Fourth Russian-made submarine begins sea trials

The fourth Russian built Kilo-class submarine began its factory-level sea trials on the Baltic Sea on August 21, according to Russian media sources.

This is the fourth Project 636 submarine Russia has designed and constructed for Vietnam under a contract signed in 2009 during a Moscow visit by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Pursuant to the contract, Russia has agreed to build six submarines, dubbed as Black Holes in the Ocean by NATO.  The first two vessels, HQ-182 Hanoi and HQ-183 Ho Chi Minh City, have previously been handed over to Vietnam.

The first submarine, dubbed HQ-182 Hanoi successfully made its maiden voyage on January 8, 2014.

The second vessel named HQ-183 Ho Chi Minh City docked at Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay on March 19, 2014.  

Russian experts are continuing to train the Vietnamese crew on the third submarine named HQ 184-Haiphong.

Outgoing Brazilian ambassador receives friendship insignia

The Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations (VUFO) on August 21 presented the insignia “For peace and friendship of nations” to outgoing Brazil Ambassador Victoria Alice Cleaver.

The ambassador received the reward for her great contributions to fostering the friendship between the two nations and connecting their businesses.

Thanks to her efforts, bilateral ties have seen remarkable developments in various fields, including agriculture, aquaculture and bio-energy, said Nguyen Van Lang, Chairman of the Vietnam-Brazil Friendship and Cooperation Association.

Especially, two-way trade increased from 1 billion USD in 2011 to 2.3 billion USD in 2013, he noted.

She has also actively assisted the teaching of the Portuguese language in Vietnam as well as cultural exchanges between the two countries, thus consolidating their solidarity, friendship and cooperation, Lang added.

For her part, Cleaver expressed her honor to receive the insignia, promising that in any capacity, she is willing to work for the development of bilateral ties.

Quang Tri receives US$6.1 million aid from NGOs

Five international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) attended a conference in central Quang Tri province on August 21, at which they signed agreements to provide funding of over US$6.1 million for projects in the region.

The five NGOs include Mines Advisory Group (MAG), World Vision International, Plan International, Zhi-Shan Foundation and Norwegian People's Aid (NPA).

At the conference, Vice Chairman of the Quang Tri Provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chinh spoke highly of the foreign NGOs, which have actively assisted the province achieve poverty reduction, overcome the consequences of bombs and mines as well as prevent and mitigate natural disasters.

The NGOs-funded projects helped the province reduce the poverty rate from 16.11% in 2011 to 11.56% in late 2013.

Chinh acknowledged the active contributions of international organisations, embassies and NGOs in Vietnam which provided more than US$26 million for Quang Tri to develop socio-economic infrastructure and the agro-forestry-fishery industry, restructure the economy and eliminate poverty in remote and ethnic minority areas from 2011 to 2013

On the occasion, Quang Tri presented certificates of merit to four international organisations and individuals for their contributions to the province’s development.

Explore Canada from A to Z competition launched

The Embassy of Canada in Hanoi and the Consulate General of Canada in Ho Chi Minh City have launched the fun and exciting educational competition, titled “Explore Canada from A to Z”.

Running from August 20 until September 30, 2014, the competition is open to all Vietnamese high school students who want to learn about, explore, and experience Canada.

Contestants in Vietnam are requested to write 3 short essays in English or French, each having a maximum of 150 words on culture, education, and career prospects. Twenty contestants (10 from Vietnam and 10 from Canada) with best essays will be chosen and randomly paired to co-produce an artful, interesting and relevant short movie (video clip) to reflect the theme of the competition “Exploring Canada’s culture while experiencing Canada’s education to enhance your career prospects”. 5 pairs with best videos will be selected for granting prizes.

Prizes will include:

First prize: The student from Vietnam will be awarded a three-week Canada study tour in English or French while one from Canada will receive a scholarship of CAD 2,000 and an internship opportunity in Vietnam.

