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Social Headlines December 16

 Rescued fishermen return home from Hong Kong; HCM City police seize 2.2kg of heroin; Paris performance raises funds for Vietnamese flood victims; Cambodia alumni meet in Vietnam

Rescued fishermen return home from Hong Kong



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Nine Vietnamese fishermen who were rescued from an accident on the East Sea on December 10 landed at the Ho Chi Minh City-based Tan Son Nhat International Airport on December 14.

They are in good health condition.

Tran Dac Thien, captain of the fated ship, said that the distressed fishermen were brought to Hong Kong (China) by a cargo ship on early December 14.

While in Hong Kong, the fishermen got help from the Vietnamese Consulate General and local concerned agencies to complete necessary procedures to return home within the day.

Ship owner Nguyen Thanh Thuan said the total loss is estimated at VND900 million (US$43,300). He also said luckily, all fishermen on board are safe and have returned home safely.

HCM City police seize 2.2kg of heroin

The Anti-narcotics force uncovered a drug smuggling of 2.2 kg of heroin in Ho Chi Minh City on December 14.

Five HCM City residents were arrested for further investigation.

The police also seized over 6.5kg of white powder which were suspected to be drug, VND140 million, 11 mobile phones, and six motorbikes relating to the drug smuggling case.

The drug was stocked in district 1 then brought to sell in districts 7 and 8 in the city.

The drug ring, led by Vo Thi Ngoc Hanh, 42, sold about 600 gram of heroin a day, according to the initial investigation.

Traffic violations in tunnel now subject to penalty

Traffic police on Thursday began imposing fines on vehicles, automobiles and motorbikes alike, that are seen via cameras violating traffic rules when traveling through the tunnel under the Saigon River.

The penalties were imposed ten days after police had announced in local media that they would start penalizing violators, now that the camera system in the system is working properly.

A traffic police officer told the Daily that all images on violators in the tunnel are instantly transmitted to the data center, and patrol units will also be duly informed of such violations via walkie-talkie.

Violators can see images of their wrongdoings at the data center at 52-54 Nguyen Khac Nhu Street in District 1.

As per traffic signs attached at either end of the tunnel, the max speed is 60kph for automobiles and 40kph for motorcycles, while lane changing in the tunnel is banned.

Heavy snow covers northwestern mountain

Heavy snowfall and thick ice layer covered O Quy Ho Mountain Pass in Sa Pa district, the northern province of Lao Cai as temperature was recorded at minus one Celsius degree on December 15.

This type of weather, while not common, occasionally occurs in the highest mountains in the north during winter.

The snowfall attracts tourists to Sa Pa , causing congestions from the provincial capital of Lao Cai to the resort town.

From the height of 1,500m above the sea level, icy sheets were about 2.5 cm, while the temperature continued plunging in foggy and dizzy weather.

Earlier on December 13, heavy rains hit the entire Lao Cai province with rainfall of 30-50 cm. In Sa Pa , the temperature dropped to 5-7 Celsius degree.

According to the Lao Cai Hydrometeorological Forecasting Centre, another cold spell is expected to hit the province, making the locality even freezer. The centre also warned of strong wind, whirlwind and hail that can bring huge losses for local residents.-

Days off scheduled for 2014 Tet festival and other holidays

The Prime Minister has officially approved the days off of work scheduled for the upcoming Tet (Lunar New Year) festival and other holidays in 2014.

Accordingly, civil servants and State employees will enjoy nine days off, from January 28 to February 5, 2014.

However, they will make up for this holiday by working on two Saturdays – January 25 and February 8.

The PM also agreed with the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs proposal to swap the days off for other holidays in 2014.

Specifically, civil and State employees will have five days off for the National Reunification (April 30) and International Labour (May 1) holidays – from April 30 to May 4 – but will have to work on Saturday, April 26 in compensation.

On the occasion of the National Day (September 2), these employees will be off on September 1 and 2, and will work on Saturday, September 6.

