Second NA extraordinary session to discuss important matters hinh anh 1
NA General Secretary Bui Van Cuong announces the NA Standing Committee’s conclusion about the organising of the second extraordinary session (Photo: VNA)
The second extraordinary session of the 15th National Assembly (NA) will open on January 5, 2023, with an agenda full of many important issues, according to a conclusion of the NA Standing Committee.

The session will examine the national master planning for the 2021-2030 period with a vision to 2050; a draft Law on Medical Examination and Treatment (revised); and personnel work.

The NA will also consider and decide the continued implementation of some COVID-19 prevention and control policies and the extension of the validity of medicine and medical materials circulation licences, along with a number of issues related to finance and budget, and some NA deputies affairs.

The NA Standing Committee asked the verification agencies to work closely with drafting agencies to carefully review the draft bills and resolutions before submitting to the NA for discussion and approval.

The Government and NA agencies as well as relevant agencies should finish the preparations of documents for the session and deliver them to NA deputies at least seven days before the opening of the session, the NA Standing Committee requested.

As there will be no meetings with voters before and after the session, NA deputies were asked to work with the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Committees at localities to gather ideas and requests of voters through flexible methods and submit them to the Ombudsman Committee and VFF Central Committee for summarising.

National database should be completed in 2023: PM

2023 will be a year of forming and exploiting data to create new values, stated Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at a meeting on December 25 to review one year of implementing a project on developing the application of population database, e-identification, and e-authentication for the national digital transformation in the 2022-2025 period with a vision to 2030 (Project 06).

PM Chinh stressed that a shared national database should be completed in 2023.

At the same time, he pointed out a number of shortcomings in the work, including an incomplete digital infrastructure and a big gap between urban and rural areas.

He noted that Vietnam still has 266 hamlets and villages that have yet to access power and Internet services, asking relevant agencies to work together to ensure that these services are provided to all hamlets and villages within 2023, thus creating an equal development chance for all people and not leaving anyone behind. 

The Government leader asked ministries, sectors and localities to further improve their awareness on the significance of digital transformation in the national socio-economic development strategy in the 2021-2030 period, while continuing to complete institutions and mechanisms to create a favourable legal corridor for national digital transformation.

He also urged acceleration of the updating, connectivity and sharing of digital platforms and databases, including connection of national and specialised databases with the Government's information and governance centre, along with completing the public service portal. Efforts should be focused on completing the online provision of 53 essential  public services, and greater attention paid to personnel training for the work, he said.

The PM also assigned specific tasks to particular ministries and localities.

According to the National Committee on Digital Transformation, after one year of implementing Project 06, the awareness and behavior of digital transformation have been improved in all localities at all levels, while State management activities have generally switched to digital modes with many helpful products and services provided to the people and businesses.

In 2022, 16 important documents have been issued regarding digital transformation, including a national strategy on digital economic development until 2025 with a vision to 2030.

The speed of broadband Internet and mobile Internet has improved significantly, ranking 45th and 52nd in the world, and is higher than the world's average.

Currently, 48 out of 63 localities have operated their provincial smart monitoring and managing centres.

A population database has been set up, connected to 47 ministries, localities and State businesses, while more than 76 million chip-based ID cards have been issued, and nearly 2.6 million of e-ID accounts have been activated.

At the same time, the National Online Service Portal has provided nearly 4,400 public services at levels 3 and 4.

In the year, more than 12,000 cyber attacks were detected and handled, while more than 56% of Party and State agencies have applied standards on information security.

To date, 99% of all enterprises have paid their taxes online, while all operating businesses have used e-invoice.

In 2022, e-commerce contributed 7.5% to total retail revenue, while a strong rise was seen in the number of online shoppers and subscribers of Mobile Money, the committee reported.

National conference reviews journalism activities in 2022

A national journalism conference was held in Ho Chi Minh City on December 24 to review activities in 2022 and launch tasks for next year, with a focus on the press' humanity aspect.

Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Nguyen Thanh Lam stressed that the Resolution of the 1th National Party Congress has clearly defined the direction of building professional, humane and modern press and media.

He pointed out that humanity, accuracy and objectivity are the core values and the raison d'être of journalism, which helps orient society towards the good and the beautiful.

