Thứ Ba, 31 tháng 5, 2016

Vietnam software segment lags in innovation, creativity

Although several large multinational corporations have selected Vietnam as a location for offshore software development, the industry segment still lags in home-grown products and technological innovation, says the Vietnam Software Association (VINASA).
vietnam software segment lags in innovation, creativity hinh 0
“Vietnam is still primarily an offshore engineering site, a software factory where work can be done efficiently and cost effectively,” said Truong Gia Binh, chairman of VINASA, at a software industry conference last May in Hanoi.
"It is not that we are just running short of ideas, but our people are risk averse," said Mr Binh, and they don’t have access to the needed financial capital or the entrepreneurial talent to develop new products and bring them to market.
Mr Binh said the education system in Vietnam also does not encourage engineers to be innovative and think creatively outside of the box, but instead focuses on preparing students to work for software services companies where work is divvied out to them by clients.
Additionally, the focus of most software companies in Vietnam has been on lucrative, but yet low-risk, opportunities such as software development and business process outsourcing services, said Mr Binh.
"In technology, Vietnam is still playing catch-up with the rest of the globe, and innovation will take a lot longer to take root and flourish," said Mr Binh.
The software industry nationwide generated total revenue of US$4.6 billion in 2015, Mr Binh said, further broken down into software development of US$1.6 billion and business process outsourcing services of US$3.0 billion.
“Overall industry revenue jumped by roughly one-third from US$3.06 billion in 2010 to US$4.6 billion in 2015,” said Mr Binh.
Nguyen Tuan Anh from TTSOFT, a company specializing in business administration and accounting software, in turn pointed out that while Vietnam companies have done a good job in the software services market, innovation has to grow if they are to thrive in the competitive market.
The trends in the marketplace show that the large multinational corporations are choosing Asia as a prime location for their outsourcing and Vietnam faces stiff competition from Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.
The biggest deficit Vietnamese workers have competing with the aforementioned countries is the poor foreign language skills in both English and Japanese, make them less attractive outsourcing options.
"There is no doubt that some of the work currently being done by local companies at some of the Vietnam subsidiaries of multinational technology corporations involves innovation," said Mr Anh.
Down the line, some of these corporations may start getting their product ideas from their staff in Vietnam, but we’re not at that juncture yet and more needs to be done in the education system to fix the problem, he underlined.
Vietnam subsidiaries of some multinational technology corporations and local companies alike must start taking greater responsibility for product development and engineering in order for the industry to take root and thrive.
"It will likely take several years or longer for that to happen,” he said.
Another shortcoming for the Vietnam software development segment is that the Vietnam government does not have adequate programs to support home-spun innovation, said Mr Anh.
Technology industries such as those in the US were spawned by government-sponsored projects, he said, and similar programs could be highly beneficial to help local start-ups get off the ground.
Lastly, Nguyen Manh Tuong, business director of GetFly, specializing in business administration solutions, reminded everyone of the old adage, "It's not what you know. It's who you know."
In order to succeed in the industry, said Mr Tuong, local companies need to master the art of salesmanship and develop good relations with a wide network of business and social contacts. 
Giant jars snapped up with high bid of 275,000 VND

 A pair of Tu Linh (Four Sacred Animals) jars by artisan Pham Anh Dao from the Bat Trang pottery village have been auctioned off at a price of 275,000 USD.

A pair of Tu Linh (Four Sacred Animals) jars by artisan Pham Anh Dao from the Bat Trang pottery village was auctioned at 275,000 USD. 

The first professional art auction in Vietnam took place on May 28 in Hanoi gathering a variety of local and foreign artists, critics and art lovers.

The hand-made jars were produced in 2010 and given a starting price of 900 million VND (40,300 USD). Until now, Dao was the first Bat Trang artisan to successfully handcraft two jars, each weighing 500kg. They measured 2.7m in height and 1.3m in diameter, with cracked enamel styling as of ancient ceramics. Dao spent more than a year making the jars by hand and took 70 hours to bake them. 

Paintings entitled Hanh Phuc (Happiness) by Hoang Phuong Vy, Tien Nu Vung Cao (Uplands Fairies) by Dao Hai Phong and Tren Dong Song Do (Along the Red River) by Quach Dong Phuong were auctioned at 65 million VND (3,000 USD), 95 million VND (4,500 USD) and 150 million VND (7,500 USD), respectively. 

An altar from the late 19th century which had belonged to painter Le Thiet Cuong was sold for 143 million VND (7,000 USD). 

Tran Quoc Khanh, CEO of Lac Viet Company, the organiser of the event, said this was the first professional auction in Vietnam, held in line with current legal provisions. 

“This kind of auction aims to honour the value of labour and the creativity of the authors as well as establishing a transparent market for domestic artworks,” he said. 

“We guarantee the quality of the artworks, their origin and uniqueness. The transparent auction also prevents tax loss for the government.” 

Before, artists often sold paintings at galleries. Sometimes, artworks were auctioned for charity purposes, so these auctions did not reflect the true value of the items. 

