Foreign ministers of Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia have extended congratulations to Bui Thanh Son on his appointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In a phone talk with his Vietnamese counterpart on April 9, Lao Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith said he believes that Son will lead his ministry in efforts to reap more successes in foreign affairs.

Saleumxay Kommasith is the first foreign minister to make a congratulatory phone call to the Vietnamese newly-appointed minister.

Son, for his part, affirmed that Vietnam always attaches importance and gives the highest priority to the great friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries.

He pledged to closely cooperate with his Lao counterpart to contribute to strengthening relations between the two countries and ministries in particular.

The FMs consented to further effectively implement high-level agreements as well as the outcomes of the 43rd meeting of the Vietnam-Laos Inter-governmental Committee, including coordination in pandemic combat and economic recovery.

They will also work to realise the cooperation agreement reached by the two foreign ministries and the action programme on cooperation in economic diplomacy, bring into full play annual consultation mechanisms between leaders and units of the two ministries, and support each other at multilateral forums, especially within the framework of the United Nations, ASEAN and Mekong Sub-region cooperation.

The same day, Son received a congratulatory phone call from Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia Prak Sokhonn.

Prak Sokhonn expressed his belief that under the leadership of Son, the Vietnamese foreign ministry will gain more fruits in the time ahead.

Son said Vietnam treasures the fine neighbourliness, traditional friendship, and comprehensive, sustainable, long-term cooperation with Cambodia.

The ministers agreed to maintain the close coordination in implementing commitments and high-level agreements, along with results of the 18th meeting of the Vietnam-Cambodia Joint Committee on Economic, Cultural, and Scientific-Technological Cooperation.

They will also optimise consultation mechanisms and raise the efficiency of borderline management.

They promised to further coordinate at regional and international forums.

Also on April 9, Son held talks with his Indonesian counterpart Retno L.P. Marsudi who congratulated Son on his appointment as Foreign Minister and lauded Vietnam’s performance in pandemic combat and socio-economic development.

Indonesia places importance to preserving and developing its strategic partnership with Vietnam, she said.

In reply, Son stressed the significance of the strategic partnership and spoke highly of cooperation efficiency over the past time, given difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two sides concurred to enhance trade ties, contributing to post-pandemic economic recovery, assist each other in accessing safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines, and intensify cooperation and coordination within ASEAN and multilateral mechanisms, for regional peace, stability and collaboration.

More congratulations to newly-elected Vietnamese leaders

Leaders of countries around the world have sent messages and letters of congratulations to newly-elected State, Government and National Assembly leaders of Vietnam.

State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc received congratulatory messages and letters from Indonesian President Joko Widodo; Malaysian King Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah ibni Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah; Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Moros; King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia; King of Morocco Mohammed VI; Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister of Kuwait Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.

Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea Chung Sye-kyun, Prime Minister of Kuwait Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin cabled their messages and letters of congratulations to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

Meanwhile, Speaker of Malaysia’s House of Representatives Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun and Speaker of the Finnish Parliament Anu Vahvilainen congratulated National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue.

Japan presents medical equipment to Hue Central Hospital

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on April 9 presented a number of medical equipment to the Hue Central Hospital to support the facility to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The equipment include an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine, a mobile digital X-ray machine, and a colour Doppler ultrasound machine, which have combined value of 50 million JPY (over 456,000 USD).

Addressing the handover ceremony, Yakabe Yoshinori, Head of the Japanese Consulate Office in Da Nang city, lauded the role of the Hue Central Hospital in giving healthcare services to residents in the central region, especially during COVID-19 pandemic outbreaks.

The Japanese official expressed his hope that the equipment will help the hospital improve the quality of its medical services.

For his part, Prof. Dr. Pham Nhu Hiep, Director of the Hue Central Hospital, thanked the Japanese Government and JICA for supporting the hospital over the years, which has contributed to COVID-19 prevention and control of Vietnam as well as Hue and the central region in particular.

He said that the hospital will use the equipment effectively to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and enhance the quality of its healthcare services.

Since 2004, the JICA has implemented many projects to support the Hue Central Hospital, including a 27,243 USD project to upgrade infrastructure of the hospital and a project to improve the human resources quality for the health care system in the 2010-2015 period.

The same day, the Hue Central Hospital signed a cooperation agreement with Vinbrain – an AI software supplier in the health sector – which aims to increase the hospital’s IT application in its services.

Ministry of Health discusses issues related to “vaccine passports”

A “vaccine passport” must include a QR code or its holder should show a COVID-19 vaccination certificate issued by competent authorities in countries and territories that have reached bilateral and multilateral agreements with Vietnam on this regard when entering Vietnam, the Ministry of Health has said.

Citizens from these countries and territories, who come to Vietnam with “vaccine passports” must be fully injected at least two weeks before their entry and less than 12 months since their last shots, heard a meeting of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Hanoi on April 9.

The ministry also proposed that “vaccine passport” holders should spend a seven-day quarantine period at State-designated establishments and take two tests. If the tests show negative results, they will self-quarantine at home or places of residence for an additional seven days.

Dang Quang Tan, head of the health ministry’s General Department of Preventive Medicine, pointed out the high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks following the roll-out of the “vaccine passport” programme, given a small number of vaccinated people in Vietnam.

Experts at the meeting emphasised the need to press ahead with the inoculation drive, especially in localities.

In his remarks, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, who is also head of the national steering committee, asked the ministry to report the progress of negotiations for COVID-19 vaccine purchase, accelerate the vaccination for prioritised groups, and pay attention to testing.

The health ministry should coordinate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and other relevant ministries and agencies to draw up a roadmap on reopening borders for foreign tourists, targeting those from countries that have put the pandemic under control.

It was reported at the meeting that Vietnam has gone through 15 days without domestically-transmitted infections, and the national count now stands at 2,683.

The northern province of Hai Duong that was once the country’s biggest COVID-19 hotspot also recorded no cases over the past consecutive 14 days.

Project launched to further reduce marine plastic waste

A workshop to kick off pilot activities in the “Rethinking Plastics - Circular Economy Solutions to Marine Litter in Vietnam” project was held in Hanoi on April 9.

The workshop was jointly held by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Vietnam, Expertise France (EF), and the German Cooperation Organisation (GIZ).

Benefitting the Asian countries of China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, and Vietnam, the project is funded by the EU and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

In Vietnam, it is being implemented by EF, with the overall goal of supporting the implementation of the EU’s plastic strategy in the region, towards further strengthening cooperation between the EU and regional countries in promoting the circular economy and plastic waste treatment and reducing marine waste.

Pilot activities are expected to contribute to resolving plastic waste-related challenges in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and central Phu Yen province, with the specific goal of reducing the amount of plastic waste not treated on land and at sea.

Accordingly, in HCM City, the project will focus on collecting, classifying, and recycling plastics packaging and managing waste from ships at seaports. Meanwhile, a supermarket alliance will be established in Hanoi to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags at supermarkets and retail outlets, and in Phu Yen the project will support the formation of a volunteer team to collect marine waste and bring collected waste ashore.

Apart from pilot activities, MoNRE will also coordinate with EF and other relevant agencies in Vietnam to support the building of key strategies and policies to effectively reduce and manage plastic waste.

