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President attends ceremony to honor heroic contributions

President Truong Tan Sang yesterday, Dec 18, attended the program "Vinh Quang Viet Nam" (Glory Viet Nam), honouring 21 exemplary organisations and individuals who performed heroic actions that contributed to society.

The seven individuals honoured include Hero of Labour Colonel Nguyen Dang Giap, chairman and general manager of 36 Corporation under the Ministry of Defence; Hero of Labour Pham Xuan Hong, chairman and general director of Sai Gon Textile Corporation 3; and engineer Nguyen The Trinh, who works at the Son La Hydropower Plant.

Besides several police officers who were honoured for their efforts in fighting criminals and promoting political and social stability, fisherman Mai Phung Luu from Ly Son Island (Quang Ngai Province), who despite danger remained at Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago and Tran Van Truyen (Da Nang), who at 14 years old saved 11 lives and helped recover eight bodies during a boat accident in Bai Ham, also received recognition.

These individuals and organisations represent the patriotism of Vietnamese in the new era, according to organisers. The event was organised by Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper, the Publicity and Training Bureau under the Ministry of Defence and Vietnam Television.

Thieves sell Mercedes for US$1,400

The police in Hanoi have busted a ring that stole cars and motorbikes, seizing 21 criminals and recovering a Mercedes-C250 and 53 scooters.

Ten of the 21 thieves who have carried out 32 thefts in Hanoi.
The thieves, 12 of whom have prior records, would be prosecuted soon, said Senior Lieutenant Colonel Dao Van Hoan, deputy head of the Thanh Xuan District police.

The crackdown was made following a long police investigation after Nguyen Quy Thuong, a resident in Cau Giay District’ Yen Hoa Commune, reported he lost a Mercedes-C250 worth VND1.5 billion (US$71,300) and a SH scooter valued at VND100 million last August, Hoan said.

The police later found out that the car was being used by a man in Thai Nguyen Province, who said he bought it from a stranger at a dirt cheap price, VND30 million, or a little more than $1,400.

After a 2-month investigation, the police identified 26-year-old Mai Ngoc Thai as the seller of the car and detained him, An Ninh Thu Do newspaper reported.

Thai confessed to the police that he and Le Van Kha, another ring member, stole the Mercedes and the scooter from Thuong.

From their testimonies, the police recovered the two vehicles and arrested other members of the ring.

The ring, led by Thai, has carried out 32 thefts in Hanoi and makes false papers and number plates for the stolen vehicles before selling them at cheap prices.

They used jacks, crowbars, screwdrivers and other tools to force open the gates, doors or windows of the victims’ houses to break in and steal their vehicles.

Besides the Mercedes-C250, the police have also recovered 53 scooters worth about VND6 billion ($285,000) in total. The car was returned to Thuong yesterday, Hoan said.

The police are continuing their investigation to track down other vehicles stolen by the ring, Hoan added.

Deputy PM seeks efforts for sustainable poverty reduction

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh called for more efforts to promote sustainable poverty reduction during an online conference held on Friday to assess the preliminary results three years into implementation of Government Decree 30A to reduce poverty in the country's 62 poorest districts.

According to Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Thi Hai Chuyen, the percentage of poor households in these 62 districts is expected to fall to 55 percent by the end of 2011. The average income per year increased from VND 2.5 million (US$120) per year in 2006 to VND6 million ($285) in 2010.

These results reflected the significant investment from the Government, the National Assembly and provincial and local authorities at all levels, said officials at the conference.

More than VND8,500 billion ($404 million) were allocated from the national budget for the programme between 2008-11. The Prime Minister had also instructed the implementation of many programmes, ODA-funded projects and use of Government bonds to reduce poverty in these districts, totalling about VND22,000 billion ($1.04 billion).

For the 2011-15 period, officials said the programme would aim at reducing the percentage of poor households to under 35 per cent according to the new poverty level.

In Viet Nam, poor households in rural areas are considered those with an average monthly income below VND400,000 ($18). Near-poor households in rural areas earn an average income of VND401,000-520,000 ($20-$26) per month.

Other tasks include improving the capacity of local residents and communities to promote the efficiency of important infrastructure projects, better exploiting natural resources, assisting residents in finding output markets for their products and increasing the percentage of trained rural workers. The efforts to promote sustainable poverty reduction during the next period would be tied with efforts to promote new rural areas, according to officials.

Speaking at the conference, Ninh stressed that Decree 30A showed that the Government and Party considered the promotion of sustainable poverty reduction as among their top priorities.

He instructed ministries and Government agencies at all levels to further assess the implementation of Decree 30a, especially in supporting production in these districts. These districts tended to be located in isolated locations, therefore poverty reduction efforts must be carried out comprehensively and permanently for the long term, he said.

Ninh asked all localities to finish their zoning plans, which are important for poverty reduction programmes. So far, zoning plans have only been approved for 34 districts. All localities needed to find better production models, increase capacity to support local industries and maximise the use of available funds, he said.

Underworld gang leader seized in Vinh

The leader of a large-scale crime ring was arrested, along with his underlings, in a police raid in Vinh City, Nghe An Province, yesterday, Dec 18.