Art critic Phan Cam Thuong said the art auction would help establish a transparent and popular art market in Viet Nam. 

“Now you buy an artwork for its true value, not because you want to do charity work,” he said. “So, a professional art auction also protects the value of Vietnamese artworks in the international market.”
Publisher keen to enrich children’s book market

Tre Publishing House hopes to revive the local children’s book market as few authors are dedicated to books for children.
Few authors write books for children

Nguyen Minh Nhut, editor-in-chief of Tre Publishing House said since few authors wrote books for children, many publishers preferred to issue foreign children's books.
But in order to attract children and parents to an original title, the books must have interesting content, pretty design, be thin enough and not cost a lot. Nhut went on to say that many bookstores were reluctant to put children books on display because they took up more space and did not sell well.
Author Le Van Nghia said, "The authors must understand children as well as having enough life experience to make a good book. That's why most authors for children are middle aged or older. Moreover, children’s books don’t deliver high profits like romance or other more commercial genres."
In March, the Tre Publishing House started a project to encourage veteran authors write children’s books on specific themes. Previously, authors often completed a whole book on their own before sending the draft to publisher. In this project, the authors will register the themes and co-operate with the editors to create the books.
Author Ngoc Nga said this was the first time she had seen such close co-operation with the editors and the process was also smoother.
Several books have been published using the new model such as New Fairy Tales by Nguyen Huong or Playing with Yuyu by Kim Hang. The first books have been introduced at the Summer Book Party held on May 29 with other 800 titles, 80% of which were children’s books. The changes are hoped to improve literature for children in Vietnam while modernising the way local authors and publishers work together.
Vietnam's 2016 drought-hit rice output to fall 1.5 percent: government official

A farmer burns his dried-up rice on a paddy field stricken by drought in Soc Trang province in Mekong Delta in Vietnam March 30, 2016. Reuters

Vietnam's rice paddy output will likely fall this year for the first time since 2005 following the worst drought in 90 years, but the decline will be limited as farmers expand planting in the current and final crops, a government official said.
The Delta's winter-spring output fell 10.2 percent on last year, but total production could fall just 1.5 percent to 44.5 million tonnes, said Tran Cong Dinh, deputy head of the Agriculture Ministry's Crops Department.
"So overall the annual paddy output will only be short by 700,000 tonnes," Dinh told Reuters on the sidelines of an agriculture conference last Friday.
Severe drought and sea water intrusion linked to the El Nino weather pattern in Vietnam's southern Mekong Delta food basket have destroyed fruit, rice and sugar crops in the world's third-largest rice exporter after India and Thailand.
Vietnam grows three rice crops annually, of which the winter-spring crop is the biggest and its grain is used mostly for export.
The country, which produced a record 45.21 million tonnes of paddy last year, exports around 30 percent of its output, mainly to China, the Philippines and Indonesia. Production last fell in 2005, also due to drought.
Salination has delayed planting of the summer-autumn crop, and Dinh cautioned that planting of the third crop could be threatened by seasonal floods on the Mekong River.
Weather forecasters have warned of the possibility of a La Nina weather event, the counterpart of El Nino, which could bring intense rains in the second half of 2016.
"Planting will have to be within the dyke system to protect the crop," Dinh said.
Rice traders said the planting delay meant harvest times will vary in the Delta, which comprises 12 provinces and Can Tho city.
"The harvest will not peak at the same time so prices won't decline much," said a trader at a foreign firm in Ho Chi Minh City said.
Vietnam's benchmark 5-percent broken rice eased this week to $370-$380 a tonne, free on board basis, from $375-$380/tonne last week and a five-month high of $390 on March 25. 
Vietnam's rice exports this year will dip 4.45 percent from 2015 to 6.44 million tonnes, partly due to drought in the Delta, an analyst has said.

RCEP: Asia’s next economic growth frontier

The next round of negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a proposed 16-nation free-trade area that would be the world's largest such bloc, takes place June 12-18 in Auckland, New Zealand.