Agencies and organisations that do not provide fixed days off on Saturday and Sunday each week will arrange holiday schedules appropriate to their specific plans and exigencies.

Environment journalism prizes awarded

The winners of a press contest on natural resources and the environment received awards at a ceremony in Hanoi on December 13.

The organising board selected 26 exemplary works, awarding 4 Class A prizes, 9 Class B, 12 consolation prizes and a collective prize. Reporters from Nhan Dan Newspaper won two B prizes and one consolation prize.

The contest, the second of its kind, was announced on June 26, 2011 by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Entries came from diverse media outlets, including print, radio, television and online sources.

The contest was intended to raise awareness of environmental protection and to strengthen the relations and information exchange among people across the nation on environmental protection.

Vietnamese dancing robot among best toys this Christmas in US

Vietnamese made dancing robot ‘Tosy DiscoRobo’ has been named among the best toys this Christmas Season by the American Parent Association.

The American Parent Association described this robot as a lively, entertaining toy for children. Several magazines such as CNET, Grandparents.com, and CBS also added the dancing robot ‘Tosy DiscoRobo’ on their list of best toys to buy this Christmas.

Currently, the Vietnamese made toy is selling like hot cakes on the website Amazon.com.

The American Parent Association launched their own survey of toys and tested the best ones to introduce for parents to buy for their children during the festive season.

Tests were carried out over eight weeks. Volunteers played with many toys and then selection was done based on quality and suitability of each toy for children.

The website CNN.com has also just selected ‘Tosy DiscoRobo’ as one of the eight most favorite toys this Christmas Season. The dancing robot can move 56 dance steps when programmed.

Hanoi invests big in public lighting system

Hanoi People’s Committee has issued a plan to invest trillions of dong in upgrading the public lighting system around city from 2014 to 2020.

Under the plan, new lighting systems will be built at a cost of over 2,100 billion VND (100 million USD) for roads in the city’s urban and rural districts and towns as well as for alleys in streets and villages, with the aim of ensuring lighting for all urban roads and 80 percent of rural roads.

At the same time, the existing lighting systems will be upgraded with old technologies replaced at an estimated cost of more than 500 billion VND (23.8 million USD). A 45 billion VND control centre will also be built.

Furthermore, the city will also apply solutions to save electric consumption.

At present, Hanoi has one of the best public lighting systems in the country, which covers 2,876 kilometres of its roads, half of which are city streets.

However, only 28 percent of the city’s lights, mostly in downtown areas, are controlled by the main centre, while the remaining 72 percent are managed by local control panels, limiting the ability to adjust the time of lighting. In addition, the system still use overhead electrical wires, which is both unsafe and unsightly.

Eureka awards honour students’ research work

A total of 58 scientific research works by under-graduate students in Ho Chi Minh City have been honoured at the annual Eureka awards – a scientific research contest for students in the city.

The works were selected among 1,600 research projects submitted by students from 34 local universities between February and December this year.

The contest, the 15 th of its kind organised by the City’s Communist Youth Union and Ho Chi Minh City National University, aims to create a playground for local students to pilot their ideas and innovations, thus stimulating research activities in tertiary training establishments in the city.

A number of activities were concurrently held within the event on December 14 include a seminar on student’s scientific research, and an exchange among award winners from previous years, among others.-

Traffic accidents on the rise

Traffic accidents went up in December, said Railway and Road Police Department.

More than 650 traffic accidents were reported nationwide over the first two weeks of this month, killing 325 people and injuring another 480.

Of the total, road accidents took 154 lives and injured 213 others.

On average, 47 accidents happened a day, killing 23 people and injuring 34 others.

To deal with the situation and ensure traffic order and safety during festive season, police will intensify patrolling work and strictly handle violations.

In the first two weeks of this month, local police punished over 14,000 cases of traffic violations, seizure of over 300 cars and 17,000 motorbikes.-

Stricter laws against child abuse needed

The Law on Child Care, Protection and Education lacked a clear definition of child abuse, experts from social organisations said at a conference in Ha Noi on December 13.

