SOCIETY IN BRIEF 23/8

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SOCIETY IN BRIEF 23/8

Plunging ambulance kills 3, injures 1

An ambulance in the northern mountainous Lao Cai Province plunged into an abyss on Sunday, leaving three dead and one injured.

Those killed were the 21-year-old driver, a 16 - year-old Ha Nhi ethnic girl patient and her father, aged 50, who had asked the ambulance for a ride to hospital because the daughter was ill.

Injured was Dr Vu Dinh Thuy whose condition was described as "recovering."

The ambulance was returning from An Lu Commune to Bat Xat District Hospital after delivering vaccines to mountainous communes, said provincial Preventive Medicine Centre director Nguyen Van Suu.

The possible cause of the accident was the driver lost control on the winding road, district police said.

500 scholarships for disadvantaged pupils

Photo: VOV

The Doraemon Fund will provide 500 scholarships worth VND500 million for pupils in the 2011-2012 academic year.

This is the 16th time the fund has offered scholarships to poor pupils who have overcome difficulties to study and actively take part in various activities.

Beneficiaries will be ethnic minority pupils, children of families with soldiers or wounded soldiers, and orphans.

This year all scholarships will come by post.

Since 1996, the fund has organised 17 ceremonies to present nearly 7,650 scholarships worth more than VND4.3 billion to outstanding pupils directly.

Girl slapping traffic cop gets 9 months in jail

A court in Ho Chi Minh City today sentenced a girl who is barely 18 years old to 9 months in prison for slapping an on-duty traffic policeman last month.

The court in District 12 handed out the jail term to Pham Thi My Linh, born in 1993, on charges of “acting against on-duty officers”.

She slapped a traffic policeman hard on the face and head and assaulted another cop after being caught breaking traffic violations on July 2 on Le Van Khuong Street in District 12.

The whole commotion was videotaped by a bystander and posted on YouTube, triggering a wave of protests from netizens and sympathy for the two policemen.

Huge crowds flocked to see her appearance at the mobile hearing this morning.

At the trial, she confessed to her acts while her mother pleaded unsuccessfully for a suspended sentence so that her daughter could continue school.

Her behavior is deemed to offend “honor and dignity” of law enforcement officers and have a negative impact on public order.

In the aforementioned video, the two traffic officers stopped Linh and her mother who were traveling on a motorbike in the wrong direction without wearing helmets.

When requested to park their bike on the sidewalk, Linh shouted “Keep off” and pushed one policeman away, brushing his hand off the vehicle.

She then turned to shove another officer. When the cop persisted, she unexpectedly slapped him hard on the face and head.

The two young policemen stayed calm and continued to ask the older woman to move the bike which was still on the road and obstructing traffic.

Suddenly, Linh fell down on the street and writhed as if in pain.

Most YouTube watchers commented she feigned faintness in order to evade the law.

Low-income rules ‘must be relaxed' for housing

The Construction Ministry yesterday, Aug 22, asked the municipal People's Committee to relax rules governing the buying of low-income accommodation in several housing projects in the capital.

Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Tran Nam said demand for low-income housing in Ha Noi was among the highest in the country. He said that, for example, just one in every two applications to buy a low-income apartment in the CT1 Ngo Thi Nham housing project in Ha Noi was accepted. The ratio for the follow-up project would be just one in three, he added.

Due to heavy initial demand, the local people's committee in March tightened the eligibility requirements for those seeking to buy low-cost apartments. Among the new rules, only applicants from those with an inner city residence book would be considered.

A number of low-income residential projects in the outlying districts of Ha Noi have been completed. However, current rules meant most would-be purchases are ineligible, Nam said, adding that many applicants' family residence books were for rural districts, paradoxically, where many of the new projects were situated.

He cited the example of a housing project in Gia Lam District launched by Viglacera. More than 1,000 apartments have been currently on the market but could not be sold, despite high demand.

The deputy minister has asked the People's Committee to accept applications from those whose permanent residence or long-time temporary residence has been in Ha Noi – provided they have been working and paying social security for at least one year prior to their application.

Man gets 4 years for writing against state

A Kien Giang Province court yesterday, Aug 22, sentenced a local man to four years in jail and three years on probation for writing articles defaming the Vietnamese state and providing them to foreign websites.

