Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Over VND6.5 trillion raised for the poor

The year-long charity program entitled “Day for the Poor” 2011 has received over VND6.5 trillion from organizations and individuals both at home and abroad.

Of the sum, VND 1.15 trillion already went to the “Fund for the Poor” and VND5.34 trillion to social welfare projects, which helped upgrade over 73,000 houses for poor households, build thousand of infrastructural facilities, generated jobs, and aided children of poor households in pursuing study.

The figures were released at a press briefing held in Hanoi on December 23, which announced that a live TV program “Noi Vong Tay Lon” (Circle of Unity) will take place in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City on Dec. 31 night.

The “Fund for the Poor” received over VND7 trillion from donors over the past 11 years, according to Ha Thi Lien, Vice President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee.

In the 2009-2011 period alone, the Vietnam Fatherland Front raised over VND13.2 trillion for social welfare programs.

At the press briefing, Lien informed that the December 31 program will review the “Day for the Poor” program, honour outstanding donors and launch the “Day for the Poor” 2012.

During the night, a number of hand-made products will be auctioned to raise funds for poor people. Information on to-be-auctioned products is available at: www.mattran.org.vn.

Japanese awarded “Peace and Friendship among Nations” insignia

A ceremony was held in HCM City on December 24 to confer the “Peace and Friendship among Nations” insignia on the Japan-Vietnam Friendship Society of Hiroshima Prefecture, its President, Sugimoto Reiji, and Secretary General, Kobayashi Kazunari.

The event was co-organized by the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations (VUFO) and the Vietnam-Japan Friendship Association of HCM City.

The insignia recognizes individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to consolidating and strengthening friendship between the Vietnamese nation and other nations for peace, friendship, cooperation and development.

At the event, Sugimoto Reiji said he hopes Vietnam and Japan will continue to cooperate for peace in both nations and around the world. He noted that Vietnam was one of the first friends to provide financial aid to Japan after the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country earlier this year.

From 1960 to 1975, there were many workers and students movements in Hiroshima protesting against the American war in Vietnam and supporting the Vietnamese people’s just struggle for independence. The Japan-Vietnam Friendship Society in Hiroshima was established in February 1976 to continue promoting solidarity and cooperation with Vietnam in the new context.

So far, the society has carried out various activities to strengthen solidarity, friendship and multi-faceted cooperation between the two nations, particularly between the people of Hiroshima and HCM City, paying special attention to caring for orphans, disabled children and AO/dioxin victims in Vietnam.

Another taxi operator banned from Tan Son

The Happy Taxi service has been banned from operating at Tan Son Nhat Airport, HCM City for violating regulations, according to Ministry of Transport deputy chief inspector Thach Nhu Sy.

The taxi operator was found to illegally allow its registered logos to be used by other taxis in Long An, Tien Giang and Can Tho provinces.

In addition, the operator failed to show contracts for all the company's drivers. Violations on fire prevention at the garage were also found.

Previously, two other taxi operators were banned from operating at the airport, including Petrolimex and Festival taxis.

Joining hands to help the poor

The 10th Join Hands to Help the Poor programme will be launched by the Viet Nam Fatherland Front Central Committee in co-ordination with Viet Nam Television (VTV) on December 31.

The show, to be broadcast live from Ha Noi and HCM City, is expected to announce the outcome of a campaign launched to rally funds for the poor in 2011 and honour individuals and organisations who have made great contributions to the campaign, said the committee. It also aims to call for more donations for the fund for the poor next year.

The 2011's campaign has collected VND6.5 trillion (US$310 million), which was used to build and repair 73,000 houses for the needy and financed cash-strapped students.

Police target over-crowded buses

Minster of Transport Dinh La Thang on Thursday proposed the Ministry of Public Security seize over-crowded coaches and keep the vehicles impounded during the Tet holidays.

The measure aims to prevent coaches from carrying an excessive number of passengers, which occurs frequently every year during the New Year holidays.

The same sanction will also be applied to drivers without proper driving licences.

