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Social News 26/1

 Hospital treats puffer fish patients; Man arrested for drug, weapons smuggling; Petrol stations cheat customers in Dac Lac; Smuggling on the increase as Lunar New Year approaches; Electrical faults the most common cause of HCM City fires

Hospital treats puffer fish patients

Nghe An Province's general hospital yesterday said doctors were able to save three people suffering from food poisoning after eating puffer fish.

The victims, from Cua Lo Town, were rushed to the hospital on Saturday night. According to family members, they ate puffer fish on their vessel while fishing, and developed nausea and headaches, before slowly losing consciousness.

Doctors have warned residents in coastal areas not to eat puffer fish, due to a high risk of food poisoning.

Man arrested for drug, weapons smuggling

Border police in Moc Chau District and relevant law enforcement agencies detained a person on Saturday carrying weapons and 1.75kg of heroin.

The person was identified as Trang A Cho, born in 1984, a resident of Dong Sang Commune in Moc Chau District. Police seized a grenade, seven bullets and a shotgun.

The case is still under investigation.

Petrol stations cheat customers in Dac Lac

An investigation by the Dac Lac Province Market Watch has discovered that as many as 60 per cent of the privately owned gas pumps are cheating customers.

According to a report by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, the pumps are allegedly fixed with a kind of electric device that fraudulently miscounts the volume of gas pumped into the customers' vehicles.

This was announced on Thursday by Nguyen Dao Chi, deputy director of the Market Watch Department and head of the Inter-Agency Inspection Team against Smuggling, Commercial Fraud and Counterfeits in Dac Lac Province (also called Inter-agency Team 389).

Chi particularly stressed the craftiness of the wrong-doers that posed a lot of difficulties for the law enforcers in catching them in the act. "Usually, a fraudulent gas station will install that electronic device on one to two gas pumps. When discovered, they use the circuit-breaker of the gas pump to cut the electricity, thus deleting all data on the fraudulent device. If the law enforcers guard the gas pump's circuit breakers, the pump owners use the general circuit-breaker of the whole gas station. When law enforcers guard all circuit-breakers at the gas station, the owners use a remote control to lock the fraudulent device and delete all the data of the pump."

According to Chi, a common method of using this device is to fix a fraudulent ratio of gas that often shows 0.5 to 10 per cent less volume on the computer. This means for every 100 litres of gas, the customer will lose 0.5 litre to 10 litres.

"The customers cannot know that they are being cheated by looking at the gas pump's indicator," said Chi.

"When the volume required showed up to be different from what was shown on our meters, our team restrained the sellers, suspended their operations and measured the pumped-out volume as evidence to make records of the violations," he said, explaining about how his team dealt with the wrong-doers.

Chi's team – Team 389 – reported that as of January 21, 2015, which was more than one month since its establishment on December 17, 2014, they had handled 15 such cases, had imposed fines totalling more than VND500 million (US$25,000) and seized several objects as evidence.

The latest case was reported on January 19, when the team suddenly visited and checked the Truc Nghia gas station, which is owned by a private company of the same name in Cu Kpo commune, Krong Buk district. A fraudulent electronic device was found attached to the gas pump counter there. Consequently, the business licence of the gas station was suspended for three months and the gas pump confiscated.

Smuggling on the increase as Lunar New Year approaches

As Tet draws nearer, smuggling has increased exponentially at border gates in the central provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue, putting pressure on authorities to stop illegally imported goods from getting into the country.

Border guards at the Cha Lo Border Gate in Quang Binh on Friday stopped a case of 1,000 firecrackers – which are prohibited in Viet Nam – from being brought in from Laos.

Smuggler Nguyen Quang Thiu, a resident of Ba Don, admitted to border guards that he bought Chinese firecrackers in the province for Tet.

The Lao Bao Border Gate in Quang Tri's guards found 263 Chinese firecrackers on board a bus. The smuggler, a Quang Binh resident named Doan Van Son, bought the firecrackers in the adjacent Ha Tinh Province.

The cases are still under investigation.