Rui Ludovino, First Counsellor in charge of climate action, environment, employment, and social policy at the Delegation of the EU to Vietnam, highlighted the significance of the project, saying that his agency will work closely with Vietnam to minimise marine plastic waste and share the experience of European countries in this endeavour.

He expressed a hope that the pilot activities will become models and inspire policy-making and initiatives in the future.

According to the Director General of MoNRE’s International Cooperation Department, Pham Phu Binh, the Vietnamese Government in general and the ministry in particular have affirmed that they are very much interested in seeking urgent and long-term solutions to reducing plastic pollution and promoting economic development in line with a circular economic approach.

Korean telecom giant shakes hands with VTVcab to develop music streaming service

The Republic of Korea (RoK)’s KT Corp. on April 9 signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Vietnam Television Cable (VTVcab), a subsidiary of Vietnam Television, on cooperation in developing music streaming platform in Vietnam.

Under the MoU, the two sides plan to design a music streaming platform and cooperate in K-pop music distribution and the management of intellectual property.

KT said it plans to provide key technology in developing the service, such as music personalization using artificial intelligence, which is currently used by its media affiliate Genie Music.

Genie Music is the RoK’s second-largest music streaming service operator and a major music distributor.

KT added that it will also expand cooperation with the Vietnamese company in the broader media industry, including internet protocol television and over-the-top media services.

The Korean telecom giant currently operates video streaming service Seezn.

Cat Linh-Ha Dong railway to be put into commercial operation

Hanoi’s Cat Linh-Ha Dong urban railway line, invested in by the Ministry of Transport, is expected to be put into commercial operation on the Reunification Day (April 30), a leader from the ministry has said.

Difficulties in the project have been basically dealt with while safety certification has been completed.

The ministry and relevant units previously checked and handed over the project to Hanoi authorities.

During the first 15 days of operation, passengers can travel free of charge. Tickets will then cost 15,000 VND per trip.

The 13.5-km railway line, running from Cat Linh in Ba Dinh district to the suburban district of Ha Dong, cost approximately 868 million USD, two-thirds of which were loans from China.

It has a main elevated line of more than 13km, 12 stations, and 13 trains. Each train, whose designed speed is 80 km/h, has four carriages capable of carrying over 900 passengers./. 

Army plays significant role in anti-COVID-19 efforts

The army’s efforts in fighting COVID-19 and implementing the national vaccination programme were highlighted at a press conference in Hanoi on April 9.

According to Major General Nguyen Xuan Kien, head of the Military Medical Department at the General Department of Logistics, the Ministry of National Defence has actively directed quarantine work, especially in the northern province of Hai Duong, which was at one time the country’s biggest COVID-19 hotspot.

Some 2,800 officers and soldiers have also been mobilised to prevent illegal immigration at border areas, he added.

Apart from testing, the COVID-19 vaccination drive has been rolled out in the entire army, Kien said, adding that since April 1, priority groups in the army have received vaccine shots.

He stressed the role of the Military Medical University in test kit production, along with research on the Nano Covax vaccine, which is about to enter the third stage of human trials.

The meeting also heard that, between 2010 and 2020, Vietnam cleared 485,240 ha of land contaminated by unexploded ordnance (UXO) with total funding of 12.6 trillion VND (547.4 million USD).

More than 5,800 bomb and mine victims and others affected by UXO have received support worth over 50 billion VND.

Vietnam will continue with plans, programmes, and projects on bomb and mine clearance in the time ahead, covering around 800,000 ha, the meeting heard.

German media spotlights Vietnam’s new leadership

Vietnam’s new leadership has continued to make foreign headlines, with Germany’s Junge Welt (Young World) running an article on this regard on April 9.

Written by Stefan Kühner, the article said Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong holds high prestige in Vietnam and lauded his role in the fight against corruption in the country over recent years.

Meanwhile, State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, in his capacity as Prime Minister in the 2016-2021 tenure, succeeded in leading the country in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the impact of the global economic crisis.

He has helped consolidate Vietnam’s prestige in the international arena through intensive and extensive cooperation in ASEAN, the article stated.

It also cited newly-elected Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s remarks at the National Assembly, where he said he will carry forward the achievements of the 2016-2021 tenure in order to drive the country forward.

HCM City, Singaporean ministry cooperate in education

The People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City and the Singaporean Ministry of Education will cooperate in general and higher education under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) reached on April 9.

The document was signed by Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Duong Anh Duc and Singaporean Consul General in HCM City Ray Kho.

For general education, the two sides will exchange knowledge and work together to improve the quality of teachers and education managers, while stepping up IT applications in teaching.

They will also cooperate to raise the quality of higher education in HCM City and encourage joint research projects.

The MoU is set to take effect for five years and would be expanded for another five years with consensus of the two sides./.

Da Nang check-in model design contest launched

The Tourism Promotion Centre of the central city of Da Nang has launched a contest to design Da Nang check-in models, aiming to seek ideas for the tourism development of the city and create highlights for local tourism.

The contest is taking place from April 8 until June 8 for architects, artists, and students in colleges and universities, among others.

Contestants can build their ideas from tourist sites of Da Nang, including beaches, Han River’s banks, eco-tourism sites, and community-based tourist destination, or proposing new destinations.

The designs should meet creative and artistic requirements, respecting and honouring values of the city, and having high feasibility.

Total awards of the contest are 100 million VND in cash and Da Nang tourism service coupons.

Vietnam logs 14 imported COVID-19 cases on April 9 evening

Vietnam recorded 14 new COVID-19 cases, all imported, in the past 12 hours to 6pm on April 9, bringing the national count to 2,683, the Ministry of Health said.

All of the patients are Vietnamese citizens who were put under quarantine right after their arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang city, and Dong Thap, Kien Giang and Bac Ninh provinces.

As many as 37,282 people who had close contact with COVID-19 patients or entered Vietnam from pandemic regions are currently quarantined, including 523 in hospitals, 21,133 in state-designated establishments and 15,626 at their residences.

A total of 2,429 patients have been cured to date, while the death toll was still kept at 35.

Among patients undergoing treatment at medical establishments, 22 tested negative to coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 once, 11 twice and 17 thrice.

To live safely with the pandemic, the Ministry of Health advised people to remain proactive in pandemic prevention and control by continuing to wear face masks when going out, disinfecting frequently, maintaining a safe distance, refraining from mass gatherings, and making medical declarations.

Over 1,100 rubber cushions at HCMC’s first metro line under inspection

The Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR) of HCMC, the investor of the city’s first metro line project, has asked the contractor to review and check a total of 1,138 rubber cushions belonging to package CP2 following the deviation of four more cushions a few days ago.

MAUR has also written to the HCMC government reporting the deviation of the rubber cushions at package CP2 of the city’s first metro line, which connects Ben Thanh Market in downtown HCMC and Suoi Tien Theme Park.

MAUR said that many rubber cushions have deviated from their positions, while others might follow suit, so ascertaining the cause was necessary to minimize the impact on the elevated sections, according to the report.

However, until date, Sumitomo - Cienco 6, the engineering, procurement and construction contractor of package CP2, has been tardy in meeting requirements from the authority and other relevant agencies and in seeking opinions from experts.