City schools utilise SMAS software

Ninety-three per cent of primary and secondary schools in HCM City have been using school management system (SMAS) 2.0 software, with more than 860,000 pieces of information on students and teachers being recorded, according to the municipal Department of Education and Training.

The first phase of the project on SMAS 2.0, which started last year, resulted in nearly 1,000 primary and secondary schools applying the free software to management, teaching and studying, the department announced earlier this week.

More than 2,500 teachers were trained under the project, which was implemented by the department and the Viettel Telecom Group.

The group will co-operate with the departments of education and training nationwide to apply the system widely, as part of an effort to facilitate the development of information and communication technology in the education sector.

Gender imbalance a growing concern

The population and family planning agency in HCM City should focus efforts on addressing the gender imbalance, maintaining the current population growth rate and improving population quality, a senior official in the municipal administration said yesterday.

Hua Ngoc Thuan, deputy chairman of the HCM City People's Committee, was speaking at a ceremony held to mark the 50th Vietnamese Population Day, which falls on December 26.

He said the quality of family planning and reproductive healthcare services should be improved, allowing increased access to low-income groups and migrant women of childbearing age.

Drastic measures should also be taken to reduce the skewed sex ratio in the city, Thuan said. The number of males per 100 females at birth was 108 in 2010, he said.

The family planning policy which limits couples to having two children should be strengthened to maintain the year-on-year decline of 0.3 per cent in the average number of children per couple.

During the 2006-2010 period, the city gained significant success in population activities, with the average number of children among women of child-bearing age standing at 1.45, Thuan said.

The average lifespan of city residents is 75, compared to the national average of 73.

However, the abortion rate in the city stands at an alarming level, 76 per 100, three times the national rate.

Poor to get reproductive healthcare

As many as 300 private clinics have so far joined the BlueStar network, a social franchise project designed to improve access to quality family planning and reproductive healthcare in seven cities and provinces.

The network has admitted qualified private clinics in Ha Noi, Hai Phong, and HCM City and the provinces of Khanh Hoa, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, and An Giang since its launch in 2008.

The Viet Nam Centre for Reproductive Health in co-operation with the UK-based non-government organisation Marie Stopes International Viet Nam (MSIVN) helped members with infrastructure upgrade, new equipment, and training for medical officials and counsellors, Nguyen Thi Bich Hang, country director of MSIVN, said.

The quality of services offered by members is monitored to ensure that underserved sections of society could access quality but affordable family planning and reproductive healthcare services, she said.

The network has so far served nearly 1.5 million people, preventing 153,000 cases of unexpected pregnancies and 164,600 cases of unsafe abortions.

The BlueStar network has 1,300 franchisees in nine countries, mostly in Asia and Africa.

Seminar marks Sangha's birthday

A seminar was held in HCM City yesterday to mark the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS).

The seminar, entitled "Vietnam Buddhist Sangha, 30 years of development accompaning the nation" drew participation of nearly 200 Buddhist followers and researchers nationwide.

The VBS Executive Council affirmed in its report that the nearly 2,000 years of Buddhism in Viet Nam was an important part of the nation's history, adding that Vietnamese Buddhism had actively contributed to fighting foreign invaders and in bringing peace, independence and nation building.

The report said Government decrees and ordinances on belief and religion were the basis for religious activities exist successfuly and the achievements of Buddhism over the past 30 years were due to monks, nuns and followers of various Buddhist organisations and sects.

Venerable Thich Gia Quang, Deputy General Secretary of the VBS Executive Council, said the VBS had joined hands to address difficulties in the national renewal process, including environmental issues, climate change, social and moral problems.

Capital plans to accept online tax payments

Ha Noi expects to have a large majority of its enterprises pay tax online next year, the municipal Tax Department has announced.

This modern payment method is set to facilitate the collection of about 90 per cent of the city's income.

The department had rolled out a number of measures to support Ha Noi-based enterprises in order to achieve this goal, said Tax Department deputy director Vien Viet Hung.