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The RCEP, largely being spearheaded by China and India, encompassing 3.4 billion people, is the huge Asian wide equivalent of the now stalled Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact.
The RCEP encompasses all 10 ASEAN member countries plus China, Japan, the ROK, Australia, New Zealand and India. The 10 members of ASEAN are – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
RCEP negotiations were officially launched in May 2013. The population of its member countries account for 50% of the total world population, with the GDP, trade volume and foreign direct investment utilization of the member countries estimated at about one third of the global total.
The impact of RCEP on ASEAN
Experts at a conference organized by the Foreign Trade University on May 21 in Hanoi to discuss the pros and cons of the RCEP said the trade pact carries with it many economic benefits for ASEAN and Vietnam.
“Most importantly it would unify trade standards across ASEAN,” said Ta Kim Ngoc, an associate professor at the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, which would be a boon to local companies.
Mr Ngoc said the TPP is divisive with respect to ASEAN. Currently the TPP talks include only the four ASEAN member states of Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.
The lack of the other six members poses a serious threat to internal economic integration of the ASEAN region, said Mr Ngoc, citing the issue of regulatory coordination of intellectual property rights as just one example.
Harmonizing intellectual property rights as defined by the TPP with the remaining six non TPP member countries would be virtually impossible. However, RCEP would allow all ASEAN members to implement compatible laws with respect to these rights.
Moreover, Dao Ngoc Tien, an associate professor from the Hanoi Foreign Trade University, put forth the proposition that the welfare effects of the TPP on ASEAN as a whole are unduly complex and unpredictable.
Most importantly, said Mr Tien, they have a destabilizing effect on ASEAN.
Recent studies show the TPP deal favours the four ASEAN members as trade partners such as the US and Japan divert some of their trade to countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia for preferable tariff treatment.
By contrast, the RCEP does not carry with it this unsettling negative effect to ASEAN, he said.
It is also likely, said Mr Tien, that the TPP will detrimentally influence the global value chain of some specific industries and segments of the economy away from ASEAN.
For example, he said, Cambodia and Laos, two of the fastest-growing economies in Asia, may miss chances to improve manufacturing productivity and advance sustainable development by participating in global supply chains as US and Japanese companies move their assembly lines to TPP member countries in Latin America.
In substance, he said, ASEAN already has FTAs with the six partners – China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Australia, and New Zealand. RCEP is therefore simply a logical expansion of a trade relationship that is already in existence.
RCEP, would therefore act as a stable platform for cooperation as opposed to the TPP, which is characterized on the precept of competition and set the stage allowing for RCEP to emerge as Asia’s next economic growth frontier.
Nearly 30 million Vietnamese non-smokers are passive smokers

Smokers light up freely even next to smoke-ban signboards. - Photo

HÀ NỘI – Cigarette smoke affects some 30 million non-smokers, especially women and children in Việt Nam, according to the Ministry of Health.
Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer. Each year, Việt Nam witnesses an additional 20,000 cases of lung cancer and more than 17,000 people die from the disease, the Lao Động (Labour) newspaper reported in its weekend edition.
Of late, more and more young people are afflicted by the disease.
Scientists have also indicated that the total number of deaths due to tobacco usage was higher than those caused by HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
According to scientists, around 48 per cent of deaths were caused by 12 types of smoke-related cancers including Oesophageal, kidney and liver cancer. The exposure rate to second-hand smoke in Việt Nam is relatively high. As many as 67.6 per cent and 49 per cent of non-smokers are exposed to cigarette smoke, at home and at the workplace, respectively.
Head of the Ministry of Health’s Legal Affairs Department Nguyễn Huy Quang, who was part of the team that compiled the 2012 Tobacco Control Law, said, “I had been addicted to smoking for 20 years. Later through work I realised that the practice would not only damage the health of smokers but also of people around me who did not smoke.”
“I have detoxified for two years. I feel healthier and my respiratory diseases have shown a remarkable decrease.”
Despite the availability of the Tobacco Control Law, the settlement of violations remains a challenge.
“It is quite difficult to completely deal with offenders,” Quang said. “What is necessary is a joint effort between office heads and a conscious effort from smokers themselves.”
Smokers light up freely even next to smoke-ban signboards.
“I know smoking is banned here, but I cannot stand when I am in the mood for a smoke,” Nguyễn Mạnh V, from the Thái Nguyên Province’s Đại Từ District said while waiting for a family member inside the National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Former head of the National Cancer Hospital’s Thorax Surgery Ward, Doctor Hoàng Đình Chân, said, “The health ministry has issued directives prohibiting smoking in public places. But I, myself, have not seen any sanctions at all. Therefore, a penalty cannot be applied yet.”
“A month ago, we worked on an initiative to build smoke-free hospitals. Accordingly, patients, their family members, and the hospital staff were banned from smoking within the hospital premises. Our ultimate aim is to provide a clean and fresh environment for patients, to which they have a right,” Chân said.
Deputy Head of the Bạch Mai Hospital’s Nuclear Medicine and Oncology Centre Dr. Lê Chính Đại admitted, “It would be a hard journey to that end [to ensure all hospitals are free from smokers]. It needs closer co-ordination from various sectors, and also laws and sanctions.”
“Even at Bạch Mai Hospital, signs banning smoking are seen everywhere but people still smoke. It seems, everyone understands the harmful effects of smoking, but they continue to do so. The hospital is unable to control the entire complex as the number of patients is huge,” Đại said.
On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day on May 31 and the National No Tobacco Week from May 25 to May 31, a range of activities are being held across the country. - VNS
Social News 31/5