Police in Quang Tri stopped five motorcyclists on National Highway 9 on Friday near the local Lao Bao Border Gate, and found smuggled tobacco and fruit blenders. The motorcyclists left their bikes at the scene and fled into a nearby forest. Police seized the goods for investigation.

Trading of counterfeit foods is also on the rise, as people prepare big family meals for Tet, which starts February 19.

Quang Binh's Market Watch Unit found 340kg of fake fried squid made from tapioca starch being stored in a warehouse in Dong Hoi. The warehouse's owner, Nguyen Thi Le Nhung, failed to provide food safety documents for the squid.

In Thua Thien - Hue, police last Thurday stopped a truck from central Binh Dinh Province carrying chickens and chicken eggs. Cao Dinh Thang, the cargo's owner, failed to show veterinary certification for the eggs.

Police in Quang Tri's Huong Hoa District, home to the Lao Bao Border Gate, said that in addition to catching smugglers in the act of transporting, police have also found a great deal of smuggled items hidden in locals' homes.

Police Col. Phan Thanh Quang told a local newspaper that police, customs staff and border guards are doing their best to fight smuggling at the Lao Bao Border Gate, a regional hotspot.

Electrical faults the most common cause of HCM City fires

Offices, organizations, stores, trade centres and households should be cautious when using electricity, especially during the upcoming Tet holiday, the city fire chief warned.

Speaking to the media on Friday, Colonel Le Tan Buu, chief of HCM City's Firefighting and Prevention Police Department, said electricity causes 48 per cent of fires in households, and caused 50 per cent of all fires in 2014.

Last year, there were 295 fires in the city, 50 per cent fewer than the previous year, in which 31 people were killed and 34 others were injured, with total property losses of VND45 billion (US$2 million). There were also six explosions and 112 rescue missions.

In order to increase efficiency in fire prevention, the department will strengthen local firefighting forces' abilities, and work more closely with electricity companies.

"We have worked closed with the city's electricit y company to check the safety of electrical grids," said Senior Lieutenant Colonel Huynh Ngoc Quang, head of the department's Fire Prevention Bureau. "However, there is a lot of electrical equipment, especially illegally imported from China, that is not safe. This year we will submit rules for controlling the quality of electrical equipment."

Billboards have caused a substantial amount of electrical fires, Quang said. Most billboards violate advertisement laws, which state how large they can be and how to safely install them.

In related news, hundreds of firefighters were deployed on Saturday to stop a fire that broke out at a cotton factory on Mieu Binh Dong Street in Binh Tan District. Electricity was suspected to have caused the fire. No injuries were recorded.

Also yesterday, there was a traffic jam on Chanh Hung Bridge after a fire broke out at a house on Dao Cam Moc Street, Ward 5, District 8. The gridlock was caused by curious passers-by, who stopped to watch the fire. It broke out at noon on the second floor of the house. No injuries were recorded, and the cause of the fire was not immediately identified.

VND4,000 billion for 28 million disadvantaged children

Over the past two decades, the Vietnam Children’s Fund (VCF) has raised more than VND4,000 billion to support more than 28 million disadvantaged children across the country.

The figure was released at the 8th “Spring for Children” Programme held in Hanoi on January 24 with the participation of State Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan and 30 children representing 1.5 million of disadvantaged children in the country.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) Pham Thi Hai Chuyen said the Party and State have adopted a number of guidelines and policies on child protection and care to ensure their comprehensive development.

She acknowledged and appreciated businesses, organisations and individuals’ contribution to the protection and care of children and hoped that more benefactors will join hands to support disadvantaged children.

She added that MoLISA will strictly guide the implementation of social welfare policies and ask VCF to effectively use the donations.

Minister Chuyen presented the Prime Minister’s Certificate of Merit to VCF and MoLISA’s certificates of merit to benefactors for their contribution to the protection and care of children.

The benefactors were received by State Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan on the same day,

The Vietnam Children’s Fund reported that last year it raised more than VND95 billion to support 86,300 disadvantaged children and signed funding agreements worth VND111 billion for the coming years.