Support measures include the installation of software, a hotline to respond to queries about procedures and dialogues have been organised between tax offices and enterprises.

The Department has committed to minimising jams and interruptions on the internet at the end of every month which is the peak time for tax payments.

The modern tax payment method was expected to simplify procedures and reduce time for enterprises while also saving time, costs and human resources at tax offices, said Hung.

Some 15,900 companies, or nearly 92 per cent of Ha Noi-based enterprises, have registered to use the service.

Vietnamese attend campfire night in Cuba

The Cuban Friendship Institute (ICAP) held a campfire night in capital Havana on December 23 to strengthen international solidarity with the Cuban people.

Representatives from Vietnam’s diplomatic corps and students and Cuban friendship organizations participated in the event. Traditional Vietnamese dishes were also displayed at the party.

In her opening address, ICAP President Kenia Serrano affirmed the determination of the Cuban people to defend oppressed nations' struggles for peace, solidarity and friendship.

Ms Serrano highlighted the spirit of solidarity among nations around the globe towards the Cuban revolution as well as its 50-year struggle to demand the US lift its embargo against the country. She called for an end to terrorism and wars in the world.

The ICAP President confirmed that the Cuban people will stand firm in their economic development process, protect the revolutionary fruits, and continue to follow the socialist path for social equality and progress.

She also called on nations and progressive organizations worldwide to stand side by side with the Cuban people in their request for the release of five young patriotic Cubans who have been detained in the US.

Bank employee arrested for embezzlement

29-year-old Le Thi Da Thao, an employee of the Da Nang City branch of Saigon-Hanoi Bank (SHB Da Nang), has been arrested for embezzling VND14 billion ($666,320) from her bank.

Earlier, Thao’s superiors at SHB Da Nang asked her to deposit VND22 billion ($1 million) of idle money at Navibank Da Nang under her own name in order to receive a higher interest rate.

Thao then asked her younger brother, Le Tan Nam Kha, to do the job, and she returned the depositing contract signed between Kha and Navibank Da Nang to SHB Da Nang.

But Thao also directed Kha to submit a document to Navibank Da Nang to claim that the contract was lost so that she could obtain a new contract.

Thao and Kha then used the newly-signed contract to mortgage for a VND15 billion loan with Navibank Da Nang. She then used the loan to invest in stocks and for personal expenditure.

When she was discovered, Thao returned VND1 billion to SHB Da Nang while the remaining had been used up. Many high-rank bank officials may have been involved in the scam, said newswire Vnexpress, citing its own sources.

Yamaha scooter flames on street

A Yamaha scooter burst into fire around 11:00 pm Sunday afternoon when it was travelling on Le Quang Dinh Street, Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City.

The Yamaha Luvias started burning when it was approaching Le Quang Dinh-No Trang Long intersection, said 16-year-old rider Duong Dang Tan.

Eyewitnesses said there was an explosion moments after Tan jumped off the scooter, which was then completely covered in flames.

After a while, two local residents subdued the fire with extinguishers borrowed from a nearby gas station. The scooter had been turned into a heap of metal by then.

Tan said it was a second-hand moped he had bought from an acquaintance 6 months ago.

Four hours later, another scooter made by the Japanese motorized vehicle-producing firm – Yamaha – suddenly caught fire when traveling on the road in the central province of Binh Dinh.

Mau, a local resident, said he was riding his Yahama Nouvo to Liem Binh Bridge in Bong Son Town when the scooter abruptly flamed.

He immediately pushed the vehicle into the river below to put out the fire.

The man said he had purchased it 3 years ago.

He had tried to fix a fuel component a few days ago after detecting some problems with it, Mau said.

In another incident, a fire broke out in the fuel tank area of a scooter Saturday evening while a man was riding it in the southern province of Tien Giang.

Luu Minh Hai, the 32-year-old rider, said the Union, a Korean copycat of Honda’s luxury line SH, caught fire on Hung Vuong Street in My Tho City – the provincial capital – when he was carrying his wife and kid around to celebrate Christmas.

