Japan praises Vietnam’s JTC scandal settlement

Japan is appreciative of Vietnam’s rapid response and strict settlement of those involved in the alleged graft scandal of the Japan Transportation Consultants, Inc. (JTC).

Vietnam launched investigations and detained several transport officials after learning that these officials had engaged in a JTC graft scandal.

On March 20, JTC President Tamio Kakinuma admitted that the Tokyo-based railway consultant firm had paid "kickbacks" to foreign civil servants in Vietnam, Indonesia and Uzbekistan in return for orders for five ODA projects.

He revealed that JTC paid JPY 80 million (about US$780,000) to win a US$41 million urban railway bidding contract in Vietnam, funded by the Japanese Government's official development assistance (ODA).

At a meeting in Hanoi on June 2, Japanese officials acknowledged Vietnam’s efforts and briefed Vietnam on the progress Japan has made in investigating the case.

Both sides discussed measures to prevent malpractice and extortion in implementing ODA-funded transport projects in Vietnam.   

Vietnam offers modern medical equipment to Cambodia

Vietnamese Defence Attaché to Cambodia Nguyen Anh Dung on June 2 presented a modern medical equipment package worth over VND2 billion to a Royal Cambodian Army hospital in Preah Vihear province.

Military hospital Samdech Techo Hun Sen Sra Em was officially opened in late 2013 with total investment capital of VND4.5 billion, as a gift from the Vietnam Ministry of Defence.

Over the years the Vietnam Ministry of Defence has assisted Cambodia in building infrastructure and providing medical equipment, developing human resources at all levels, giving free medical check-ups and medicine, and treating military Cambodian officers and soldiers in Vietnam.   

In 2014, the Ministry plans to deploy medical care packages worth more than VND50 billion to the Royal Cambodian Army, focusing on military hospitals and healthcare centres across the country.

NA deputies discuss full and part-time roles

National Assembly (NA) deputies yesterday discussed a draft law on the organisation of full and part-time deputies at the National Assembly.

The focus of the discussion at the seventh session was about the number of full-time NA deputies, an outline of their work and their rights and responsibilities at central and local levels.

Most deputies agreed to increasing the number of full-time NA deputies from 25 per cent to 35 per cent of the assembly.

Deputy Pham Huy Hung from Ha Noi proposed that the number of full-time deputies should be increased term by term.

He added that the percentages of deputies from central and local levels should be clearly set.

He also proposed that the draft law stipulate the working time and the responsibilities and rights of part-time NA deputies before, during and after meeting sessions.

Deputy Nguyen Dinh Quyen, also from Ha Noi, said the draft law should clearly reflect the position and role of the National Assembly, which, he said, was the highest representative body of the people, the highest organ of State power - and a legislative body.

He said the draft law needed to clearly indicate the role and position of NA deputies and help raise the effectiveness of their activities.

Quyen also proposed that the age range for NA deputies should be clearly stipulated.

Deputy Huynh Van Tiep from the southern city of Can Tho said the responsibilities of the NA deputies in supervising the legal compliance of local People's Committees and People's Councils should also be clearly defined.

Viet Nam attends ICAPP party meeting

A delegation from the Communist Party of Viet Nam (CPV) took part in the 22nd meeting of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) Standing Committee in Russia's Vladivostok city from May 30 and June 1.

At the event, delegates from the 23 major Asian political parties which are members of the Committee, reviewed the operations of the ICAPP since their previous meeting in Turkey, and discussed preparations for the ICAPP General Assembly, scheduled for September this year in Sri Lanka.

Mentioning the region's current situation, especially tensions in the East Sea, the Vietnamese delegation, led by Tran Dac Loi, deputy head of the CPV Central Committee's Commission for External Relations, stressed the urgent need to follow the principle of not taking unilateral action. He said all sides must comply with international law through negotiations and the use of peaceful means to resolve disputes.

He expressed his wish for ICAPP to play an active role in protecting peace and stability in the region.

On the sidelines of the meeting, the Vietnamese officials had meetings with representatives from the United Russia Party, the Communist Party of China and other political parties to exchange views on issues of mutual concern.

Cuba to train VN scribes

Cuban news agency Prensa Latina (PNL) will train more Vietnamese students in reporting and editing under commitments made in talks between top officials of the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) and PNL.

The two news agencies will also step up exchange of print and television news.