Nguyen Van Hieu, aka Hieu Vinh, 30, of Nghi Duc District, Vinh City, was detained yesterday and would be prosecuted for the “illegal detention of others,” said the provincial Social Crime Investigation Police Department.

Earlier, on October 10, Hieu Vinh ordered his subordinates to seize Trinh Van Tai and Vuong Trung Kien, who he blamed for the killing of Nguyen Trong Bang, a man who lived in the same district as him.

Tai and Kien were brutally beaten by the ring’s members and were forced to provide information on Bang’s death.

After locals reported the case, police launched an investigation and identified Vinh’s gang as the culprit of the illegal detention.

On December 16, when Hieu Vinh and his men returned to his home after a trip to recover debts for an individual who had hired them, 30 armed police officers rushed in and seized Vinh, along with 30 other members of the ring.

The raid was carried out so rapidly and with such powerful force that Hieu Vinh and his men did not even have time to take any action.

The house was searched and the police found and seized three shields made of stainless steel, a bulletproof vest made in the US, three guns, 74 bullets, heavy duty diagonal cutting pliers, a 1.1 meter sword, two 1-meter iron sticks, an iron cudgel, and four choppers.

The police also seized VND230 million (US$11,000) from the ring.

“Hieu Vinh’s ring has recently emerged in the province. It attracted more than 100 debauched young men who have previous convictions,” Lieutenant Colonel Phan Dang Hong, head of task force No. 2, said.

Longest bridge spanning Red River to take shape

Construction on the Vinh Thinh Bridge across the Red River started on December 18 to join Son Tay township with Vinh Tuong district in the northern province of Vinh Phuc.

Vinh Thinh is the main bridge of Belt Road No 5, which will connect satellite urban areas and high-tech zones.

The project has a total investment capital of US$137 million, including US$100 million in ODA from the Republic of Korea provided by the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF), and US$37 million as counterpart financing from the Vietnamese Government.

The 5.5km long, 16.5m wide reinforced concrete bridge will have four lanes and is designed for a speed limit of 80kmph. It is expected to be completed in three years.

The winning contractor for the project is the Korean GS Engineering & Construction Corporation with a contract value of more than US$85.6 million. The project supervisor is the Korean Joint Venture Yooshin-Sambo.

Addressing the groundbreaking ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh said that once completed, the Vinh Thinh Bridge will help accelerate the capital city’s socio-economic development and ease traffic congestion in urban areas.

Hydro-power plant accident kills eight

At least eight workers were reported dead in an accident at a Suoi Sap 1 Hydropower plant construction site in northwestern Son La Province on Saturday.

Witnesses said that dozens of workers had gathered in the turbine installation area of the plant when a water discharge valve broke.

Some 10 people managed to flee the scene whereas many others were swept into a sluice.

Four bodies were recovered yesterday while four others, thought to be dead already, were still trapped inside.

Rescue workers continue to pump water in search of the missing.

The victims were from Son La, Nam Dinh and Nghe An.

The Suoi Sap 1 Hydro-power plant, located in Ta Xua Commune, some 70km from Son La City, started construction in 2009 with Xuan Thien private company as contractor.

Work starts on first international science and education centre

The centre aims to develop a network of international cooperation in the world’s scientific research community and serve as a place for Vietnam’s leading scientists to share experience through seminars.

Construction work on the first international science and education centre in Vietnam started on December 18 in the coastal city of Quy Nhon, Binh Dinh province.

The centre is built on a total area of 184,000 m2 at a total cost of US$6 million, in which US$2 million will be spent on the first phase (2011-2013).

Main work items include a 350-seat convention hall, a 150-seat convention hall, research facilities and a resort and recreational area which will provide international standard services.

Professor Nguyen Van Hieu said the construction of the centre can be attributed to large contributions of Binh Dinh province and Professor Tran Thanh Van, Chairman of the Meet Vietnam Organization.

Once completed, the centre, the first such model in Vietnam and Asia, will become a high-quality science and education centre of Binh Dinh province as well as the country as a whole.

7 dead, 1 missing in hydropower plant accident

Seven of the eight workers who were swept into an underground water pipeline at the Suoi Sap 1 Hydropower Plant in Bac Yen District, Son La Province on Saturday have been confirmed dead after their bodies were found yesterday, Dec 18.
At 8 am December 17, 11 workers were working in the plant’s turbine assembly area when a violent wave of water suddenly flooded the area and swept eight of them into the plant’s underground water pipeline.

The province’s search and rescue force was sent to the scene to look for the workers, but it wasn’t until yesterday evening that rescuers found the bodies of seven of the victims.

The accident occurred after the plant opened its reservoir’s water discharge valve and a short circuit occurred in the valve operating system, causing the valve to not close properly, said Sung A Giao, chairman of the district People’s Committee.

Consequently, the excess water submerged the area where the workers were operating. Only three workers could escape, while the rest fell victim to the violent current, Giao said.

The seventh body was found yesterday evening, and efforts to search for the final victim continued, he added

Four of the dead victims were from Nam Dinh Province, and the others came from Nghe An Province, said the provincial Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs.