He urged the press to play a greater role in popularizing policies and creating consensus among the public, while State agencies should improve the provision of information to the press to ensure the effectiveness of policy communication. 

Addressing the event, Nguyen Trong Nghia, Secretary of the Party Central Committee and head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Information and Education, emphasised the press’ important role in performing information and education tasks of the Party, protecting the Party’s ideological foundation, and refuting wrongful viewpoints from hostile forces.

He asked press agencies to continue closely following the Party’s targets on journalism management and development, especially the orientation for building revolutionary, professional, humane, and modern press.

In particular, he noted, in its sixth session, the 13th Party Central Committee also underlined the need to strongly apply science and technology while bringing into play the human factor in journalism activities.

On this occasion, 32 collectives with outstanding performance in journalism activities this year were honoured with certificates of merit by the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Information and Education.

Cities hold vital role in climate change response: Expert

Cities play a vital role in efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment, as they account for two thirds of the total energy consumption and 70% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Reports showed that Vietnam has more than 860 urban areas, and the urbanisation rate increased to nearly 40% in 2021.

Urban areas are an important driving force for socio-economic development, speeding up economic restructuring towards industrialisation and modernisation. However, the rapid development of urban areas leads to overpopulation, increase of economic development activities, high traffic density and energy consumption, and are consequently a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions - the cause of climate change.

Dr. Nguyen Tuan Quang, Deputy Director of the Department of Climate Change under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, underlined that urban planning, construction, management and development must be consistent with the views, goals, tasks and solutions stated in the National Strategy on Climate Change until 2050, and the national plan on climate change adaptation for 2021-2030, with a vision to 2050.

Sectors and localities should promote the efficient use of energy, apply renewable energy solutions in production, traffic and urban lighting, as well as recycling waste and wastewater in line with the circular model, and producing energy from waste, Quang said, while mentioning solutions to ensure urban development associated with environmental protection and climate change adaptation.

It is also necessary to upgrade transport infrastructure in areas vulnerable to climate change, construct buildings and urban areas in accordance with green standards, and apply energy efficiency standards in buildings, he added, noting the necessity to increase tree coverage to reduce the effect of heat-induced problems and increase the absorption of greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas, contributing to realising Vietnam’s goal of bringing net gas emissions to zero by 2050.

Sharing Quang’s view, architect Ngo Minh Hung and Assoc. Prof. Le Thi Kim Oanh from Van Lang University said the carbon-neutral urban model is a new trend aimed at promoting sustainable environmental development in Vietnam.

They stressed the need for measures to cut urban emissions, including investing in urban infrastructure facilities, improving effectiveness of land resources use, promoting the use of public transport and reducing private vehicles, and developing green urban areas and ecological residential areas.

Politburo’s resolution expected to create impetus for urban development

The Politburo’s Resolution No.6 dated January 24 2022 on the sustainable urban planning management and development is expected to create breakthroughs for the work.

President of the Vietnam Urban Planning and Development Association (VUPDA) Tran Ngoc Chinh commented that the new guidelines and policies will help remove inadequacies and limitations in urban planning, construction, management and development, hence creating a driving force for the development of the urban system and contribution to promoting the sector’s sustainable growth.

Chinh held that priority should be given to completing the master plan on the national urban and rural system as the backbone for socio-economic development.

He recommended paying special attention to cross-cutting issues such as climate change, poverty reduction, affordable housing, inclusive development, and social space integration.

To support the implementation of green, smart, ecological urban construction that is adaptable to climate change, he noted mechanisms and policies are needed to guide and build the brand of Vietnam's urban areas, including the formation of a system of standards and regulations that enable the sector to anticipate and guide new development trends.

It is necessary to strengthen the application of geographic information system (GIS) tools serving digital transformation in planning, he added.

Management, use of resettlement housing projects need improvement

The management and use of resettlement housing projects in Hà Nội must be improved through the coordination of various State agencies, according to the Hà Nội People’s Committee.

Currently, in Hà Nội there are 199 resettlement housing projects that were completed and put into use, with 146 buildings under the management of the Hà Nội Housing Development and Management Company, 20 buildings under the Hà Nội Housing Development Investment Corporation and 30 buildings under the Management Board of Housing and Office Projects.

Up to now, only 113 out of 199 resettlement apartment buildings have established management boards, with the slow handing over of maintenance funds, building related documents, community areas and equipment systems from investors to the building management boards.