This year the Fund aims to mobilise around VND70 billion for 47,000 children with difficulties.

Currently, there are around 2.6 million children in need, Ms.Doan said, hoping that benefactors will continue siding with the VCF to build more schools and help pupils from poor families go to school.

Work begins on new water pipe

After a pipeline bringing water from the Da River to Ha Noi broke numerous times, most recently leaving around 70,000 people without clean water, construction on a second pipeline is due to start before Tet.

Residents were without clean water for about three days after the latest rupture, which took place on January 15 in Quoc Oai District's Ngoc Liep Commune. This is the tenth time the Da River pipeline has broken in its two-year lifespan.

Shoddy construction and substandard pipelines caused the breakages. The issues were compounded by construction work on Thang Long Boulevard, according to the Ministry of Construction, which investigated the problem last year.

Phan Dang Long, deputy head of the Ha Noi Committee for Populalisation and Education, said the ruptures were expected and could happen again in the future, due to the low quality of the pipeline.

The Viet Nam Construction and Import-Export Corporation (Vinaconex), the corporation in charge of the first pipe, was chosen to build the second one. But instead of using the same material as the first pipe, fiberglass, Vinaconex will use cast iron.

"Though cast iron pipe will be more expensive, its quality is higher and construction time is shorter, which will help make the pipe usable sooner," said Nguyen Van Ton, general director of the Viet Nam Water Supply Corporation under Vinaconex. "We will continue repairing the first pipeline to ensure that both lines function well and supply enough water for the residents."

The 21km second pipeline, which will cost VND1.2 trillion (US$57.1 million), is expected to be finished this summer to meet higher water demand during the hot months.

HCM City takes steps to lower poverty rate

Giap Thi Tuy Anh of Tan Binh District raised her annual income to more than VND16 million (US$762), the cut-off for the city's poverty line, with loans provided by HCM City's poverty eradication and hunger elimination fund.

Anh learned about the soft loans at her ward's self-management group, which exist in each commune and ward in the district.

In 2006, she borrowed VND7 million ($333) to buy a mobile food stall to sell bread in front of her house.

In 2007, Anh was able to pay off her loan, and use capital she earned to open a grocery in 2011.

To buy groceries, though, she needed more money.

"Luckily, I was given another loan of VND10 million ($476) from the fund for poverty reduction and hunger eradication," she said.

In 2013, she paid off that loan, and her family's annual income is now more than $762.

Anh was one of 1,444 families in the district who moved beyond the city's poverty threshold of $762 last year.

Nguyen Thi Minh Thu, deputy head of the district's poverty reduction, said the district had carried out many programmes and that now there are no families under the poverty line .

For instance, apart from loans for poor families to do business, the district has introduced jobs to working-age members of poor families.

"Jobs are the basic method to help poor families have an income and stable life," said Thu.

She and her colleagues on the board have also provided funds for poor children to attend vocational training schools.

Tuition exemption and scholarships have also been provided to children of poor families.

The district has also carried out programmes to build new houses and upgrade dilapidated houses.

To help them access health care services, the district has provided them with health insurance cards, Thu said.

This year's task is to reduce the number of families living near the poverty line, she said, adding that the district would try to reduce the number to 500 families.

Nguyen Van Xe, deputy head of Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, has asked the district to monitor those families that have risen above the poverty line to ensure that their lives remain stable.

Tan Binh is one of four districts without poor families in the city. The other districts include 6, 5 and 11.

There are five wards without families near the poverty line, including one ward in District 2 and four remaining wards in District 5, he added.

This year the city's remaining districts will aim to have no poor families, Xe said.

Xe said HCM City regularly receives praise for being the country's leader in poverty reduction..

From 2009 to 2013, the city's annual fund for poverty reduction totalled VND2.7trillion ($128 million). Of these, 93.1 per cent were for loans.

The city has gathered funds for poverty reduction via other organisations as well.

However, Xe said the city was concerned that poverty rate would be unstable because the city defines poor families based on their annual income only.

Even if their income exceeds the poverty threshold, they still can experience other dimensions of poverty, including health, education and living conditions.