To speed up the process of addressing the problems and ensuring the quality of the project, MAUR asked the contractor to report its work in detail, check all rubber cushions at package CP2 and assess their stability and quality, Thanh Nien Online reported.

An expert said that the deviation could be handled if just a few cushions were displaced. However, if the entire system faces a deviation of rubber cushions, all the 1,138 rubber cushions will have to be fixed, delaying the metro line project.

The expert blamed the contractor, the project management board, consulting units and inspection teams for the problem. It is important to promptly clarify the reason for the deviation and determine whether the entire system sees rubber cushions deviate in droves, the expert added.

Father saves his son's life by donating his kidney

A father, 37, decided to donate one of his kidney to save his nine-year-old boy.

At a press conference held yesterday, the Ho Chi Minh City-based Children Hospital 2 announced a successful living-donor kidney transplant. The donor is a 37-year-old father and the recipient is his 9-year-old son of the Cham ethnic group in South Central Province of Binh Thuan.

The mother of the boy took him to a hospital because she discovered he experienced excessive fatigue, loss of appetite and insomnia and sleep issues for more than a year. After he was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure, he has undergone peritoneal dialysis which uses the lining of his abdomen, or belly, to filter the blood from June 2020 four to five times every day.

Seeing his son enduring the pain, father Tho Minh Than decided to donate one of his kidneys to his beloved son. Surgeons of the Children Hospital 2 and Cho Ray Hospital together performed the transplant on March 23.
Deputy Director of the Children Hospital 2 Dr. Pham Ngoc Thach said this is the hospital’s nineteenth kidney transplant which took 4-5 hours.

After the kidney transplant, the child has a better appetite and his new kidney works well; it can make urine. According to doctors, he can go back to school 6 months later. The father is also recovering from the operation.

Danang agrees to study disposal of dredged material into sea

The Danang government has given its in-principle approval for a study on the dumping of some 200,000 cubic meters of dredged material from the Tien Sa Port into the sea.

Following the approval, the Vietnam Maritime Administration will study, supervise and deploy procedures to dip the dredged material after dredging navigation passages at the Tien Sa Port in the city, Phap Luat Online reported.

Pham Thi Chin, head of the Danang Agency of Sea and Islands, said that in line with the prevailing regulations, an environment impact assessment should be done before selecting ocean disposal sites.

If the environment impact assessment result shows no danger to the environment, the site selection will be approved.

The next step is that the investor makes a report on ocean disposal and submits it to the municipal government for consideration and approval, she said.

The ocean disposal is set to be conducted four nautical miles away from the Tien Sa Port on a water surface area of 100 hectares.

Duong Duc Xuan, deputy general director of Danang Port JSC, said that the water passage into Tien Sa Port was 11 meters deep, but due to sedimentation, its depth was reduced to 10.5 meters. Due to the shallow water passage, the port has failed to receive large vessels.

As such, the Ministry of Transport proposed dredging water passage into the port.

However, no place is suitable for dumping dredged material except for the ocean, said Le Quang Nam, vice chairman of the Danang government.

Assessing environment impact for the disposal is necessary, but the work is not simple due to multiple aspects such as sites, pollution and the marine ecosystem, Nam said.

Three eight graders honored for heroic efforts in rescuing friends

The People’s Committee in the Central Province of Quang Tri’s Gio Linh District yesterday gave certificates of merit to three eight graders for honoring their heroic efforts in rescuing five other students who nearly drown.
While running for exercise in Cua Viet beach on April 3, three eight graders Tran Viet Ton, Nguyen Vinh An and Bui Truong Giang discovered that five tenth grade students nearly drown.

Without reluctant, three eight graders jumped into the sea in an effort to save two of five people. One of student in five man saved his two girlfriends.

Unfortunately, one student was swept away and the body has been found later.

Head of the Gio Linh District Education Bureau Nguyen Van Nghe said that the education sector is proud of these brave students. the sector will teach swimming lessons because drowning is still one of the most common causes of accidental death in children, so being able to swim is an essential life-saving skill.

Hanoi targets ARV treatment for 90% of HIV carriers

Hanoi has set a goal to provide ARV treatment for up to 90% of the local managed HIV/AIDS patients this year.

The Hanoi People’s Committee has issued a plan on HIV/AIDS prevention and control in 2021.  

According to the plan, 90% of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH) in the city are aware of their disease; 90% of the managed PLWH can be provided with ARV treatment and 95% of the patients given ARV treatment would have a lower HIV viral load.

In addition, 80% of the city’s drug addicts would be given access programmes providing them with needles. Meanwhile, 6,500 drug addicts would benefit from methadone or buprenor treatment. Up to 6,572 HIV/AIDS carriers would enjoy ARV treatment through health insurance. All children born from HIV-infected mothers would be provided with treatment for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.

Hanoi has enhanced communication activities on HIV infection prevention for drug addicts and sex workers as well as the decrease in discrimination against PLWH. The city will focus on science and technological application in HIV/AIDS treatment.

Project promotes development of climate change-resilient green cities

A project on integrating resilience to climate change with environmental protection in order to develop secondary green cities was launched at a workshop held by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Hanoi on April 9.

Funded by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) and the ADB, the project will be implemented nationwide over five years and focus on updating and making adjustments to the Green City Action Plan (GCAP), improving environmental quality, and increasing resilience to climate change in master urban environmental plans for Ha Giang city in northern mountainous Ha Giang province, Hue city in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue, and Vinh Yen city in the northern province of Vinh Phuc.

After assessing the results of the green and smart city action plan in these cities, similar plans will be outlined for six other secondary cities.

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Vo Tuan Nhan, who is also deputy head of the steering committee for the project, said this is an important and urgent undertaking.

He emphasised the need to have more regulations for promoting green lifestyles and production, sustainable consumption, and improvements to urban environment quality towards climate change adaptation in the national legal and policy systems.

At the workshop, experts and representatives from localities discussed and proposed measures relating to amendments to old urban plans, and updated others on green city action plans for six other secondary cities.

Modern technologies effectively applied in citizen ID issuance
 
Besides the effort of the police in issuing new chip-based citizen IDs lately in Vietnam, many localities have applied technologies for quicker registration and information collection.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the police in District 4 and Tan Phu District are the two pioneers in using IT to reduce the registration time. In particular, the police force of District 4 allows citizens to register for chip-based ID issuance via Zalo app and make an appointment online for picture, fingerprint collection and fee paying.

Meanwhile, Tan Phu District offers the two new functions of ‘Automatic turn-taking registration for ID issuance’ and ‘FAQ for ID issuance’. The first function lets residents make an appointment online to reduce on-site waiting time, while the second one helps to answer residents’ popular questions regarding ID issuance procedure, necessary documents, fee, registration location.

The police division of Buon Ma Thuot City in the central highland province of Dak Lak also uses Zalo as a means for answering popular questions as to chip-based ID issuance and announcing the latest notices of this matter.

The most noticeable case is Hai Duong Province, where Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc since January this year. The local authorities here have encountered much trouble in ID issuance due to social distance. In order to ensure the assigned schedule, they have used Zalo to update related news and instructions on the procedure and locations to sign up for new IDs.

