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Vietnam recorded 12 new imported COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours from 6:00pm of January 2, bringing the total number of infections to 1,494


Vietnam recorded 12 new imported COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours from 6:00pm of January 2, bringing the total number of infections to 1,494, according to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

All of the new cases are Vietnamese citizens who returned home from South Africa, Mexico, and the US. They have been quarantined upon their arrival.

According to the subcommittee for treatment, as many as 1,339 patients have fully recovered from the disease while the number of related deaths is still kept at 35.

Among the patients undergoing treatment across the country, nine have tested negative for the virus once, six others twice, and five thrice.

As many as 18,743 people who had close contact with COVID-19 patients or entered Vietnam from pandemic-hit regions are currently quarantined nationwide, including 150 in hospitals, 17,008 in state-designated establishments, and 1,575 at their residences./.

An Giang prosecutes five people for cross-border smuggling of nine migrants into VN

The People’s Procuracy of the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of An Giang will prosecute five people who illegally brought nine Vietnamese citizens across the border into Việt Nam. Four of them have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Colonel Đinh Văn Nơi, director of the An Giang Province Police, said on Jan 1 that the province issued a decision on prosecuting five defendants under Article 348 of the criminal law. 

They include Phan Phi Hùng, 42, Trương Chí Tài, 31, Lê Văn Dính, 31, and Phạm Thanh Hập, 31, all from Bung Nhỏ Hamlet, Khánh Bình Commune, in An Phú District. Trang Văn Út, 32, lives in Phú Lợi Hamlet, Phú Hữu Commune, in An Phú District.

The five are all under centralised quarantine at a medical quarantine site. After the quarantine period ends, An Giang police will arrest and relocate the people to the province for further investigation.

According to the police, Hùng contacted a person named Quậy in Cambodia to illegally bring people from Cambodia to Việt Nam. Hùng and Tài, Dính, and Hập used motorbikes to take the people across the border to designated areas in Việt Nam.

In addition, Hùng also worked with Trang Văn Út to use cars to take the people to Châu Đốc city in An Giang Province or other locations.

According to the police, the five people on December 24 allegedly took a group of nine Vietnamese across the border from Cambodia into An Phú District in An Giang Province illegally.

Four of the nine tested positive for Covid-19, including patients 1440, 1451, 1452 and 1453. Hundreds of people had close contact (F1) and secondhand contact (F2) with the infected cases.

All of the people involved in the illegal avtivities withheld information about where they had gone and what they had done, making it difficult for the authorities to conduct contact tracing and investigate the sources of the infection, the police said.

Also on Jan 1, the Vĩnh Long Province Police prosecuted patient 1440 for “spreading dangerous infectious diseases to people” in the province.

Most of the direct contacts of the infected people tested negative for Covid-19 in their first tests, while hundreds of other secondhand contacts have been told to isolate at home. 

The police are continuing the investigation.

Local authorities across the country have been ordered to ramp up efforts to crack down on illegal migrants since the outbreak in Đà Nẵng in July.

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has also asked local authorities to impose stricter controls on illegal migrants from neighbouring countries, calling for strict measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

Việt Nam has been applauded for effectively containing the pandemic.

It will continue to remain on high alert as the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday falls this year in February. 

PM attends ceremony marking 75 years of first general elections

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attended a ceremony on January 3 in the central province of Quang Nam province to mark the 75th anniversary of the first election of the Vietnamese National Assembly (January 6).

Speaking at the event, the leader affirmed the significance of the 1946 general elections, as its success left a valuable lesson which can be used to complete election regulations.

The first NA election also ensured the right to vote with flexible and innovative regulations, he stated.

He took the occasion to ask Quang Nam province to make more efforts to overcome consequences of recent floods and natural disasters.

During the 2016-2020 tenure, National Assembly deputies of Quang Nam province actively contributed ideas to 76 draft laws, and participated in supreme supervisions as well as question-and-answer (Q&A) sessions during NA sittings./.

Da Nang resumes night activities on Han River

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Boat tour on Da Nang's Han River at night


The central city of Da Nang offered 2,000 tickets free of charge on the first two days of the year for locals and tourists to take part in a travel tour held in the city’s iconic Han River at night.

The programme was designed to celebrate the 2021 New Year and restart waterway tourism activities at night, after a halt triggered by COVID-19, creating momentum for domestic tourism development, said Deputy Director of the city’s Department of Tourism Nguyen Xuan Binh.

