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SOCIETY IN BRIEF 21/12

 North braced for first cold spell; Substandard petrol stations fined; Catholic Committee celebrates Christmas 2012; Disabled rehabilitation service hampered by funding shortage

North braced for first cold spell

Temperatures are set to plummet in the northern provinces tonight for the first cold snap of the year, according to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecast.

Meanwhile, northern mountainous provinces will be hit with severe cold weather.

Due to the spell, both northern and central provinces will have scattered showers tomorrow.

The north will have a temperature of 20-30 degree Celsius, whereas central areas will have the temperature of 19-32 degree Celsius. Meanwhile, the temperature of Central Highlands provinces will be 29-32 degree Celsius and southern provinces will be 23-34 degree Celsius.

Substandard petrol stations fined

Two petrol stations were fined yesterday for selling substandard petrol to customers in Ha Noi.

The offending petrol stations were Ha Lac Petrol Station owned by Nam Phuong Co Ltd and Phu Thuy Petrol Station owned by Phu Thuy Co Ltd.

Ha Lac's owner received a fine of VND10 million ($480), while the owner of Phu Thuy paid a fine of VND15 million ($721) for their violations.

Christmas greetings to Catholic dignitaries, followers

President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee Huynh Dam on December 20 visited and extended Christmas greetings to Catholic dignitaries and followers in Ho Chi Minh City.

VFF President Huynh Dam extends Christmas greetings to the General Confederation of Evangelical Churches of Vietnam (Southern Region). (Source: VNA)


Meeting with Cardinal Pham Minh Man, Archbishop of the Ho Chi Minh Diocese, Dam congratulated the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam (CBCV) on the successful organisation of the 10 th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of the Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC). The event helped international friends understanding more about the land and people of Vietnam as well as the Party and State’s great unity and religious freedom policies, he said.

The VFF president spoke highly of the role of the Cardinal, the CBCV and dignitaries in guiding parishioners nationwide to follow the guidelines and policies of the Party and the law of the State and actively participate in patriotic emulation movements launched by the VFF, especially in building new-style rural areas.

The VFF leader expressed his wish that in the time to come, with their prestige, the Cardinal and the CBCV will continue encouraging the Catholic community to make more contributions to building the country and the national great unity bloc.

Cardinal Man expressed thanks to the Party and Government for their care and assistance and informed the VFF president about major outcomes of the FABC’s 10 th Plenary Assembly, which took place in the southern province of Dong Nai and Ho Chi Minh City from December 10-16.

Visiting the General Confederation of Evangelical Churches of Vietnam (Southern Region) and priest Nguyen Cong Danh, Chairman of the Vietnam Committee for Catholic Solidarity, VFF president Dam expressed his belief that the Christian dignitaries, clergymen and followers will continue to promote the tradition of patriotism and make practical contributions to national construction and defence.

On the occasion, the VFF Central Committee President visited several poor Catholic households in Binh Thanh district’s Thi Nghe Parish.

The same day, in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue , a delegation of the provincial leaders led by Nguyen Ngoc Thien, Secretary of the Party Committee and Chairman of the People’s Committee, visited the Hue Diocese on the occasion of Christmas.

Earlier, Vice President of the VFF Central Committee Ha Thi Lien paid a greeting visit to the Hue Diocese.

Disabled rehabilitation service hampered by funding shortage

Viet Nam should improve standards across the board for prosthetic and orthotics centres, said Miguel Fernandes, head of the regional office for Asia from International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Special Fund for the Disabled.

At a seminar on promoting operational standards for Prosthetics and Orthotics in Da Nang yesterday, Miguel said prosthetic and orthotic centres should be equipped with new advanced technology.

He added that the demand for prosthetic and orthotic appliances in Viet Nam was substantial due to the large numbers of war and post-war landmine victims.

Nguyen Quang Dieu, 56, a landmine victim from Duy Xuyen District in central Quang Nam Province, has benefited from funding from the ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled since 1975.

