Former CEOs jailed for deforestation

Eight former officials were sentenced to between ten months' probation and three years in jail by the People's Court of Central Highland Dak Nong Province for causing the loss of over 1,300 hectares of forests.

Than Van Minh, 70, former CEO of Quang Tin Forestry Co Ltd, received three years in jail, while Than Van Hoa, 39, former CEO, and Tran Van Loi, 48, former acting director, were given three years' probation. The other accused received ten months' probation.

Of the 9,800ha of forests the company received from the provincial People's Committee in 2007, 1,300ha were destroyed due to mismanagement.

The estimated damage was more than VND198 billion(US$9.5 million).

Dong Nai fines two mining firms

Two mining enterprises in the southern province of Dong Nai have been fined VND10 million (US$476) for not fulfilling their commitments to redress environmental damage caused by their activities.

According to the provincial Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, the violating companies are the Bien Hoa Building Materials Production and Construction Co., Ltd and Hoa An Company.

Hoang Van Thong, Chief Inspector from the department, said the companies, which have been licensed to exploit stone at the Hoa An Quarry in the province's Bien Hoa City, had not planted trees as required, and failed to repair the local road after exploiting minerals at the area.

The companies have been asked to restore the area's environment and transport all the stones they exploited. Local authorities have said they will close the quarry late December.

Truckload of spices without clear origin caught in Hanoi

Anti-environment crime police in Hanoi caught a truck carrying spices without clear origin on November 27.

The Vietnam Food Administration under the Ministry of Health asked its sub-division, the Department of Food Safety in Hanoi, to deal with the truck loaded with mustard and spices for making instant noodles that failed to meet local quality standards.

The administration ordered a test to find out whether these spices contained any banned preservatives or heavy metals.

Earlier, due to doubts of the product ‘Pungent side of beef’ the Department of Food Safety in Hanoi had conducted a check on the Sa Sa Company in An Ha village in Hoai Duc District in Hanoi.

The firm did not produce certificates of food safety and documents to prove the origin of the materials used for production. Moreover, the company had printed incorrect date of production and company address.

Because of these violations, the firm was compelled to stop production and asked to acquire certificate of food safety and hygiene.

Report on MDGs implementation ratified

The PM has approved the Report on the implementation of Viet Nam’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2013 titled “Achievements and challenges in realizing Viet Nam’s Millennium Development Goals”.

The PM has assigned the Ministry of Planning and Investment to report to relevant ministries and localities the report mentioned above.

Earlier, the PM issued a Decision on some principles and missions on the implementation of MDGs.

Accordingly, the report will be carried out to two principles. Firstly, figures and annual reports on implementing MDGs from 2013-2015 will be collected to conform with international rules and specific situation in Viet Nam.

Secondly, reports and evaluations bout the implementation of MDGs will be integrated with the national and provincial annual and five-year Socio-economic development plans.

Accordingly, eight MDGs include the abolishment of poverty, universal primary education, gender equality and raising women status, reducing child fatality, strengthening women’s health, HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases prevention, guaranteeing sustainable environment and establishment of global partnership for development.

Besides, six supplemental development goals include supply of necessary infrastructure services for the poor, job creation, reduction of vulnerable ability and improvement of social welfare system for poor and disadvantaged population, development of culture, information and people’s spiritual life, enhancement of living standards, cultural preservation and development for Viet Nam’s ethnic minorities and reinforcement of administrative procedures and supply of legal knowledge for the poor.

Doctor punished for angry attitude

The Ministry of Health on Tuesday commended the HCM City-based Tu Du Obstetrics Hospital for punishing a doctor for her angry attitude towards a patient, the first time such measures have been taken in Viet Nam.

Doctor Nguyen Thi Thanh Hang from the hospital's Prenatal Care Department was asked to make a report about being aggressive and unhealthy to a patient. She will not be eligible for her three month bonus and has been struck off the shortlist for the hospital's year-end awards.

The doctor may also be demoted or dismissed if she repeats her offence.

HCM City honors individuals, organizations for charity work

A meeting honoring 67 individuals and organizations for their outstanding contributions to charity work was held in Ho Chi Minh City on November 22.

Some names include Nguyen Anh Thuy, member of Red Cross of Ward 10 in District 10; Tieu Thi Kim Lien, member of Red Cross of Go Vap District; Nguyen My Hanh from Red Cross at Hung Vuong Obstetrics Hospital; Red Cross of Quarter 1 in Tang Nhon Phu A Ward in District 9; the Labor Union of Education and Training Industry in Go Vap District; and members of the pharmaceutical department of the Ho Chi Minh City Red Cross.