He straightaway stopped the vehicle and fled it with his family members.

Local residents managed to extinguish the fire, but the scooter rear was seriously damaged.

Hai had bought the moped in Ho Chi Minh City two years earlier, he said.

The man revealed he had replaced its battery about two weeks ago, but no other repair had been made to the scooter then.

Online games hit schools in Delta province

Many elementary and middle school students in a district in the southern province of Tien Giang have recently become so hooked on online games at a local post office Internet service that they totally ignore their studies, many parents and teachers complain.

Almost 60 students have become addicts, many of whom even quit school, says Huynh Van Chang, principal of My Thanh Nam Middle School in Cai Lay District.

Regulations ban businesses from providing public internet access within 200 meters of a school, Chang reveals.

But the post office is merely 50 to 100m from his school, the principal protests.

N.H.H., an eighth-grader at the middle school, said Wednesday morning to Tuoi Tre that he was trying to earn credits to upgrade his “level” although end-of-term exams were drawing near.

“I can’t resist it,” he confessed.

On the same weekday dozens of other students could be seen at the post office, their eyes glued to the computer screens.

As they were playing some violent online games, others gathered around, cheering and shouting. All are from the middle school and another elementary school of the same name.

Parents and the school’s management have repeatedly lodged appeals to the local authorities but so far received no reply, Chang complained.

The educator admitted that the school had failed to persuade the post office to bar its students from playing games there.

Several readers from Tien Giang have reported to Tuoi Tre that many internet shops in the province violate the distance regulations.

A reader, Khanh, said an internet shop providing online gaming is operating just a few steps away from Doc Binh Kieu High School in Cai Lay Town.

Some other schools are also ‘besieged’ by online game shops like this, according to the reader.

Huynh Hoa, another reader, pointed out a case in which an online gaming service is found just 30 to 40 meters from Tran Hung Dao High School on Ly Thuong Kiet Street in My Tho City – the provincial capital.

Many others are also located in close proximity to schools in the city, Hoa claimed.

Two more Vinashin officials charged

The police have prosecuted two former executives of a subsidiary under state-owned Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group (Vinashin) for embezzling VND4.5 billion 6 years ago.

As part of the expanded investigation into the corruption case at state-owned Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group (Vinashin), the police have prosecuted the former director of Hoang Anh Shipbuilding Industry Joint Stock Company and his former deputy for embezzlement 6 years ago.

59-year-old Nguyen Van Tuyen was found to order his subordinate to withdraw VND4.5 billion of Hoang Anh from a bank account on the pretext that the amount was needed for building the Song Hong Thermoelectricity Plant in 2006, investigators from the Ministry of Public Security said.

Tuyen later spent this entire amount and Do Dinh Con, 59, who was then Hoang Anh’s chief accountant, prepared false contracts and invoices to record the amount as an official expense.

Last month, the Supreme People’s Procuracy announced the indictment against 58 year-old Nguyen Thanh Binh, former chairman and general director of Vinashin and 8 other former officials.

All of them were charged with “intentionally acting against the state’s economic management regulations and causing serious consequences.”

They have caused a total loss of more than VND910 billion (US$43.3 million) to the state budget, the investigators said.

The police are now hunting for 2 other Vinashin officials who were involved in the case and have fled: Ho Ngoc Tung, 53, former general director of Vinashin Finance One-member Co., Ltd, and Giang Kim Dat, 34, former business manager of Vinashin Ocean Shipping Company.

Short circuits found to cause bike explosions

The Ministry of Public Security said the main causes of the recent motorbike explosions were short circuits in the electric systems or fire caught from outside.

Since the beginning of 2011, 18 motorbikes have burst into flames nationwide, the ministry said.

In Hanoi, 42 bike and car explosions were recorded from December 1, 2010 to December 18, 2011, according to the city’s Fire Prevention and Control Department.