The measures to strengthen co-operation were agreed upon in meetings between Prensa Latina President Luis Enrique Gonzalez and VNA Director General Nguyen Duc Loi, who is on a five-day visit to Cuba that ends today.

Gonzalez informed Loi that Prensa Latina was paying attention to improving its audio-visual and other multimedia coverage.

He pledged to review and fully implement co-operation agreements reached by both agencies.

In his turn, Loi said that VNA was intent on improving the quality of its coverage on the way to becoming a multimedia group in its role as the Government's trustworthy information source.

He thanked Prensa Latina for helping VNA publish its Vietnam Pictorial magazine in Cuba and other Latin American nations, as well as supporting activities of the VNA bureau in Cuba.

Earlier, the Vietnamese delegation was received by head of the Cuban Party Central Committee's Ideology Commission, Rolando Alfonso Borges, who highly valued the partnership between the two news agencies.

He encouraged the two news agencies to continue sharing experiences and co-operating in dissemination of information regarding the nations' socialist-oriented construction and development.

Loi briefed the host on recent political and socio-economic developments in Viet Nam, especially tensions in the East Sea after China illegally deployed an oil drilling rig and various ships to operate in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Viet Nam.

During the visit, the Vietnamese delegation held talks with the management board of the Cuban domestic news agency (AIN). The two sides agreed to boost cooperation and news sharing under signed agreements.

The AIN pledged to continue providing news on Cuba, especially socio-economic development in its localities.

The VNA delegation also visited and laid flowers at the Ernesto Che Guevara memorial in central Villa Clara province.

New habits prevent outbreaks

The number of measles and dengue fever cases has subsided as a result of local citizens' increased awareness of the need for vaccinations and preventive hygienic measures.

General Department of Preventive Medicine said that measles cases had hit a peak in February but had fallen in the last few weeks.

As of May 29, at least 96.3 per cent of people had received the necessary two measles shots, compared to 57.5 per cent as of April 19.

Binh Phuoc Province, where only 8.21 per cent of children had received shots as of April 19, was included on the department's list of provinces that had achieved a 95 per cent rate or above as of May 29.

Since the beginning of the year, the country has recorded 4,950 incidences of measles. Of those, 87 per cent did not get measles vaccinations.

Many parents thought that getting measles was not life-threatening, so they were not especially concerned about taking their children to get vaccinations.

Dr Truong Huu Khanh, head of the HCM City Paediatric Hospital No. 1's neurology and infectious disease ward, said they began paying more attention to preventive measures after seeing family members and friends contract measles and other diseases.

In the last few weeks, many centres have seen growing numbers of people coming to be vaccinated against measles.

Over the last four months, there have been reports in the media about deaths from measles.

Hearing the reports, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Han of Thu Duc District's Linh Xuan Ward said she had brought her 26-month-old son to the ward's health centre for the vaccination.

Phan Trong Lan, head of the HCM City Pasteur Institute, said that the disease-prevention habits of local residents would help stop the spread of measles and other diseases.

Many residents believed that the responsibility for prevention rested in the hands of health officials and authorities, Lan said.

"So they do not take the initiative to clean areas around where they live," he said.

Most active participants in the local environmental-hygiene programmes are health officials and local authorities in wards and communes.

Entering Alley No. 226 in Linh Xuan Ward with more than 30 rented rooms, I saw a plot of land covered with rubbish thrown there by people who live in the rooms.

When asked whether they know that rubbish like disposable containers can be home to mosquito larvae when it rains, they said they were aware but they had little time to clear the area. They assumed that local authorities would do so. And, besides, no one in the area had contracted dengue fever, they said.

Although many residents are given free bottles of Chloramine B chemical disinfectant for the prevention of hand, foot and mouth disease, they still do not use it because they do not have the habit of disinfecting their homes.

Diseases such as hand, foot and mouth disease are still breaking out because of these attitudes, Nguyen Huu Hung, deputy head of the city Department of Health, said.

Residents should also take the initiative and participate in local environmental hygiene programmes and not rely solely on local officials, he said.

Lai Chau suffers from serious lack of doctors

The northern province of Lai Chau is facing a serious doctor shortage in spite of numerous efforts made by authorities to attract more health professionals to the remote area.

Incentives have been offered to urban-based doctors, while the VND415 billion (US$19.7 million) Lai Chau General Hospital, considered the most modern provincial hospital in the northern mountainous area, has been built.