They have collected money for disadvantaged people, students and teachers; contributed to the Fund for beloved Truong Sa Archipelago; built houses for the poor; offered scholarships and free examination and treatment; and called people to donate blood for the community.

The event also marked the 67th anniversary of the foundation of Vietnam Red Cross.

Viet Nam is 143rd ICANN member

Viet Nam has officially become the 143rd member of the Country Code Names Supporting Organisation under the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Viet Nam Network Information Centre, which is in charge of managing the national domain name .vn, was assigned by the Ministry of Information and Communication to join the organization.

This is expected to strengthen the nations position in managing the global internet network and increase international co-operation in this field.

A wikipedia entry notes thatICANN is a private non-profit organisation that is "responsible for the coordination of the global Internet's systems of unique identifiers and, in particular, ensuring its stable and secure operation. This work includes coordination of theInternet Protocal address spaces (IPv4 and IPv6) and assignment of address blocks to regional Internet registries, for maintaining registries of Internet protocol identifiers, and for the management of top-level domain name space (DNS root zone), which includes the operation ofroot name servers."

Its "primary principles of operation have been described as helping preserve the operational stability of the Internet; to promote competition; to achieve broad representation of the global Internet community; and to develop policies appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes."

IFAD grants aid to Vietnam’s rural development





The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide US$33 million in preferential loans under the sustainable rural development project for the poor in Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces.

The financial support agreement was signed by Vietnamese Ambassador to Italy Nguyen Hoang Long and IFAD President Kanayo F.Nwanze in Rome on November 27.

Kanayo spoke highly of Vietnam’s achievements in agricultural and rural development and poverty reduction. He believed that IFAD loans will support poor farmers in increasing their incomes and adapting to climate change in an effective manner.

Ambassador Long thanked IFAD for its recent support, especially for people in disadvantaged areas to cope with climate change. He said the Vietnamese Government will continue to accelerate poverty reduction activities in the coming time and affirmed that Vietnam will effectively use loans from IFAD and other international organisations.

Long said IFAD is one of international organisations which have offered many preferential loans for Vietnam, especially in agricultural production.

In early December, Vietnam will negotiate with IFAD on US$14 million loans for climate change adaptation in the two Mekong Delta provinces of Ben Tre and Tra Vinh.

Although Vietnam is listed among middle income nations it still needs more loans from IFAD. US$33 million grant for Quang Binh and Ha Tinh provinces is very important to develop sustainable agricultural growth, especially in the context of climate change.

IFAD is a United Nations organisation with 165 members. Since 1991, IFAD has provided preferential loans for Vietnam to implement projects in rural areas, especially ethnic minority-inhabited areas.

Inland waterways fascinate deputies

aw makers yesterday agreed that developing inland waterways would help ease pressure on the country's roads.

Backing the claim, Deputy Do Van Ve from northern Thai Binh Province said inland water plans would need to consider the operation of hydro-power plants, irrigation and flood releases.

"The bill should add regulations on master plans for developing inland water-traffic infrastructure in tandem with economic development plans."

"The river basin scheme should also be compatible with national defence and security objectives," said Ve.

Ve added that the law needed to include a clear definition of inland waterways to clarify the need for the project and ensure appropriate management of inland waterway vehicles.

Deputy Bui Thi An from Ha Noi, recommended assigning oversight of the master plan to an organisation to minimise overlaps and waste.

Deputies also debated traffic safety, business management, hygiene and environmental protection measures relevant to the inland-waterway transport law, expressing concerns with administrative overlaps posing difficulties in the management and handling of violations.

Deputy Huynh Minh Thien from HCM City said the Ministry of Transport's Viet Nam Marine Administration managed seven river routes (176km), while the Viet Nam Inland Waterway Department managed 16 inland waterways (252km) and the remaining 87 (574km) was managed by the HCM City transport department.

"The bill should clearly separate the role of the state and localities in the management of inland waterway traffic," Thien said.

An official NA report stated that of the country's 80,577km of rivers and canals, nearly 42,000km were used for transport activities, while State management authorities currently oversee around 19,000km of the nation's busiest inland waterways.

Deputy Tran Xuan Hung from northern Ha Nam Province said the operation of inland traffic was a complex issue; adding that unqualified issues or unregistered boats were causing a high number of accidents.

Deputy Nguyen Minh Kha from Can Tho City in the Mekong Delta called for more stringent checks on boat operators to enforce licencing and safety standards.

Deputy Nguyen Ngoc Phuong from central Quang Binh Province said the law also needed to ensure adequate hygiene and tighter controls on waste discharged directly into rivers.

