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Social News Headlines 21/2

 40 escape bus inferno unharmed; Information leakage case may be put on hold; Australian fund supports Vietnamese women; Vaccinated not at risk of new measles virus; Open terms on offer for apartment ownership

40 escape bus inferno unharmed

Forty people were able to escape yesterday when their coach travelling from the central province of Ha Tinh to Quang Ninh Province caught fire.

At around 2am yesterday, the back of the coach burst into flames due to a malfunction, while the 40 passengers were asleep.

The coach was completely burnt within 15 minutes, and the damage was estimated at VND2.5 billion (US$116,000).

Information leakage case may be put on hold

After the recent death of the deputy minister of Public Security, the Hanoi's People Court is considering a halt to the case in which the deputy was accused of disclosing information to former Vinalines Chairman Duong Chi Dung.

Judge Truong Viet Toan, who was presiding over the case of deputy minister of Public Security Pham Quy Ngo, said that the matter now falls under the purview of the investigative security agency of the Ministry of Public Security. If they find that Ngo had acted alone, the case may be halted.

"The case will only move forward if other suspects are identified. If the investigation fails to find any other culprits, the entire case may be closed," Toan said.

The lawyers of Hanoi Bar Association agreed, one saying, "Since it was only the case and not Pham Quy Ngo being prosecuted, it remains unclear as to whether Ngo was actually involved or not."

Duong Chi Dung attempted to flee the country before an investigation was conducted into his embezzlement and other charges for violating economic regulations while at Vinalines. In court Dung claimed that Ngo had notified him of the arrest and advised him to go into hiding.

On February 18, Pham Quy Ngo, 60, died in hospital while being treated for cancer.

Lieutenant-general Pham Quy Ngo  worked as Deputy Minister of Public Security. He was also the head of the investigation board of anti-corruption for Vinalines.

One killed as crane hits power grid

A 42-year-old driver was killed when his crane collided with a medium-voltage power grid yesterday in HCM City's Thu Duc District.

The accident occurred when the driver was using his crane to move bonsai in a local bonsai garden. The crane burst into flames after hitting the power grid and burned down while the grid was cut.

Three fire engines were sent to put out the fire and electricians were mobilised to handle the problem. The local police are investigating the case.

Fishing vessel rescued off Thanh Khe coast

The Regional Maritime Search and Rescue Co-ordination Centre No 2 (MRCC Da Nang) salvaged and towed a fishing vessel into the centre port yesterday.

The fishing vessel, from the city's Thanh Khe District, has been adrift since its engine broke down in the sea some 30 miles off the coast of the Son Tra Peninsula yesterday morning.

Captain Thai Dinh Long and his 11-member crew called for help after spending a few hours attempting repairs, while dealing with rough seas and strong winds.

MRCC's salvaged ship, SAR 412, found the fishing vessel three hours after leaving the centre port.

The fishing boat's crew are safe, as is their cargo of 17 tonnes of tuna and mackerel.

Thanh Hoa province declares A/H5N1 epidemic

The northern province of Thanh Hoa on February 19 officially declared a public health emergency as authorities scramble to cope with the rising number of A/H5N1 avian influenza cases.

The provincial Department for Agriculture and Rural Department reported that the deadly virus was detected in Tan Truong commune, Tinh Gia district, affecting hundreds of fowl and that all selected for testing proved positive for A/H5N1.

The Thanh Hoa provincial People’s Committee has stepped up its efforts to stop the spread of the fatal disease, which will most likely be transmitted to people and easily spreads from one person to another.

Since early December 2013, avian influenza H5N1 has been reported in three communes in Tinh Gia district and Thanh Hoa city.

However, more than 85% of poultry in Thanh Hoa have yet to be vaccinated against the contagious and deadly virus.

Local authorities and relevant agencies are closely coordinating their efforts to implement preventive measures and strictly control the transport and trading of poultry, especially across the border.

Programme brings smiles to 20,000 children

A programme launched by the National Fund for Vietnamese Children has so far helped treat nearly 20,000 kids with cleft lip and palate, helping them better integrate into society.

The information was released at a conference on February 19 in Hanoi to review the “For children’s smiles” programme and to plan new surgeries for this year.

With the positive engagement of the fund’s chapters in all 63 cities and provinces nationwide, most cleft lipped children received free surgery.

The humanitarian programme, which started in 1997 and won wide applause nationwide, has also received positive support from many international organisations including Operation Smile, ESSO from the US, Vietnam Outreach from Australia and the nation’s International Women’s Club.

According to Hoang Van Tien, Director of the fund, VND65 billion (US$2.94 million) will be mobilised in 2014 to implement programmes helping at least one million poor children and ensuring their fundamental human rights.

In 2013, the fund raised more than VND62.7 billion, assisting about 1.5 million children with support for heart, eye and smile treatment and educational fees.