Nguyen Duc Manh, director of the Institute for Population, Family and Children, said the lack of such a definition created many obstacles in implementing the law, as violators found loopholes to deny responsibility.

"This is one of the main reasons why sexual abuse of children is increasing," he said.

The number of rape cases where the victim was a child has been steadily rising, with 550 cases in 2011, 603 last year and 704 this year, according to the Supreme People's Court.

The court judged more than 1,100 cases of child sexual abuse in 2011, 1,400 last year and 1,800 this year.

Manh said the law also failed to specify what organisations should do to prevent child sexual abuse and help the victims.

"Without such regulations, organisations cannot legally join hands with state managing agencies and non-governmental organisations in the field," he stressed.

Nguyen Dinh Ton, an expert from the Viet Nam Association for Protection of Children's Rights, suggested that the law should state that social organisations had the right to conduct dissemination activities and protect, care for and educate children, as well as contribute ideas to local authorities about protecting them.

"With such rights, organisations can call on all of society to participate in the struggle against child sexual abuse," Ton said.

Project improves children awareness on mine accident prevention

An education project to prevent mine accidents funded by the Danish Demining Group (DDG) has benefited over 11,000 students of 22 schools in Duy Xuyen district, the central province of Quang Nam.

Starting one year ago, the project has equipped the children as well as nearly 650 teachers in the district with the basic knowledge on how to detect unexploded ordnance and avoid mine accidents.

Nearly 11,000 local residents in eight villages in Duy Xuyen’s Duy Son communes also received training under the project.

The activitiy will continue into next year, targeting another 5,000 people in the district, which was the site of fierce fighting during the anti-US war. The area is plagued with unexploded explosives and mines left from the war, with many mine accidents involving local residents and children.

Gender imbalance at birth poses big challenge

Gender imbalance at birth is posing a huge challenge to the population and family planning work as well as the health sector, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien has said.

At an artistic exchange programme in response to the National Action Month on Population on December 13, the Deputy PM said to curb the imbalance growth rate and bring it back to the normal level, the key measure is to educate people to change their behaviour related to gender selection.

The event saw the attendance of Chief Representative of the United Nations Population Fund in Vietnam Arthur Erken, former Vice Chairwoman of the National Assembly’s Committee for Foreign Affairs Ton Nu Thi Ninh, and poet Tran Dang Khoa, who shared their view on the issue with the audiences.

Currently, there is a shortage of 117 million women in the world due to gender imbalance at birth. In many Asian countries, deep-rooted preferential for sons has led to the abortion of female embryos and the use of modern technology to have sons, they said.

Results of a census announced on April last year show that Vietnam’s gender ratio at birth is at an alarming rate, 112.3 boys per 100 girls. If the situation is not improved, between 2.3 to 4.3 million Vietnamese men would be unable to find a partner in 2050.

Participants at the event called for more educational campaigns to raise the community’s awareness about girls’ rights, the responsibility of parents, families and the whole society for regaining newborn gender balance, for the future of their own children and the nation.-

Paris performance raises funds for Vietnamese flood victims

A music programme was held in Paris on December 14 to raise funds for Vietnamese flood victims in central provinces.

Performed by singer Alain Vu Hoang Mi, the event was jointly organised by the Vietnam Culture Centre and the Vietnamese Embassy in France.

Speaking at the event, Nguyen Thai Hiep Nhi, wife of Vietnamese Ambassador to France Duong Chi Dung and the programme’s sponsor, called on overseas Vietnamese in France to join hands to help the victims overcome the aftermath of floods.

At the event, Alain Vu Hoang Mi expressed his happiness to share losses of the people in the central region where are frequently hit by floods and storms, saying that he hopes they will overcome the disasters’ consequences.

Cambodia alumni meet in Vietnam

An exchange with Cambodian alumni in Vietnam was held in Hanoi on December 15 to mark the 35th anniversary of the January 7 victory over the Pol Pot genocidal regime.