Deputies yesterday also passed a resolution to improve the management of hydro-power projects.

Later in the day, NA deputies also approved a resolution on the prevention and fight against crime.

The resolution calls on local authorities and police to fulfill their responsibilities in ensuring safety and security in localities. The law also seeks to shore up police management of illegal gambling, drugs and prostitution.

The resolution also assigns the Government in instructing ministries, sectors and localities in the fight against corruption and waste in 2012-16 as well as a national strategy on combating corruption until 2020.

Accordingly, the Government would issue a detailed instruction next year on supervising the properties and income of officials and defining the responsibilities of leaders of organisations and agencies suspected of wrong doing. The Government would also take responsibilities in the detection and settlement of wrongdoings in the judicial sector, the popularisation of law and the improvement of the legal system.

Also in the afternoon session, the deputies discussed the Law on Public Investment, which regulates the assessment and approval of public investment projects.

The discussions focused on the planning and assessment of public investment projects as well as requirements and eligible applicants for the projects.

The NA will vote on the approval of the draft amendments to the 1992 Constitution and a resolution on executing the constitution today. The session will be televised publicly.

Delegates will also approve a resolution on plans to issue Government bonds during 2014-16 and debate the draft Law on Entry, Exit and Residence of Foreigners in Viet Nam.

Steel firm supports Haiyan victims

The steel and corrugated iron producer, Hoa Sen Group, singed a MoU with CFC-ANCOP Group from the Philippines on Tuesday to gift 14,000sq.m of steel sheets that will be used for building 400 houses for Tacloban residents, who are dealing with the aftermath of devastation wreaked by super Haiyan typhoon.

The sheets will be sent to Cebu Port in the Philippines and transported to Tacloban by CFC-ANCOP by the end of next month.

Baby may have been allergic to vaccine

The death of a five-month old infant on Sunday four hours after being injected with the 5-in-1 Quinvaxem vaccine was respiratory and circulatory failure, medical experts have concluded.

The conclusion, reached by experts from the Health Ministry's Preventive Medicine Department and local hospitals, suspects an allergic reaction after being vaccinated was one of the causes for the fatal failures.

The quality of vaccine or injection processes were not factors in the infant's death, the experts have concluded.

Hanoi students to compete at int’l science Olympiads

Six students from Hanoi have been selected to represent Vietnam at the 10th International Junior Science Olympiads in India from November 30 to December 15.

They include Dao Vu Quang, Tran Nhat Quang, Le Manh Tuan and Pham Quang Hieu from the Hanoi – Amsterdam High School for the Gifted; Khuat Duy Hong from the Son Tay High School for the Gifted; and Le Ba Truong Giang from the Nguyen Hue High School for the Gifted.

The event is held annually and covers physics, chemistry, and biology.

At the eighth competition in South Africa in 2011, all Vietnamese students bagged medals, bringing home three silvers and three bronzes.

Regional students gather in Da Nang for programming contest

The qualifying round of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ACM/ICPC) began in the central city of Da Nang on November 27.

Nearly 350 Vietnamese students and 15 foreign teams from Japan, China, the Republic of Kore , Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Indonesia entered the competition.

The 17 most outstanding contestants will represent Asia to compete at the final round of ACM/ICPC 2014 in Ekaterinburg , Russia.

The same day, the 22nd Vietnam Informatics Olympic Contest for Students ( OLP ’13) also commenced in the city, attracting 337 students from more than 70 universities and colleges nationwide.

The two competitions will wrap up on November 29.

As part of the competition, the Ministry of Education and Training, Vietnam Huawei Technology Company and Duy Tan University launched a mobile application renovation contest.

Its final round is scheduled for next April.

Traffic accidents, casualties in Hanoi decline

Hanoi has recorded remarkable decreases in traffic accidents and casualties in the first 11 months of this year.

During the reviewed period, 1,978 traffic accidents happened, a decrease of 3.7 percent year on year. The accidents caused 562 deaths (down 6.3 percent year-on-year) and 1,666 injuries (down 2.9 percent year-on-year).

It was attributed to the municipal traffic police’s operations to maintain traffic safety and order and the coordination of relevant agencies in raising people’s awareness on traffic rules and improving infrastructure.

The city Department of Transportation has, during the time, put into use of two more flyovers to ease traffic congestion and occasional traffic chaos.

Each day sees an average of nearly 30 people die and hundreds of others injured on Vietnam’s roads, needlessly burdening the State budget.-

HCM City hosts global education dialogue

A global education dialogue took place in Ho Chi Minh City on November 26. It took the theme “Connecting Asia – preparing higher education to meet the demands of the 21st century”.