The district authorities have given VND1 million (US$47) to each family of the dead victims.

Xuan Thien Co Ltd, which is the investor and also the builder of the plant, have given these families VND300 million ($14,400) and arranged vehicles to take the bodies of the dead victims to their hometowns for burial.

The local police have been working with the plant to clarify the cause of the accident.

Drug crimes to be recorded on computer

Drug-related offences are to be recorded electronically to boost control, a conference in Ha Noi heard this morning, Dec 19.

The forum, co-organised by the Korea International Co-operation Agency (KOICA) and the Ministry of Public Security, is looking to crack down on drug-related crime in Viet Nam.

The KOICA has put US$2.3 million towards the cost of the project, which is being implemented in Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines and Indonesia.

The three-year project began in 2008.

HCMC house burns due to short circuit

A house on Nguyen The Hien street in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 8 was destroyed by a fire that began at 7.30pm on Sunday, even though no one was inside the house.

The blaze was discovered when neighbors saw smoke coming from the house.

They used eight big buckets to pour water onto the flame and tried to break in, as the house was locked.

However, the flame became stronger and eventually covered the entire building.

On receiving reports of the blaze, fire departments in Districts 1 and 8 sent ten fire trucks and 60 firemen to the scene, stopping the blaze from spreading to nearby houses.

Since there were a lot of tires stocked inside the house, it was difficult to extinguish the fire.

At 8.30pm, the blaze was put out, but tires and bicycles stocked inside the house were completely burned. The damage has yet to be calculated.

The initial cause to the fire is short circuit, according to local authorities.

Police in Ward 3, District 8 said they had waited for the house owner to return so that they could find a way to handle the accident.

Another Honda motorbike burned down

After several Honda motorbikes burst into flames without warning in the past few months in different parts of the country, a Lead scooter experienced the same fate on Friday in Hung Yen Province.

At about 3 pm the scooter caught fire when a woman was riding it, carrying another woman, on National Highway 5 near Pho Noi A Industrial Park.

Spotting fire along with smoke rising from the bottom of the vehicle, the woman immediately pulled over to the nearest sidewalk and got off.

As local residents tried to put out the fire with some fire extinguishers but failed, the scooter burned down rapidly, while its helpless owner burst into tears watching the fire.

When traffic police were called to the scene, all they found of the vehicle was a heap of metal frame, said Lieutenant Colonel Quach Dac Giao, head of the Traffic Police Team No. 1.

During the past few months, many similar cases happened in different parts of the country.

Most recently, a white Attila Elizabeth scooter caught fire in Lam Son district in northern Thanh Hoa City on December 14. Luckily, the fire was put out by local residents at the site.

There was minor damage to the bike as some of its plastic part was scorched.

Last Tuesday, a man was passing through Hanoi’s Chuong Duong Bridge when his bike suddenly erupted into fire and eventually burned down to ash.

Earlier on Monday, an SH motorbike suddenly caught fire in front of the Daewoo Hanoi Hotel at the intersection of Kim Ma and Lieu Giai streets in Ngoc Khanh Ward, Ba Dinh District, while its owner and passers-by just stood by helplessly.

A similar, though deadly, accident occurred in Bac Ninh City on December 1, when a Dream II bike suddenly exploded into flame and was soon engulfed in a blaze, killing 29-year-old Nguyen Thi Quynh with her daughter sitting on the back.

US funds Thai Binh Museum's preservation project

US Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear has presented a grant for US$30,000 to officials of the Thai Binh Province Museum to restore and preserve a valuable collection of wooden devotional objects.

This grant was provided through the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.

This restoration project will allow Nam Dinh Provincial Museum to preserve 29 red-lacquered and gold-trimmed wooden objects and to enhance the training and skill level of the museum staff.

The pieces, dating from the 17th to 19th centuries, were collected by Thai Binh Museum from many places in the province (mainly in communal houses, pagodas, temples, and shrines).

The objects not only have historical and cultural value but are also folk art pieces which reflect the culture and spiritual life of the Vietnamese people living in one of the key Red River Delta provinces.

The Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) was established by the US Department of State in 2001 to help less developed countries preserve cultural heritage and to demonstrate US respect for other cultures.

Since then, the AFCP has supported more than 650 cultural preservation projects worldwide, including ten projects in Vietnam, totaling $29 million.

Jicama root thrives without care

Despite a lack of care, Nguyen Thi Ngoc’s jicama root has been growing into a giant 14 kg root, according to newswire Dan Tri.

Last March, Ngoc, who is living on Ham Nghi Street in Cau Dien District, Hanoi, received some jicama seeds from a neighbor and planted them in a small hole.

In November, she uprooted a big jicama root which turned out to be hollow inside. She saved its seeds and planted them again in March this year.

The vine grew quickly, producing green leaves. Ngoc didn’t take care of it for 9 months. Last Wednesday, she dug it up and found a giant and beautiful heart-shaped jicama root with smooth and white skin.

Some suggested Ngoc eating the root but she decided to put it on display until the Lunar New Year.

She has also saved some of its seeds to plant, hoping to harvest another big root next year.


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