The Ministry of Public Security itself has selected the joint venture VNPT-HADIC-GTEL ICT to develop the national population database, the joint venture GTEL ICT - Tecapro - Egov and the joint venture MK Group to build and then operate the system to produce, issue, and manage citizen ID cards. These two systems strictly observe the ‘modern, synchronous, highly secured, and money-saving’ principle and are sited in Hanoi, HCMC.

Both systems apply the biometrics technology to ensure the tracking ability. The second one is able to fully exploit functions and saved information of the first. Both have level-4 information security in compliance with the Government regulation for nation-scaled sensitive information as they have effective solutions for secured authentication, digital signature, and data transmission.

The new chip-based citizen ID card can safely integrate different kinds of necessary information like health insurance, social insurance, driving licence, digital signature, biometrics, one-time passwords, which are critical in many public administrative procedures and private matters.

These new ID cards can be accessed anywhere without the need to connect to the Internet, as they have specific card readers. This is expected to effectively minimize fake identification, which is an essential stage of development.

According to Major General To Van Hue – Director of the Police Department for Administrative Management of Social Order, the projects to establish the national population database and the ID issuance system are among the 6 prioritized projects to create a foundation for the development of an e-government and a corresponding transparent governmental ecosystem, in hope of better serving the general public.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau tourism to be promoted on BBC Global News

The southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau has launched a campaign to promote its tourism on BBC Global News for two months.

The provincial Department of Tourism has signed an agreement with Global Book Corporation - Media Representative of BBC Global News in Vietnam for tourism promotion.

Under the agreement, a 30-second video featuring the beauty of the province will be screened on BBC World News's Asia-Pacific channel daily at intervals at 9:30 am - 5 pm and 5 pm - 7 pm between April 8 and June 2 with a total of 150 spots.

The city will appear on the channel as an attractive destination with blue sea, white sand and golden sunshine through interesting tours.

The strategy is aimed to lure more travellers to the province after Covid-19 is brought under control in Vietnam.

BBC Global News is among leading media channels in the world with over 450 million households in more than 200 countries and territories. The channel’s major audiences are frequent travellers.

Some organisations in Vietnam such as the International Co-operation Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Vietnam, national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, the Danang Tourism Department, the Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Department have also co-operated with the channel on tourism promotion.

Veteran in Hanoi sets a blood donation example

For the last 22 years, veteran Lê Đình Duật of Hà Nội’s Thanh Xuân District has donated blood and encouraged others to give blood.

Now, at 79 years old, he is carrying on his good work, seeing it as his way of life now.

Born in Thọ Xuân District of the central province of Thanh Hóa, Duật joined the army during American War when he was 18.

He witnessed many of his comrades suffering injuries or even death, and some of them died after losing too much blood.

Duật said he would never forget the first time he donated blood to injured soldiers he met at Địa Lợi Ferry station in the central province of Hà Tĩnh.

“It was a night in May 1966, I headed a team of seven to observe in advance a battlefield area for our artillery. When we were going back to our base, we passed by a medical station,” Duật recalled.

The head of the station asked Duật’s team to donate blood as many injured soldiers were dying because medical staff were unable to find blood to transfuse to them.

“At that time, we had to return our base as soon as possible. However, I just could not refuse as they looked at us with imploring eyes,” he said.

All seven members of Duật’s team quickly took health checks and four of them, including Duật, were eligible to donate blood.

“After giving my blood, I felt so excited and happy as I could help save a person. To me, that was so great,” Duật said.

Saying goodbye to Duật’s team, the head of the medical station told them that if only all seven of them could have given blood, they could have saved more injured soldiers.

Duật has never forgotten those words and doesn't want anyone to die due to a blood shortage.

In early 1991, Duật retired and started joining social activities at his residence in Thanh Xuân Trung Ward, Thanh Xuân District in Hà Nội.

He donated blood often, but in 1999, he was unable to register for blood donation as he had low blood pressure.

Duật found another way to help out. He read about blood donation and transfusion and told other people about it.

He visited houses in his neighbourhood, gave them educational materials and assuaged their worries about donating blood.

Duật said some people still believed that giving blood would make them get sick, while others even said that Duật was crazy or told him to mind his business.

To gain people’s trust, Duật first called on his wife and his children to donate blood.

 

“My wife, my two daughters and my son understood me and supported me a lot,” Duật said.

Duật’s family has donated more than 183 units of blood so far, while university students who lived in Duật’s neighbourhood were also convinced to give blood.

The veteran has made great efforts to encourage people to give blood, resulting in more than 730 units being donated.

Duật and his family spend a lot of time talking to prospective blood donors and bringing them to blood donation sites, all to save the lives of others. 

Electricity demand shoots up in sizzling HCM City

Electricity consumption has been spiking in HCM City amid the ongoing heat wave as more and more air-conditioners are turned on.

The average daily demand in March was 78.75 million kilowatt-hours, more than 40 per cent higher than in February and 3.89 per cent higher year-on-year, according to the HCM City Power Corporation.

It exceeded 80 million on many days as temperatures soared to 37 degrees Celsius.

On March 24, when it was especially hot, demand skyrocketed to 86 million kilowatt-hours.

Bùi Trung Kiên, deputy general director of the corporation, said people are switching on more and more electronic devices to cool themselves off.

Air conditioners, already one of the most power-thirsty household appliances, have to work harder in high temperatures, consuming more power, he said.

Households are expected to consume around 36 per cent more electricity in April than March.

Power demand in April, May and June is expected to be higher than last year at 97 million kilowatt-hours.

The corporation advised customers to monitor their electricity usage and conserve power to avoid large spikes in electricity bills.

The southern provinces have been caught in a heat wave since the start of March. HCM City has been experiencing temperatures of 34-37 degrees Celsius, and they are expected to peak in April and May.

Children and seniors are especially at risk of heat-related illnesses and respiratory diseases caused by the increased use of fans and air-conditioners.

People are urged to protect themselves from direct sunlight when outdoors.  

Vietnamese movies reach out to global audiences

Producers of Vietnamese films “Bo gia” (Old dad) and “Thien than ho menh” (The Guardian) have unveiled their plans for the overseas screening of the two movies.

Accordingly, “Bo gia”, a comedy produced by Tran Thanh Town, will hit the cinemas in Singapore and Malaysia starting April 22, with its screening timeline in Thailand under discussion.

The film has made itself a domestic blockbuster with 5.3 million tickets sold for 400 billion VND (17.3 million USD).

It is about the life of a motorbike taxi driver living in Ho Chi Minh City who faces challenges earning money for his wife and children. Starring top actor Tran Thanh, the movie was developed from a web drama of the same name first broadcast on YouTube, which featured five episodes with an average number of viewers of about 28.4 million.

Meanwhile, “Thien than ho menh”, which will hit the big screen in Vietnam in late April, has already been planned to be screened globally, particularly in a number of top markets like the US, UK, France, Ireland and Malaysia.

The film, directed by Victor Vu, features superstitious practices about Thai life-sized baby dolls known as "luk thep", which are believed to be possessed by spirits that bring good luck and prosperity; and harm the enemies of the owner.