Huge stone removed from Vietnamese man’s bladder
A gigantic cystolith weighing 1.5kg has been removed from the bladder of a 51-year-old man who suffered from the stone for over 10 years, doctors in the southern city of Can Tho said.
N.V.B., of Binh Thuy District, was admitted to the Can Tho General Hospital on May 26 for bladder problems that caused him to experience hard urination and pain around his hypogastric region.
After medical examinations, doctors found a 15cm long and 6cm wide stone occupying the man’s bladder.
The 1.5kg stone removed from a 51-year-old N.V.B. in Can Tho City on May 26, 2016
The large size and potential threats to the patient prompted the doctors to conduct an open bladder surgery and remove the stone.
Doctor Le Phuoc Loc from the surgical urology department said that the stone was successfully removed from B.’s bladder and the man recovered quickly after the operation.
Currently, B. is being kept in the hospital for observation and further treatment, Dr. Loc added.
B. says he has found it hard to urinate for over 10 years but chosen to avoid going to the local hospitals for diagnosis until the problem recently worsened, doctors said.
Aussie septuagenarian caught at Vietnam airport trafficking drugs
An elderly Australian woman has been detained in Vietnam for trafficking narcotics after she lost a gambling game.
Custom officers and security guards at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City caught a 76-year-old woman who holds Australian nationality on May 26 for attempting to traffic illegal drugs from Vietnam to Australia.
Officers discovered and confiscated nine plastic bags of heroine, about three kilograms in total, stashed in five jars of fermented fish in her luggage for investigation.
The woman confessed that she was forced to transfer the drugs, worth US$720,000, to Australia as she lost a wager to an Australia-based gambling ring, according to investigators.
Further investigation is ongoing with the aid of police forces, customs officers at the airport said.
Summer youth volunteer campaign launched in Nghe An
A line-up of voluntary activities including Green Summer and Red Flamboyant campaigns will be included in the 2016 Summer Youth Volunteer Campaign, which was launched in the central province of Nghe An on May 29.
Themed “Youth join hands in building new-style rural areas and civilised urban areas”, the campaign will focus voluntary activities on 111 disadvantaged communes, 431 border communes, Mekong Delta provinces hit by saltwater intrusion, drought-stricken localities in the South Central and Central Highlands regions and outpost islands.
Along with developing infrastructure in those localities, the campaign also provides free medical check-ups for 400,000 local people and present health insurance cards to 50,000 residents in poverty-stricken and border communes.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, Vo Van Thuong, Head of the Party Central Committee’s Information and Education Commission, said that the campaign must be organised massively across the nation in diversified forms to attract youths’ participation. Youth unions at all levels need to work with international volunteer organisations to better voluntary activities.
He urged the steering board of the campaign and volunteers to choose activities suitable youth’s strengths and in line with the new style rural area building programme.
After the event, local youths carried out some voluntary activities such as collecting garbage and cleaning beaches in Cua Lo town, providing free medical examinations and medicines in Nghi Loc district and joining firefighting efforts in Nam Dan district.
On the same day, the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union’s chapters in many provinces and cities nationwide organised activities in response to the campaign.
Vietnamese arrested with 6 kilos of meth bought from China
Police in the northern province of Lang Son have detained a young man who was caught with six kilograms of methamphetamine that he allegedly bought from a Chinese.
Ly Hoa Vinh, 21, is under criminal probe for drug smuggling.
Vinh was caught while taking a Hanoi-bound taxi early on May 27 after allegedly buying the drug at the China border.
Police found the drug in his handbag.
Ly Hoa Vinh was arrested early on May 27 with six kilograms of meth on his way to Hanoi.
A senior police officer said they have been keeping tabs on Vinh after receiving a tip-off that he is part of a grand drug trafficking ring.
Vietnam has some of the world’s toughest drug laws. Those convicted of possessing or smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine face the death penalty.
The production or sale of 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal narcotics is also punishable by death.
Celebs join no-tobacco event with 2,000 youths in HCM City
A number of Vietnamese celebrities took part on May 28 in an event in Ho Chi Minh City, calling people to say no to tobacco.
The event, taking place at the Youth Cultural House in District 1, was aimed to celebrate the World No Tobacco Day (May 31) and the National Anti-Tobacco Week.
The ceremony attracted nearly 2,000 youths, hailing from citywide universities and colleges, besides such public figures as film directors Le Hoang and Dinh Anh Dung, actress Lan Phuong, and local singers Duc Tuan, Van Mai Huong, Noo Phuoc Thinh and Quoc Thien.
The celebs treated the young audience to various performances, then joined them in discussions meant to encourage abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption.
Singer Van Mai Huong performs during an event celebrating the World No Tobacco Day (May 31) in Ho Chi Minh City on May 28, 2016.
Singer Duc Tuan sent his message through a song named “Moi ngay toi chon mot niem vui,” which means “every day I choose a joy.”
“We can choose a meaningful thing to do when a new day arrives, but please never choose tobacco,” he told the audience.
When she was on stage, actress Lan Phuong was asked to comment on a common conception that smoking makes men look manly and stylistic.
“Manliness and maturity of a man are expressed via his behavior and manner, not the tobacco,” she replied.
The actress also hoped that a law that ban smoking in eateries, bars, coffee shops, and other public places, even in film studios, will soon be imposed.
The event wrapped up with a flash mob performed by many young people, followed by bicycle parade to encourage people to give up smoking.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are calling on all countries to get ready for plain packaging of tobacco products.
Plain packaging is an important demand reduction measure that reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products, restricts use of tobacco packaging as a form of tobacco advertising and promotion, limits misleading packaging and labeling, and increases the effectiveness of health warnings, WHO said on its website.
For the World Tobacco Day 2016, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health has also launched a campaign called “Life without smoke.”
Anti-smoking writing competition launched
The Ministry of Information and Communications together with the Health Ministry launched a writing competition to combat smoking on May 31.
Professional and non-professional journalists nationwide are eligible to enter. Entries will focus on tobacco-related harms, preventative measures, State policies or WHO’s plain-packaging campaign.
The competition is open for submissions until October 1. Nine stories will be awarded, with one overall winner and two second place prizes.
Further information can be found on
Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Minh Hong, who is also head of the organising board, said a similar competition held last year drew 560 high quality submissions.
Hong hoped the contest would attract more entries this year.
The contest is among activities to mark World No Tobacco Day (May 31), an annual World Health Organisation (WHO) event to inform people of the dangers of smoking and the tobacco industry.
This year, the WHO is calling on countries to use plain packaging for tobacco products, with restricted use of logos, colours, brand images or promotional information.
Previously, in response to the initiative, Vietnam launched a national tobacco-free week from May 25 to 31.
Musical event raises funds for people in flooded areas
A charity musical night titled Chay Di Song Oi (River Please Flow) raised over 1.7 billion VND (80,000 USD).
The event took place at the Vietnam National Academy of Music on May 29.
Jointly organised by two renowned Vietnamese singers, Tung Duong and Thanh Lam, and the organisation Nha Chong Lu (Flood-proof Houses), the event raised money for disadvantaged people in southwestern Viet Nam who battle floods every year.
The money was raised by selling 800 tickets and auctioning four paintings donated by four renowned Vietnamese artists.
Named after a song composed by songwriter Pho Duc Phuong, Chay Di Song Oi also celebrated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the academy.
Nha Chong Lu’s initial aim was to construct new houses for people in the Mekong Delta to deal with the dangers resulting from unpredictable rain and floods.-
Child care, education, protection – strategic tasks: President