Dieu, who lost his left leg in 1967 when he stepped on a mine, had a prosthetic replacement and receives free care once a year, thanks to the fund.

According to Nguyen Hai Thanh, director of the Vietnamese Training centre for Orthopaedic Technologists (VIETCOT), Viet Nam has approximately 800,000 disabled people who need prosthetic appliances, of which the poor make up a significant majority.

"A cheap prosthetic appliance costs at least VND8 million (US$380). However, hospitals in Viet Nam have been struggling with funding for the poorest patients," Thanh said.

Van Ngoc Ky, deputy director of Da Nang's Prosthetics and Orthotics Hospital, said the city provided treatment and rehabilitation to 500 patients each day.

"We have to raise money from different sources to provide free care to poor patients," Ky said.

Chu Quang Cuong, head of the Finance Department of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said that the ministry had come up with a plan to help ease the cost of prosthetic and orthotics appliances for the disabled.

"Only war invalids, those who have made great contributions to the country, the poor and children are provided with prosthetic and orthotic appliances free of charge. Disabled people who do not belong to the above group must pay for prosthetic and orthotic services at rehabilitation centres out of pocket," Cuong said. "We plan to ask the Government to include prosthetic and orthotic services in the heath insurance budget."

He added that if the plan was approved, all disabled persons could benefit from the additional provisions.

Fisherman fined for use of explosives

More than 1,500 people found illegally fishing in the sea have been fined since the beginning of the year, Le Thanh Binh, chief inspector of the central Binh Thuan Province's aquatic department said.

Inspectors recently fined a resident of central Ninh Thuan Province, Le Van Luan, VND30 million ($1,430) and seized his vessel for using explosives to help catch fish.

The local People's Committee has requested authorities to raise awareness of the laws on the protection of aquatic resources.

Wanted boatman seized in Nam Dinh

Police have arrested boat owner Nguyen Van Khanh, 46, from Yen Loc Commune in northern Nam Dinh Province's Y Yen District. He has been wanted for nearly 20 years.

On March 4, 1995, Khanh's boat carrying 18 people sank because it was allegedly overloaded. Thirteen people died in the accident.

Khanh is reported to have disappeared afterwards, but was arrested in Tan Chanh Hiep Ward in HCM City's District 12 on Wednesday.

Yen Bai promotes cooperation with Val de Marne

A working delegation from France’s Val de Marne province, led by its President of General Council Christian Favier, is paying an official visit to the northern province of Yen Bai.

The two provinces’ leaders agreed to cooperate on 14 projects relating to water supply, health-care, culture, rural development, and the local economy.

The two provinces plan to advance the progress of a number of projects preserving the unique culture of Thai ethnic people and improving the capacity of local medical staff. They also prepared for a number of other initiatives scheduled for signing over the 2013–2016 period.

Yen Bai and Val de Marne have completed nine joint projects since 2010, five of which cost a total of Euro 863,000 and significantly raised the living standards of local people.

Polluted river kills fish

Polluted water in the Lo River in northern Phu Tho Province has killed fish bred by householders in Doan Hung District's Huu Do Commune.

One resident, Tran Duc Nghia, said the pollution resulted from the release of waste water by An Hoa Paper Joint Stock Company, which started operation about a month ago in the neighbouring province of Tuyen Quang.
Nghia said he lost fish worth about VND100 million (US$4,700).

Locals have asked authorities in the two provinces to deal with the violation.

Fair judicial system remains a top priority

Building a capable, ethical and democratic justice system by 2020 was a major priority for Viet Nam, and international support would help hasten this achievement, deputy minister of justice Hoang The Lien said yesterday, Dec 21.

At a meeting for the Justice Partnership Programme (JPP), a joint programme launched in 2010 between Viet Nam, the European Union, Denmark and Sweden that represents the largest development project of this kind in the country, Lien said that the partnership had seen significant results.

Worth 18.7 million euros (US$25 million), the five-year programme was expected to strengthen implementation of judicial reforms, empower the Viet Nam Bar Federation to manage independently and improve awareness of rights and access to justice.