“In modern society, when people face a hopeless situation, they often turn to spiritual solutions to solve their problems,” said Vu. “The film reflects the weak points in young people’s psychology.”

Vu, 44, is well-known for blockbusters like Scandal (2012), Toi thay hoa vang tren co xanh (Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass, 2015), Qua tim mau (Vengeful Heart, 2014), Nguoi bat tu (The Immortal, 2018) and Mat biec (Blue Eyes, 2019)./.

HCM City administrations urges bid extension on contract in posting ads on bus fleet

From 2018 till now, Ho Chi Minh City has collected nearly 58 billion (US$ 2,501,807) from accepting advertisements on buses for the city budget; therefore, the municipal People’s Committee has directed related competent agencies and department to negotiate the extension of a contract with the advertising agency for advertising on public buses.

Roughly 2,300 buses including subsidized and non-subsidized vehicles are now traveling in 137 bus routes in the southern metropolis. The city averagely spends more than VND1 trillion on bus subsidies meanwhile the city will collect more than VND100 billion yearly from running advertisements on the city's bus fleet helping to reduce the amount of the subsidy.

The Department of Finance in HCMC said from 2018 till now, running advertisements on buses has generated VND58 billion plus VND16.1 billion of value-added tax and enterprise income tax easing the burden of bus subsidies. For non-subsidized buses, transport enterprises enjoyed the whole revenue from running ads on buses.

After a trial operation of running ads on 2,000 buses, Koa - Sha Media Vietnam Company won the bid for bus advertising package on the side of 492 buses worth VND162 billion in three years. For years, the Department of Transport has assigned non-subsidized enterprises and cooperatives themselves to work with other firms which want to put an ad on buses while it conducted an auction on posting ads on subsidized buses. For four auctions from 2018 to 2020, no bidders were seen at the event.

Accordingly, the Department of Transport has proposed to cease running ads on buses. However, Deputy Chairman of the city People’s Committee Le Hoa Binh has put down a proposal to stop auctions but asked the Department and related competent units to negotiate with Koa - Sha Media Vietnam Company upon extension of bus advertisement contract. Simultaneously, the Department and related competent units must consult the city administration about a proper advertisement approach with the present public transportation development network and real demand for advertisement.

An urban expert said authorities in the southern provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai have allowed posting ads on buses for years to raise state budgets and reduce spend on subsidized buses.

Nguyen Quy Cap, vice chairman of the HCMC Advertising Association (HAA), told many members of this organization had shown no interest in the new medium for advertising because of high prices and inappropriate approaches as advertisers are tightening their spending in the current tough economic conditions.

In addition to the lengthy bidding procedure, bidders had to put down a large sum of deposit and sign contracts for many years. According to him, authorities should let business and markets act as drivers of change, rather than regulation and government intervention.  

Construction explosives blamed for house damage in Nha Trang

Residents in Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa Province have expressed concern over a construction project that has been given permission to use 64 tonnes of explosives to build an urban area on a mountain. 

For the past three months, many people in Nha Trang has filed complaints after the construction company started using explosives to level the mountain terrain.

On September 14, 2020, Khanh Hoa Department of Industry and Trade approved the Nha Trang Haborizon Project which gave construction company, Vung Cao Development, permission to use 64.5 tonnes of explosive to build an urban area on the mountainside. Concerns were raised after the news broke and the company was asked to relocate all residents living within a 300-metre radius.

The construction company often work from 11 am to 12.30 pm and from 4.30 pm to 5.30 pm. Many residents have abandoned their homes in fear as the explosions cause cracks in their houses.

75-year-old Tran Thi Em said, "Our furniture shook and started me. Many people ran out."

Dozens of houses have been damaged. 77-year-old Huynh Thi Canh said cracks appeared everywhere in her house after the company started using the explosives.

In January, Nha Trang People's Committee asked the Khanh Hoa Department of Industry and Trade to stop issuing permits to Vung Cao Company to use explosives in the Nha Trang Haborizon Project and re-assess the safety and impact of the project.

The project's investor is Greenworld Construction Company. It covers over 24.3ha on the mountainside, including over 9.38ha which are part of a protective forest.

Bui Cao Phap, vice chairman of Phuoc Dong Commune People's Committee, confirmed that the local houses have been damaged recently. However, they still have to investigate to determine whether the damage was caused by the construction or not.

On March 15, Pham Van Phi, manager of Haborizon project signed a report which states that the company will collaborate to investigate and compensate the residents.

E-bus project to be piloted in Ho Chi Minh City

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport yesterday announced that the Government Office assigned the Municipal People’s Committee to chair and cooperate with the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and other relevant units and agencies to build and issue economic-technical norms as well as unit cost for electric bus in the city following related regulations.  

Previously, the Municipal People’s Committee suggested the Prime Minister to allow the city to pilot five e-bus routes. It is expected that 77 e-buses would be operated in the city with the capacity of 65 to 70 seats per e-bus. Those e-buses will pick up and drop off passengers at current bus stations while investors shall install additional nine bus stations and build one depot and a parking lot over an area of over 12,200 square meters at Vinhome Grand Park residential area.

Accordingly, five e-bus routes will connect with Vinhome Grand Park in Thu Duc City and Emart Supper Market, Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Sai Gon Bus Station, Mien Dong (Eastern) Bus Station and HCMC national universities respectively. 

Ho Chi Minh City is allowed to pilot e-bus project.

According to the Municipal Department of Transport, public transportation just meets around 9.2 percent of urban traffic demand in the city. Under a goal of developing public passenger transport projects until 2025, the volume of transport will meet 15 percent of demand. 

To achieve this goal, the city has been implementing many synchronous solutions to develop public passenger transport, including the upgrade and expansion project of the public bus network with a total capital of nearly VND500 trillion (US$21.6 billion).

HCMC proposed to soon implement Monorail No.3 project

Head of the Ho Chi Minh City Urban Railway Management Board Mr. Bui Xuan Cuong has just proposed the city to soon implement the overhead railway project from Phan Van Tri Street in Go Vap District to the Quang Trung Software Park in District 12, aiming to reduce traffic congestion through the area during peak hours.

According to Decision No. 568/QD-TTg dated April 08, 2013 of the Prime Minister approving the adjustment for the transportation development planning of Ho Chi Minh City, there is 16.5- kilometer Monorail No.3 stretching from Phan Van Tri-Nguyen Oanh Intersection, Quang Trung Software Park- To Ky- Tan Chanh Hiep station in the urban railway system of Ho Chi Minh City.

Monorail No. 3 is on the list of the city’s projects calling for investment, but there is currently no investor interested in the project.

Vietnam targets to have enough Covid-19 vaccines by 2022

Vietnam will foster collaboration in the transfer of technology with foreign Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers, increase the imports of semi-finished vaccines and accelerate the production of local vaccines to ensure an adequate supply of Covid-19 vaccines for its population by 2022, according to the Ministry of Health’s draft scheme on Covid-19 vaccine research and development.

The Ministry proposed that the Government offer more incentives for the research, clinical trials and production of Covid-19 vaccines in Vietnam this year.

The ministry will review and adjust some regulations to shorten the clinical trials of domestic vaccines. Funding for the research and production of Covid-19 vaccines will be mobilized from the State budget and the private sector.