Vehicles that exploded into flames belong to various brands, including Hyundai, Daewoo, BMW, Mercedes, Ford, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Kia, and Toyota for cars, and SYM and Honda (Air Blade, SH, Dylan, Wave) for bikes.

According to some experts, most of the burned vehicles were those that had been too old, overloaded or operated with improper or poor-quality fuel.

In addition, a number of people had installed accessories, like horns and lights, into their vehicles, and those accessories might break down after a time of operation and caused a short circuit leading to a fire.

The ministry also said many vehicle explosions had not been reported in time and the scenes of the accidents were often changed by the time investigators showed up, causing difficulties for investigators.

Owners of cars or motorbikes should also have their vehicles checked and maintained regularly to detect any technical problems, the ministry said.

It is advisable to use proper and quality fuel for vehicles to ensure safety. Before installing any accessories into vehicles, such as horns, light or other devices, owners must also make for sure that such accessories are safe for use.

When a fire or explosion happens to a car or motorbike, drivers should stay calm and immediately leave the vehicles, try to put out the fire, and report to the police, the manufacturer or other relevant agencies.

In case of a big fire, the vehicle’s owner must immediately call the nearest firefighting station, the ministry said.

Hong Kong foundation to sponsor HCMC students

Hong Kong-based Sun Wah Group’s Sun Wah Foundation will present US$288,000 scholarships to students of 2 universities in HCMC in the next 6 years under an agreement signed Tuesday.

According to the agreement, the scholarships will be awarded to 60 poor but high-performing freshmen of the University of Economics and Banking University each of whom will receive $1,200 a year during their studies at the universities.

The students must commit themselves to providing 120 hours of community work every year in order to stay eligible for the grants, the foundation said.

“We hope that scholarship winners will learn as much as they can, and then offer their best service to society after graduation,” said Dr. Jonathan Choi, president of the foundation.

Sun Wah Group has allocated roughly $2 million for local community services in healthcare, education and the arts via its foundation.

It has been operating in many fields, including real estate and finance, for the past 40 years in Vietnam.

Officials gamble, stake $238,000 per game, nabbed

Police have detained two senior transport officials in Soc Trang Province after catching them playing Chinese chess for money: the loser had to pay the winner VND1-5 billion (US$47,600-238,000) per game.

Gambling for money is illegal in Vietnam except for some casinos where only foreigners are allowed.

Nguyen Thanh Leo, deputy director of Soc Trang Province’s Transport Department and Tran Van Tan, director of a drivers’ training center, were seized on Thursday night when they were playing a game of Chinese chess.

Leo told police he and Tan often gambled on billions of dong per game and he had lost as much as VND22 billion ($1.05) to Tan but he could pay just VND5 billion.

After many times failing to ask Leo to pay his debt, Tan hired an underworld thug to come to Leo’s house and threaten to kill him and his family if he does not pay up, Teo told the police.

On that night, December 22, Leo asked Tan to come to the Thy Tai 2 café on Phu Loi Street, Ward 2 to play a game. He also told Tai that if he lost one more game he would pay up all the debt.

After Tai agreed, Leo informed the police of the address of the café.

After the two men played for about 20 minutes, the police rushed in.

According to an investigator, Leo had been head of the Soc Trang City Board of management of Construction Work and secretary of the Ward 6 Party Committee for many years before he was appointed to the current post.

Leo has recently borrowed money from a lot of individuals and organizations.

Meanwhile, Tan is the investor of many large café and eateries in the city.

Students hospitalized in Christmas gift chaos

Tens of primary students were taken to hospital for treatment of injuries after they jostled for Christmas presents delivered at their school in Vinh Phuc Province yesterday. One of them was susoected to suffer a brain injury.

The incident occurred at Luu Quy An Primary School in Trung Trac Ward, Phuc Yen Town during break time Friday morning when hundreds of students vied with each other for gifts from a young man dressed as Santa Clause.

The squeezing and jostling led to chaos among students who trampled on each other, causing many to pass out or sustain injuries in the heads or other parts.