Lu Van Bay, 59, of Tan Hiep town was guilty of “conducting propaganda against the state,” the Kien Giang People’s Court said.

Bay wrote dozens of articles with reactionary contents and sent them to various foreign organizations inimical to Vietnam, the procuracy had said in its indictment.

He had written under various names, including Chanh Trung, Hoang Trung Chanh, Hoang Trung Viet, Nguyen Hoang, and Tran Bao Viet.

He was arrested last March.

The former corporal under the South Vietnam regime began his reactionary career in July 1977 when he joined an organization called “Mặt Trận Liên Tôn” (the Front for Religious Union).

He was arrested the same year and sentenced to six years in prison.

Four years after being released in 1983 he wrote and sent to “Tiếng Nói Tự Do” (The Voice of Freedom) eight articles that defamed the state and the communist party.

In January 2008 his reactionary acts were discovered by the Tan Hiep District authorities. He admitted the acts were wrong and assured the local police he would stop.

However, by early 2010 he was at it again, writing under the name Tran Bao Viet and sending a number of articles slandering the party and state to overseas organizations.

At yesterday’s trial Bay pleaded guilty and expressed remorse.

Third Son La turbine turned on

Son La Hydropower Plant was hooked up to the national grid early this morning.

Viet Nam's biggest power plant can now generate 30 million kWh a day.

The plant's third turbine began generating electricity in a safe and correct fashion, said Nguyen The Chinh, deputy director general of Lilama 10 JSC, an affiliate of Viet Nam Machinery Erection Corporation (Lilama), which built the turbine.

According to Electricity of Viet Nam, this morning's event was of great significance, and will help the plant meet a significant proportion of the country's energy needs.

The turning on of the turbine comes just ahead of National Day on September 2.

Nguyen Dinh Tinh, director of Lilama 10 JSC's Son La branch, said workers had been working flat out to ensure the project was completed on time.

The first and second turbines, which came into operation last January and April respectively, have generated a total 3.25 billion kWh of electricity.

Construction of the VND37 trillion (US$1.8 billion) power plant, located in Muong La District, in the northern mountainous province of Son La, started in December 2005.

VN, Laos urged to boost drug fight

Viet Nam and Laos should step up co-operation in combating illegal drugs, an issue that has been a growing mutual concern for the two countries for years, said Deputy Minister of Public Security Pham Quy Ngo yesterday, Aug 22.

Ngo, who is also Chairman of the National Committee for Drug Control, made the comments at a reception for a delegation from the Lao National Committee for Drug Control led by Chairman Soubanh Srithirath.

Ngo said that since agreements between the two countries were signed in 1998 and 2001, Viet Nam and Laos had tightened information exchange and co-operation to curb trans-national drug rings. There had also been many discussions on ways to better fight drug trafficking at border areas considered as crime ‘hot spots'.

"Increased co-operation has really helped in uncovering drug trafficking rings between Viet Nam and Laos," Ngo said.

For his part, Soubanh Srithirath expressed his hope that Viet Nam, which had about 20 years of experience in fighting drug crimes, would share their experiences in the field with Laos, which had been developing its anti-drugs operations for two years.

Deputy General Director of the Crime Control Department Vu Hung Vuong said drug trafficking in the ‘golden triangle' between Viet Nam, Laos and Thailand was still a complicated challenge, especially in the north-west region.

More than 9,700 cases of crimes were detected and 2,000kg of heroin, 22kg of marijuana and 180,000 ecstasy tablets were seized in the first half of this year.

The Vietnamese Government plans to spend VND3 trillion (US$144 million) on drug prevention and control in the upcoming time. A conference between Viet Nam, Laos and Thailand will be organised in November to combat drug crimes along the East-West Economic Corridor.

Call to rescue captive Quang Binh fishermen

Border guards in the central province of Quang Binh on Sunday have asked the provincial People's Committee and relevant authorities to form a plan to retrieve five fishermen who have been captured by China.

Fishing boat number 1825TS and its five crew members were seized while fishing 110 nautical miles northeast of Chan May port in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue on August 8th.