Fifteen boats sailed simultaneously at 8 pm and the tour lasted for more than one hour. Musical performance was staged before departure.

A host of cultural activities were also held across the central city’s public locations to mark the New Year holiday./.

Ministry asked to speed up green growth criteria

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to formulate a set of green growth criteria for Vietnam to better harmonise economic growth with environmental protection.

Speaking at the ministry’s conference to review the implementation of environmental policies in 2020, Dung also called for efforts from the ministry to control large sources of waste, prevent the risk of negative environmental incidents, step up programmes to deal with pollution and improve air and water quality.

Environment Minister Tran Hong Ha said 2020 was a difficult year for Vietnam as it suffered serious damage from COVID-19 and natural disasters.

However, the country’s environmental sector still managed to record encouraging achievements.

He highlighted major environmental policies taking effect last year, especially the 2020 Law on Environmental Protection, which aimed at achieving harmony between socio-economic development and environmental protection and enhancing effectiveness in using natural resources for national development.

Over the year, environment authorities also worked with agencies to uncover and punish violations of environmental regulations as well as enhance public awareness on environmental protection.

According to the ministry, last year, agencies under the ministry conducted 137 inspections which helped detect administrative violations at 106 units, collecting fines worth a total of 17.2 billion VND (746,000 USD).

In the last four years, the environment ministry conducted 641 administrative inspections at 4,253 units. More than 750 units were found to violate environmental administrative regulations during the period, paying total fines of more than 143.7 billion VND. 

Inspections also forced individuals and organisations to pay some 800 million VND to the State budget and compensate more than 11 trillion VND to people who were affected by their violations.

According to Minister Ha, last year, the country’s natural resources were managed strictly and used effectively, with illegal mining fundamentally eliminated./.

Quang Ninh serves over 140,000 tourists in first two days of 2021

The northeastern coastal province of Quang Ninh, home to UNESCO-recognised World Natural Heritage Ha Long Bay, welcomed more than 140,000 tourist arrivals in the first two days of 2021.

Of the total, 110,000 tourists stayed overnight in the province, according to the provincial Tourism Department.

Implementing a tourism stimulus package worth 500 billion VND (21.4 million USD) in 2021, Quang Ninh offered free tickets to Ha Long Bay, Quang Ninh Museum and Yen Tu relic site on January 1, and is discounting 50 percent of the ticket prices on other days.

During the New Year holiday, localities in the province organised a wide range of cultural and sport activities to serve visitors, notably the winter carnival at Tuan Chau international tourist site and a low-range fireworks performance in Ha Long city.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is forecast to continue affecting the country’s economy, Quang Ninh has set a target of serving 10 million tourists and earning 20 trillion VND from tourism services this year./.

Intense cold forecast to linger in northern region

Intense cold is predicted to linger in the northern and north central regions for the next few days while whirlwinds, lightning, and strong gusts of wind are possible in the south central, Central Highlands, and southern regions.

On January 2, the lowest temperatures in northern Vietnam are 7 – 10 degrees Celsius, even below 4 degrees in mountainous areas where frost and hoarfrost may be recorded. The highest are only about 16 – 20 degrees Celsius, or over 21 degrees in some places, according to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

Similar weather is also seen in north central provinces with the lowest 9 – 12 degrees and the highest 15 – 18 degrees.

The forecasting centre expect from now to January 11, temperatures will stay low at night and in the early morning but get warmer during the afternoon in these regions.

It also predicted heavy rains for the south central, Central Highlands, and southern regions during the period, warning about gales, whirlwinds, lightning, and strong gusts of winds in certain areas./.

Tighter COVID-19 prevention measures needed during lunar New Year

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Lang Son forces arrest four people for illegal entry

The Ministry of Public Health has called for tighter measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure health safety during the upcoming lunar New Year (Tet) holiday, with the focus on controlling entries.

In a new directive issued on January 2, the ministry requested the local health departments to intensify inspections and supervisions over entry conditions and procedures, and medical quarantine to early detect and treat any infections with a view to preventing the coronavirus from spreading.

The departments should take actions to increase the responsibility and awareness of each medical worker in disease prevention and control, carry out specific disease prevention plans and scenarios, and assign tasks for specific individuals and units in case any infection is detected.

They were also asked to instruct district and commune health units to coordinate closely with local authorities and the police to monitor those under quarantine at civil facilities and at home, or those who have completed their period at concentrated quarantine establishments as regulated by the Health Ministry.