Because of this concern, the city will launch a pilot programme to define and classify poor families based on multiple dimensions, including health, education, living condition, information access and social insurance, apart from income, Xe said.

"Multiple-dimension poverty reduction is the only way to prevent an unstable poverty rate," he added.

The four districts of 6, 11, Tan Phu and Binh Chanh will be the site of the pilot programme.

The programme will then expand to the entire city, Xe said.

"Of course, it will be difficult at first, but the city will carry out multiple-dimension poverty reduction in order to improve the life of its residents," he said.

Community supervision helps limit corruption

As many as 96 violations were discovered at 558 construction projects last year by central Quang Nam Province's community supervision group, vice chairman of the Provincial Fatherland Front Committee Nguyen Phi Hung revealed at a workshop yesterday in Hoi An.

The community supervision group is made up of elected local people. Its establishment, part of the World Bank-funded Viet Nam Anti-Corruption Initiative Programme (VACI), helped prevent corruption and violations on infrastructure and budget-funded projects nationwide, Hung said.

According to the official, 102 community supervision groups (CSG) and Inspectorate boards have been set up at 244 communes and precincts in Quang Nam Province since 2005. These groups organised 436 inspections at 558 projects in 2014 to uncover violations and limit losses, extravagance and corruption at public construction projects.

"Warnings from CSGs help local administrations inspect possible corruption cases and limit losses on intentional poor investment projects. A CSG in Hoi An discovered violations at two public investment projects, saving VND136.8 million (US$6,500)," Hung said.

However, he complained that CSGs did not receive enough financial support from state agencies.

"Almost all members of CSGs are retired and do not know anything about engineering, making it hard for them to supervise construction projects," Hung said, adding that each CSG received only VND2 million (US$98) per year as compensation for its supervision efforts.

Nguyen Xuan Son, an official from the Government Inspectorate who co-chaired the workshop, said the Government Inspectorate would propose that the Government and relevant state agencies provide more financial support for CSGs.

Vigilance urged against animal diseases

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam yesterday called for increased vigilance this year in preventing disease outbreaks among livestock and poultry, especially those that can be transmitted to humans.

He was speaking at a meeting held yesterday to review disease prevention and control work in the meat industry in 2014 and set the agenda for this year.

Pham Van Dong, head of the Animal Health Department under the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry (MARD), said about 100 disease/epidemic hotspots are identified every year on average, and the number of fowls that have to be culled after being infected by diseases can reach 200,000.

Last year, the H5N1 avian influenza strain broke out in 158 communes in 33 provinces. The white spot disease, acute hepatopancreatic necrosis syndrome, and environmental pollution impacted over 59,500 hectares of brackish-water shrimp ponds.

So far, 21 cities and provinces nationwide have developed strategies to control possible epidemic threats and outbreaks, he said.

While avian influenza and blue-ear disease hotbeds have been brought under control, foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks have hit six communes in the northern mountainous province of Son La.

The agriculture ministry is concerned that the disease can ravage the northern mountainous area if local authorities fail to exert greater control on livestock smuggling.

A bird-flu outbreak can happen in the Mekong Delta this year, especially around breeding areas and wet markets, the meeting heard.

Dong said that as Tet (Lunar New Year) approaches, his department would continue maintaining epidemic-free breeding zones and inspecting units at the grassroots level to facilitate early detections of any violations.

He admitted that the veterinary network capacity and breeding skills of farmers are yet to meet expectations.

Delegates at the conference agreed on the need to increase awareness of dangers as well as preventive measures among farmers and local authorities.

Deputy Minister Tam said all animal health staff at local levels should be proactive in disease prevention work, and co-ordinate their activities well with farmers and local authorities.

The animal health sector must also increase efforts to teach safe practices in raising cattle and poultry, he said.

Online gambling website discovered

The Criminal Police Department searched several places in HCM City yesterday suspected to be the nerve centre and offices of the online gambling website

The police seized seven people, many computers, three automobiles and a great number of documents.