Southern students win French scholarships

The Odon Vallet Scholarship Programme last Sunday presented 383 scholarships worth VND2.7 billion (US$131,105) to high school and university graduates as well as postgraduates in the southern part of the country.

The scholarships, in its 11th edition this year, have been annually awarded to outstanding students as well as financially disadvantaged students with good academic track records.

Four kids drown at Lao Cai deserted lake

Four dead bodies were found in a 1.5m-deep deserted lake at Lung Sac village in Tan Duong commune in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai on Monday.

Among them are three brothers Ban Quyet Tien, 7, Ban Thi Anh Huong, 5, and Ban Quoc Nguyen, 4. The other one is 5-year-old Ly Quoc Huong.

Neighbors said the children often played on wastelands in the village after school. However, they didn’t return home for dinner yesterday afternoon, prompting their families to search for them.

By 7:30 pm the same day, local residents found the first floating body at the lake nearby. One hour later, three others were also retrieved.

Nguyen Thanh Duong, deputy chairman of the provincial People’s Committee and other local officials have donated money to the families of the victims.

Earlier on August 14, four boys aged 11 to 14 died after swimming in an unfenced pit filled with rain water at a construction site in Phu Do Village in Hanoi’s Me Tri Commune.

Consumers find power-saving devices a scam

Though claiming to help cut power consumption by up to 40 percent, many alleged power-saving devices sold throughout Ho Chi Minh City are found to have no effect at all.

Thai, a resident in District 10, is seeking buyers for his 10 kits of Powerboss power-saving devices purportedly imported from Britain which he had spent VND7 million (US$350) on to be installed in his ice manufacturing facility.

“[The device] is advertised as cutting power consumption by 40 percent, but the amount actually saved is inconsiderable,” he said.

Similarly, Tuy, a Hanoi resident, also put his Powerboss kit on sale after running it for two months without gaining any results.

Van Tinh Co Ltd in District 11 is selling a China-imported device named Lega, which it claims is able to save 40 percent of power consumption after one week of use.

Meanwhile, Song Bo Co Ltd also describes its Power.tune equipment as being able to save power by 25 percent. The company backs up the claim with a certificate issued by the Hanoi Department of Science and Technology.

The department, however, denies having granted any certificates for the product, while a karaoke parlor has returned the device to Song Bo after three months using it.

Stealing electricity for real

While the power-saving devices prove to be ineffective, many electricians claim they could make devices that are able to ‘steal’ electricity by freezing the power meter.

Linh, an electrician hailing from District 10, for instance, promised with undercover Tuoi Tre reporters that he could reduce their electricity bills by at least half with his special device.

He said electricity could be ‘stolen’ by installing a special chip onto the power meter to slow down its rotation.

You can also plug in special device to create a pulse to stop the meter, he added.

He said prices for his devices ranged from VND14 million to VND50 million ($700-2,500). Meanwhile, Hien, another electrician, said he is selling a white magnet that can easily steal power.

“[The magnet] will stop the power meter immediately after it is placed on the meter,” he said, adding a centimeter-long bar of magnet costs VND6.5 million.

According to Tien Giang Power Company, a restaurant cum karaoke club in My Tho City has recently been caught using the Chinese magnet to steal power in their establishment.

The restaurant was fined VND40 million ($2,000) for the violation, Nguyen Trung Tri, the company’s director, told Tuoi Tre.

Nguyen Van Ly, deputy director of sales of HCMC Power Company, said there have been 1,138 cases of power consumption cheats detected in HCMC during the past seven months.

Some of the customers have used devices to paralyze the power meters, he said.

JICA helps enhance project management capacity

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) organised a three day training course in Ha Long, Quang Ninh for more than 30 officials of MoF to strengthen the project management capacity.

The participants have half a day to practice monitoring and evaluation of a JICA-funded project namely “Environment Protection in Ha Long Bay”.

The course is an in-depth workshop to provide standard and basic knowledge on steps, methodology and skills for practical project management and evaluation, in the form of both standard curriculum and customized case studies and group works. Trainees also have chance to understand basic concepts of project evaluation from the view point of financer, taking example of JICA.