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science and Technology will collaborate to support local vaccine manufacturers to conduct clinical trials in foreign countries, while the Ministry of Finance will provide financial assistance.

Four vaccine manufacturers in Vietnam, including the Vaccine and Biological Production No. 1 Co., Ltd. (Vabiotech), the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), the Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (Polyvac), are developing various Covid-19 vaccines.

Nanogen’s Nano Covax vaccine finished its first stage of the clinical trial in late March, proving to be safe and effective against different coronavirus variants. Nanogen is implementing the second stage of its clinical trial, while the third stage is scheduled to begin next month. If the second and third stages are successful, the vaccine will be available at the end of the third quarter, three months ahead of the initial plan.

The Covivac vaccine, which is developed by IVAC in collaboration with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, University of Texas in Austin and the PATH nonprofit organization, began its first stage of the clinical trial in mid-March.

The Covid-19 vaccine by Vabiotech is expected to begin clinical trials this month. The vaccine utilizes recombinant viral vectors, enabling it to be modified, if needed, to combat new variants.

Polyvac is negotiating with the Russian Direct Investment Fund on a plan to collaborate to produce Covid-19 vaccines based on Russian technology.

“A very big obstacle in developing vaccines is shifting from research into commercial production due to the lack of investment resources and access to necessary technologies and materials,” the Ministry of Health said.

Bac Giang: Sci-tech application to promote socio-economic development

The northern province of Bac Giang will focus on investment in research and the application of science and technology to serve local socio-economic development in the time to come, according to the provincial People’s Committee.

The province will also focus resources on investment in the application and transfer of key technologies such as biotechnology, information technology (IT), and new material technologies in the future.

Particularly, the Department of Science and Technology will coordinate with research institutes, departments, branches, and localities to introduce new technologies to enterprises, cooperatives, and individuals. Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is the pioneer in promoting the application of biotechnology and IT in the selection, creation, duplication, and production of agricultural and forestry products, in order to restore and conserve genetic resources of valuable local plant varieties and domestic animals.

Bac Giang will also promote the application of biotechnology in waste treatment at industrial zones and rural craft villages, apply IT in the management of medical examinations and treatment, build smart hospitals, improve the quality of teaching and learning, reform administration, promote e-government, and push forward with new, energy-saving materials.

It will also increase investment in science and technology and successfully implement scientific and technology projects at the national and provincial level. The province will also allocate resources evenly between technological research, application, and development, to match local conditions, incorporate science and technology into the production and trading of key products in order to improve productivity and quality while reaching GAP standards, and implement research and the application of science and technology for the socio-economic development programme.

In the 2016-2020 period, the Bac Giang Provincial People’s Committee signed a programme to coordinate on science and technology activities with the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, and the Vietnam Academy of Agriculture. Thirty-two tasks in science and technology had been deployed, contributing to increasing investment resources for the province. These tasks have positively impacted on economic restructuring, gradually forming a technology market and creating momentum for the rapid application of scientific and technological achievements, contributing to promoting socio-economic development in Bac Giang.

Since 2016, the province has implemented 74 national and provincial science and technology projects with a total budget of over 222 billion VND. The province focuses on forming concentrated production areas, especially OCOP (One Commune, One Product) products such as clean vegetable production in Yen Dung district and Ganoderma lucidum and other mushroom production in Lang Giang district, developing litchi growing areas in Luc Ngan district and early litchi growing area in Tan Yen district, ensuring the areas meet export standards. The province also applies scientific and technical advances to producing high-quality cherry blossom varieties in Bac Giang city. Local people have reported earning net incomes of 650-800 million VND per hectare per year.

The province has also brought new pig breeds with high economic value, such as the Landrace, Yorkshire, Pidu, and Pietrain breeds to the locality. Bac Giang also crossbreeds three or four foreign breeds in Viet Yen district and is building a model for clean pig breeding and consumption in Tan Yen district.

The province has also put into production and widely applied technical advances in breeding and contributed to the development of the Yen The hill chicken brand, such as Luong Phuong free-range chicken breeds and hybrid sugarcane, with 1,000-5,000 chickens per household, and raising high-quality and high-productivity duck eggs. Through artificial insemination, Bac Giang province has brought new buffalo breeds and crossbred cows, and improved the local buffalo and cow herds in the districts of Tan Yen and Viet Yen./.

Vietnam Fitness Model 2021 launched

Young men and women from across the country have been encouraged to participate in the fourth iteration of Vietnam Fitness Model 2021, a national contest which will showcase local fitness enthusiasts.

The contest, running with the theme “The Cloud Hunters”, began to receive applications from April 8.

The national event is open to all Vietnamese citizens nationwide who have a deep passion for fashion and sports, especially fitness.

The top 40 contestants will progress to the final round, with the grand finale set to get underway on May 29 in Ho May tourist resort in Vung Tau city.  

Winners will go on to represent Vietnam in future international beauty events.

Duy Quach, head of the Vietnam Fitness Model 2021’s organising board, said the contest is expected to encourage young people to participate in physical training, strengthen their health, and perfect their body, especially after the long period of social distancing imposed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vietnam Fitness Model was initially held in 2016, before running again in both 2017 and 2019 to find talents to participate in global pageants. 

The two most outstanding faces of the contest were Ta Cong Phat, who clinched a Top 15 finish at Man of the World 2019, and Tuong Vy, who was named the winner of Miss Tourism World 2019. Both of them are the image ambassadors of Vietnam Fitness Model 2021.

Thousands of counterfeit products seized in Danang

Authorities in Danang City have seized over 2,000 fake products of various famous brands.    

Danang City Market Management Department announced on April 8 that they had raided four different locations selling travel, picnic, and camping products in the area and found many items without legal papers. The items of unknown origin include jackets, backpacks, gloves, shoes, tents and other items like flashlights and scissors.

The raided shops were Umove Travel and Outdoor Gear on Hoang Hoa Tham Street, FanFan on Nguyen Van Thoai Street, Adana on Le Dinh Ly street and Tabolo Outdoor on Trung Nu Vuong Street.

At Adana and Tabolo Outdoor stores, the authorities found a large number of jackets with The North Face brand but without legal papers or invoices. They have seized a total of 2,155 items.

The case is being investigated.

Deforestation past continuing to haunt erosion-hit areas

More work is required to deal with poor soil conditions and erosion in the central coastal province of Thua Thien-Hue after an environmental scientist made a fact-finding mission last month.

Dr. Greg Nagle took several eye-opening photographs during his March 21 trip near the National Road No.49 between A Luoi and Hong Ha areas. “I think that this is unusually erosive terrain here,” commented Dr. Nagle, adding that “most often, the worst erosion comes from logging and roads changing hill slope hydrology.”

However, some of the visible erosion in the area could also be the result of deforestation by Agent Orange over 50 years ago, or by bombs as there are also landslides in some areas which were not directly impacted by roads or logging, he added.

Although the war ended nearly half a century ago, the footprints of the war in some of Vietnam’s areas remain visible today. The rural district of A Luoi was one of the places that saw some of the heaviest fighting and bombing. The area around the infamous Hamburger Hill was the theatre of massive US bombing with the A Luoi valley hit with spray runs with Agent Blue, Agent White, and Agent Orange, as research by David Biggs portrayed.