Second prize: The student from Vietnam will be awarded a two-week Canada study tour in English or French while one from Canada will receive a scholarship of CAD 1,000.

Third prize: The student from Vietnam will be awarded a one-week Canada study tour in English or French while one from Canada will receive a scholarship of CAD 500.

In addition, there will be two consolation prizes for the 4th and 5th pairs, with each participant receiving CAD 200.

Last year’s competition attracted 700 participants.

OVs in Canada updated on Vietnam’s science-technology policy

Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan has updated Vietnamese intellectuals in Canada on changes in Vietnam’s policies on science and technology during his visit to the North American country.

Speaking before about 80 Vietnamese intellectuals at the Vietnam House in Ottawa on August 20, the minister underlined the new points in the revised Law on Science and Technology adopted by the National Assembly last year.

They include stipulations on financing mechanism and procedures for science-technology activities. In addition, State-owned enterprises are required to set aside part of their pre-tax profits to run a fund for research.

The minister also informed the overseas Vietnamese about the Vietnamese Government’s policy to give priority to several highly competitive sectors, including rice, vaccine production, mushroom planting and pangasius breeding.

He hailed the Vietnamese intellectuals in Canada for their achievements and expressed wish that they can come back to contribute to national development when conditions permit.

Minister Quan said his visit to Canada this time aims to seek a cooperation agreement in science and technology between Vietnam and Canada.

Vietnam, Japan to work on hi-tech agriculture

Vietnam hopes for Japan’s further support in hi-tech agriculture and rural development, said Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Tran Viet Thanh.

He made the request at a working session with Governor of the Ibaraki prefecture Masaru Hashimoto and Chairman of the Ibaraki chapter of Japan Agriculture Cooperatives Group Toyokuni Kakurai, in Ibaraki on August 20.

Thanh conveyed President Truong Tan Sang’s invitation to the governor to visit Vietnam in order to strengthen bilateral cooperation across the board.

The deputy minister suggested the Japanese side assist Vietnam in developing new crop varieties resistant to drought, flood and pests, as well as in cultivating and post-harvest techniques for farm produce.

Hashimoto said he will lead a 70-strong business delegation to Vietnam in early October, during which they will work with Vietnamese partners on the transfer of technology used in agriculture.

Japan will back sci-tech coordination with Vietnam, Hashimoto noted firmly, adding that he hopes the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology will send scientists to Ibaraki to join in studies and hi-tech production.

On the front line of embracing technological advances, Ibaraki has recorded the second largest output of agricultural products in Japan.

ADB finances road building projects in south-central region

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to provide US$100 million in non-refundable aid for the five provinces of Binh Phuoc, Dak Nong, Dak Lak, Gia Lai and Kon Tum for road and bridge construction.

The donation was pledged at a working session between the Binh Phuoc provincial People’s Committee and a working delegation from the Vietnam Ministry of Planning and Investment (MoPI) and the ADB.

The projects aim to provide an efficient, safe and reliable road system for benefit of ethnic minority groups and poor communities in the five provinces.  They will be implemented starting in early 2016

The ADB has also agreed to provide US$900,000 to the five provinces next year to make detailed plans for the project.

Additional 300 children recieve free smile surgeries

American Oil and Gas giant Exxon Mobil has funded Operation Smile Vietnam with US$75,000 to provide free surgeries for 300 congenital harelip and cleft palate children across the country.

Exxon Mobil Director General Greg Smith said his company wants to engage in community-based projects which have long-term positive impacts on individual's life as Operation Smile Vietnam are pursuing.

For every 700 Vietnamese children born, there is one child with harelip and cleft palate or maxillofacial deformities. In addition to enduring physical defects,these disabled children have to face difficulties in daily activities such as mental pains and social stigma.

Only approximately VND 5,000,000 and a 45 minutes/surgery will help bring them a brighter life.

After 25 years of operations in Vietnam, Operation Smile Vietnam has conducted 30,000 free surgeries and treatment for children with facial deformities.