Speaking at the course, Mr. Uchida Tsutomu, JICA Senior Advisor on Aid Coordination, also a lecturer for the course, said: “Evaluation is for concluding and for a new beginning. Since monitoring and evaluation is one of the top topics in project management now in Vietnam, and the MoF is responsible for assessing the financial aspect of all national projects and its own projects, MoF officials will make better use of ODA with good understanding of monitoring and evaluation. And the fresh young staff from various departments of MoF, will continue utilizing knowledge obtained through the courses to meet request from MoF, contributing further to the development of public finance in Vietnam.”

This technical assistance is implemented under the framework of agreement between MoF and JICA which is effective between March 1st, 2011 and March 31st, 2012.

Hanoi tributes to people who render great services to revolution

Hanoi will spend more than VND4 billion buying gifts for people who have rendered great services to the revolution on the occasion of Vietnam’s 66th National Day (September 2).

The Vice Chairwoman of the municipal People’s Committee, Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc, said the city will organise visits to six revolutionary bases to present each beneficiary with a gift worth VND500,000.

No doctors in food commercials: draft regulation

Food producers are banned from over-advertising on food and from using images of reputable health experts to promote their products, according to a draft regulation from the Ministry of Health.

The draft rule, which governs food advertising, also prohibits food enterprises from using doctors’ or health agencies’ statements or letters to create in consumers an impression that their products are of high quality or better than other competitors’.

Food companies are also banned from announcing that their products are absolutely safe for use and from advertising their food as functional food or as medications for a number of diseases.

Recently, functional food has been exaggeratedly advertised on newspapers, televisions and the Internet as “miracles.” For example, googling “collagen functional food” in Vietnamese, one will have 444,000 pages after 0.1 second.

The Ministry also bans food firms from giving material benefits to health workers, doctors or agencies to have them speak well of certain food products.

The agency is collecting feedback about the new rule to improve it before promulgation.

Violating regulations on food advertising has recently become one of the most popular types of violations in the field of food safety, the Department of Food Safety and Hygiene said.

Encroachment blamed for rise in railway accidents

Encroachment upon railway safety zones has been blamed for causing an alarming increase in the number of railway accidents, prompting authorities to remove illegal crossings.

According to the latest report by the Vietnam Railway Corporation, 87 percent of railway accidents across the country occurred at illegal crossings opened by residents.

More than 250 railway accidents this year have left 134 people dead and 187 injured.

The report said that this year, there had been more accidents, fatalities and injuries compared with the same period last year.

Hanoi , Dong Nai, Ha Nam and Nghe An were the worst localities.

Pham Van Binh, head of the Traffic Safety Department under the Vietnam Railway Corporation, said that not enough care had been taken to restore and develop road safety corridors in railway zones.

He said that local authorities were not interested in clearing away building projects, houses, markets and shops that encroached upon railway safety zones.

"The negligence has led to prolonged violations," Binh said.

He cited a railway line in Thuong Tin District where locals had removed barriers separating the railway line from the road to open illegal crossings.

Nguyen Thi Loi of the Ha Thai Railway Management Company said the tracks through Co Nhue Commune in Hanoi 's Tu Liem District had been overrun with shops and cafes.

Many residents had even built leans-to very close to the railway tracks, she said.

Nguyen Xuan Tan, deputy director of the Hanoi Transport Department, said the office had asked the Ministry of Transport to form an inspection team to remove illegal crossings.

The Vietnam Railway Corporation said that of the country's 6,000 crossings, around 4,000 were illegal.

According to statistics provided by the corporation, over 481,000 building projects that encroached upon railway safety zones needed to be cleared away.

Khuat Viet Hung, former chief of the Transport Management and Planning Institute, said that most accidents were due to a lack of vigilance from road users but also inappropriate investment in building infrastructure for railway lines.

"The railway sector is still lonely in the fight against railway accidents," he said.

The corporation is working with local authorities, police and railway inspectors to prevent local people from opening illegal crossings.

Yet, the existing number of railway inspectors remains too small. On average, one inspector is in charge of 50km of railway.

The problem is compounded by the shortage of modern equipment and tools.

Specialists said it was imperative to restore order with a view to limiting railway accidents.

They blamed local authorities and investors for their loose management over road traffic projects, leading to serious encroachment into railway safety zones.

They also called upon local authorities to take drastic measures and work with the railway sector to minimise railway accidents.