Initial investigations revealed that the leader of the website was To Cong Hung, 33, director of Gay Viet magazine (

Users of use their bank accounts to purchase virtual money, which they use to gamble on the website.

Hung, the manager in Viet Nam, sent millions of dollars every month to the international gambling tycoons who operate the website's host computer in the Philippines.

Ha Noi seizes tonnes of contraband goods

The Ha Noi Market Watch Bureau yesterday seized three tonnes of cosmetics and more than four tonnes of milk and food additives from a truck.

Driver Pham Xuan Ly, 53, admitted to the police that he was hired to transport the goods from the northern mountainous province of Lang Son to Ha Noi and sell them. No papers on their origin were enclosed.

The Quang Binh Market Watch also discovered nearly 18 tonnes of dried cuttlefish with unclear origin in Dong Hoi City's Phu Hai District.

Owner Nguyen Thi Le Nhung said that the cuttlefish were bought in various places including the southern province of Kien Giang, but she did not have any certificates related to the goods. She also admitted that 340kg were made from cassava.

Pigs pumped with pond water

The Dong Nai Police on Thursday seized more than 100 pigs following suspicions on safety and hygiene.

The pigs were seized from two trucks in Long Binh Ward, Bien Hoa City when they were being injected with sedatives and water from a nearby pond pumped into their stomachs.

Truck owner Pham Duc Duy admitted that he had conducted the work for about three months, injecting water into about 100 pigs to increase their weight before bringing them to HCM City for sale.

Vietnam pledges to apply nuclear energy for peaceful purposes

National  Atomic Energy Agency under Ministry of Science and Technology and the United Kingdom Trade and Investment Agency co- organized the third Asian Nuclear Power conference in Hanoi on January 22.

At the conference, international experts shared recent news about nuclear power projects in Vietnam, and exchanged the experiences for successful implementation of nuclear projects.

Speaking at the conference, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Tran Viet Thanh affirmed that Vietnam pledges to apply nuclear energy to its socio-economic development for peaceful purposes, saying that the conference will help the new comers like Vietnam to carry out the programs safely and effectively, ensuring energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Up to now, Vietnam has also signed nine cooperative agreements on the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes with Russia, China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, the United States, France, India, Argentina and Canada.

Rising healthcare demand, new diseases set to tax health sector

The increasing need for health care would be a major challenge for the health sector this year, as would changes in disease models, population ageing and newly emerging diseases such as avian influenza types H5N1 and H7N9 and the Ebola virus, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said yesterday at an online conference.

At the local level, the health care system failed to meet demand in terms of human resources and medical facilities. Moreover, there were too few beds in many regions and the balance between medical specialities varied between localities, according to the health minister.

Last year, the health ministry reported that the health sector had met two targets set by the National Assembly. The number of beds per 10,000 people was 23 – higher than the target of 22.5 – while the malnutrition rate of children under five was reduced to 15 per cent, below the goal of 15.5 per cent.

The sector also achieved 16 of 18 targets set by the Prime Minister. However, they did not meet the goal of reducing the fatality rate of children under five to 21 out of 1,000 or ensuring that 73 per cent of the population was covered by health insurance.

By the end of 2014, the country had 7.8 doctors and 1.9 university pharmacists per 10,000 residents. Doctors worked at 78 per cent of the country's communal health stations while 95 per cent of communes and hamlets had medical staff.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam gave instructions to the sector, asking the health ministry to focus on reducing hospital overloading and improving service quality.

He also told the sector to improve communal health stations and human resource training; reform administrative procedure and drug bidding mechanisms; and expand health insurance coverage.

Creative female teachers honored

The Ministry of Education and Training yesterday awarded Most Creative Femail Teachers to 60 entries of 98 femail teachers at a awarding ceremony in Hanoi.

The competition “ Most creative teachers in 2014” launched from April, 2014 received 3,048 entries from female teachers of preschools, primary, junior and senior high schools from 32 departments of education and training across the country.

The entries including visual and audio instruments were created by themselves serving their teaching in most effective way.