The ministry required the local health departments to intensify inspections over disease prevention and control, and allocate personnel to be on duty around the clock on Tet holiday – the longest and biggest annual festival in Vietnam which will fall in the middle of February.

It is also necessary to work with the media to encourage the public to follow the ministry’s measures to prevent Winter-Spring diseases as well as its 5K (in Vietnamese) message: Khau trang (facemask)- Khu khuan (disinfection) - Khoang cach (distance)- Khong tu tap (no gathering) – Khai bao y te (health declaration)./.

Kien Giang invests over 28 mln USD in fishing infrastructure

The Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang invested more than 645 billion VND (28.2 million USD) in fishing infrastructure in 2020, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

It included building storm shelters for boats and upgrading fishing ports.

It is building a storm shelter in Phu Quoc district’s Tho Chu Island and upgrading an existing port in the vicinity. It costs 154.2 billion VND (6.7 million USD), with 32 billion VND spent in 2016-20 and the rest to be invested in the next five years.

Three storm shelters were built this year in Kien Hai district’s Hon Tre Island, Hon Dat district’s Linh Huynh commune and at the mouth of the Cai Lon – Cai Be River in Chau Thanh and An Bien districts.

It upgraded and reopened Tac Cau Fishing Port in Chau Thanh district and An Thoi Fishing Port in Phu Quoc district in October 2020, and they can now accommodate ships with a capacity of 600CV.

They can respectively handle 150,000 tonnes and 7,000 tonnes of seafood a year.

Quang Trong Thao, Deputy Director of the department, said technical infrastructure and logistics services basically meet the fisheries sector’s demand.

The province would speed up construction of many ongoing technical infrastructure works, he said.

Nearly 3,700 of the 3,992 local fishing boats with a length of at least 15 metres have installed black boxes as regulated.

The installation has been slow since many have stopped going fishing due to financial difficulties or lack of crew, according to the department.

The province’s seafood catch in 2020 is estimated at more than 572,000 tonnes, 15 percent higher than the target but down 5 percent from the previous year./.

Thousands flock to Ha Long’s first-ever winter festival

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Performers take to the street during the carnival parade. 

Thousands of visitors flocked to Ha Long City in the northern province of Quang Ninh on the New Year’s Day (January 1) for the Winter Carnival, the first of its kind held in the province.

One of the event’s highlights was an open stage with the World Natural Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay in the background where more than 100 cruise ships parading back and forth. In addition, the audiences were also thrilled by performances of helicopters, seaplanes and paragliders in the sky overhead.

The carnival parade featured six performance sections, expressing the theme of “Ha Long – the aspiration of flying dragons,” during which performers in winter festival costumes showed off their Ha Long samba dance moves.

Visitors were also wowed by a wide range of performances which showcase the typical cultural and tourism attractions of the northeastern province, along with sampling delicious cuisine and discovering interesting tourism products at the carnival.

Organised by the Tuan Chau Group, the carnival aimed to offer visitors a new experience in Ha Long and help diversify tourism products in the province during the off-peak season.

Total visitors to Quang Ninh, a tourism magnet in Vietnam, this year are estimated at 8.8 million, down 37 percent from 2019. Of these, some 536,000 were foreigners, a year-on-year decline of 90.7 percent.

The province is looking to attract about 10 million visitors in 2021, according to the provincial Tourism Department./.

HCM City celebrates New Year with special art performances

HCM City has hosted a series of cultural activities to celebrate the New Year 2021.

A music gala titled HCM City welcomes New Year 2021 took place at the Nguyen Hue Pedestrian in District 1 on New Year's Eve.

The event, organised by the city’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and its partners, featured music, theatre, puppet and circus shows.

Pop star Phuong Thanh and young singers including Ai Phuong and Quan AP were featured.

Young rappers Yono Bigboi, Lil Shady and Beatboxer Max also performed with dancers from the groups Game On Crew and ABC.

Highlighted performances were staged by traditional artists from the dance group Mat Troi (The Sun) with music by violinist Tan Titan and flutist Dinh Nhat Minh.

Love, peace, youth and spring were the themes featured in their performances.

A photo exhibition of more than 100 photos of late President Ho Chi Minh and the city named after the President opened this week on Dong Khoi street in District 1.

On display are photos and documents on the life and career of the President and the city’s achievements in economy, society and culture, and international integration.

The works feature local authorities and residents, their creativity and dynamism in the cause of building HCM City into a centre for culture, education and training, science and technology, and international integration, and into a smart city.

The city’s Youth Cultural House in District 1 hosted a live performance featuring dance and songs praising life and youth on the first day of the New Year.