As a joint effort between the British Council and the Ministry of Education and Training, the event saw delegates debate the establishment of the Vietnam – UK university up to international standards.

They also talked about skills needed for productivity and competitiveness once the graduates embark on a job search.

A survey by the British Council pointed out that universities in 25 East Asian countries still expose poor links with their counterparts, both in their own countries and internationally.

Some speakers took the occasion to urge them to rethink and act with a global perspective.-

Workshop discusses nuclear research reactor safety

The Regional Advisory Safety Committee for Research Reactors in Asia and the Pacific (RASCAP) on November 25 held a workshop on the safety of nuclear research reactors, in Da Lat city, the central Highland Province of Lam Dong.

Representatives from RASCAP member countries shared information, knowledge and experience in the field, with the ultimate goal of promoting nuclear energy use for peaceful purpose as well as preventing nuclear proliferation.

This is the first joint activity of the committee, which was established in March this year, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Vietnam is serving as Chairman of the IAEA’s Board of Governors in the 2013-2014 term.

RASCAP has 14 member countries in the Asia Pacific, including Vietnam.

Speaking at the workshop, Dr. Nguyen Nhi Dien, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Atomic Energy Commission and Director of the Da Lat Nuclear Research Institute, underlined the significance of the workshop, saying that it helped the countries take the right measures to ensure safety of nuclear research reactors.-

Ageing population poses challenge to health sector

An ageing population is posing a challenge to Vietnam’s health sector as healthcare services for the elderly are suffering from a number of shortcomings.

Director of the Health Ministry’s Department of Medical Services Luong Ngoc Khue said that the network of healthcare centres for this group remains inefficient with a low budget and a lack of specialists and nurses. Caring for the elderly is mainly undertaken by relatives and untrained people, creating extra problems, he added.

According to the latest population census, there were more than 8.6 million aged 60 years old and above in 2011, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the population, while the rate of over 65-year-olds was 7 percent.

A country is considered to have an ageing population when the rate of 60 years old and above reaches 10 percent or the rate of 65-year-old and above is 7 percent. Once the rates reach 20 percent and 14 percent respectively, the country will have an aged population.

Experts have warned that the transitional period from an ageing population to an aged population in Vietnam will be about 18-20 years, much shorter than in other countries such as France (115 years), Sweden (85 years), the US (70 years) and Japan (26 years).

Arthur Arken, Country Director of the UN Population Fund in Vietnam, said that while population ageing is taking place in all regions and all countries, Vietnam is recording one of the fastest rates in Asia.

On the other hand, the lifespan of the country’s elderly is also increasing. In 1979, the rate of 80-years-old and above accounted for 0.54 percent of the total population. It rose to 0.7 percent, 0.93 percent and 1.47 percent in 1989, 1999, and 2009 respectively.

In spite of the growing life expectancy, 95 percent of Vietnamese elderly are burdened with non-transmitted chronic diseases.

Meanwhile, medical expenses for this group, who takes up to 50 percent of the society’s medicine, are 7 – 10 times higher than that for young people.

Vietnam issued the Law on the Elderly in 2009, established the National Committee on Ageing and launched a national action programme on this group.

Only when caring for the elderly is considered as work that reflects the country’s moral standards and culture can it receive adequate material and human resource investment, experts have argued.-

Hanoi installs water treatment equipment

Hanoi has installed 10,000 water treatment units and will incorporate 5,000 more at the end of this year in the city’s four suburban districts of Ung Hoa, Phu Xuyen, Thuong Tin and Thanh Oai.

According to the city’s Centre for Clean Water and Rural Sanitation, the work is part of a four-year plan to install 40,000 units of water treatment equipment for poor households in the districts, especially in areas polluted by groundwater.

So far, the centre is examining the arsenic level in water sources across Hanoi, with the results to be announced at the end of the year.

Hanoi strives to improve HIV/AIDS treatment

Hanoi has committed to raising the quality of treatment for HIV carriers as well as expanding 18 medical facilities specialising in anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment in a move to contain and roll back the spread of the disease.

As of September 30, Hanoi recorded nearly 24,600 people living with HIV. The virus has led to the death of a confirmed 3,808 people in the city.

Notably, 67.37 percent of the HIV-infected people are drug users while prostitutes make up 1.63 percent of the total number of the carriers in the locality.

The city has also started a programme on managing HIV/AIDS patients at 10 medical examination centres in charge of providing anti - HIV/AIDS drugs .