Meanwhile, in many apartment buildings, management boards were established but did not take over the management and services operation, or do not outsource businesses to manage and operate the buildings.

Notably, the maintenance and repair, especially for elevators and fire prevention systems, have not met requirements, causing frustration for residents and potentially danger.

Another problem is that many areas being used for business purposes are done so illegally or are sub-leased improperly so the municipal People's Committee has had to issue many decisions of forcibly removing violators.

Faced with the above limitations and inadequacies, the Hà Nội People's Committee requested the relevant offices to promptly implement necessary management solutions in accordance with the law to rectify the situation.

In particular, it is necessary to promptly settle disputes and disagreements and prevent complicated lawsuits causing public disorder.

Recently, deputy chairman of the People's Committee Dương Đức Tuấn requested the Department of Construction to co-ordinate with the Department of Finance to review, issue, amend and supplement regulations on the management and use of resettlement housing funds to ensure efficient and effective management and use.

The director of the construction department was assigned to approve an economic and technical report on the maintenance and repair of six State-owned housing projects, while the director of the planning and investment department was authorised to approve the selection of contractors for maintenance and repair of State-owned buildings.

Meanwhile, the finance department was asked to co-operate with the construction department and relevant agencies to draw out a revenue and expenditure mechanism for the areas of business purposes in resettlement apartment buildings.

The construction department has to strengthen inspection of the management, use, and signing of contracts to purchase resettlement apartments that were approved by the municipal People's Committee.

The committee’s leaders emphasised that in order to prevent violations, the police would investigate, prosecute and bring to court those who commit serious violations in the management and use of resettlement apartments and the service business areas in the resettlement apartment buildings.

For businesses that were assigned to manage, operate and use resettlement housing projects, the city required good performance of maintenance, repair and renovation activities to ensure the essential living needs for people, as well as urgently lease the service areas via auctions. 

Man prosecuted for trading wild animal parts

The Danang City People's Court announced on Friday that they have prosecuted Nguyen Duc Tai for violating regulations on the protection of endangered, precious, and rare animals.
According to investigations from local police, the 33-year-old man, who resides in the neighbouring province of Ha Tinh, set up shell companies using a fake ID card to allegedly smuggle wild animal parts from Africa into Vietnam. He had hired a few other people to help him run the companies.

The companies were all registered to import and export goods but the police could not identify their headquarters or see them undertake any other activity except importing goods from Africa.

Between February and September last year, police at Tien Sa Port checked consignments declared as containing wooden floors and cashew nuts imported from South Africa and Nigeria by one of the companies set up by Tai, and found inside 52 rhino horns weighing more than 138 kilogrammes, lion bones weighing 3.10 tonnes, 456 kilogrammes of ivory, and 6.23 tonnes of pangolin scales. The goods were estimated to be worth VND300 billion.

Searching Tai's residence, police also found 10 pangolin scales he had kept as a sample to show buyers.

Tai was arrested in June this year for the investigation, which police said is one of the largest transnational wildlife trafficking cases ever busted in Vietnam.

Binh Dinh seeking to expand Phu Cat Airport

Authorities of the southern central province of Binh Dinh are seeking approval from the Ministry of National Defense for expanding Phu Cat Airport.

On Friday, the provincial People’s Committee sent the Phu Cat Airport development plan for the 2021–2030 period to the Ministry of National Defense.

Accordingly, by 2030, the airport is expected to serve 5–7 million passengers and process 12,000 tonnes of cargo annually. It will also be able to handle large aircraft such as Boeing 787s and 777s and Airbus A350s.

By 2050, the airport will be upgraded to meet 4E standards, enabling it to raise its capacity to 12–15 million passengers and 27,000 tonnes of cargo annually.

According to the committee, the airport now covers 860 hectares, with a mere 15 hectares being managed by civil aviation authorities, while the military manages the remainder.

The committee has proposed that the ministry turn over 153 hectares of the airport's military land to serving civil aviation activities.

Currently, with the designed capacity of 2.5 million passengers per year, Phu Cat Airport is facing overload, particularly during the peak tourism times and holidays. Therefore, the expansion is necessary.