Cambodian Ambassador to Vietnam Hul Phani thanked Vietnam for its generous assistance to the Cambodian people during the past struggle and current process of national development.

He said January 7, 1979 was the day when the Cambodian people entered a new period of peace and happiness.

Phani spoke highly of the results of training Cambodian alumni in Vietnam, who are now very active in strengthening bilateral ties.

The Head of the Cambodian alumni delegation thanked Vietnam for having created the best possible conditions for them to study in Vietnam.

Accordingly, many students have been adopted by former Vietnamese voluntary soldiers coming back from Cambodia to help them during their stay in Vietnam.

World youth festival closes

Vietnam’s 85-member delegation participated in a wide range of activities at the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students that closed on December 13 in Quito, Ecuador.  

During the event, the delegation, led by First Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee Nguyen Dac Vinh, took part in a forum called “Vietnam youth in the national process of renewal, construction and defence” and the international anti-imperialism tribunal, condemning the use of chemicals in wars.

At conferences and workshops in the framework of the event, they delivered reports focusing on the role of Vietnamese youth in poverty reduction, protection of the rights of children and gender equality, and the implementation of millennium development goals.

The festival approved a statement condemning the US’ embargo against Cuba, while affirming support for Palestinian people’s struggle and the peace process in Colombia.

The week-long event, with the participation of about 5,000 delegates from over 100 countries across the world, called for continuing the struggle against imperialism.

Bac Ninh officials to be trained in Singapore

Officials of the northern Bac Ninh province are scheduled to attend a training course in Singapore early next year, in a bid to improve their knowledge and experience in State administrative management.

The agreement was reached at a December 13 meeting between the provincial authority and a delegation from Nanyang Centre for Public Administration, under Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

At the meeting, Chairman of Bac Ninh People’s Committee Nguyen Nhan Chien said, as one of the provinces with fastest growth rate and most foreign direct investment in the country, Bac Ninh attaches much importance to training high quality personnel, in order to meet the development demand.

He asked the Singaporean partner to hold English language training courses as well as post-graduate and refresher courses in administrative and public administrative management for the province’s key officials.

The centre’s vice director Guo Sam Nan said he hopes for long-term collaboration with Bac Ninh province, thus contributing to education and experience training between Singapore and Vietnam.

Binh Duong supports workers for Tet

The southern province of Binh Duong will provide VND500,000 ($24) for each of 3,500 workers who cannot return home during the 2014 Lunar New Year (Tet) festival.

Chairman of the provincial People's Committee Le Thanh Cung said on Friday that the money would be provided by a fund of VND134 billion ($6.38 million) from the local budget to support disadvantaged people in the province.

Due to production difficulties, it is forecast that a large number of workers in the province will not be able to return home for the Tet holiday .

Five years on, banned autos still on the road

Nearly 10,000 self-modified and three-wheeled vehicles ply the roads nationwide, despite their being banned in 2008, the Ministry of Transport said on Friday.

It said the banned vehicles were in frequent use in Ha Noi's suburban districts of Phu Xuyen, Ung Hoa and Chuong My, as well as provinces like Hoa Binh, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Lak, Hau Giang and Long An.

In the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, for example, some 5,000 unregistered and manually driven mini tractors were being used in agricultural production.

Many owners had modified their vehicles' steering mechanism by replacing their shafts without permission from relevant authorities, according to the province's Department of Transport.

The province had organised classes to help procure driving license, but only two to three per cent of the total owners of such vehicles passed the theory and practical examinations, a representative from the province's Department of Transport revealed.

Tran Van Toan, a 54-year-old owner of a three-wheeled vehicle in the Tu Liem District, said that he had continued to drive the vehicle because this was his only means of income that helped him feed his 5-member family residing in the northern Hung Yen Province.

Toan added that he had already heard about the financial support packages announced for vehicle owners, but had not received any such package so far.

"However, even if I am given such support, VND5 million (US$230) will surely neither help me set up a business nor buy another vehicle," he said.