The performance featured veteran and young singers, as well as amateur singers from the Youth Cultural House and the districts’ cultural houses.

Cultural centres from the rural districts Nha Be, Binh Chanh, Can Gio and Cu Chi have organised cultural programmes to usher in the New Year. These events are expected to attract several thousand people and children at the weekend.

A 3D light performance took place outside the city’s People’s Committee Hall at 86 Le Thanh Ton street in District 1 on New Year's Eve.

Firework performances were held at 12pm on December 31 at Thu Thiem Tunnel in District 2, Landmark Tower in Binh Thạnh district, and Dam Sen Theme Park in District 11./.

New Year flag-salute ceremony held on country's easternmost point

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The New Year flag-salute ceremony is held at the easternmost point of Vietnam in the south central province of Phu Yen

A New Year 2021 flag-salute ceremony was held on January 1 in Hoa Tam commune, Dong Hoa town in the south central province of Phu Yen - the easternmost point of Vietnam, where the sunrise is first seen on the mainland of the country.

Vice Secretary of the provincial Party Committee and Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Huu The said the flag-salute ceremony is the opening event in a series of activities to celebrate the 410th anniversary of Phu Yen's establishment (1611 - 2021), aiming to educate young generations about the patriotism and the pride of national independence.

This event also marked the beginning of events to introduce and promote the beauty of the Bai Mon - Mui Dien national tourism site to domestic and international tourists.

Also on the day, a ceremony to welcome first tourists to the Bai Mon – Mui Dien national tourist site took place at the same place.

Visiting Bai Mon - Mui Dien, tourists will have a chance to experience the first sunrise on the Vietnamese mainland and visit the 100-year-old lighthouse standing on top of Mui Dien.

Phu Yen set to attract about 2 million tourists in 2021.

The local authorities have planned to organise a number of activities to stimulate tourism demand, including a cultural-tourism festival, promoting the formation of Ganh Da Dia geopark in Tuy An district, developing infrastructure in the Xuan Dai Bay national tourist area in Song Cau town.

Amid the complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, Phu Yen served 900,000 visitors in 2020, including 7,385 foreigners. The local tourism sector earned a total of 678 billion VND (over 29 million USD) last year./.

Lao Cai keeps students warm during cold winter

Schools in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai are working hard to keep their students warm amid the chill of winter.

According to regulations of the Ministry of Education and Training, when the temperature is below 10 degrees Celsius, students should be off school. However, if this regulation was applied, there would be too many days off for kids in Lao Cai. Therefore, highland localities such as Bac Ha, Sa Pa and Si Ma Cai districts have to flexibly apply this regulation depending on the weather and the facilities in schools.

On December 18, when the temperature in the area fluctuated between 5-8 degrees Celsius, only one school in Sa Pa Town had to let students stay off, which is Sa Pa Primary School with 35 classes and 1,229 students.

Do Van Tan, Head of the Sa Pa Town Department of Education and Training, said giving students a cold break is done by schools on the basis of the actual weather situation.

"There are many sub-regions of different climates in Sa Pa, for example, Muong Hoa commune is often warmer. Therefore, the town People's Committee has written instructions on days when the temperature drops below 6 degrees Celsius, school principals will decide on school leave", he said.

Tan added that some schools, despite the weather, maintain normal teaching and learning because they are equipped to beat the cold. Some students even find it warmer at school than at home.

On cold days in Sa Pa Town, the attendance rate of students in the lower secondary and primary grades has not decreased significantly, only about 0.3 percent.

To do that, Tan said, the fight against the cold for students has received care from the Sa Pa Department of Education and Training since the beginning of the school year.

The department invested more than 10 billion VND (more than 431,000 USD) in maintaining and repairing classrooms such as windows, doors, roofing and buying basic items of schools and classes to prevent cold such as blankets, sheets, mattresses and pillows.

It directed schools not to allow students to go outdoors and to stay in the classroom.

In Sa Pa, the town education sector has upgraded the electrical infrastructure for schools, adding heating equipment for students, especially preschool students. Currently, all schools with grid electricity in Sa Pa Town are provided with heating in the classroom by the education department.

The same measures are taken in Si Ma Cai District.

Nguyen Kieu Oanh, head of the district’s division of education and training, said that on cold days, the attendance rate of the district's students is still high, including 97.5 percent in kindergarten, primary school 99.3 percent and junior secondary school 97.7 percent.