Operation Smile Vietnam is expected to carry out the biggest ever humanitarian assistance programme in the health sector’s history in order to mark this event.

Japan to help HCM City reduce carbon emission

Japan will help Ho Chi Minh City reduce carbon emission, Japanese Senior Vice Minister of Environment Kitagawa Tomokatsu has assured.

Meeting with Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Huu Tin on August 20, Tomokatsu said his visit is to strengthen two-way cooperation in climate change, waste management and enforcement of the law on environment.

In the open-minded and keen spirit, HCM City and Japan’s Environment Ministry will surely set up interactions via the exchange of information and experience, he said in full confidence.

Tin informed his guest that the city is working to better manage the environment, especially its waste treatment by shifting away from landfill to incineration and microbiological disposal.

He expressed hope for continued assistance in technology transfer from the Japanese ministry and localities in the coming time.

In the past, Osaka helped the city respond to climate change and deal with organic waste to generate electricity in Binh Dien market, the host said.

RoK firm helps build school for Thai Nguyen’s pupils

The construction of a school for pre-school and primary pupils at Lam Vy commune, Dinh Hoa district, the northern mountainous province of Thai Nguyen, began on August 20 under the support of Lotte Group of the Republic of Korea.

The Lotte Shopping Plaza Vietnam (LSPV), a subsidiary of Lotte Group, funded nearly VND2 billion via Plan-RoK for the school, which comprises of two fully-equipped classrooms, a kitchen, a toilet, a water supply system and a play ground.

The facility, which can accommodate 85 students, is expected to become operational in June, 2015.

Speaking on the occasion, Sung Yeon Suck, business director of LSPV said his firm is honoured to join in social activities in Vietnam.

On behalf of the local authorities, Chairwoman of the Dinh Hoa district People’s Committee Loc Kim Tuyet said Lam Vu is one of the poorest communes in the district. The project will help improve the access of local pupils from low-income families, especially those in remote areas, to education.

Government requests probe into child sponsoring centres

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has asked the Ministry of Public Security to investigate centres taking care of children and strictly punish any violators.

The move came after the Ha Noi Police recently seized Nguyen Thi Thanh Trang, 36, a worker at Bo De Pagoda in Ha Noi's Long Bien District, for alleged child trafficking.

Trang was charged with selling a child to another woman, Pham Thi Nguyet, 35, for VND35 million (US$1,650). Nguyet was also taken into custody.

Dam also asked the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs to work with other organisations and offices to inspect such centres and ensure that they were conforming to the law.

The Ministry of Public Security was directed to step up inspections of the number of inhabitants in social sponsoring centres, while the Ministry of Justice was assigned to check the implementation of adoption laws and ensure that abandoned children had birth certificates.

Long Bien authorities announced on Tuesday that Bo De Pagoda did not obey regulations when caring for abandoned children and the elderly. Dozens of children lacked birth certificates, many did not attend school and management of those leaving and entering was loose.

Ha Noi shuts down 33 illegal drugstores

Ha Noi's Health Department and its district subdivisions have shut down 33 illegal drugstores in the city since the beginning of this year.

Chief Inspector of the Health Department Nguyen Viet Cuong said that a majority of the violations at the drugstores included the absence of pharmacists, sale of unlabelled medicines, substandard facilities and displaying medicines along with food supplements.

Inspectors also found that the law was being violated in 24 health clinics where foreign doctors were registered to work.

However, most of these foreign doctors had reportedly returned to their countries.

Cement company fined for noise pollution

The Natural Resources and Environment Department of the central province of Quang Binh yesterday fined a company VND120 million (US$5,700) for causing noise pollution.

The Van Ninh Cement Company was found to be creating noise at levels 15 decibels higher than allowed noise levels, causing surrounding residents to suffer from noise pollution.

The company also did not have an available environmental protection plan, as required.

Local authorities ordered the company to take measures to reduce the noise pollution.