As many as 6,647 AIDS carriers are being cared for at the city’s medical facilities. Of this number, 5,650 people are under the ARV treatment.

In a bid to prevent the HIV infection among the drug users, a detoxification programme using methadone treatment for 1,494 has been implemented in the five districts of Tu Liem, Long Bien, Ha Dong, Hai Ba Trung and Dong Da, and Son Tay town.

All districts of the city have also offered free condoms and disposable syringes to people at high risk of catching HIV.

According to Director of the Hanoi HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care Centre Le Nhan Tuan, the city’s anti-HIV/AIDS work will encounter large financial difficulties next year when the national budget for the work will be cut by 74 percent from last year and the city will cut its own funding by 50 percent.

Urgent financial assistance from international organisations to the city is needed to maintain the sustainability of the anti-HIV/AIDS work.-

Binh Phuoc urged to maximise strengths

The southern province of Binh Phuoc needs to maximise its potential in rubber production by developing processing industry, according to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

The PM made the suggestion at a meeting with key provincial leaders in Hanoi on November 27.

Hailing the comprehensive achievements the province has obtained in socio-economic development, with high income per capita and an increase in local living standards, the PM noted Binh Phuoc should tackle weaknesses in forest management while continuing efficient new rural area building.

The provincial economy will see GDP growth of 9.59 percent in 2013 and income per capita will reach over 41.6 million VND (1,980 USD), up 9.4 percent against last year, the province’s leaders reported to the PM.

They said Binh Phuoc has seen positive changes in healthcare, culture and education along with ensuring social welfare, order, security and safety.

They committed to maintaining growth momentum while improving competitiveness and crime prevention.

Resettlement ‘wastage' up for review

Municipal authorities have decided to review resettlement housing projects in the city to prevent the current situation of surplus in certain areas and reduce wastage of scarce state-budget funds.

Nguyen Huu Tin, vice chairman of the HCM City People's Committee, said the administration has asked the Department of Construction to check and reassess the ability of those involved in developing resettlement housing, particularly in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area.

He said this is a step being taken to make sure that the projects are completed on schedule.

Tin's requirement was made in the context of many resettlement housing projects having apparently no plans for completion. This has caused many obstacles for the city's resettlement plans for households and individuals who have to move when their land is revoked for various purposes including national defence, national security, national benefit and public benefit, in accordance with approved master plans.

In the Thu Thiem New Urban Area in District 2 alone, about 1,993 apartments that were planned for resettlement have no completion date set. The list of tardy firms in this regard include the Nam Rach Chiec Company with 712 apartments, the Duc Khai Joint Stock Company with 1,080 apartments, and the Vietracimex-Poca.C Joint Venture with 201 apartments, according to a report in the Thoi Bao Kinh Te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economic Times).

The report also says that the Thu Thiem area likely face an oversupply of resettlement housing since it is predicted to need only about 1,800 apartments as against the 12,500 that are to be built there.

This has prompted calls for the city to reconsider construction of these apartments in the Thu Thiem Area, so that the VND13 or 14 trillion (US$616.11 million or $663.5 million) needed to realise the plan can be saved.

To deal with the oversupply problem, the city government has decided to convert 1,769 apartments from the resettlement housing fund into social housing that can be sold or rented.

For instance, the HQZ Plaza project, whose construction begun on August 17, is one of the four that have been converted from resettlement to social housing.

Officials hope that this conversion will help settle the current redundancy of resettlement housing, because social housing projects have many preferential features that make it easier to sell them, including exemption of land use fees, and a 50 per cent reduction in corporate income tax and value-added tax.

The newly issued Decree No 188/2013/ND-CP on construction and management of social housing will offer several new incentives to encourage investment in social housing projects when it takes effect on January 10, 2014.

Under the new decree, in addition to current preferences, enterprises investing in social housing would also be able to receive loans at preferential interest rates from credit institutions including commercial banks.

The decree asks credit institutions to set aside at least 3 per cent of their total loans for social housing developers and buyers at reasonable interest rates and payment terms that match the borrowers' repayment capabilities.

Social housing developers will also be able to access preferential loans from local state budget sources, funds raised through bonds issued by local authorities, housing development funds and other capital sources.

Also under the new decree, buyers of social housing can sell their property after five years instead of the current 10 years.

Vietnamese school awarded in UK

The British Academy has presented a Schools Language Awards to the Vietnam Supplementary School for its contribution to teaching Vietnamese in the UK.

Managed by a group of Vietnamese women, the school is open every Saturdays for both children and their parents to learn Vietnamese as the first language.