John Nielsen, the Royal Danish Embassy's mission head, said that one of the programme's most significant achievements so far was that for the first time, the Viet Nam Bar Federation was operating independently, without Government subsidies.

Moreover, proposals for thirty-two initiatives have been submitted to the Justice Initiative Facilitation Fund, part of the programme, he said, noting that the initiatives would help non-State organisations improve awareness on laws, rights and access to justice.

According to Trinh Xuan Toan, permanent member of the Central Judicial Reform Steering Committee, in the next three years, Viet Nam's judicial reforms would focus on improving relevant legal frameworks. A national Justice Council might also be established.

The reform strategy also aimed to bring new innovations to personnel training and upgrade the technological infrastructure in judicial offices, he said.

Deputy minister Lien said that the programme fit in with the general objective of building a Vietnamese state governed by the rule of law, and that reviewing its activities would be very helpful for future reform.

In 2012 alone, the programme helped the Justice Ministry with the revision and promulgation of the Law on Lawyers and completed a capacity building plan for the National Legal Aid Agency and Strategy on Judicial Records Development to 2020.

The programme also supported reforms in the Supreme People's Procuracy and Supreme People's Court.

Migrant workers receive support

Access to information and support services plays an important role in ensuring safe labour migration, Jobst Koehler from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said in Ha Noi on Wednesday.

People search for information on overseas jobs at central Quang Tri Province's Job Promotion Centre. Many migrant workers need aid to ensure safe working conditions.

Koehler was speaking at a workshop on safe migration held by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affair (MoLISA) in co-operation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The IOM has established the website hotrolaodong-ngoainuoc.org, to provide information and support for those who work overseas when they have problems.

MoLISA Deputy Minister Nguyen Thanh Hoa said his and other ministries had run a co-ordinated search for information on policies and demand for guest workers in partner countries.

"We aim to protect guest workers working abroad from being cheated by local employment intermediary services," Hoa said. He added that in recent years, Viet Nam had almost completed a system of laws and regulations for Vietnamese working abroad.

Specifically, MoLISA had co-ordinated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure the safety of migrant Vietnamese workers. This included opening more overseas representative agencies and setting up hotlines as well as actively participating in international agreements, he said.

Viet Nam has signed agreements on labour co-operation with many countries and territories, including South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Laos, Qatar, Russia and Bulgaria.

The ministry is co-ordinating with IOM in the establishment of offices of migrant information in many localities in Viet Nam.

Among the problems encountered is the poor standard of foreign languages acquired by Vietnamese workers - and their low awareness on laws and regulations in other countries.

In the last three years, nearly 40 out of 97 Vietnamese people working in the construction and production sector in Malaysia have made complaints about labour abuses and violations of working contracts.

According to MoLISA, about 500,000 Vietnamese workers are working in 40 countries and territories, providing annual remittances of US$1.7-2 billion.

Viet Nam annually sends about 85,000 men to work overseas, accounting for more than 5 per cent of total employed Vietnamese nationals.

State teaches educators vital lesson in quality maintenance

The State played a vital regulation role in ensuring education quality and equality, a national workshop heard on Wednesday.

The workshop was called to seek agreement from various educational groups about what needs to be done to ensure education quality and equality.

It decided that this would be done on the basis of harmonising education establishments' self control in adopting national education policies.

Regulation was defined as the process by which the State built an education system for all and used its powers to ensure education quality.

It was agreed that it must focus on the needs of students and society in general.

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Vinh Hien said Viet Nam had issued many policies to improve education quality and equality, particularly for students in poor and remote areas.

However, there was still a long way to go to achieve a high-quality education system for all, he said.

"There is a need to mobilise different social sources to invest in developing education," he said.

Participants agreed that the State could not fulfil its regulatory role without the support of the private school system, trade unions, parents, teachers and students.

The workshop was part of a project by the International Organisation of Francophonie which supports eight countries, including Viet Nam, in building educational quality and equality.

VNN/VOV/VNS

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