Australian fund supports Vietnamese women

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on February 19 announced a US$3.79 million supporting package for two projects in Vietnam.

The money will be spent on building a sustainable vegetable production and trading system in the northwestern region and enhancing the capacity of personnel working in domestic violence and human trafficking prevention.

Both projects aim to increase the engagement of women in the socio-economic development of Vietnam and will be managed through the Vietnam Women’s Union.

The first mission is likely to improve living conditions for women farmers and their families by connecting them with enterprises to reach urban markets.

Carried out in the 2014-2018 period, the project will focus on women from ethnic minority groups in the region.

During a meeting with Bishop the same day, President of the Vietnam Women’s Union Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa praised Australia’s support for Vietnamese women and pledged to coordinate closely with partners to implement the projects in a most effective manner.

UNDP helps Vietnam improve social welfare system

A UN Development Progamme-funded project to improve Vietnam’s social assistance policy system over the 2013-2016 period was launched in Hanoi on February 19.

The project responds to the implementation of a Resolution from the 11th Party Central Committee’s fifth plenum on social welfare in the 2012-2020 period.

Under the project, 2.5 million people will be able to enjoy permanent social support, of which 30 percent are the elderly.

According to Nguyen Trong Dam, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the social welfare system will be established based on a minimum living standard to deal with development issues to prevent social risks and increase social protection coverage for all people.

UNDP Deputy Country Director Bakhodir Burkhanov highlighted the overall objective and targets of improving the social welfare system to promote poverty reduction and social development in a middle-income country like Vietnam in the future.

It is imperative to enhance the ability to deliver timely and effective social services to beneficiaries despite time and budget constraints, he added.

Investment capital for the project totaled US$2.3 million, including US$2 million in non-refundable aid.

Japanese ambassador applauds Can Tho’s developments

Japanese ambassador to Vietnam, Fukada Hiroshi has highlighted Can Tho city’s investment policies and pledged to call on Japanese businesses to invest in the locality.

At a February 19 meeting with Can Tho municipal People’s Committee chairman,both sides discussed measures to improve future cooperation between Japan and Vietnamese localities including Can Tho city.

Ambassador offered an incense at a memorial site for the victims of the collapse of Can Tho bridge

In recent years, Can Tho University has strengthened international cooperation in training and scientific research with Japanese institutes, universities and enterprises.

With the support from Japan’s ODA capital, Can Tho University formulated a project to develop the university to international standards, specializing in training, scientific research and technological transfer in the fields of agriculture, seafood and the environment.

Ambassador Fukada Hiroshi also visited Can Tho bridge and offered an incense at a memorial site for the victims of the collapse of Can Tho bridge.

PM Dung chairs climate change committee meeting

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on February 19 hosted a meeting of the National Committee for Climate Change in Hanoi to discuss its plans to tackle the hot topic of climate change and rising sea levels.

Dung highlighted several important, urgent issues in the national programme to combat climate change, acknowledging that the country has been hit hard by the recent effects of global warming and rising sea levels.

He asked delegates to review the committee’s shortcomings and prioritise tasks to cope with climate change.

According to the committee’s assessment, government policies have been implemented in an efficient and synchronized manner. Notably, scientific research on the issue has been increased to improve relevant ministries and localities’ activities to minimise the negative impacts of climate change.

This year, the committee plans to devise policies to ensure local authorities implement socio-economic plans and encourage the public to become actively involved in environmentally friendly activities, thus contributing towards green growth and the fight against climate change.

Vaccinated not at risk of new measles virus

A new genotype D8 of measles virus has been identified in the on-going epidemic in the southern provinces by HCM City Pasteur Institute, however those who have been properly vaccinated will not be seriously affected, said health expert.

The disease has broken out in 19 southern provinces and cities.

According to WHO, there are currently 8 grades designated A,B, C,D,E, F, G and H. Within these grades, there are 23 recognised genotypes including A, B1, B2, B3, C1, C2, D1, D2, …, D8, D9, H1, and H2

Of them, genotype H1 is endemic in Viet Nam and caused outbreaks in 2009.

Dr Truong Huu Khanh, head of the HCM City Paediatrics Hospital No.1's neurology and infectious diseases ward told Viet Nam News there is no worry about the dangers of the genotype D8 because it does not present any further danger than the previous genotype of the disease.

It also does not foster epidemic transmission, Khanh said.

Moreover, the genotype D8 does not reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine, he added.

The existing measles vaccine belongs to genotype A, he said and added that it prevents against all genotypes of the virus.

The genotype D8 was isolated from sporadic measles cases in some countries including China, Japan and Malaysia.

It is important to raise the measles vaccine coverage among the community, he said, and added that this is the best method for preventing measles.

According to HCM City Preventive Health Centre, it has asked its branches in districts to increase vaccination for kids in their locality.