However, the war is not the only reason for deforestation in Vietnam and wider Southeast Asia, which saw its forest cover fall from 66 to 49 per cent between 1960 and 1990, as research by Rodolphe De Koninck pointed out. As Vietnam was the country that lost most of its forest cover during this period, social and economic consequences for farmers greatly increased as they tried to support their livelihoods.

Other studies have shown that deforestation in Southeast Asia has not occurred because of a single factor, but instead a host of economic and ecological causes.

For instance in 2000, Vietnam started a massive programme around the country to grow hybrid Acacia mangium, an evergreen fast-growing tropical tree which is now one of the country’s main exports for wood for chips and in the manufacturing of furniture, offering a serious cash flow for remote mountain communities. “These trees are grown in about five years and are small enough to be mostly harvested and moved by hand in many places,” explained Nagle.

However, some scientists have pointed out that inappropriate management practices can cause soil erosion in the area. “A number of current practices have the potential to degrade these sites in several ways,” said Sadanandan E.K. Nambiar from the The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in a paper with two other scientists. They also argued that a “number of current practices have the potential to degrade these sites in several ways.”

After harvest, tops and branches may be removed for fuel and the remaining biomass burned, which exposes the soil. Together with bulldozing and windrowing operations, the bare soil surface is exposed to rains, leading to serious soil erosion.

Nagle explained, “Some of what we are seeing here is serious soil damage with a loss in long-term productivity.” Forestry cannot be sustained with such damage, he added. “This is some of the worst forestry-related erosion I have ever seen anywhere in the world, although there were places as bad as this on very erosive soils in the Redwood region of northern California which were logged in the 1950s-1970s.”

Although there is a multitude of reasons for the area’s soil erosion and not a single action or entity to blame for, the pictures taken a fortnight ago show that the soil condition poses serious challenges to the local populace and economy.

Local media reported last October and November that several national highways in Central Vietnam were ravaged by landslides, which also destroyed parts of the National Road No.49 running through Thua Thien-Hue.

In an interview in November, Trinh Xuan Hoa, deputy head of the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, argued that deforestation and construction projects among many other factors were the cause of the landslides in the region. “Human activities including deforestation and road construction have hastened geological changes in the area,” he explained.

Localities launch tourism stimulation packages for 2021

Localities across the country are hosting an array of stimulus programmes to boost domestic travel demand following the COVID-19 epidemic.

A campaign entitled ‘Beauty and Fragrant of Lao Cai’ is being held in the northern province of Lao Cai from April until the end of this year. The campaign features assorted activities including a video and clip making contest titled ‘Lao Cai – A friendly, safe and attractive destination’, and a trip for press agencies to promote the locality’s hospitality sector.

In addition, a Sapa culture and tourism festival will be held in Hanoi and a caravan programme promoting Lao Cai’s tourism in four key markets of Ninh Binh, Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An will take place in May.

Other highlights of the campaign include art performances, a flower festival, and a brocade exhibition at the Sapa Centre for Tourism Promotion, a race passing through tourist attractions in the districts of Sapa, Y Ty and Bat Xat, and a ‘Season of Love’ programme.

In Da Nang City, the local hospitality sector has planned specific programmes for domestic market each quarter of this year.

Accordingly, in the first quarter, the city focused on promoting Da Nang as a green city for visitors. In the second quarter, Da Nang is advertised as a colourful city with vibrant summer vibes, when tourists can take part in the annual Amazing Da Nang Festival, a golf week, and interesting sea tourism events along sun-drenched beaches in the city.

In the second half of the year, the city’s hospitality sector will work to popularise Da Nang as an ideal place for leisure travel and Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism, respectively.

Meanwhile, Quang Ninh Province plans to host more than 30 tourism events from March to May with the highlights including the Ha Long Culture and Tourism Week 2021, a circus gala, an EDM music fest, a national festival of musical bands, and a volleyball tournament.

In addition, the province has also partnered with travel businesses to develop new tourist products and travel combo deals with discounts of up to 50% on prices for visitors.

Quang Ngai wants to suspend Ly Son-Sa Huynh Geopark project

In a move that has raised eyebrows, the authorities of Quang Ngai Province want to suspend the Ly Son-Sa Huynh Geopark project as its socioeconomic effectiveness remains unclear, said Dang Van Minh, chairman of the provincial government, at a meeting on April 7.

The provincial Department of Culture, Information and Tourism had been tasked with drafting and presenting a decision suspending the project to the provincial Party Committee’s Standing Board.

The move has surprised the public as the project has been in operation for five years with capital of VND20 billion having already been spent and has passed the preliminary round of UNESCO, reported the local media.

The central province commenced the project in 2015, aimed at promoting local socioeconomic and tourism growth. Two years later, the provincial government established the management board of the Ly Son-Sa Huynh Geopark under the jurisdiction of the Department of Culture, Information and Tourism.

Since then, the province in coordination with the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources and scientists have held many scientific conferences and conducted some 160 survey trips to identify the heritage value of the project.

In 2019, the above-mentioned department proposed the provincial government expand the project to 4,600 square kilometers. By the end of 2019, the province sent a file seeking the recognition of its Ly Son-Sa Huynh Geopark as a member of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network and passed the preliminary round.

The UNESCO Global Geoparks Council was originally set to vote for the geopark at its annual meeting in late 2020 in South Korea, but the plan was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Transport Ministry fails to meet disbursement plan of public investment capital

The Ministry of Transport (MoT) yesterday informed that the transport sector failed to meet the disbursement plan of public investment capital with nearly VND6,000 billion (US$259 million) disbursed by the end of the first quarter of 2021, accounting for 17 percent of the plan for 2021 and higher than the same period last year.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak and the problem of building materials for some expressway projects are the main causes of the issue.

To solve the problem, the MoT's leaders have directly worked with localities where the North-South expressway project runs through, to propose increase in materials supply for project construction. Besides, the Ministry of Transport is closely monitoring the disbursement rate of main investors, project management boards for this month’s statistics.

Information from the Ministry of Transport showed that VND39,000 billion (nearly US$1.7 billion) out of VND42,995 billion (nearly US$1.9 billion) of the planned capital for 2021 assigned by the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Transport has been allocated, accounting for 91 percent. The remaining VND4,000 billion (US$173 million) is waiting for investors to complete procedures for the handover according to the regulations.

HCMC speeds up organization of urban administration

The People’s Committee of HCMC on April 7 hosted a conference on implementing the Decree No. 33/NĐ-CP (ND33) providing guidelines for implementation of the Resolution No.131/2020/QH14 (NQ131) on organizing urban administration in HCMC.

Speaking at the meeting, Chairman of the People’s Committee of HCMC Nguyen Thanh Phong emphasized that the crux of the Decree ND33 and the Resolution NQ131 is creating driving forces for HCMC's development. They also ensure and maintain residents’ rights of representation, democracy and access to information at a higher level than before.

The administrative apparatus in districts and wards have been rearranged and reorganized, making the agencies and units neat and less cumbersome with clear responsibilities, effective and efficient operation as well as helping them take initiative to solve urgent problems, he added.