A series of out-door activities include martial arts, painting and cooking Vietnamese contest to help Vietnamese students get better understanding of their cultural tradition.

At the award ceremony, Son Thanh, Chairman of the Vietnam Association in the UK, proposed the Vietnamese Government provide support Vietnamese residents in the UK to learn their native language.

The award ceremony was co-organized by British Academy and the Guardian to encourage more residents to continue their Vietnamese-language studies up to a high level as a subject in English education system.

A growing surge in diabetics

Vietnam is one of countries having the highest growth rates of diabetics in the world.

At a seminar held in Hanoi on November 27, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) reported that the number of diabetics keeps increasing dramatically in the world, including Vietnam.

The Vietnamese patients in the 20-79 age group have increased from 1.2% in 1990 to 2.7% in 2002, and from 5.3% in 2012 to 5.8% in 2013.

One reason is the lack of physical exercise and nutrition, the IDF said.

Danish Ambassador to Vietnam John Nielsen said diabetes affects all people in society and spoke highly of Novo Nordisk Company’s efforts in supporting Vietnam’s anti-diabetes.

According to latest statistics from the IDF, there were more than 371 million diabetics in the world last year and the figure will increase to 552 million in 2030. Around 4.8 million of people have died of the disease so far.

European Red Crosses aid Vietnam’s disaster risk management

A EUR411,700 project has helped mitigate the devastating impact of natural disasters in the country through enhancing relevant officials’ capacity in community-based disaster risk management (CBDRM).

Funded by the Netherlands Red Cross and the Spain Red Cross, the called Disaster Preparedness ECHO 8 (DIPECHO 8) was wrapped up at a conference in Hanoi on November 26.

Vu Van Loc, head of the disaster prevention and response board under the Vietnam Red Cross (VRC), said the project highlighted the successful collaboration and effective partnership between the Netherlands Red Cross and the Spain Red Cross and the Vietnamese counterpart.

Noting the encouraging results of the project, Head of the Netherlands Red Cross Paul Vanderlaan held that the stakeholders need to share their gained outcomes and experience and discuss issues to be addressed in the future.

DIPECHO 8, also sponsored by the Humanitarian Aid Committee under the European Commission, has been implemented in nine Vietnamese central provinces, namely Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh and Phu Yen since last June.

Through offering refresher courses, the programme raised government and VRC officials’ CBDRM proficiency in vulnerably disaster-hit areas.

It also helped train 98 Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment guides while providing measures for local residents to diminish natural disaster risks and raise their CBDRM awareness. Especially, six provincial-level disaster response teams were established to foster the provinces’ capacity in the work.

Samsung Vina grants modern libraries to schools

Samsung Vina Electronics company on November 27 handed over a hi-tech library to Chu Van An high school in Hanoi, raising the number of such libraries to 28 and offering more than 40,000 books to 22,000 pupils across the country.

The activity is part of the “Smart Libraries” project launched by the company in 2011 with the aim of upgrading library systems at primary and secondary schools nationwide.

The Samsung library model comes fully equipped with computers, printers and other machinery, along with management software.

The project has been expanded in the 2013-2014 period to some schools that already have modern libraries. At these schools, the project provides even more equipment and updated technology allowing pupils to study and share knowledge in groups.

The model, which is now present at Chu Van An and Hoang Hoa Tham high schools in Hanoi, and Tran Dai Nghia high school in Ho Chi Minh City, enhances students’ interaction during their reading.

The same day, Samsung Vina also introduced another project titled “Books that change my life” to encourage a reading habit among society, especially youngsters.

On the occasion, the Ministry of Education and Training and Samsung Vina Electronics Company inked a memorandum of understanding that allows the company to continue its support for Vietnam’s education sector by upgrading school library systems in both urban and rural areas.

Universities adapt to change

New models for higher education that could change the face of universities in the future were discussed at a Global Education Dialogue 2013 in HCM City on November 26-27.

Saad Rizvi, executive director at Pearson, and co-author of the recently published The Avalanche is Coming, categorised higher education models into five groups: the elite university; the mass university; the niche university; the local university; and the lifelong learning mechanism.

While elite universities attract the lion's share of prestigious research grants and the world's most talented students, mass universities provide education for the rapidly growing middle class, taking advantage of globally developed content, he said.

According to Sam Jones, head of University Alliance's Communications and Public Relations, higher education systems around the world need to be thinking about how to adapt to the rapid pace of change as individuals and economies place new and changing demands on how and what it delivers.

He cited a two-year project, University Vision, implemented at his university that could be beneficial in Vietnam and ASEAN countries.

As they integrate more and more, ASEAN-member nations should consider future scenarios and models, he said.