According to the Viet Nam Register, the country is yet to establish any standards for motor vehicles, so self-modified vehicles' quality cannot be verified.

Therefore, last week the Ministry of Transport was urged to formulate regulations regarding the issue soon.

In addition to the shortcomings in policies and poor enforcement of rules, Deputy Minister of Transport Le Dinh Tho, blamed the prevalence of such vehicles on the lack of other suitable options meant to replace these banned vehicles.

Mini trucks recommended to replace modified vehicles had been found suitable for running in the delta, but not mountainous areas, he pointed out.

In 2007, the Government had decided to ban and seize self-modified vehicles across the country to ease the growing traffic jams and reduce the number of accidents.

To help poor residents who operate these vehicles to earn a living, the government announced incentives and support measures two years later that would help these individuals find new jobs or buy other kinds of vehicles to replace their banned ones.

Accordingly, each family, which had two or more three and four-wheeled vehicles, will receive $230 per vehicle as assistance.

Graduates celebrate VN-Aussie links

Over 500 Vietnamese alumni and scholars from Australian universities gathered for their first national two-day conference in Ha Noi to mark the 40th anniversary of Viet Nam – Australia diplomatic ties.

Delivering the opening remarks at the conference, held on Saturday by the Australian Embassy, Deputy Minister of Education and Training Tran Quang Quy thanked the Australian Government and its educational institutions for helping Viet Nam train its high-quality workforce.

Thousands of Vietnamese graduates from Australian schools have returned to Viet Nam and been actively contributing to the country's socio-economic development in various positions, such as lecturers in universities or researchers at study institutions, Quy said.

Also, the Charge d'Affaires at the Australian Embassy in Viet Nam, Phillip Stonehouse, expressed his pleasure in seeing the development of the bilateral diplomatic relationship, of which education and training is a cornerstone.

The educational partnership had evolved, with as many as 40,000 Vietnamese students graduating from Australian institutions since the two countries set up diplomatic ties in 1973, Stonehouse said.

Australia continues to be the English speaking country in which the greatest number of Vietnamese enroll in studies, while the number of Australians who come to Viet Nam for studies was also expected to increase in the next few years, he added.

Professor Geoff Gallop, a keynote speaker at the conference, who is currently director of the University of Sydney's Graduate School of Management, highlighted the importance of higher education in sustainable development, saying that "higher education has the capacity to act as an autonomous force for change."

"By making available science and new technology, higher education not only helps businesses innovate and compete, it also helps communities to tackle disease, decay and disadvantage," Gallop said.

The conference sought to celebrate achievements of those Vietnamese had studied in Australia, while exploring potential opportunities for the bilateral partnership, as well as enhancing linkages in a range of areas.

The conference will be divided into seven sessions, covering health care reform, quality education, sustainable farming, regional economic integration, developmental environment, human resources training and shaking-up the public sector.

Viet Nam is currently the third largest recipient of Australian Government-funded scholarships, with nearly 400 each year.

Tiny tots, parents learn about traffic safety

More than 3,000 students from 22 primary schools in HCM City's Binh Tan District and their parents on December 14 attended a "Family Day" that featured fun activities with the message of traffic safety.

The programme titled "Kids Love Helmets" was organised by the city Department of Education and Training in co-operation with the Traffic Safety Committee and the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation.

The families learnt about the importance of helmets through activities like show cycling, puzzles, helmet decoration, and flash-mob dances.

Tran Van The, the father of two children studying in Binh Tri Primary School No.1 and who attended the event with them, said teaching traffic safety rules through games is a good way.

Children remember [things] easier, he said.

Decorating helmets caused his children to like their helmets more and more, he said.

"This is a chance for me to have fun with my two children."

A similar event will be organised in Tan Phu District on December 22 with 1,500 students and their parents expected to take part.

According to the Department of Education and Training, parents are ultimately responsible for ensuring that their children wear helmets.

Family events like this are thought to be an effective way to reach both parents and students and a good model to expand citywide.