The hospital has 300 beds for in-patients and has the capacity to provide health checks to 500 patients per day. But only 30 of the hospital's 70 workers are doctors, with only 8 working in the paediatrics ward. The hospital's anaesthetic ward has two doctors among its 26 staff.

Do Thi Duong, a 27-year-old doctor in the anaesthetic ward, has been forced to work continuously without days off. Duong even rented a house closer to the hospital, to save time travelling from Lai Chau City.

"Once the hospital received too many patients that needed surgery, so I stayed awake for three consecutive nights," said Duong.

On average the ward helps about 10 patients per day. At the moment, Duong is the only doctor in the ward because the other doctor is at a training course.

During the past 10 years, the province has made a concerted policy push to attract more doctors, but only one or two come to work in the province each year. This is a far cry from the 300 doctors the province needs to meet demand.

Meanwhile, the doctor shortage has forced hospital management boards to rotate responsibility for conducting health examinations. The province has also had to cope with a massive brain-drain, with many district-level doctors seeking positions at upper-level hospitals after their training.

More than 20 doctors have moved from Lai Chau Province to work in urban areas during the past three years.

Many doctors forego certificates, qualifications, social and health insurance and additional allowances to relocate.

Doctor Do Quy Nhat, who previously worked at the Sin Ho District Medical Station, is among many who relocated to more populous areas and did not return, despite that he would have been promoted to lead a clinic in Sin Ho District.

Do Cong Danh graduated from Thai Binh Medical University and worked at the Sin Ho District Medical Station from 2006. After being assigned to advanced training in 2008, he left the station in 2013.

Danh even changed his phone number so he couldn't be contacted.

Director of the Lai Chau Department of Health Nguyen Cong Huan said that low incomes and allowances were the main reason behind doctors becoming disillusioned working in the province.

To stem further losses, the department has established regulations that doctors must work in the province for at least five years after completing their studies, while the province has also looked to assert its right to manage their qualifications.

The province will assign children of ethnic minorities in the province in an attempt to foster local talent. Meanwhile, the province has also said it will support doctors with extra money and accommodation to reduce the strain.

Binh Dinh thirsts for potable water

The prolonged hot weather has caused a severe shortage of fresh water for nearly 600 households in the central coastal Binh Dinh Province's Hoa Hoi Village since early this year.

Tran Thi Chanh, head of the village, said that because of insufficient rain and the prolonged hot weather since February, a majority of the local wells had run dry.

Tran Thi Gai, a local resident, said that her family's well had run dry despite being around 7 to 8 metres deep. Her family now has to buy water from another place, she said.

"We run a rest house and it costs about VND5 million or US$235 per month to buy water," she said.

Gai said that the high cost of buying water has affected her family's business activity.

The other households also buy water, with a cubic metre of water costing about VND75,000 or $3, including the cost of transporting it. Each household pays between VND1 million to VND4 million to buy water per month.

The same situation exists in the Nhon Hai Commune where the people had to contribute money for hiring men to dig 100 wells to irrigate 120 hectares of the summer-autumn rice crop.

In the meantime, hundreds of shrimp farmers in the two communes of Vinh Trach Dong and Hiep Thanh in the southern Bac Lieu Province have been facing water shortage in their 1,000 hectares of shrimp farms for several months.

As many as 11 irrigation canals, which used to provide water to the shrimp farms, suffered a high degree of sediment collection, making the farmers unable to get water for their shrimps.

According to a Vietnam News Agency correspondent in the province, the authorities of the two communes did nothing to help the farmers.

The two communes' authorities claimed that they had not received any complaints from the local shrimp farmers.

Energy group funds schools upgrade

An energy group led by Chevron Viet Nam yesterday announced its would give US$150,000 to the National Fund for Vietnamese to upgrade 5 schools and provide scholarships to more than 800 students in the Mekong Delta this year.

The commitment forms part of the group's education programme that has provided scholarships to more than 3,800 students and upgraded 19 schools in the Mekong Delta region since 2009.

Police arrest two drug traffickers in Nam Dinh

The police in the northern Nam Dinh Province today announced the discovery of a drug trafficking ring that extended from the northern border province of Lai Chau to Nam Dinh.

On Sundaymorning, they caught drug trafficker Le Thi Sinh, 47, of Lai Chau City who was carrying three cakes of heroin, weighing about 350 grams each.

After investigating further, they caught another trafficker, Tan Leng May, 67, of Lai Chau City for transporting 12 cakes of heroin by motorbike.