 Child care, education, protection – strategic tasks: President, Laos assists Vietnamese victims of drought, saltwater intrusion, Traffic accidents kill 726 in May, Korean NGO helps Cao Bang farmers improve income

Child care, education and protection are strategic matters that contribute to preparing and raising the quality of human resources in service of the country’s industrialisation, modernisation and international integration, said President Tran Dai Quang.
Speaking at a meeting with 55 disadvantaged children from 11 cities and provinces nationwide in Hanoi on May 30 on the occasion of International Children’s Day (June 1), the State leader affirmed that the Vietnamese Party, State and people have always given their love to children.
Over the past years, priority has been given to protecting, educating and taking care of underprivileged children with a slew of specific policies covering social allowance, health care, education, vocational training, rehabilitation and legal assistance, he said.
Thanks to the joint efforts of the entire political system, families, schools and the whole of society, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA)’s National Fund for Vietnamese Children has, to date, mobilised over 5 trillion VND (225 million USD) from domestic and foreign donors to support more than 30 million children in especially difficult circumstances and those residing in remote and far-flung areas, the President noted.
He asked the MoLISA and other ministries, agencies and localities to continue effectively actualising the 11 th Poliburo’s Directive No. 20 CT/TW on enhancing the Party leadership over child care, education and protection in the new situation and the National Action Programme for Children during 2016-2020 in combination with the Vietnamese Family Development Strategy through 2020.
The leader also called for efforts to disseminate relevant laws, knowledge and skills, saying investments should prioritise facilities for children, especially those belonging to ethnic minority groups and beneficiaries of social welfare policies, and those who live in localities in extreme difficulties or affected by natural disasters and diseases.
The work requires the involvement of different sectors with families, schools, the community and socio-political organisations playing the most important role, he stressed.
Praising outstanding academic achievements the students have made despite a range of disadvantages in their life, the President said they are deserved to be President Ho Chi Minh’s good children.
The MoLISA reported that since the first event was held in 2008, there have been 425 children from 63 cities and provinces across the country engaged in the programme.
TV show supports fishermen in Quang Tri
A TV show has been organised in the central province of Quang Tri to support local fishermen affected by recent mass fish deaths.
The programme, held by the provincial People’s Committee and Quang Tri Radio – Television Station, raised more than 11 billion VND (490,700 USD), 52 tonnes of rice and other assistance donated by some 70 companies along with philanthropists.
The support will be delivered to fishermen in the coastal districts of Vinh Linh, Gio Linh, Trieu Phong and Hai Lang.
Ho Vinh Tien, a fisherman in Cua Tung town of Vinh Linh, said the mass fish deaths damaged their livelihoods, but they have received aid from local authorities and donors. He hoped that the cause of the incident will be clarified soon so that fishermen can resume normal fishing activities.
Quang Tri with 75km of coast was one of the four coastal central provinces most affected by the mass fish deaths. Its fishermen have faced total losses of more than 141 billion VND (about 6.3 million USD). The other localities were Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Thua Thien-Hue.
Fund-raising event gathers children in need
As many as 55 disadvantaged children from 11 provinces and cities gathered in Hanoi on May 30 where they met with State officials and donors.
Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Hong Lan said the children had overcome difficulties to excel in their studies.
They have also managed to help support their families, she added.
Lan said she expected that these children will keep up their good work.
Among the children were visually impaired Nguyen Dang Khoa, a thirteen-year-old who came third place in a national contest on history, and ninth-grader Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tran who, despite living in poverty, has won several maths competitions.
The ceremony featured the children singing, dancing, and telling stories.
On the occasion, donations were given to the children.
This was the ninth time the National Fund for Vietnamese Children had held such an event.
Laos assists Vietnamese victims of drought, saltwater intrusion
The Laos Embassy in Vietnam handed over 257,000 USD in aid for Vietnamese people who suffered from drought and saline intrusion, in Hanoi, on May 30.
Phomma Sitsena from the Lao Embassy said the assistance aims to help residents of the central, Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta regions overcome their hardship.
Receiving the grant, Vietnam Fatherland Front Chairman Nguyen Thien Nhan said his agency will soon deliver the aid to its beneficiaries.