They are part of a public awareness campaign called Children also Need A Helmet organised by the National Traffic Safety Committee, Ministry of Education and Training, and the AIP Foundation.

The national campaign began in 2011 with a goal of improving the rate of helmet use among children, correcting parents' misconceptions about helmet use among children, and increasing awareness of road safety.

New project aims to improve environmental management

A project aiming to strengthen national capacity to develop sound policies relating to natural resources management and environment protection was launched yesterday in Ha Noi.

The four-year project will be jointly implemented by the Institute of Strategy and Policy of Natural Resources and Environment under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It is scheduled to start this year with a total funding of US$3 million from the UNDP.

Deputy Minister Tran Hong Ha said at the launching ceremony that the project would help amend the Law on Natural Resources and Environment that was issued in 2005, help build stronger polices for sustainable development as well as a suitable legal framework for implementing environmental policies.

The project presents a valuable opportunity to improve natural resource management in Viet Nam, he said.

Nguyen Trung Thang, deputy director of the institute, said the project would enhance the capacity of managers and institutions in policy analysis.

Bakhodir Burkhanov, UNDP Deputy Country Director, said that it was encouraging to see that the project would enable independent evaluation of environmental performance at provincial level, and ensure the participation of communities in monitoring the enforcement and implementation of environmental laws.

Specifically, the project will pilot the Environment Performance Index at provincial level in Viet Nam, which will help produce an "objective and dynamic picture of environmental quality in provinces for appropriate policy decisions," he said.

"We are committed to bringing relevant international expertise and experiences, helping build capacities of institutions, and coordinating with development partners for effective results towards greater environmental sustainability and efficient use of natural resources in Viet Nam," he added. 

HCM City hospital offers free health checks

The HCM City University's Medical Centre will provide free health checks and consultancy to 100 people with congenital cleft lips and palates on December 15.

Those interested can register with the hospital's customer care department at 54051010 or 39525353.

One in 500 children are born with cleft lips and/or palate and other facial deformities in Viet Nam , according to the centre.

On December 19 and 20, the centre will offer free testing and consultancy for 400 people at risk of dyslipidemia (too high or low blood lipid levels), such as people with diabetes or hypertension, men aged 45 and above, and women aged 55 and above.-

Rampant overuse of antibiotics alarming

Rampant overuse of antibiotics by the general public and doctors is seeing an alarming increase, and will only lead to more resistance of the drug in patients.

Medical experts say that people should use antibiotics only when they are suffering from some sort of infection.

However, in Vietnam antibiotics are used for even ordinary treatments. People look upon antibiotics as miraculous healing medicines and hence self-medicate by buying the drug from nearby pharmacies even for ailments like exhaustion, cough and cold.

Dr. Tran Minh Dien, Deputy Director of the National Children Hospital in Hanoi, said that people often self-medicate their children with the drug. According to a hospital survey, up to 44 percent of parents use the drug before taking their child to a hospital.

Meantime, as per a Ministry of Health study, awareness of correct use of antibiotics among people and medicine retailers in rural districts in the Northern Provinces is still very low.

According to the Pharmacy University in Hanoi, the rate of Vietnamese people using antibiotics is five times higher than in European countries. The rate among people in urban areas is 88 percent while in rural areas it is 91 percent.

Rampant and overuse of antibiotics could harm patient’s health and even prove hazardous and fatal. Cao Hung Thai, Deputy Chief of the Medical Examination and Treatment Department under the Ministry of Health, said it is often seen that people don’t take a full course of antibiotics and hence build up resistance against the drug.

Consequently, the drug fails to affect during regular treatment.

Dr. Dien noticed that parents use antibiotics for children indiscriminately, leading to complications or even deafness.

Medical experts warn that physicians should take initiative not to abuse antibiotics in prescriptions and instead study the drug history of patients.

In addition, concerned agencies should strengthen awareness of antibiotics among people to prevent abuse.

Source: VNA/VOV/VNS/SGGP/Nhandan

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