More bus trips for New Year holiday

The HCMC Management Center of Public Transport plans to add commuter bus trips on certain routes to meet the rising demand during the New Year holiday.

The additional bus trips will be operational from December 31, 2022 until January 2, 2023. Some 46 more trips will be scheduled a day.

The routes that will have a higher frequency are Route No. 77, which links Dong Hoa and Can Thanh in the outlying district of Can Gio, Route No. 90, which connects Can Thanh and the Binh Khanh ferry terminal, and Route No. 61-3 between HCMC’s An Suong Station and Thu Dau Mot Station in neighboring Binh Duong Province.

The center will halt running buses that cater specifically to students, namely Routes No. 50, 52 and 86, due to a drop in commuters during the holiday. The frequency of routes No. 55 and 56 will be reduced by 10 to 20 trips daily.

Nearly 1,000 domestic flights a day planned for Lunar New Year

Vietnamese air carriers expect to operate 950-990 domestic flights per day before and during the Lunar New Year holiday to meeting the strong spike in air travels, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV).

The number of daily domestic flights will increase by 250-290, with some 50,000-60,000 additional seats each day, compared to the regular flight schedules for the winter of 2022-2023.

The local carriers will offer around 1.7 million more seats on domestic services during the Lunar New Year holiday, or Tet, which starts on January 21. This represents an increase of 33% compared to the regular flight schedule during winter this year.

Before Tet, the country’s biggest and longest annual holiday, the aviation authority will conduct inspections of various airlines and airports in the country, especially the international airports of Noi Bai, Danang and Tan Son Nhat, to ensure service quality, aviation safety and security.

The CAAV has asked Vietnamese carriers to allocate more human resources and add night flights to ease congestion at airports during the day, especially at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

Moreover, CAAV confirmed more airport slots from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. the following day, allowing airlines to double their night flights to 204 on the routes from HCMC to Hanoi, Haiphong, Thanh Hoa, Vinh, Quang Binh, Hue, Danang, Dak Lak, Gia Lai, Quang Nam, Phu Yen and Lam Dong during this peak season.

Vietnamese win big at int’l photo contest for combating drink driving

An international photo contest award ceremony themed “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” was held online on December 15, naming Vietnamese photographers as winners in some categories.

The event was part of the “Power of No” campaign against drink driving, conducted by an alliance of 28 partners representing multilateral organizations, community nonprofits, the private sector, governments and social organizations.

Vietnam’s most popular “Audience Vote” photo came from Duy Toan Nguyen, who pretended to take a friend’s motorcycle keys and order them a taxi home instead of driving drink. The first prize was secured by Tran Thi Tu Nhi. Other winning photo ideas to stop a friend from drink driving were tying a friend’s hands with rope, stealing a friend’s keys and running away and wrapping a friend in plastic wrap.

The international photo contest was launched this autumn, attracting hundreds of young adults across Southeast Asia.

Through a targeted social media strategy and influencer marketing, the contest reached over seven million young people with more than 450,000 likes, comments and shares in two months across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and PartiPost. Contestants submitted photos showing their creative ideas to stop a friend from driving under the influence of alcohol.

The photo contest successfully motivated young people to learn more about how alcohol works in the body, legal obligations and useful tips to avoid drink driving.

By participating in the contest, young people were compelled to think critically about their own actions and relationship with drink driving, were subconsciously exposed to repeated messaging over time and were incentivized to spread the word to their friends.

The “Power of No” public awareness campaign is a regional effort aimed at raising awareness among young adults of drinking age about the profound consequences of drinking and driving.

In Southeast Asia, road crashes claim the lives of 2,000 people a day, while in Vietnam alone, 32% of men’s road crash injuries and 20% of women’s road crash injuries are related to alcohol. Furthermore, according to the World Health Organization, 34% of Vietnam’s road deaths involve alcohol.

12,000 Tet gifts to be presented to construction workers

Coteccons Construction JSC and Dantri Online newspaper have cut a deal to initiate the “Building Tet 2023” program, in collaboration with the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, to donate 12,000 Tet gift sets to construction workers nationwide.

Construction workers at over 60 building development projects executed by Coteccons will benefit from the program, which is set to take place from January 4 to 16 next year, or before the Lunar New Year holiday (Tet).

Each Tet gift set worth VND300,000 will help construction workers ease the burden of shopping for Tet and ensure they enjoy a warm and happy holiday.