Since 2015, Vietnam has been suffering from the impact of El Nino – likely to be the longest one in the last six decades – with nearly 40,000ha of agricultural land rendered inadequate for production due to the massive drought across the central region, the Central Highlands and the southern region. The weather pattern also caused a drinking water shortage that affected tens of thousands of people’s daily lives.
Since the end of 2015, Vietnam has provided more than 5,200 tonnes of food-aid for three regions that took the full brunt of drought and saltwater intrusion. The country has spent over 1 trillion VND (45 million USD) on drought assistance.
Traffic accidents kill 726 in May
As many as 726 people were killed and 1,491 others injured from 1,748 traffic accidents in May, according to the National Traffic Safety Committee.
The figures represent the increase of 106 accidents, 57 dead and 165 injured against last month.
Road accidents accounted for 1,720 cases, 707 dead and 1,450 injuries.
For the whole first five months, the number of accidents amounted to 8,374 cases, causing the loss of 3,588 lives and injuring 7,339 people, a reduction of 944 cases, 147 dead and 1,218 injured from the previous year.
Korean NGO helps Cao Bang farmers improve income
The Republic of Korea’s non-governmental organisation Global Civic Sharing (GCS) and authorities of northern Cao Bang province signed a project in Hanoi on May 30 to improve the income of poor and near-poor farmers in five communes of Phuc Hoa and Thach An districts.
The 2016-2019 project costs 233,000 USD and is funded by Samsung via Global Civic Sharing, and focuses on improving the management capacity of farmers and providing them with financial assistance to buy and raise buffaloes.
Choi Eui-gyo, Director of the GCS’s Vietnam Programme, said the GCS has operated in Vietnam since 2000, in rural development and vocational training for poor young people in Hanoi, the northern province of Thai Nguyen and the central provinces of Ha Tinh and Quang Tri.
Vice Chairwoman of the Cao Bang provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Ngoc Bich pledged all possible support for GCS to carry out the project successfully.
Cao Bang wants GCS to spread the model to other districts in the future, she said.
Son La active for preventing HIV/AIDS
The northwest mountainous province of Son La, with the high number of drug addicts in the region, has been active in preventing HIV/AIDS infections.
Son La has worked with the HIV/AIDS Prevention Division under the Health Ministry on enhancing HIV testing at district level.
The locality has also developed a dozen methadone-treatment centres and eight methadone distributing facilities, supporting 1,170 patients in rural areas, particularly among ethnic minority groups.
In June, five more facilities will be put into operation. About 3,300 AIDS patients will receive anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment.
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long urged authorities and agencies at all levels and experts to work together to tackle HIV/AIDS.
He also called on the locality to develop more methadone-treatment facilities at communal level.
According to the Steering Committee for the Northwest region, as of March 2016, the region had 63,597 people living with HIV/AIDS, accounting for nearly 27 percent of the national number. An average of 3,000 new HIV patients is recorded each year.
Methadone therapy has been applied across 91 centres across the region, benefiting 15,385 patients. However, ARV treatment has reached only 51.6 percent of AIDS sufferers in the region.
In Son La, as of April this year, there are 5,034 HIV-infected people.
An additional 90 HIV-infected cases were recorded in the first four months of this year. Most of them are aged from 20 to 39.
Vietnam takes the lead in APMOPS 2016
Vietnamese students won six gold medals and took the lead in the second round of the Asia-Pacific Mathematical Olympiad for Primary Schools (APMOPS 2016).
Tran Xuan Bach, the youngest contestant in the Vietnamese delegation receives the gold medal.
The 10 contestants came from Hanoi-Amsterdam School for the Gifted, Archimedes Academy, Giang Vo, Phuong Mai, Nguyen Truong To and Le Quy Don basic general schools, and Doan Thi Diem primary school.   
School teacher, Ms Vuong Thi Thanh, who led the delegation from May 26-29 in Singapore, said these ten students surpassed 463 others to clinch platinum medals in the first round.
Five of them entered top ten outstanding students together with two students from Shanghai, two students from Taiwan and one student from Singapore.
The  APMOPS 2016’s second round  attracted some 260 contestants from 13 nations and territories in the Asia-Pacific including Shanghai, Hongkong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines.
Opportunity for Hanoians to buy Thai products
A large number of Hanoians had a chance to buy Thai products at a Thai retail trade fair taking place at the Hanoi Friendship Cultural Palace on May 26-29.
The fair organized by Vietnam National Trade Fair & Advertising Company (Vinexad) and the Thai Embassy in Hanoi introduces products of 120 Thai companies on more than 150 pavilions.
Products on display include food, beverage, household commodities, garment, jewelry, electric equipment, decoration, and souvenir.
Danang to host free circus show for poor children
A circus gala on the occasion of International Children’s Day will be held at Tien Son Sports Center for thousands of disadvantaged children from seven districts in the central coast city on June 1-2, Th anh Nien newspaper reports.