The aim of University Vision is to use scenario planning to explore future issues and challenges.

To understand the future environment, they studied the major drivers of change that could affect universities.

Speakers at the conference emphasised the worldwide need for improved collaboration, governance and institutional management among higher education institutions.

The dialogue was organised by the British Council in co-operation with the Ministry of Education and Training and UK's Aston University.

Thai Nguyen holds friendship exchange with Laos

The Vietnam-Laos Friendship Association of Thai Nguyen province held a joint meeting on November 27 with the Lao Embassy in Vietnam and Lao students studying in the province.

The meeting aimed to mark the 38th anniversary of Laos National Day which falls on December 2.

Delegates at the event recalled the time-honoured solidarity between the two countries, which had been nurtured by late presidents Ho Chi Minh and Kaysone Phomvihane.

During previous wars in Laos, Thai Nguyen sent over 7,000 soldiers to support the country’s revolution.

Representatives from the Lao Embassy thanked provincial authorities for allowing more than 400 students to learn in the province.

The provincial leaders asked the Lao Embassy to bridge cooperation between Thai Nguyen and Lao provinces, contributing to the two nations’ special friendship.

Hanoi Archdiocese convenes 11th youth congress

The Archdiocese of Hanoi opened its 11th Youth Congress in Thai Binh province on November 27, with the participation of 20,000 young Catholics from 25 provinces and cities in the archdiocese.

Representatives from the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, the Vatican’s representative in Vietnam- Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, together with archbishops, bishops and priests from 10 northern dioceses also attended the event.

The annual congress aims to encourage young dignitaries and followers to lead both good secular and religious lives and positively engage in national construction and defence.

Several cultural activities and art performances are scheduled to be held during the two-day event.

Japan finances five infrastructure projects in Vietnam

Japan has pledged to provide nearly US$580,000 in non-refundable aid for five projects to improve infrastructure in Vietnam.

The projects include, improvements to a major water supply system in Nam Thanh village, Nam Dan district, Nghe An province, and the upgrading of four schools – Xuan Trung junior and secondary school in Xuan Truong district in Nam Dinh province, and primary schools in Thai Thuong village in Thai Binh province, Van Mai village in Hoa Binh province, and Tri Phuong village in Lang Son province.

The aid recipients currently have very high poverty rates and poor underdeveloped infrastructure. The scheme to improve the water supply system in Nam Thanh village is expected to supply approximately 8,000 local people with safe water for daily living..

The existing schools are run down and dilapidated that need repairing. The Japanese aid is expected to improve the education environment and facilities for the local children in these communities.

At a signing ceremony in Hanoi on November 27, Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Fukada expressed his firm belief that the five projects will significantly improve the living conditions and quality of life of people living in some of the poorest provinces

Nguyen Xuan Du, President of the Vietnam-Japan Friendship Association in Nghe An province thanked the Japanese Government for its assistance, helping Vietnam meet its guidelines for poverty reduction and human resources training.

Danang hosts ACM Int’l Collegiate Programming Contest

Duy Tan University, Danang City, held the opening ceremony for the 22nd Vietnam Informatics Olympic Contest for Students (OLP’13) and the ACM Int’l Collegiate Programming Contest (ACM/ICPC) on November 27.

Nearly 800 Vietnamese students and 45 from Japan, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Taiwan (China), China, Hong Kong (China) and Indonesia, entered this year’s competition.

This is the second time Danang has hosted the qualifying round in Asia for the ACM/ICPC, along with Phuket in Thailand and Jakarta in Indonesia.

The organising board will choose the most outstanding contestants from the OLP’13 and the qualifying round of ACM/ICPC to compete at the final round of ACM/ICPC 2014 in Ekaterinburg, Russia.

The awards ceremony will take place on November 29.

As part of the competition the Ministry of Education and Training, Vietnam Huawei Technology Company and Duy Tan University launched a mobile application renovation contest.

Contestants will make a tour of cultural and historic relics in Danang City and Hoi An township in Quang Nam province.

Netherlands helps Vietnam ensure food hygiene and safety

The Dutch Embassy in collaboration with the Food, Agriculture, Aquaculture Sector Committee (FAASC) under the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) held a seminar on food hygiene and safety in HCM City on November 26.

With the framework of Holland Village, experts and businesses from Europe and Vietnam met to exchange in formation and experience in managing food hygiene and safety.

They discussed measures to apply a model of food hygiene and safety management, good practices and food safety standards in Vietnam.

Vu Van Tam, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said Vietnam has many advantages to boost agricultural production and increase the competitiveness of its farm products.