Police arrest negligent truck driver

Police of the central Thanh Hoa province yesterday arrested a truck driver for damaging a weighing station located at the National Highway 1A section crossing Bim Son District.

Do Hac Hai, 48, from the northern province of Thai Nguyen, told police he fell asleep while driving, causing his container truck to crash, damaging the weighting station.

The total damage is estimated at VND500 million ($23,600), according to officials.

The case is under further investigation.

Fake fertilizer makers slapped with fines

The People's Committee of the Central Highlands of Lam Dong Province yesterday fined two companies VND322 million ($15,200) for manufacturing and selling fake fertilizer products.

The companies were identified as Long Viet and Viet Nga fertilizer production companies.

The companies were also required to recall and hand over the fake products to the local authorities.

Hoi An to build erosion barriers

The central province of Quang Nam will build a VND15 billion (US$714,000), 137 metre, concrete beach dyke next month.

It will be the first stage of a 1.5km, VND115 billion ($5.5 million) embankment along Cua Dai beach, which is expected to be completed before the rainy season starting in October.

Vice chairman of Hoi An City's People's Committee, Nguyen Van Dung, said the first stage would protect beachfront from Vinpearl Hoi An resort to Pusionalya resort.

Erosion has come closer to the main section of the 1.5km road connecting the beach with Hoi An, threatening dozens of resorts. Rising sea levels have already washed a 20-hectare area of Cua Dai beach away.

Local authorities have also approved a project to plant 140ha of Nipa palm along the Thu Bon river to protect the city from sea erosion and reduce sand drift.

Claude Balland, general manager of Victoria Hoi An resort, said he spent thousands of dollars annually to protect resort foundations from erosion.

"The beach once stretched 200m, but now it has narrowed to a few metres. We have to hire a beach beside our resort to serve tourists," Ballard said.

He said the resort had proposed to build a 200m underwater dyke at a cost of $2 million with four other resorts –the Sunrise, Golden Sand and Palm Garden - but the plan fell through because one resort did not agreed.

Cua Dai beach, which is 5km from Hoi An's old quarter, is a favourite location for tourists visiting the UNESCO-recognised ancient city.

Dengue fever cases continue to rise at HCM City hospitals

The number of dengue fever cases has been increasing steadily in HCM City over the past two months, representatives of the city's hospitals said.

The HCM City Hospital for Tropical Diseases treated nearly 1,050 people with dengue last month compared to 820 in June, its general planning ward said, adding that the number continues to rise. Many of the patients now come with severe complications, it added.

Hospital No.1 is getting an average of 60 in-patients every day against 40 last month.

At Hospital No.2, the daily number has risen from around 10 last month to 30 at the time being. In the past few months it handled almost no serious cases, but has treated several in just the last few days, Trinh Huu Tung, head of its general planning ward, said.

Nguyen Tran Nam, deputy head of the hospital's infectious diseases ward, said 30 per cent of children with dengue were brought with respiratory problems and 25-26 per cent of children with digestive disorders.

Children who have high fever for three days should be taken to hospital to test for dengue, he warned.

HCM City eviction notice triggers vendor backlash

Shopkeepers at the Sai Gon Tax Trade Centre in downtown HCM City are complaining bitterly about being given little notice to move out before October 1 to facilitate construction of the first metro line.

Doan Van Phung, who has three shops on the third floor, said: "The leasing contract signed with Satra will expire at the end of 2014."

"However, two weeks ago Satra made an announcement that we must return the shops before October 1."

Le Chi Thanh, another shopkeeper at the mall, said his family has been doing business at the centre for decades. "But it is very difficult for us to sell all our goods in a very short period before leaving."

Many of the 230 shops have yet to find alternative locations.

Some said they would move to other malls like Lucky Plaza and Saigon Square, while others plan to do business in their own premises.

Many vendors are now offering discounts of 10-70 per cent to quickly clear stocks.