The event is co-organized by Hanoi Circus and Vaudeville Theatre, Hanoi Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, and SOS Children’s Village in Danang.
Free tickets for the concert will be distributed to around 3,000 children.
After Danang, the show will take place at Dong Hoi Stadium in Quang Binh Province on June 3.
Households await resettlement
Hundreds of households in Dương Quang Commune, in Bắc Kạn Town in the northern mountainous province of the same name, are still waiting to be resettled as part of the Nặm Cắt Reservoir Construction Project while the storm season approaches.
The project, approved in 2009, was invested by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Irrigation Work Investment and Construction Management No 2, with a total investment of VNĐ440 billion (US$19.7 million). It was expected to be completed by the end of this year with a capacity of 12 million cubic metres of water.
The project is expected to provide water for more than 500ha of agricultural land and for aquaculture farms in the province, as well as helping to reduce floods and develop eco-tourism in the locality.
About 100ha of land were revoked for the construction of the reservoir and VNĐ110 billion earmarked for land clearance and compensation.
Although 60 per cent of the project has been completed, these households have not been resettled, causing difficulties for their livelihoods.
After the project was approved, local authorities required people in Nà Pài, Bản Bung and Bản Pẻn villages along Nặm Cắt River to not build, upgrade or repair their houses. The land clearance task was carried out from 2010 to relocate people in these villages to new areas so their land could be used for the construction of the reservoir. However, the project was temporarily postponed in November 2011, but the local people were still required not to build or repair their houses. As they have been forced to live in a temporary situation, these people have not been able to invest in long-term production.
The project was resumed in May 2014 and the people were expected to move to resettlement areas in November 2015.
However, Deputy Head of the town’s Construction Investment and Management Board, Võ Quốc Toàn, said that the resettlement was extended to November of this year.
Nguyễn Thị Xinh, from Nà Pài Village, said her house was near the construction site of the project so they had to move and live temporarily in another area while waiting for the construction of the resettlement area to be completed.
“Having no land for rice cultivation after being relocated, I have to grow and sell vegetables to earn more income,” she said. Meanwhile, tens of hectares of land for construction of resettlement houses for these people is being left unused.
Đinh Quang Tuyên, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Bắc Kạn City, said seven households that needed to be relocated immediately when the construction of the project started, were relocated. However, more than 90 households would be relocated later due to a lack of finances.
The local authorities proposed that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development provide more funds to build the resettlement area, he said.
Initially, 11 households in Bản Pẻn Village, who are at risk of being flooded in the rainy season, would be relocated first. The remaining households would be relocated later, he said.
Bùi Thị Thu, from Bản Pẻn Village, said local people were willing to move for the construction of the project but felt insecure due to the delays. They hoped construction of the resettlement area would be completed soon so as to stabilise their lives, she said.
Vietnam culture centre to be established in Laos
The Prime Minister has approved the establishment of a culture centre in Laos to promote Vietnamese culture in the neighbouring country.
The non-profit centre is responsible for holding cultural events related to foreign affairs and supporting Vietnam’s tourism and sport activities in Laos.
It is part of government efforts to bring Vietnamese people and landscapes closer to Lao people and strengthen the long-standing relations between the two nations.
The centre will be located in Vientiane and run by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Vietnamese Embassy to Laos.
Traffic safety for exams urged
The National Traffic Safety Committee has sent a notice to the concerned ministries and sectors to ensure public order and traffic safety during the coming university and college entrance exams starting July 1.
According to the notice, the Ministry of Transport has been asked to guide the departments of transport and transport enterprises to prepare enough standard vehicles for transporting the candidates.
Traffic inspectors are expected to co-operate with traffic police to prevent traffic jams, especially at railway stations and terminals.
Vietnam Railway and Vietnam Airlines are responsible for security arrangements in transporting the exam questions.
The Ministry of Public Security must step up inspections and apply strict penalties for traffic violations, especially in cases of speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol and overcrowding vehicles.
The HCM Central Communist Youth Union should instruct youth volunteers to help the candidates and their families travel to the examination halls and help direct the smooth flow of traffic.
Three to be prosecuted for embezzling funds
The HCM City Police today proposed to the municipal People’s Procuracy to begin legal proceedings against three people for showing a lack of responsibility, causing serious consequences and embezzling money.