Colonel Vu Manh Tuong, head of Nam Dinhs Police Department for Drug Crime Investigation, said that the two arrested were part of a drug trafficking ring. The investigation is being intensified.

Earlier in April, the local police had caught a drug trafficker from the central Nghe An Province, who was carrying 10 cakes of heroin and 28 tablets of methamphetamine in the provinces Vu Ban District.

Students welcome real life questions

The first of the two-and-a-half-day high school final exams went smoothly, with students welcoming questions related to "real situations" they cared deeply about, local reports said.

A Vietnam News Agency report cited both teachers and students as saying there were "no problems" on the first day, and that they expected the same of the remaining days.

The finals began with a two-hour exam on literature in which students were asked to express their opinions on China's illegal placement of its Haiyang Shiyou-981oil rig in Vietnamese waters.

On Huyen Trang, a student at Ha Noi's Nguyen Trai High School, said that she was very interested in the question about China's illegal actions in Viet Nam's waters because it was "hot news" and helped students express their responsibility and love for the nation.

She also said that the questions asked were related to lessons that they had revised prior to the examination.

More than 76,000 students in Ha Noi sat for the literature exams.

Hoang Xuyen, a literature teacher at the Quang Khe High School in the northern province of Bac Kan, said some of the exam questions were close to relevant situations that people were deeply concerned about. They also matched the capacity of most students, she said.

The city had set up 149 exam centres and 20 inspector delegations to monitor the conduct of the examinations, and Deputy Chairwoman of the municipal People's Committee, Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc, visiting several schools where the tests were held yesterday.

In the central province of Thua Thien-Hue, more than 14,300 candidates set for the exams at 34 centres.

Pham Van Hung, director of the provincial Department of Education and Training, said that the printing and transportation of question papers as well as the proctoring of examinations were done "seriously as per regulations."

More than 1,800 teachers were assigned proctoring duties and nine students in the province quit the exams without stating any reason, he added.

In the southern province of Dong Nai, two candidates and one proctor were injured in traffic accidents after the literature exam yesterday morning and could not attend subsequent exams in the afternoon.

Hung said his department will ensure the affected students' rights based on their academic performance to date.

Meanwhile, the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak reported that of almost 24,000 candidates sitting for the examinations, more than 5,300 belonged to ethnic minority communities.

Ambassador praises Vietnamese student association in US

Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Nguyen Quoc Cuong has urged Vietnamese students and youths living in the US to keep up their enthusiasm, dynamism and creativity, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Vietnamese Youth and Student Association (June 1, 2013-June 1-2014).

Speaking on June 2, the Ambassador said the association’s foundation meets the expectation of a large number of Vietnamese students in the country, which has reached about 16,000. He noted that during the past one year, many chapters of the association were formed across the US, creating links not only among Vietnamese students studying in the country but also with their peers in other countries.

Ambassador Cuong said he is most impressed by the dynamism and creativity shown in the association’s activities, which included campaigns to raise fund for flood victims and poor youngsters in the homeland, a news website at www.sinhvienusa.org, as well as numerous contests.

The ambassador expressed his hope that the association will continue to serve as a bridge to forge links between students from Vietnam, US students of Vietnamese origin and their peers in Vietnam and other countries, thus further contributing to the homeland’s development.

“Each Vietnamese student in the US is an ambassador of a Vietnam of renewal and international integration,” he said.

Psychiatric health services must improve: ministry

Nearly 10 percent of the Vietnamese population, or nine million people, suffer from mental disorders which come in different forms, with symptoms including anxiety, insomnia and emotional and behavioural disorders.

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs raised the statistic at a conference in Hanoi on June 3, attended by experts from the US, partially attributing the trend to the pressures of the open-door economy and the rapid growth of technology in Vietnam.

The conference provided an opportunity for Vietnamese delegates to get updated on international experience in mental health care and social welfare models for taking care of mentally ill patients.

There are about 26 centres across the country rehabilitating over 10,000 patients with serious mental disorders. These clinics have been gradually improving the infrastructure and enhancing the quality of services.

However, they are encountering a number of difficulties such as insufficient medicine, imperfect policies, low pay for staff and limited public awareness of mental health.

Participants suggested the ministry build a national strategic framework in the field to provide better services for the patients.

They said the State should have a key role to play in expanding the social welfare network, which needs the participations of organisations, businesses and local people.