Vietnamese architect wins golden prize at regional contest

An eco-friendly design of Vietnamese architect Vo Trong Nghia and his partner Nishizawa Shunri from Japan won a golden prize of the Architects Regional Council Asia (Arcasia).

The design, Bamboo Dome Bình Dương , is honoured in the field of “Public amenity: Resort buildings”, the judging board announced on Aug. 21 in the central city of Da Nang .

The massive structure, called the Water and Wind Café, is located in the southern province of Binh Duong .

Built with natural and local materials, especially bamboo, the cafe offers an opening space at the very top that allows daylight to stream through.

This year, the Arcasia Awards for Architecture was judged in Vietnam on the occasion of Da Nang’s hosting of the 32nd Arcasia meeting from Aug. 16-17 and the 16 th Arcasia Forum from Aug. 19-20.

Smoking implicated in 62 percent of VN deaths

Smoking is the cause of death of 62 percent of deaths, or around 40,000 people in Vietnam each year, three times the fatality of traffic accidents.

Medical costs for lung cancer, chronic blockades and other smoking-related diseases total VND2.3 trillion a year, according to a recent seminar in Hanoi.

At the seminar which aimed to assess Vietnam’s capacity to prevent and control the impacts of smoking, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thi Xuyen said Vietnam is facing a series of challenges such as a high rate of male smokers and the common social tolerance for smoking.

Therefore, the Vietnamese Government has increased its efforts to build the draft law on the prevention and control of smoking and asked experts to contribute opinions before it is submitted to the NA for approval.

Experts said the draft law should focus on clarifying a number of issues, including the low contribution of domestic sources to 10 percent total expenditure on smoking prevention and control in Vietnam, which they said will not ensure the sustainability of the program.

Vietnam should soon set up a fund for smoking prevention and control, using financial contributions from tobacco production and trading enterprises, they said.

The draft law is also not strong enough to reduce the impact of smoking on the community, the warning on tobacco packages is not strong enough to attract attention and projects to disseminate the issue have not been able to change people’s behaviour, they said.

In addition, the country’s tobacco consumption and production taxes remain cheaper than regional countries, which the seminar was told is a factor that increases the number of smokers.

Waste treatment causes pollution

Waste water treatment stations in central Da Nang City that were set up to reduce pollution in the city are themselves causing environmental pollution.

Local residents are increasingly concerned about the pollution caused by Phu Loc station in Thanh Khe District's Thanh Khe Tay Ward and Tho Quang station in Son Tra District.

Pham Duc Muoi, a resident of Thanh Khe Tay Ward, said Phu Loc waste water treatment facility often discharged waste water into the Phu Loc River. The discharged water had a noxious smell, disturbing residents' lives, especially on sunny days, when the smell was the worst.

Pham Thanh Duoc, head of the station, said the facility had a capacity to treat 28,000cu.m of waste water each day, and at present it was only operating at 70 per cent of its capacity.

Duoc said local residents were so upset at the smell that they recently blocked a manhole at the station.

Chief of the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment's Office Nguyen Thai A said the bad smell was caused by a side-effect of waste treatment technology.

"To deal with the stench, the Da Nang City People's Committee will build a 200-metre underground sewer line so that the sewage from the station can be discharged into the sea, and the smell will not affect residents," he said.

Work on the project will begin next month.

Tho Quang waste water treatment station, managed by Quoc Viet Company, was also considered a ‘hot spot' of environmental pollution as waste water discharged from the station also produced a stench.

Following complaints from local residents, on July 5 the Son Tra District authorities checked the station's waste water and found that the amount of coliform and ammonium exceeded regulated levels by 6 to 231 times.

City authorities had previously allowed Quoc Viet Company to widen the station, and increase the station's capacity from 3,000cu.m to 10,000cu.m a day. The company was also approved to borrow money with preferential interest rates to upgrade the station.

Last month the city's Environmental Police carried out an unscheduled inspection and found that Quoc Viet Company was discharging untreated waste water into the environment. The company was fined VND150 million (US$7,320) for the violation.

The municipal People's Committee also fined a number of enterprises in Tho Quang Industrial Zone.

VNN/VOV/VNS/Tuoi Tre

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