The program aims to highlight Coteccons’ deep gratitude to construction workers for their contribution to completing high quality housing projects on schedule.

Pham Quan Luc, deputy general director of Coteccons, said that identifying construction workers as a lodestar of Coteccons’ operation and development strategy, the firm launched the Tet program to present gifts to thank them for their efforts and contribution to the success of each project.

Apart from handing over gifts to the workers, Coteccons will also hold various activities, such as offering free haircuts at construction sites and giving free coach tickets for Tet to support them.

Conference reviews external information service in 2022

The Party Central Committee’s Commission for Information and Education hosted a national conference to review the external information service and communications about seas and islands, border demarcation and marker planting, and border management in 2022 in Ho Chi Minh City on December 24.

Addressing the event, head of the Party Central Committee's Commission for Information and Education Nguyen Trong Nghia spoke highly of the performance of the external information service and communications about seas, islands, and land border-related issues in the context of the challenging year. 

The work has contributed to firmly protecting the ideological foundation of the Party, strengthening the people's faith in the guidelines and policies of the Party and State, enhancing social consensus, winning support from international friends, and mobilising all resources for the national socio-economic development, he said. 

Nghia, who is also head of the steering committee for external information work, called for more efforts and determination from agencies and people that are working in the sector so as to achieve better results in 2023. 

It is necessary to consider the external information service and communications about seas, islands, and borders as an important front, he said. 

Nghia also emphasised the need to renew and diversify methods of information and communication, and effectively promote the application of new communication forms, thus increasing the image and position  of Vietnam, and contributing to defending the nation. 

With the close attention and direction of the Party and State leaders, the engagement of ministries, sectors and localities, the external information service and communications about seas, islands, and land border-related issues in 2022 have produced good results, helping popularise policies on economic recovery, investment attraction, green economy development, digital transformation, supply chain transformation; and Vietnam's viewpoint and stance on international issues, and information about cooperation relationship with other countries, Nghia said.

Speaking at the event, Standing Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Minh Vu stressed that media and external information are tools to protect the national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Vu Viet Trang, General Director of the Vietnam News Agency (VNA), one of the leading providers of external information service, raised some issues that need more attention in order to enhance the effectiveness of external information and communication work.

On this occasion, the Central Party Committee’s Commission for Information and Education presented certificates of merit to organisations and individuals with outstanding achievements in the external information service and communications about seas and islands, border demarcation and marker planting, and border management in 2022.

Ha Long Winter Carnival 2022 attracts thousands of visitors

The Ha Long Winter Carnival 2022, themed "Colours of the Wonder," took place in Ha Long city, the northern province of Quang Ninh on December 24 evening, drawing thousands of participants.

The carnival was expected to become a unique tourist product of Quang Ninh during Christmas, helping promote the local tourism in low tourist season during winter.

During the carnival, art performances and parades were combined with a music festival called Ha Long Carnaval EDM Party.

The art performances highlighted the national traditional cultural values and modern and vibrant musical styles.

Dinh Huu Chung, Vice Chairman of Tuan Chau Group, one of the organisers of the event, said that the highlight of this year's carnival is the mobile stage and a professional sound and light systems and the modern technology wireless connectivity solutions.

Many sidelines activities were held, including a street art programme and paragliding, airplane and seaplane performances.

So far this year, Quang Ninh province attracted about 11.6 million visitors, 2.6 times higher than that in 2021 and 21.7% higher than planned. Its tourism revenue reached nearly 25.2 trillion VND (approximately 1 billion USD), 3.2 times higher than that in 2021 and 32.5% higher than planned.

Vietnamese personnel at UN peacekeeping missions leave good impression

Vietnam’s continuous deployment and increase of personnel to UN peacekeeping operations have recorded encouraging results, leaving good impression on UN leaders, commanders of missions, and leaders of host countries.

The resolution of the 13th National Party Congress and Resolution No 22-NQ/TW of the Politburo identified the task of actively taking part in multilateral defence and security mechanisms, including engaging in cooperation activities at a higher level such as UN peacekeeping operations.

Since June 2014, the Vietnam People’s Army has sent 516 officers and professional soldiers to UN peacekeeping operations in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Abyei Area, and the UN headquarters. 

