiveness policy is only applicable to the power generation market and not to inputs like coal and gas, whose prices are not based on market demand.
Dinh The Phuc deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Power Regulation Department, agreed, saying that coal prices for thermal electricity plants had been increased sharply, causing the cost of power production to rise from VND846 per kWh to VND1,168 in the last two years. - VNS