The education department noted that based on the conditions of each region, schools can adjust the study time, not force students to wear uniforms if they are not warm enough and limit outdoor activities.

In addition, to ensure school safety in the winter, in a recent letter on preventing cold for students, Duong Bich Nguyet, Director of the Lao Cai Department of Education and Training, requested schools pay attention to the prevention of fire and explosions when using heating equipment for students./.

Vietnam to see about 3,000 babies born on first day of 2021

About 3,000 babies are to be born in Vietnam in the first day of 2021, accounting for 0.8 percent of the total 371,504 babies given birth in the day around the world, according to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

The UNICEF predicts that the average life expectancy of the children will be 88.6.

Fiji was forecast to be the country to welcome the first baby of the year, while the US will see the last one born in the day, according to the agency.

It estimated that regionally, most of the births are due to take place in three countries - China (35,615), Indonesia (12,336) and the Philippines (6,090).

Over half of the 371,504 global births are estimated to take place in 10 countries: India (59,995), China (35,615), Nigeria (21,439), Pakistan (14,161), Indonesia (12,336), Ethiopia (12,006), the United States (10,312), Egypt (9,455), Bangladesh (9,236), and Democratic Republic of the Congo (8,640).

For the estimates, UNICEF used vital registration and nationally representative household survey data to estimate the monthly and daily fractions of births in countries. UNICEF used the annual live births numbers and period life expectancy from the latest revision of the UN’s World Population Prospects (2019) to estimate the babies born on January 1, 2021 and their cohort life expectancy.

The UNICEF warned that Vietnam is suffering gender imbalance with 11.5 boys over 100 girls.

2021 marks the 75th anniversary of UNICEF. Over the course of the year, UNICEF and its partners will be commemorating the anniversary with events and announcements celebrating three-quarters of a century of protecting children from conflict, disease and exclusion and championing their right to survival, health and education./.

Vientiane pagoda holds prayers for peaceful new year

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Buddhist practitioners and followers hold prayers at Phat Tich Pagoda in Laos 


Buddhist practitioners and followers held prayers at Phat Tich Pagoda in the Lao capital of Vientiane on December 31 to wish for peace and happiness in the upcoming new year of 2021.

Venerable Thich Minh Quang, a member of the Executive Council of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) in Laos and head of the coordinating board of Vietnam-Laos Buddhist cooperation, said followers in Laos have upheld solidarity and helped one another overcome the difficulties from COVID-19.

In response to a call from the pagoda, 200 million LAK (21,510 USD) and necessities were raised for disaster-hit people in Vietnam’s central region and districts in Laos’ Savannakhet province, and delegations sent to support the disadvantaged in Laos.

Quang voiced a hope that followers will maintain solidarity and further support their homeland.

Built in 1957, the pagoda meets the religious needs of Vietnamese living in Vientiane and nearby. It is a place for exchange, promoting unity in the Vietnamese community in the country./.

 

Ordinance on preferences for revolutionary contributors announced

The Presidential Office held a press conference in Hanoi on December 31 to announce an order of the State President on the promulgation of an ordinance on preferential treatment for people with meritorious service to the revolution.

To take effect from July 1, 2021, the ordinance was approved by the National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on December 9.

It comprises seven chapters - two more than previously - with 58 articles.

Three decrees of the Government and three circulars of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) are expected to detail and guide the implementation of the ordinance.

Regarding its amendments, the ordinance expands the implementation of preferential policies to foreigners who gave meritorious service to the revolution, and standardises the conditions and criteria for consideration and recognition of people who gave meritorious service to the revolution, in line with regulations.

Preferences for such individuals and their relatives have been more clearly specified.

These include monthly allowances, one-time assistance, health insurance, nursing and rehabilitation support, facilities and equipment for rehabilitation, priorities in enrollment for study and finding employment, and funeral allowances.

It also supplements regulations on health insurance and monthly survivorship allowances for re-married spouses of martyrs and monthly allowances for Vietnamese Heroic Mothers.

According to the Head of MoLISA’s Department of National Devotees, Dao Ngoc Loi, the ordinance specifies the settlement of back-logged dossiers in a spirit of publicity, transparency, and legal compliance./.

HCM City announces establishment of Thu Duc city

HCM City held a ceremony on December 31 to announce the National Assembly Standing Committee’s resolution on organising administrative units at the district and commune levels and establishing Thu Duc city.

Addressing the ceremony, Vice NA Chairman Uong Chu Luu said this is the first time the “city within a city” model has been used in Vietnam, thus forming a highly interactive innovative urban area in the city’s eastern part that will be a new driver of economic growth in all of the southern key economic zone.