The forces of Vietnam have been  well fulfilling their duties, winning the recognition and support from the Party, State, and people, as well as high evaluation from the UN and international community. That also helped Vietnam obtain 192 out of the 193 votes to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2020-2021.

The deployed personnel have shown their professionalism, discipline, the spirit of international solidarity and, especially the capability of quickly adapting to harsh working conditions at the missions.

In 2020, four officers of the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations passed tests to be recruited by the UN, including three working for the UN Department of Peace Operations at the UN headquarters and one for the mission in the Central African Republic.

As of August 2022, Vietnam had sent about 80 officers working independently at the missions in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Abyei Area, and the UN headquarters. Many of them have finished their terms and been praised by the UN for their remarkable performance, accounting for 30%, compared to other countries’ average of 2%.

Meanwhile, since October 2018, four Level-2 field hospitals have been deployed to South Sudan. All of them have excellently fulfilled tasks and highly valued by mission leaders. The field hospitals have affirmed their specialised capacity and sense of responsibility while establishing themselves as a trustworthy source of healthcare support for UN staff members in the host country, especially amid complex developments of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations and the military advisor to the UN Secretary-General sent thank-you letters to the Vietnamese Government for those contributions.

In May 2022, the first engineering unit of Vietnam, which consists of 184 officers and professional soldiers and nearly 2,000 tonnes of equipment, departed for the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). As soon as arriving in the area, the unit quickly embarked on their duties. The mission’s commander  recognised that their performance had helped make an improvement to the UNISFA.

In particular, Vietnam has always paid attention to raising the rate of servicewomen in UN peacekeeping operations.

Implementing the UN Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, as of August 2022, the country had sent 74 servicewomen to such operations, including eight working independently (accounting for 20%, compared to the UN average of under 10%), and 45 working for field hospitals (accounting for 16 - 21%, compared to the UN average of 12%).  The engineering unit also includes 21 servicewomen (nearly 12%) while similar units of other countries do not any.

Highly valuing the move, officials of the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence were invited to join UN leaders in co-chairing an international conference on women with the UN peacekeeping operations. This event took place in Vietnam on November 26, 2022 on the occasion of a visit by UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix.

Vietnam well conducts pre-deployment training for peacekeepers

Participating in the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping activities represents a new development in the international integration capacity of the Vietnam People’s Army.

Practice shows that Vietnamese officers and soldiers are fully capable of integrating and successfully participating in international peacekeeping missions in a multinational, multilingual and multicultural environment; and coordinating in multi-dimensional operations on a global level. These achievements come from the preparation and training of UN peacekeepers by the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations under the Ministry of National Defence.

Accordingly, Vietnam has well conducted pre-deployment training with the motto of increasing practical training and general exercises, thus helping Vietnamese officers and soldiers quickly adapt to the working environment of UN peacekeeping missions.

In June 2018, the UN recognised the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations as one of four international training centres in the region to conduct training under the Tripartite Partnership (Vietnam, the UN and Japan). In 2018-2020, Vietnam organised three training courses for more than 100 international and domestic trainees on the operation of heavy engineering equipment, which was then applauded by the UN Deputy Secretary General.

The country also organises a bilateral exercise with India on UN peacekeeping operations every year, and has coordinated with partner countries such as the US, Canada, the Netherlands and the UK to organise dozens of training courses in Vietnam, for logistics officers, staff officers, mission military specialists, and military observers.

Recognising the importance of foreign language teaching for soldiers, the department has held more than 40 English training courses for more than 500 officers, and soldiers of the level-2 field hospitals and the engineering unit. At the same time, it has coordinated with the French Defence Attaché Office in Hanoi to organize French courses for officers preparing to join French-speaking missions such as in Central Africa.

Hanoi opens food, pedestrian zone on Truc Bach Lake

]A night-time food and pedestrian zone was officially opened on Dao Ngoc - Ngu Xa, an islet on Truc Bach Lake in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh district on December 23 evening.

The zone covers two streets, Ngu Xa and Nguyen Khac Hieu, traversing the centre of Dao Ngoc - Ngu Xa, the folk name for a 4.5ha islet on Truc Bach Lake in Truc Bach ward.