The victims were hospitalized at the Phuc Yen General Hospital and some of them were later transferred to the Viet Duc Hospital in Hanoi due to critical conditions.

8-year-old B.H., a grade 3 student, was the most sufferer in the incident. He was taken to the Viet Duc in a coma and respiration failure.

After some tests and X-ray's, doctors said he could have suffered from brain and cervical spine injuries.

Nguyen Thi Duc, head teacher of the school’s 4-5 grade, said the school has adopted a regulation that bans strange people from entering the school during school time but it was unknown why the young man could get in yesterday morning.

The school is coordinating with parents to give care and support to the students who are being treated in the hospitals, she said.

Hanoi loses $31 mln to corruption in 5 years

Five years after the Law on Corruption Prevention and Control were implemented, Hanoi police have prosecuted 273 defendants involved 125 corruption cases worth about VND 966.8 billion (US$46 million), Nguyen Van Tuan Dung, Chief Inspector of Hanoi City, said.

He released the figures at yesterday’s meeting held by Hanoi’s authorities to review its performance on anti-corruption activities during the past 5 years.

After relevant agencies recovered VND317.8 billion, the actual loss to the State budget was VND649 billion ($30.9 million), Dung said.

This means only about 33 percent of the embezzled money was given back, he said.

As most of the corruption cases were uncovered by press agencies and the public, this betrays the ineffectiveness of the anti-corruption mechanism within every agency, said deputy chairman of the People’s Committee Vu Hong Khanh.

After 5 years, bureaucratic harassment against citizens, organizations and businesses by government officials performing their administrative duties still remains in many fields, including land leasing, verifying investment projects, and granting certificates of land use rights or house ownership, he said.

Vietnam among countries with much corruption

According to the 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which ranked 183 countries and territories around the world on their levels of perceived corruption, announced by Transparency International (TI) early this month, Vietnam ranks 112 with a score of 2.9 (out of 10), Government Deputy Chief Inspector Tran Duc Luong said at the meeting.

Last year, the country ranked 116th with a score of 2.7, suggesting Vietnam’s anti-corruption activities were somewhat more effective last year.

According to the TI’s assessment, countries with scores under 5 are those with endemic corruption and a shifting economy, Luong said.

TI has introduced three solutions for countries with a shifting economy, like Vietnam, to drive back the evil. They include ensuring information transparency, except for information that can affect national security; controlling the country’s properties and income, including mineral resources; and promoting the public role in combating corruption, he said.

Installing Xmas lights, man severely electrocuted

A severe case of electricity shock happened yesterday in Ho Chi Minh City when a young man installing Christmas decoration lights on a tree top was electrocuted and fell down to the ground from a height of three meters.

The victim, who was identified as Vu Thanh Trung, 26, staff of advertisement company My Thy, has been in a coma.

Witnesses said they heard an explosion on the top of three tree in front of the Kymdan mattress company located at 28-32 Binh Thoi Street in District 11. Smoke and smell of burning rose into the air. Burnt electricity wires fell on the tree.

After the explosion, they found the man lying unconscious on branches of the tree, with clothes burnt up. Locals sprayed fire extinguishers up and he suddenly fell down to the ground.

It is reported that his company My Thy sent him to the scene to install decoration lights for Kymdan to celebrate Christmas season.

Local policemen and staff of Electricity of Vietnam arrived at the site to investigate.

Bikers brought down by muddy road

Many bikers fell on National Road 13 from the Binh Trieu intersection to the Binh Phuoc overpass in HCMC as mud leaked from a truck onto the road at 2 am on Thursday.

Local vendors said they put up their stalls and saw puddles of mud all over the road.

From Tuoi Tre reporters’ observation, there were several big puddles from Binh Trieu Market to a house numbered 418 in Thu Duc District.

In some sections of the road, the mud stretched for tens of meters, making it hard for vehicles to move.

Within 30 minutes, reporters could count tens of bikers falling on the slippery road.

Although the police showed up to regulate traffic, congestion continued. As of 10 am, the mud was yet to be cleared.