Shopkeepers at 39 Le Loi Boulevard next to the mall have been told to leave before September 15 to make way for construction of the ventilation system for Metro Line No 1.

Tran Thuy Lien, director of Sai Gon Tax Trade Centre, said the centre would be closed down on October 1 and the premises transferred to the HCM City Urban Railway Management Authority.

"We will do our best to help the shopkeepers by launching a one-month promotion and waiving two months' rent."

They can move to Satramart on 3 Thang Hai Street or Mall C6 trade centre on Pham Hung Street, she said.

City authorities have approved a plan by the Sai Gon Trading Group (Satra), the owner of the Sai Gon Tax Trade Centre, to construct a new building at the site later.

Shop keepers from the old premises would get priority in leasing space there, she promised.

University grads fail to find good jobs

Many university graduates in HCM City cannot find a job or are underemployed, according to the HCM City's Centre for Human Resource Forecast and Labour Information.

Around 80 per cent of graduates are employed, but only half of them have jobs in their fields of study, said Tran Anh Tuan, deputy director of the centre.

Half of employed university graduates have to accept unstable jobs with low incomes, and 20 per cent of graduates are unemployed, Tuan said.

The city's unemployment rate is currently more than five per cent, as the economy has not created enough jobs. In addition, many applicants do not meet job qualifications.

The centre estimates there will be 250,000-270,000 vacancies annually for 2014 and 2015. About 130,000 new jobs will be created each year during the same period.

Trained employees account for 75 per cent of recruitment demand, and untrained labourers, 25 per cent.

HCM City lacks protective equipment to fight Ebola

Clinics, hospitals and preventive medicine centers in HCMC are running short of personal protective equipment for health workers to assist them to fight an Ebola outbreak, heard a training workshop in the city yesterday.

Lam Minh Yen, deputy director of the HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases, pointed this out before the Preventive Medicine Department said two passengers who left Nigeria on Monday and arrived in HCMC yesterday afternoon were whisked to the isolation unit at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases as they had been detected to have high temperatures upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat International Airport.    

The foreigners sat on seats 25B and 26D on Flight QR964 of Qatar Airways departing from Qatar. Besides high temperatures, the two foreigners had not developed other symptoms similar to those of Ebola.

However, the department under the Ministry of Health and Pasteur Institute in HCMC were collaborating with the World Health Organization in Vietnam to take samples of the two foreigners for testing.   

The ministry called on the passengers at seats 24, 25, 26 and 27 on the flight to have their health checked at qualified clinics or call 0989671115 for assistance.

Yen told the workshop that at present, the hospital does not have protective clothing, facial masks, gloves and shoes to equip its health staff in case they treat Ebola patients.

According to the WHO, if one in Vietnam is detected with the Ebola virus, his medical sample must be sent to the U.S. or Canada for testing as currently the country does not have laboratories able to detect infectious diseases of group  A to which the Ebola disease belongs.

Germany has donated two disinfectant bathrooms to Tan Son Nhat and Noi Bai international airports to help Ebola-infected patients wash their bodies before being taken to hospitals for isolation and treatment.

At present, doctors cure Ebola patients by treating their symptoms such as reducing fever, giving a blood transfusion and putting them on a drip.

After all symptoms disappeared, patients must stay at hospital for two more months to go through the second test in order to make sure that they test negative for Ebola.

ZMapp, an Ebola drug developed by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. in the U.S., is composed of three “humanized” monoclonal antibodies, which is recommended by WHO to treat Ebola patients although this drug had not undergone clinical trials.

Previously, the drug helped save two Americans in Liberia as their health got better after being injected with ZMapp. However, another patient in Spain died from the disease despite being treated with the same drug.

WHO decided to allow patients to use the drug, but they have to be consulted by health workers and guarantee to accept the worst situation.

The U.S. has produced only ten doses of the drug; therefore, it is expected to be accessible by Vietnamese people no sooner than next year.