Regarding Thu Duc City, the city’s leader asked the new city urgently to establish of Department of Science and Technology to enhance the research and development of science and technology.

He noted that the municipal Government will build a special mechanism and policies to encourage cadres, civil servants and officials to develop their potentials and strong points, creative thinking skills and dedicate to their job.

Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee affirmed that the city will always improve working style at State and local administrative agencies for better citizen services.

Attending at the event was Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Tran Anh Tuan, a member of the Edition Board on the Decree ND33.

He stressed the decree consists of a new and main content that is the unification of assignment of the regime and civil servant between the People’s Committees of districts, wards and the municipal People’s Committee. Officials of People’s Committees of wards have been managed by the People’s Committees of districts and the city within a city. Decree also ensures citizens' democratic rights and transparency in all activities and operations of the People’s Committees of wards and districts.

Cine-concert: Adrift/Sheltered to take place in April 15  

The Cine-concert is a part of the series of events titled ‘In Progress’ introduced by British Council Vietnam.
Adrift/Sheltered, a Cine-concert, will take place at 8pm on April 15 at the Hanoi Academy of Theatre and Cinema, Hanoi.

The cine-concert combines the screenings of black-and-white films from the 1930s backwards and live music performance. It revolves around the themes and concepts of ‘home’, ‘shelter’, ‘family’ or overall a ‘comfort zone’.

As human beings, people are bound to their families, and it is especially the case in the Eastern culture, where ‘family’ or ‘home’ is often the top priority and a sacred connection.

However, being separate individuals, people always want to set themselves free from the shadow of such protection and take shelter - the ‘comfort zone’ that has always embraced them and provided them with security.

The movies to be screened in this project are from the Asian and European film industries, namely documentaries, and archives of movies with expired copyrights.

The live music will bring a breath of fresh air to these vintage motion pictures, with electronic soundscapes, spatially evocative compositions as well as sounds that complement the movies with novel nuances in the journey to rediscover the meaning of ‘home’.

The films are on screen including ‘I Graduated, But…’ by Yasujiro Ozu, 1929, ‘A Page of Madness (by Kurutta Ippeji, 1926) and Menilmontant (by Dmitri Kirsanoff, 1924) among others, with the performance of Vietnamese artists Nguyen Nhung, Ho Tram Anh, Nguyen Minh and Ha Dang Tung.

Adrift/Sheltered is developed and curated by Marilyn Pham Dacusin, the Head Organizer of Empathy Museum Vietnam, alongside with the artists.

The project receives support from British Council Vietnam, Embassy of Italy Hanoi, Institut Francais – L’Espace and Hanoi Academy of Theatre and Cinema.

The cine-concert is a part of the series of events ‘In Progress’, which is initiated and supported by British Council Vietnam.

Over 13,000 runners take part in Techcombank HCM City Int’l Marathon

More than 13,000 runners from 44 localities nationwide will compete at the 4th Techcombank Ho Chi Minh City International Marathon, the largest race in Vietnam, heard a press conference held in conjunction with the beginning of the event on April 9.

There are four distances for runners to choose - 42km, 21km, 10km, and 5km - kicking off on April 11. The starting line is on Nguyen Binh Khiem street in District 1.

Some 5,500 competitors from 60 businesses and 11 running clubs will compete in challenges specifically designed for their groups.

In addition to the four race categories, there will also be kids’ runs of 3km and 1.5km, held on April 10.

Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, Director of the municipal Department of Tourism, said changes have been made to ensure the safety of participants, with a number of races expanded.

The 42km race is set to cross six districts and many key tourist destinations in the city, such as Notre Dame Cathedral, the HCM City Post Office, and Nguyen Hue walking street.

This is also an opportunity to promote the image of the city and Vietnam as a whole among domestic and international runners.

Northern localities expand cooperation with Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region

An exchange between secretaries of the Party committees of northern Cao Bang, Lang Son, Quang Ninh and Ha Giang provinces and Secretary of the Party Committee of China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region took place in Cao Bang on April 9.

Both sides spoke highly of cooperation results obtained from the 2020 conference held in Liuzhou, Guangxi, notably offering mutual support to fight COVID-19 pandemic and maintaining stable development and friendship.

This year, they will continue delivering on commitments reached in recent years, enhance activeness and creativity in studying and performing new perceptions in signing collaboration agreements. Via the exchange of letters, phone talks, hotlines, conferences and seminars at border areas, localities promptly discussed views on emerging issues.

They will expand exchanges and cooperation in culture, education, tourism, crime combat, immigration, border and cyber security management. Localities will effectively protect and use water resources and aquatic species.

Parties will effectively implement three legal documents on Vietnam – China land border and related agreements, properly address arising problems in border areas, and increase the level of cooperation in building, managing, opening and upgrading border gates on the mainland as well as developing a exemplary border gate model.

Amid the complicated developments of COVID-19 pandemic, they will actively devise response measures while restoring trade and investment post-pandemic.

Vietnam, Cambodia boost naval cooperation

Rear Admiral Tran Thanh Nghiem, Commander of the Vietnam People’s Navy, had a talk over phone with Commander of the Royal Cambodian Navy Gen. Tea Vinh on April 8, discussing bilateral naval cooperation.

At the phone talk, Nghiem underscored the development of defence ties between Vietnam and Cambodia over time and noted that naval cooperation is a highlight and a pillar of the relations.

Nghiem said the two navies have to date conducted 62 joint patrols and 14 annual meetings on joint patrols, while posting effective cooperation in training, the repair of ships, weapon and defence equipment, and military barrack improvement.

Lauding the outcomes of the bilateral defence engagements, particularly in naval affairs, Tea Vinh said joint works between the sides are on the rise via delegation exchanges, training support, experience exchange, and join patrols at sea.

Both officers agreed to continue implementing contents of a cooperation protocol signed by the two defence ministries; sustain their joint patrol mechanism and communications channel; and further boost overall collaboration toward effectiveness and practical outcomes./.

Vietnam, Mozambique enhance ties in education

The Pedagogical University of Maputo (UP-Maputo), one of Mozambique’s leading educational institutions, hopes to strengthen cooperation in scholarly affairs and student exchange with Vietnamese universities so as to diversify educational collaboration between the two countries.

The statement was made by UP-Maputo Rector Jorge Ferrão at his reception for Vietnamese Ambassador to Mozambique Le Huy Hoang on April 7.

He spoke highly of cooperation results between his universities and Vietnamese universities over the past years, especially the efficiency of an exchange programme of lecturers and students in the majors of Spanish and Vietnamese languages.

As the two countries are speeding up internationalisation in education, he showed his hope that they will continue diversifying cooperation methods, promoting direct collaboration between universities, and intensifying sharing of experience, particularly in application of digital technology in teaching.

Ambassador Hoang welcomed active and proactive initiatives of UP-Maputo in fostering educational cooperation between Vietnam and Mozambique, and appreciated the country’s provision of scholarships for Vietnamese students.

He said that many Vietnamese graduates from UP-Maputo have contributed to bilateral friendship and economic cooperation between the two nations.

Hoang proposed UP-Maputo and other Mozambican universities provide more scholarships to Vietnamese students./.

Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes