2.4 tonnes of elephant tusks seized at Haiphong Port



Customs officials in the northern port city of Hai Phong have seized about 2.4 tonnes of elephant tusks smuggled from Malaysia.

The cargo was found hidden inside a container imported from Malaysia, which had been declared as sea shells.

The issuer of the declaration was Hoang Gia Exim Joint Stock Company located in Hai Phong City. The cargo has been kept by police for further investigation.

Two weeks ago, another large seizure was made when the city's customs officers found more than 2 tonnes of elephant tusks and about 146 kilos of tortoise-shells hidden in a container from Malaysia.

Viet Nam officially banned the trade of elephant tusks in 1994 under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora to discourage hunting of the country's dwindling population of elephants, which poachers value highly for their ivory.

Hundreds of pigeons seized

The Customs seized a truck illegally carrying nearly 800 pigeons from China to Viet Nam across the border in northeastern Quang Ninh Province's border gate Mong Cai City on Sunday.

Nguyen Van Dung, 43, the driver, failed to show legal documents to prove the origin of the pigeons. He admitted that he was hired to transport the pigeons to an unknown person.

The department plans to destroy the seized pigeons.

A live pigeon costs about VND70,000 ($3).

Agencies to crack down on illegal chicken imports

About 1,700 illegal poultry import cases were dealt with nationwide in the first nine months of this year, a meeting chaired by deputy PM Nguyen Thien Nhan was told by the trade ministry.

More than 254 tonnes of chicken and 2.8 million eggs were seized; fines imposed totalled VND2.8 billion ($133,000), the ministry reported, adding that smugglers have hired women, children and drug addicts to transport poultry illegally across the border.

Poultry smugglers also "acted against people on public duty," the ministry said. While the business is less lucrative than drug smuggling, it nonetheless tempts many looking to make a quick profit.

Nhan, who is also Chief of the Interdisciplinary Steering Committee on Food Hygiene and Safety, ordered authoris-ed agencies to take drastic measures to deal with the situation at the meeting.

He told authorised agencies in border Quang Ninh and Lang Son provinces to tighten inspections. Reportedly, they seized over 40,000 illegally imported birds so far this month.

He also asked the health and agriculture ministries to co-operate with relevant agencies to inspect rejected chicken imported from South Korea that is currently being sold in Viet Nam.

After these inspections, an official announcement about the chicken's quality would be published, he said.

The rejected chicken has sold well in supermarkets, despite the lack of information about its quality.

The chickens, believed to contain antibiotics residue, have thick skin and larger anuses due to excessive egg-laying.

According to a supermarket salesperson, the rejected chicken costs about VND50,000 (US$2.3) per kilo, while consumers have to pay about VND150,000 ($7) to buy a kilo of domestic chicken.

Bach Mai Hospital to offer free lung checks

The Ha Noi-based Bach Mai Hospital will offer free check-ups and consultation for Vietnamese patients who suffer from bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on November 3.

Patients will also get free medicine and non-residential treatment. Patients can register for the check up by calling (04) 3.6291207 or 0972.463.203 and via email duanbenhphoi@gmail.com.

Youth Union talks business

Thirty universities across the country will compete for prizes at the Creating the Future competition.

The programme, organised by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and Trung Nguyen Coffee Group, will hold forums on creating wealth in a sustainable manner from October 25 to November 22.

Each university will send a team of five students to compete in three areas; agriculture, tourism and information technology.

The prizes will be VND50 million (US$2,400), one smart phone per member and a trip to Israel for six days.

ASEAN nations test emergency response tactics in joint drills

Ten ASEAN member countries' representatives gathered in Ha Noi yesterday for the ASEAN Disaster Emergency Response Simulation Exercise 2013 (ARDEX-13).

The event was co-oganised by the Government of Viet Nam and the ASEAN Co-ordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA).