There have been more and more campaigns aimed encouraging residents to bring their children to health centres for vaccination.

The Department of Health also is co-operating with Department of Education and Training to strengthen preventive methods at schools in the city.

The educational division in District 11 asked its schools and kindergartens to encourage parents to bring their babies to receive measles vaccines under the National Expanded Programme of Immunization.

Huong Sen Private Kindergarten in Go Vap District works with the district health centre to provide information on preventive methods for measles.

And, its teachers also encourage their babies who have not got vaccines or who have only had the first shot to come to health centres in the district's ward to get the second shot.

According to the Preventive Health Department, so far, nearly 2,000 patients with measles have been recorded throughout the country. Of them, 80 per cent have not had vaccinations or have only had the first shot.

Open terms on offer for apartment ownership

Apartment buyers and sellers can now negotiate the length of ownership for apartments instead of a fixed term as at present, according to the Ministry of Construction.

Under a draft amendment to the 2005 Law on Housing proposed by the ministry last year, ownership of residential apartments was limited to 70 years if the State allocated or rented land for housing developers to build apartment buildings.

After the term expired, the State would have the option of reclaiming the land from the ‘buyers' and offering them relocation options.

However, early this week, the head of the ministry's Housing and Real Estate Management Department, Nguyen Manh Ha, said that the ministry would withdraw the old proposal.

The latest draft only stipulates that housing developers must specify the duration the land that would be used as land for apartment buildings, Ha said, explaining that people could use and own their apartments for that designated period.

At the end of the period, housing management authorities at provincial or municipal levels would examine the buildings, and occupants would only be permitted to stay on if it was deemed to be safe.

If not, the buildings would be removed. Vice Chairman of the HCM City Real Estate Association Le Chi Hieu said the negotiated term of apartment ownership would reassure buyers.

He said that any policy that concerned home seekers or made them hesitant would have a negative effect on the housing market.

He noted that in HCM City alone, tens thousands of apartments were empty and low-and-middle cost housing accounted for about 43 per cent of commercial housing, while 70 per cent of housing developers were reliant on bank loans.

"Hesitancy could slowdown the housing market, possibly killing many housing developers," he said.

Last year's proposal to limit the term of apartment ownership stirred many forums and social networks concerned about the future of apartment ownership.

Many of those who already live in residential apartments have registered their concerns that the properties they bought using their life savings would be returned to the State after a fixed period.

Vice President of the Viet Nam Federation of Civil Engineering Associations Pham Sy Liem said that the limited ownership term caused concerns for both housing developers and buyers.

"People will opt to buy houses instead of apartments because they want to own the property permanently," he said.

But the head of the Land Fund Development under the Land Management Administration of Natural Resources and Environment, Bui Ngoc Tuan, said that it was reasonable to impose fixed terms on apartment ownership because apartment buildings usually only lasted for 70-80 years.

Due to limited ownership terms, the price of apartments would decrease and become more affordable for low-income earners, while those who had higher incomes could buy houses with permanent ownership.

The amended Law on Housing is expected to be included on the National Assembly's next agenda and approved later this year.

Japan to help Can Tho University with upgrading

The Japanese Government will provide financial and technical assistance for the Can Tho University in the Mekong Delta City of Can Tho to achieve its development goals.

Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam Hiroshi Fukada made the commitment during a meeting with leaders of the city on February 19.

He took note of the development of the university in the domains of training, science research and technology transfer, which serve the regional socio-economic development.

The ambassador affirmed that Japan will also offer help in improving administration skills for the university’s staff, as part of efforts to turn the university into one of the leading tertiary education establishments in Vietnam.

Speaking at the meeting, Vice Chairman of the Can Tho city People’s Committee Le Hung Dung said the university is working on a plan envisioning the path for it to become an excellent university. He said the plan will contribute to affirming Can Tho’s important position in the Mekong Delta region as well as improving quality of human resources for the area.

He asked the Japanese side to pay more attention to projects on environmental protection and climate change response in provinces to the west of the Mekong Delta.

Can Tho authorities also pledged to offer the best possible conditions for Japanese investors to operate in the city.

The Japanese Ambassador promised to do his utmost to encourage Japanese businesses to come to Can Tho.-

Soc Trang invests 13.5 million USD in dairy cow breeding

The southern province of Soc Trang has started a project worth 287 billion VND (13.5 million USD) to expand the scale of dairy cow breeding.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Le Thanh Tri said that the project aims to raise the number of cows from 4,700 to about 17,800 by 2020, creating jobs for more than 6,000 labourers.

By 2020, more than 80 percent of households breeding dairy cows will have waste treatment systems in order to reduce environmental pollution.

In recent years, the breeding of dairy cows in Soc Trang province has helped many households escape from poverty and improve their living standards.

Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/Dtinews/SGGP


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