It focuses on developing existing restaurant and market activities, selling goods recognised under the “One Commune, One Product” (OCOP) programme, introducing the traditional Ngu Xa bronze casting at the bronze casting museum, and holding street cultural events on the weekend.

In spring festivals, local authorities will also organise traditional activities at historical and cultural relic sites such as Than Quang Pagoda and Ngu Xa Communal House.

The food zone is open all days and closed to vehicles from 6pm on Fridays to midnight on Sundays to serve pedestrians.

Algeria holds second Vietnamese martial arts tourney

The second Vietnamese martial arts championship in Algeria kicked off at Loucif Hamani Gymnasium in Tizi-Ouzou city on December 23.

The Algeria Federation of Vietnamese Martial Arts said the event attracted hundreds of competitors from 16 provinces and cities across the African country to select the best for coming international tournaments.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Vietnamese Ambassador to Algeria Nguyen Thanh Vinh welcomed the tourney and described it as a contributor to the friendship between the two countries' people.

He stressed that the practice of traditional martial arts of Vietnam in Algeria is a bright spot in bilateral relations, calling on the two countries to continue promoting cultural and sport exchanges.

For his part, President of the Algeria Federation of Vietnamese Martial Arts Rabie Ait Medjber noted the two countries’ long-standing multifaceted ties. He also appreciated Ambassador Vinh’s presence at the event.

Phu Tho province hands over anti-malaria centre to Lao locality

Phu Tho province of Vietnam symbolically handed over the centre for malaria prevention, control, and treatment in Luang Namtha on December 23 as a gift for the Lao province.

Addressing the inauguration and handover ceremony, member of the Party Central Committee and Secretary of the Phu Tho provincial Party Committee Bui Minh Chau looked back on the great friendship between Vietnam and Laos, noting that since 1979, Phu Tho and Luang Namtha has set up and strengthened friendship and solidarity while assisting each other to develop comprehensively and sustainably.

The Vietnamese province has supported the Lao side to construct many infrastructure and social welfare facilities worth nearly VND40 billion (US$1.7 million) in total since 2005, helping boost local socio-economic development and improve people’s living standards, he noted.

Khamlay Sipaseuth, member of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) Central Committee, Secretary of the Luang Namtha provincial Party Committee and Governor of Luang Namtha, described the inauguration of the anti-malaria centre as a meaningful contribution to the Vietnam - Laos Solidarity and Friendship Year 2022.

He appreciated the gift from Phu Tho authorities and people and pledged that his province will use the building in the most effective manner to care for the health of local residents.

Invested with VND10 billion, the Luang Namtha centre for malaria prevention, control, and treatment had its construction started in October 2020. It was put into use after one year of construction, but the official handover was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Best local photographic works of the year announced

The best 28 photographic works taken in Vietnam this year were recently unveiled by the Vietnam Association of Photographic Artists (VAPA).

The VAPA Cup was ultimately granted to a set of photos which show the Krong No volcanic cave system in the Central Highland province of Dak Nong, with the images taken by Nguyen Minh Phuong of Dak Nong.

Furthermore, the A prize was presented to the set of photos snapped by Tran Bao Hoa of Binh Dinh, with the images featuring blue whales swimming off the coast of De Gi beach in Phu Cat district in the south central province of Binh Dinh.

As many as eight B prizes and 16 C prizes were also given to other images, critical theory works, and photo books featuring high artistic quality and content.

This comes after the VAPA launched a contest aimed at seeking the most outstanding photos of 2022. Up to 288 entries were submitted to the contest this year, with 85 international photo awards being given.

New bells ring out at Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon 
The Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City rang out with the chimes of new symphonic bells on December 23 for the first time in nearly three years.

On January 18, 2020, the Archbishop’s Palace of the Archdiocese of HCM City decided to stop ringing the old bells at the cathedral as they became damaged.

The new melody consists of 25 brass bells produced by Perrot GmbH & Co.KG of Germany.

Four of the new bells were inscribed with the names of four archbishops since 1960, while the remainders have the names of contributors who have helped restore the cathedral since 2015.

The ongoing restoration began in late 2015 after the cathedral turned 135 on April 5 the same year. The project is being carried out by the Belgium-based Monument Group and is expected to be completed in 2027.

Source: VNA/SGT/VNS/VOV/Dtinews/SGGP/VGP/Hanoitimes