The three people are Phú Minh Hòa, 33, former worker of the Hòa Hưng Transaction Division under the Agribank, Nguyễn Lê Kiều Quang, 38, and Đặng Thị Thu Hương, 42, both former deputy directors of the transaction division.
Investigation by the police revealed that in January 2015 Hòa was assigned to take VNĐ17 billion (US$755,500) from the Agribank’s Mạc Thị Bưởi Branch to the Hòa Hưng Transaction Division.
Hòa asked Quang to work with him and the two took the money from the Mạc Thị Bưởi Branch to a bank in District 1’s Đa Kao Ward instead. Quang then ran away with all the money, while Hòa drove his motorbike to the Hòa Hưng Transaction Division alone.
Quang was also found to have forged a number of fake credit documents to appropriate more than VNĐ22 billion ($977,700) from the Agribank with help from Hòa and Hương.
More deaths due to lightning strikes in Huế
Another farmer in central Thừa Thiên-Huế Province died after being struck by lightning, recording the second death in this manner in the locality during the weekend.
Đặng Tân, 75, died while working in the field in Hương Trà District after being struck by lightning on the same day when seven others were killed or injured in An Hòa District, according to the local committee of flood and storm prevention.
Phan Thanh Hùng of the committee warned farmers to stay clear of rain accompanied by thunder and lightning, expected almost every afternoon this week. Locals should rush back to their homes on seeing signs of lightning and thunder, he said.
On Saturday, lightning killed the 42-year-old farmer Lê Văn Tưởng of An Hòa District when he was working in the field for a new crop.
These days it is usually sunny in the province and local farmers have taken the opportunity to prepare the soil for new rice crop.
Yoga trainees to celebrate International Yoga Day
Over 500 Yoga students will participate in the International Day of Yoga at Mỹ Khê beach in Đà Nẵng on June 19th . Yoga has developed in the city in recent years.
Yoga teacher Nguyễn Kim Thư said the event, which is organised by the Việt Nam-India Friendship Association of Đà Nẵng, would be set up on the pristine beach of Sơn Trà peninsula. Yoga lovers and students in the city and nationwide will participate in the yoga demonstration.
Participants will receive a two-hour free practice session starting at 5am on June 19th, led by Indian Master Avi, who manages Aro Yoga centre in Đà Nẵng.
Thư  said Yoga students can practise on the beach or on the isolated islets of  Sơn Trà peninsula.
Nat’l sports tournament for disabled to kick off
The national sports tournament for disabled people will kick off on July 8-14 in HCM City, the Việt Nam Paralympics Association announced.
Nearly 1,000 athletes from 31 teams across the country will compete in seven events for 680 sets of medals.
Track and field sport features the biggest set of medals, with 280. Swimming features 173 sets of medals.
In the junior tournament, competitors will compete in three categories: athletics, swimming and chess.
According to Vũ Thế Phiệt, vice chairman and general secretary of the Việt Nam Paralympics Association, it is the first time the junior tournament has been added to this event. This change will help the Association seek young talent for coming domestic and international championship competitions.
The tournament was organised by the Việt Nam Paralympic Association, National Sports Administration and by the HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
VN U14 girls ready to defend AFC title
The Vietnamese U14 girls are ready to defend their title at the AFC U14 Girls Regional Championship – ASEAN in Laos.
The team face Myanmar in Group B today, Singapore on June 1 and Malaysia one day later.
“The Việt Nam Football Federation (VFF) hopes that the U14 team will try their best and hone their skills in this tournament. Việt Nam beat Thailand to triumph at the event in Việt Nam last year so the VFF wishes the squad can reach the final of this year’s event,” said Lê Hoài Anh, VFF’s general secretary.
The tournament will last until June 5 in Vientiane.
Smoking claims over 100 lives every day in Vietnam
Vietnam is among countries where smoking is most widely prevalent, losing more than 100 people a day to the habit and facing a huge financial burden, according to official figures.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health show that the Vietnamese smoking population is among the biggest in the world, with nearly half of the male population aged 15 or more, or more than 15 million people, engaging in the habit. The number of female smokers is small.
As studies have linked tobacco to around 25 diseases due to its high content of toxic chemicals, including 70 carcinogens, the habit has proved deadly and costly in Vietnam.
Smokers spend around US$1 billion a year on tobacco and treatment of related diseases, but yet around 40,000 die every year, and without drastic intervention the number is expected to shoot up to 70,000 by 2030.
A number of anti-smoking campaigns and regulations have helped reduce the number of smokers and passive smokers over the past few years, but the rates remain very high.
According to the ministry, 30 million people, most of them women and children, still have to put up with passive smoking.
The government imposes a 65% luxury tax on tobacco and plans to raise it to 70% this year and 75% in 2019.
But the increases have been criticized by health experts as too modest.