The Ministry has granted three first prizes to math teacher Vo Thi Ngoc Anh of Nguyen Tat Thanh Senior High School for gifted students in the highlands province of Kon Tum with the moving picture and chart to support geometry for tenth graders; teacher Le Thi Xuan Loc of Hoa Mai Preschool in the southern province of Tay Ninh; geography teacher Nguyen Thi Anh Toan of Hai Dinh Junior School in the central province of Quang Binh with E-learning lessons of rivers and lakes in Vietnam for sixth grade  students.

Many charitable activities for disadvantaged people nationwide launched

Ho Chi Minh City Committee for Overseas Vietnamese and Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine offered 500 Tet gifts for Vietnamese people in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh on January 24.

Pham Ngoc Thach Medicine University’s doctor delegation organized free-examination and treatment on the occasion.

On behalf of Vietnamese people in Cambodia, Vice of the General Association of Vietnamese Cambodian People, Chairman Nguyen Van Thong thanked the delegation.

On the same day, the Vietnam Youth Union and Trung Nguyen Corporation organized the “Youth Aspiration 2015” program in Dak Lak Province’s Buon Ma Thuot City. This year’s event themed “The trip of books that will change your life” brought 1,000 books and 10 scholarships worth VND1 million each to good students.

Minh Tam Charity Organization and Kon Tum Red Cross Association also handed over 500 presents to the poor people of ethnic minorities in Dak Glei District’s Muong Hoong Commune on January 24. Meanwhile Kon Tum Charity Group and Ho Chi Minh City businesses offered 300 gifts for the poor in Kon Plong District’s Mang But Commune.

The charity delegation of Linh Quang Buddhist Temple from Ho Chi Minh City gave free medical check-up for disadvantged people in Dai Lao Commune, Lam Dong Province’s Bao Loc City.

In addition, nearly VND55 billion (US$ 2,572,798) was contributed to the musical program “ Mua xuan cho em” ( Spring for children) held by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Vietnam Children Supporting Fund and Vietnam Television at the Au Co Art Center In Hanoi on January 24.

Bridge project to connect northern economic triangle

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai yesterday broke ground on the construction of Bach Dang Bridge and its connecting road.

The bridge will link the Ha Long-Hai Phong Highway to the Ha Noi-Hai Phong Highway.

It will stretch over the Bach Dang River and cost VND7.6 trillion (more than US$357.2 million) under the build-operate-transfer model.

Quang Ninh Province People's Committee is the project's main investor, and it will be built by Japanese group SE in co-ordination with the Bach Dang Bridge BOT Joint Stock Company and other local subcontractors.

The bridge will be over three kilometres long and 25 metres wide, with four lanes allowing speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour.

The bridge links the Ha Long-Hai Phong Highway to the Ha Noi-Hai Phong Highway.

The bridge is one of the two main components of the Ha Long-Hai Phong Highway project. The other component, the 19.5km highway, broke ground in September 2014. The entire project is expected to be complete in 2016.

Once completed, it will contribute to completing a route connecting the key northern economic triangle, Ha Noi-Hai Phong-Quang Ninh. The project is also expected to increase investment in Quang Ninh, contributing to socio-economic development.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, Deputy PM Hai praised the efforts made by the Party, Government and people of Quang Ninh to clear hurdles for this project.

He asked investors to co-ordinate closely with Quang Ninh and Hai Phong authorities to accelerate construction and ensure the quality and efficiency of the work.

The Ha Long-Hai Phong Highway will reduce the distance from Quang Ninh to Ha Noi from 180km to about 130km, and make it easier for tours from the northern region to visit Ha Long Bay.



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Two arrested in 11kg drug transport from France to HCM City case

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Renowned Vietnamese artists collaborate on unique porcelain artworks


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Boxer beats Spainish rival to advance to World Championship’s semifinals

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Ministry of Health warns of possible outbreaks of dangerous diseases

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Another enterprise issues bonds, real estate bonds increase in value

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Stock market violations to face stricter sanctions

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Association calls for pilot implementation of battery-powered taxis

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Vietnam strives to eliminate malaria once and for all

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