The four-day exercise aims to review disaster emergency response mechanisms, including communications, co-ordination and aid facilitation processes under the ASEAN Standby Arrangements and Standard Operating Procedures.

Speaking at the opening ceremony yesterday, Deputy PM Hoang Trung Hai highlighted Viet Nam's role as an active member in the ASEAN community and its responsibilities for the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER).

"In the context of unusual and extreme disasters, it requires the co-operation and mutual assistance among countries, primarily in the ASEAN community to respond to major disasters," stressed Hai.

ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh also spoke of the importance of improving disaster response through routine preparations.

"Regular simulation exercises like AARDEX are important to assess if our disaster response mechanisms are effective, and if further improvements need to be made,"

"I hope that ARDEX-13 will generate constructive and practical inputs for the implementation of the AADMER and enhance our collective response to disasters in the region," added Minh.

AARDEX-13 uses a scenario based exercise to prepare and practice disaster response procedures.

Typhoon Neptune was the chosen disaster scenario at this week's review. The super-storm makes landfall in the area of the northern delta provinces of Viet Nam, causing large scale destruction to the dike systems and taking thousands of lives.

The fictional typhoon also affects ten thousand people whose homes collapse or are flooded, putting the population in need of emergency assistance, including aid from ASEAN member States.

This year's AARDEX is the first time the operational capability of the AHA centre will be put through its paces since its establishment in November 2011.

Mekong tributaries flood Can Tho City

Heavy rains, high tides and flooding over the past days have inundated many areas in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta's downstream provinces as well as Can Tho City.

In Can Tho, water levels in the Tien and Hau rivers, two tributaries of the Mekong River, exceeded the third warning level, the highest level, by 20-25cm on Sunday.

Many streets in Can Tho's central area have been submerged under more than 50cm of water over the past three days.

Flood waters have also inundated the National Highway 1 in Vinh Long Province's Binh Minh Town. In some sections, the highway is 40cm under water.

Water levels in the Delta's downstream areas will continue increasing over the next few days, according to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

The centre has urged flood-affected provinces to strengthen dykes, prepare pumps and inspect dykes around the clock to ensure safety for people and property in the coming days.

The Can Tho People's Committee has organised inspection teams to check dykes in Cai Rang, Binh Thuy, Ninh Kieu and Phong Dien districts.

In Binh Thuy's Son Islet, for instance, a five-kilometre long dyke with a height of 2.5 meters in Binh Thuy's Son Islet has been strengthened, ensuring safety for 85 resident households.

Bui Xuan Dinh, head of the Binh Thuy Irrigation Station, said flood control forces are working around the clock to promptly address any breach in the dyke.

In Phong Dien, local authorities have prepared 3,500 sandbags for a similar eventuality.

The Vinh Long Province Steering Committee for Flood and Storm Prevention and Control has instructed local administrations to repair and upgrade rural roads, dykes and sluice gates to prevent further erosion caused by flood water.

Vinh Long now has six highly erosion-prone sites and 19,000ha of farming land threatened by high tides and floods.

In Tra Vinh Province, local authorities have strengthened dykes to protect houses and property in flood-prone areas this year.

In Hoa Tan Commune's An Loc Island in Cau Ke District, the commune has built a new 3,200m-long dyke and strengthened 1,500m of existing dykes to protect 100 households and 120ha of orchards.

The new measures have instilled confidence among the residents.

Nguyen Van Canh, who lives in Hoa Tan Commune, said that before the new dyke was built, people were constantly worried about the floods. "Now we do not worry and can focus on production."

Vietnamese high school students get ASEAN scholarships

ifteen Vietnamese high school students were awarded ASEAN Scholarships to study in Singapore.

The Singapore Embassy organised a ceremony last week to honour the scholarship recipients attended by Ambassador Ng Tech Hean and representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Training.

The students –12 from the north and three from the central and southern regions –were chosen for their excellent studying,

The ASEAN Scholarships aim to equip young people in Southeast Asian countries with important skills for the 21st century. Recipients are provided with allowances, accommodations, return air passage, school fees, examination fees and medical insurance.

They obtain Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education ‘Advanced' certificates and finish their Secondary Three to Pre-University Two degrees in Singapore.

Other recipients come from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao P.D.R, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines.

Robbers seized over handbag thefts

Ha Noi Police has detained three men for stealing women's valuable belongings, including a cell phone and VND6 million (US$282).

Khuc Binh Minh, 27, Pham Trung Duc, 24, and Nguyen Anh Dong, 24, from Le Chan District of northern Hai Phong City, were found in possession of a female bag containing the haul when they were stopped by police on Truong Chinh Street last Friday.

They confessed to snatching the bag and cell phone from two women on the capital's streets.

The three unemployed men said they had moved to Ha Noi to carry out robberies, mostly targeted at women.

Weeds, animal pests invade Dong Nai Nature Reserve

Invasive species are encroaching upon the Dong Nai Culture-Nature Reserve, threatening the biodiversity of the site.

According to the recent research by the Biodiversity Conservation Agency (BCA) under the Viet Nam Environment Administration, the species include five floras, five fishes, an amphibian and an invertebrate.

The BCA said impacts from these species on local ones are considerable, requiring immediate control measures to prevent their harming to the environment.

Climate change is weakening the local species, creating opportunities for invasive alien species to make their approach, the agency added.

Covering an area of nearly 100,000 hectares, the Dong Nai Culture-Nature Reserve was established in 2004 and recognised as a world biosphere reserve by the UNESCO in 2011.

AmCham promotes the environment

Nearly 1,000 volunteers took part in a walk to raise awareness about coastal environment protection last Saturday on the American Chamber of Commerce Community Day 2013.

During the two-day event, volunteers planted more than 10,000 casuarina trees over an area of 8,000sq m.

Information on energy savings was distributed to locals with the theme of Act Clean, Save Green.

Child labour elimination in Quang Nam

Representatives from the Quang Nam provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the International Labour Organization (ILO) met on October 21 to review an action programme to prevent and eliminate the worst forms of child labour.

Quang Nam is one of the five localities in Vietnam that has benefited from ILO-backed programme which was carried out in the province’s five communes from July 2011 to September 2013.

The programme helped increase capacity, step up communication, provide facilities and vocational training, improve healthcare service, and push up the development of household economy.

Nguyen Thuy, Deputy Director of the Quang Nam provincial Department for Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said the programme contributed to raising public awareness of child labour, benefiting nearly 1,000 child workers in target localities.

Maria Luisa Rodriguez Campos, the programme’s chief advisor, said based on hands-on experience from the programme, experts will make recommendations to local authorities, helping relevant agencies to work out an action plan to resolve the problem in a sustainable manner.

Ninh Binh intensifies measures against dengue fever

Measures to prevent a possible outbreak of dengue fever are being carried out in northern Ninh Binh province after five cases have been detected in the locality since July.

According to Nguyen Ngoc Phu, doctor at the provincial Preventive Health Centre, local people should raise awareness of prevention requirements as the current rainy season is a hotbed for mosquito larvae to breed.

The patients in the province got the disease after travelling to outside the locality, Phu said.

Provincial Department of Health asked all individuals and relevant agencies to control the risks of epidemics in residential areas by cleaning up the environment, spraying chemicals to kill mosquito and going to doctor and hospitals for timely treatment.

Feeling like a third wheel when meeting the in-laws

It's not every day you see three-wheeled motorbikes adorned with pink balloons plying the roads of HCM City. The standard way to get to a wedding party or bring the bride to the groom's house is by car, not by a motobike.

But these bikes are special. They are owned by the Disability Research and Capacity Development Centre, which offered them to Duong Dinh Thao Phuong and Tran Minh Tri who were married recently.

Tri and Phuong, who are disabled, were married after seven years of enduring harsh judgements from friends and family.

Tri said that he fell in love with Phuong after hearing a radio programme on which she expressed her feelings about being disabled.

Tri made every effort to contact her and they finally met after several years apart. He made sure that she trusted him and she agreed to his marriage proposal.

Good samaritan offers free ambulance services

Whenever and wherever there are emergency calls, Huynh Van Nhieu, known as Ba Nhieu, dashes to the scene driving his ambulance.

Known for his services in his native Hoc Mon District, he also serves the districts of Cu Chi and 12 and Binh Duong Province.

Nhieu says he is motivated to help traffic accident victims as he has seen many children die because they arrived at the hospital too late.

"I was obsessed by this and I wanted to take action. Finally, I talked with my wife and said I would buy a secondhand car to transfer victims of accidents or patients with an emergency situation to the hospital. My wife agreed with me," he said.

Over the last 20 years, Ba Nhieu has missed New Year's Eve activities because he was often busy taking people to the hospital.

"There are so many accidents on New Year's Eve," he said, adding that his telephone is on 24 hours a day.

Nguyen Van Tai of Nhi Binh Commune says that his leg was saved because of Nhieu's timely intervention. Nhieu also gave Tai some money to help with the surgery.

"The family owes Ba Nhieu a favour forever," Tai's wife said. Other residents in his commune say that the 59-year-old man has given rice and money to them when they needed help.

Following his model, his two sons also are now picking up people in Nhieu's ambulance and taking them to the hospital.

First outpatient eye surgery center in Vietnam

The first ever outpatient eye surgery center was inaugurated on October 20 on 360 Dien Bien Phu Street in District 10 in Ho Chi Minh City, opposite to Binh Dan Hospital.

Dr. Tran Thi Phuong Thu, former Director of Eye Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, present Director of new outpatient eye center Phuong Nam, said the center is the first of its kind in the country, approved by the Ministry of Health.

The center has four divisions including day center, phacoemulsification for cataract removal, and excimer lasers for refractive eye surgery that does not require an overnight hospital stay.

Total investment in the new hospital is VND120 billion (US$ 5.6 million).

On this occasion, the center conducted preferential programs such as free examination and medicines and discounts for surgeries for many patients.

‘Global Handwashing Day’ popularizes use of soap as good habit

The Ministry of Health and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with Unilever Vietnam on October 20 held a meeting in Hanoi in response to Global Handwashing Day.

Around 2,000 students in Hanoi and a team named ‘Clean Hands’ participated in the event. This year’s theme is ‘For a Healthy Vietnam’ and is aimed to carry the message of using soap to wash hands to residents in 1,600 communes in 18 provinces, contributing to improving personal hygiene and raising community health conditions.

From October 2013 to May 2014, teams of ‘Clean Hands’ workers will popularize and inform of best habits of washing hands with soap among 1.8 million residents across the country.

Ha Tinh Province begins cleanup operations after storm

The health sector in the central province of Ha Tinh has started a cleanup campaign of the environment by setting up seven mobile teams of medical workers to supervise operations.

Environmental cleanup will curb risk of infectious diseases including pink eye, skin infections, diarrhea, and many mosquito-borne diseases that are most common after floods and storms.

The Health Sector has provided storm hit districts with more than 450,000 Chloramine B medicines; 4,000 kilogram of powdered Chloramine B; 200 kilogram of alum, besides medicines and necessary chemicals for disinfection.

The Ministry of Health also gave more medication and disinfecting chemicals to the province.

Hanoi aims for job training for all disabled by 2020

Hanoi is striving to generate jobs for all people with disabilities at the working age in the city by 2020, planning a yearly investment of 2-3 billion VND (41,000 USD) in vocational training for them.

In the other moves, the city will make it easier for the disabled to access loans from banks and other funds to run their own business and help 70 percent of them gain access to information technology and communications.

According to the Hanoi municipal People’s Committee, the city will also focus on improving the working conditions for disabled people and organising monthly job placement events for them.

In the meantime, it is working on support mechanisms for businesses that employ up to 10 disabled people or workshops with 30 percent of its employment being people with disabilities.

According to official statistics, people living with disabilities make up 15.3 percent of Vietnam’s 90-million population.

Insufficient education and training have hindered the disadvantaged people from landing stable jobs and regular incomes. Up to 80 percent of the disabled depend on their families, relatives and social allowances to survive.

Da Nang finishes clean-up following storm Nari

The central city of Da Nang has basically cleaned up its main road and residential areas, removing more than 14,000 tonnes of debris and garbage left behind by storm Nari.

According to the municipal People’s Committee’s Office, the supply of water and electricity as well as communications services have resumed as normal.

The Health Department in coordination with local authorities have also completed cleaning the environment and repairing damaged hospitals and clinics.

Students in the city went back schools on October 21.

At a meeting of the municipal People’s Committee on October 21, city leaders asked the Government, and Ministries of Health and Agriculture and Rural Development to provide aids in the form of medicines, plants and animals varieties to help local people overcome quickly the aftermath of the storm, the eleventh hitting Vietnam this year.

Son La College helps train Lao labour force

Five decades since its establishment, Son La College has become a training centre supplying officials and teachers for not only the northwestern mountainous province of Son La but also eight northern provinces of Laos.

From the initial 26 staff, at present, the college now has 370 lecturers, including two doctorate degree holders and 140 masters, providing training courses in over 30 majors.

A total of almost 20,000 students have graduated from the college over the past 50 years to become teachers and researchers, while nearly 2,000 working officials have attended refresher courses at the school.

According to the dean of the college’s international faculty, Nguyen Thi Huong, the school has signed many memorandum of understandings on cooperation in training with Lao localities, including Xieng Khouang, Udomsay, Luang Namtha, Bokeo, Houaphan, Phongsaly, Sayabuli and Luang Prabang, since 2001.

Under the MoUs, almost 800 Lao students have attended courses in the Vietnamese language and other majors at Son La College.

The college’s rector Vu Ngoc Nui said the school will continue to update its training curricula to meet the requirement of development trend in the country, the region and the world.

It will also pay more attention to expanding links with other education establishments nationwide, while further promoting cooperation with Lao localities in the field, he added.

On the occasion of the 50 th anniversary of its establishment (October 1963-October 2013), the Son La College has been awarded the Independence Order, third class, for its contributions in the education and training field.

Students in Hue run for children’s health

About 200 students of the Hue University have taken part in a marathon in Hue city, central Thua Thien-Hue province, in response to the Global Day of Action for Child Survival (October 23).

The race was organised by Save the Children on October 20, alongside similar events held in other countries across the globe.

The activities aim to improve the community’s awareness of care for mothers’ and children’s health as well as call on policy makers to invest more in the healthcare system, particularly in rural areas.-

Dak Lak moves to supply rural areas with clean water

As many as 81 percent of people living in rural areas of the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak have used clean water so far this year, a rise of nearly 18 percent from the same period in 2008.

The achievement was attributed to the building of seven new large-scale water supply facilities and 14 small-scale water supply works in the province’s four poor districts of Lak, Krong Bong, M’Drak, Buon Don and other far-flung and ethnic minority-inhabited areas in the year.

The new facilities, costing over 25.7 billion VND, increased the number of water supply works in the locality’s rural areas to 252,672, including 97 large-scale facilities.

Over the past years, Dak Lak has mobilised capital from various resources for the building of water supply facilities. Since 2009, it has rallied more than 339.1 billion VND for the programme.

The use of clean water has helped ethnic minority people inhabiting in rural areas reduce the risks of unhygienic water-caused diseases.-

100 Japanese scholarships granted to Vietnamese students

Japan’s FUYO Foundation has granted 100 scholarships to Vietnamese students who made outstanding performance during the 2012-2013 academic year.

The scholarships, worth 300 USD each, were presented to students from 34 universities across Vietnam at a ceremony in Hanoi on October 21.

This year, FUYO scholarships targeted needy students majoring in medicine, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, water resources and technology.

Since 1997, the foundation has awarded scholarships worth over 244,000 USD to more than 1,030 students in the country.-

ASEAN disaster response drill begins in Hanoi

The 2013 ASEAN Disaster Emergency Response Simulation Exercise ARDEX-13 began in Hanoi on October 21, bringing together relevant forces from all ASEAN member nations and observers from Japan, China, the Republic of Korea, Australia and the US.

At the opening ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai called for closer coordination and mutual support among ASEAN in response to large-scale natural disasters, which have recently been spotted in extreme, unpredicted patterns, hindering the development of many nations.

Deputy PM Hai highly valued the fact that the regional management of natural disasters remains a priority and part of cooperation between ASEAN and its partners.

“Vietnam is always an active and responsible ASEAN member in the implementation of the regional Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER),” he noted.

The four-day event will simulate the scenario of super typhoon Neptune that makes landfall in Vietnam’s Red River Delta region and causes large-scale flooding, affecting the dyke systems and tens of thousands of people who are in need of emergency assistance.

At the strategic level, the event will enable participants to evaluate issues related to information sharing, regulate activities in response to emergencies and deploy relief aid operations.

They will be requested to transmit information to the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance and other regional states to request assistance. Customs, immigration and quarantine will also take place to test the entry procedure for search and rescue.

At the tactical level, ARDEX-13 emphasises disaster rescue and relief operations performed by the host Vietnam with the support of other regional countries.

Workshops featuring Vietnam’s disaster management system and AHA’s working mechanism will also be held.

The ASEAN search and rescue forces will coordinate in specific scenarios and provide on-site emergency assistance in flooded areas, collapsed buildings, field hospitals and in the wake of chemical incidents.

Northern locality warns of dengue fever

The northern province of Ninh Binh is taking measures to prevent a possible outbreak of dengue fever after five cases have been reported in the province since July.

According to Nguyen Ngoc Phu, doctor at the provincial Preventive Health Centre, people should raise awareness of prevention requirements because the current rainy season is a hotbed for mosquito larvae to breed.

He said the patients in the province got the disease after travelling to outside the locality.

Ninh Binh Department of Health asked all individuals and relevant agencies to reduce the risks of epidemics in residential areas by cleaning up the environment, spraying chemicals to kill mosquito while getting doctor and hospitals ready for treatment.

Thousands visit grave of General Giap each day

Tens of thousands of people have come to Vung Chua - Yen Island in Quang Binh province to pay tribute to General Vo Nguyen Giap since his October 13 burial.

On average, more than 1,000 people from across the country and abroad visit the General's grave each day. A high-water mark was reached on October 19, with 300 delegations totalling 4,500 people visiting the grave.

Quang Binh border soldiers are posted to keep a close watch over the General's grave and to direct visitors to the burial site.

Locals work together to bounce back from Nari

Efforts to rebuild after typhoon Nari, which pummelled central provinces one week ago, have focussed on helping local residents stabilise their lives and resume productive activities.

The Quang Nam provincial People’s Committee took urgent measures to repair schools, prevent disease outbreaks and recover power to all areas. The committee also donated VND5 million to families of those lost in the storm and VND3 million to those who suffered injuries.

In Quang Binh province, state officers and staff were encouraged to work overtime to help local residents recover from the typhoon.

The province mobilised border guard soldiers to help repair houses, decontaminate water, and give medical treatment.

The Quang Binh provincial Department of Health sent teams to localities to distribute 600,000 Cloramin B tablets and help residents with environmental cleanup.

On October 21, the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee and the Vietnamese Youth Association presented 500,000 cartons of milk, valued at nearly VND5 billion (US$235,000), to over 100,000 children in affected provinces from Thanh Hoa to Quang Ngai.