However, he said, Vietnam mostly exports raw materials and unprocessed agricultural products. Experience learnt from the Netherlands will enable local farmers to meet requirements of European and other international markets.

On this occasion, Deputy Minister Tam and Dutch Ambassador Joop Scheffers signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on private-public partnership (PPP) projects to boost production in the breeding sector.

Fake products continue to flood marketplace

Government agencies, consumers, manufacturers and the entire community should work together to fight phony or counterfeit products, delegates told a conference in HCM City yesterday.

Infringement of intellectual protection rights is occurring more frequently, affecting licensed companies and consumers, said Do Huu Quang, deputy head of the Market Management Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Vietnamese consumers are presented with an abundance of goods, but it is difficult for them to distinguish between genuine and fake products, he said.

"Fake goods are everywhere and in many sectors, from fashion accessories to agricultural materials and cosmetics, with direct impact on consumers' health, environment, social security and producers," he said.

Fake goods are made both domestically and abroad and then smuggled into the country, he said.

Delegates at the seminar said enterprises had become more aware of IP rights protection and made an effort to protect it, but many others had not paid much attention to it.

"Many enterprises, when they discover that their designs and trademarks have been copied, do not have the courage to denounce these actions to authorised agencies," Quang said.

Even though more inspections have occurred, as well as increased fines, a lack of resources and personnel have caused the battle against fakes difficult to implement.

In addition, sanctions imposed on these violations have not deterred the practice, he said.

Luong Hoang Hung, deputy general director of the Viet Nam Intellectual Property Association, said businesses have a role to play by improving their public communications and helping people identify fake and substandard goods.

Many delegates at the meeting agreed that authorities should publicise the names of violators in the mass media.

Consumers must protect themselves by purchasing goods at prestigious shops and websites, they added.

Nguyen Thanh Tai, director of NewTech Company, said enterprises need strategies to protect their trademarks from counterfeit goods and should co-operate with government agencies in enforcement procedures.

Nguyen Thanh Binh, head of the National Office of Intellectual Property of Viet Nam in HCM City, said all enterprises, both large and small, should focus more on IP protection.

But Binh noted that, with current technology, a new product can be quickly analysed and copied. However, this makes owning IP rights even more important.

Companies employing IP protection effectively have been able to create prestigious trademarks. This has also helped them improve competitiveness in both local and international markets, and increase revenue, he said.

The conference was organised to mark the Day for Fighting Fake Goods on November 29.

EVN claims hydro dams not to blame

Electricity of Viet Nam (EVN) claims that operation of hydro-power reservoirs in central region met operational guidelines and did not cause flooding in lowland areas.

EVN gave their assurances to a working session on Monday with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, hydro-power investors and the eight central localities where a large number of hydro-power plants are located.

The meeting was held in response to public concern that recent floods in central and Central Highlands region, which killed 41 people, were partly resulted from hydro reservoirs' irresponsible release of water.

Vice Chairman of Quang Ngai province's People's Committee Pham Truong Tho, agreed with EVN that hydro-power reservoirs in the province had not released flood waters or caused man-made floods in the central region after recent storms and deluges.

"During heavy rains, water in all reservoirs in the province flows freely and no reservoirs release water to cause more floods for the region," he said.

"The rains are so heavy, making the water rise quickly and suddenly in a short period of time," he added.

Vice Chairman of Quang Nam Province's People's Committee Nguyen Ngoc Quang also said the local authorities kept a close watch over the operations of four hydro-power reservoirs in the province.

In any case, he added, when these reservoirs release water the amount released always smaller than the amount of water flowing into the reservoirs.

Giving an example, Quang illustrated that during the peak period when water flowing into the Dak Mi 4 reservoir reached 4,360cu.m per second, the water released from the reservoir was only 3,900cu.m per second.

The director of the National Hydro-meteorological Forecast Centre, Bui Minh Tang, said continuous heavy rains created a huge volume of water flowing into reservoirs.

"The recent storms caused unexpectedly heavy rains on a large scale with a rainfall of 200-1,000mm in the region," he said.

Tang also stressed that all reservoirs were allowed to release water prior to any storm to enable them to store rainwater brought in by storms and to prevent flooding.

"It meant that reservoirs contributed to reducing floods, not causing them," he said.

Minister of Trade and Industry Vu Huy Hoang said although localities confirmed that hydro-power reservoirs basically operated in line with regulations, it was still essential to review the operational processes at all reservoirs, particularly hydro-power reservoirs to ensure they all met regulations.

At present, 268 hydro-power projects are under operation nationwide while 205 others are under construction.