Luu urged HCM City leaders to compile and submit for approval a general plan for Thu Duc city that conforms with its overall general planning.

HCM City should prioritise investing in developing infrastructure, training high-quality human resources, using investment effectively, handling complaints and denunciations, and strengthening Thu Duc city’s administrative apparatus.

Secretary of the Party Central Committee and Secretary of HCM City’s Party Committee Nguyen Van Nen pledged that the city will build a dedicated project on specific polices and mechanisms for the development of Thu Duc city, for submission to the NA and its Standing Committee and the Government for consideration and decision.

Thu Duc city covers 211 sq.km and is home to more than a million people.

The existing Thu Duc district, which covers 48 sq.km, has a high concentration of educational institutions and research centres and four large universities with more than 100,000 students.

The 50-sq km District 2, which includes the Thu Thiem new urban area, will provide international exhibition and financial centres for the new urban area and the city as a whole.

The 114-sq km District 9, which includes Sai Gon Hi-Tech Park, will be a hub for research and an incubator for innovative technologies.

The new city is expected to contribute 30 percent of the city’s economic growth and 7 percent of the Vietnam’s.

HCM City currently accounts for 23 percent of national GDP and 30 percent of Government revenue./.

Mass mobilisation helps reinforce ties between Party, State, people: Party official

Achievements in mass mobilisation work recorded over the last five years have contributed significantly to enhancing the close ties between the Party, the State, and the people, a Party official said at a conference in Hanoi on December 31.

Such results have also helped consolidate great national unity, carry forward the strength of the people in national construction and defence, and raise public trust in the Party and the State, Tran Quoc Vuong, permanent member of the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat, told the conference reviewing mass mobilisation work during the 12th tenure of the Party Central Committee.

Vuong attributed the achievements to the involvement of the entire political system, saying they have played an important role in socio-economic development, ensuring national defence, security and external affairs, improving people’s living standards, meeting the legitimate and legal rights of the people, building a pure, strong Party and political system, and fighting corruption and wastefulness.

The fatherland front and socio-political organisations have revamped their operational methods, promoted democracy, and engaged in supervision and criticism, thus contributing to Party and authority building, he went on.

Vuong suggested building an action programme to implement the resolution to be adopted at the 13th National Party Congress and stressed the need to create changes in the mindset and sense of responsibility among all-level Party Committees and the entire political system.

The people’s lives, satisfaction, and trust must be the crucial criteria in assessing the quality of the apparatus and officials and Party members, he said.

“All guidelines and policies of the Party and the State must stem from the people’s legitimate interests and wishes,” he stressed, adding that residents should be encouraged to participate in the implementation of guidelines and policies in the most effective fashion.

Nguyen Hong Linh, deputy head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Mass Mobilisation, also emphasised the work’s significance in intensifying public consensus and trust in the Party.

Due attention has been paid to mass mobilisation among ethnic minority groups, religious followers, and overseas Vietnamese, he said, adding that the sector has actively grasped the situation, minimising the appearance of “hot spots” in security and safety.

People-to-people diplomacy in combination with mass mobilisation in border areas has also received much attention, helping to firmly protect national border sovereignty and forge solidarity, friendship, and cooperation for mutual development with people of foreign countries.

Linh, however, also pointed to limitations in the work, such as low awareness among certain Party Committees and organisations about mass mobilisation, saying they have yet to gain a high sense of responsibility in this regard.

A number of localities have yet to place importance on public feedback during the issuance of policies and regulations, according to the official.

It is necessary to further raise the sense of responsibility and step up coordination in mass mobilisation in order to improve the efficiency of the work in the 2016-2021 period, Linh suggested.

He proposed that major mobilisation tasks include effectively devising and implementing the above-mentioned action plan for 2021-2026, reforming communications work, and promoting the responsibility of the political system, especially State administrative agencies, among others./.

Myanmar extends entry restrictions for travellers to end of January

Myanmar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 30 decided to extend temporary entry restrictions for all visitors to the end of January.

The ministry issued an announcement of extending the period of precautionary restriction measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, which will expire on December 31.

The extension will also be applied to the temporary suspension of all types of visas and visa exemption services, the ministry said.

According to the Ministry of Health and Sports, Myanmar reported 123,470 COVID-19 cases with 2,664 deaths as of December 30.

Some 106,121 recovered patients have been discharged from hospitals so far./.

HCM City improves quality of pre-school education

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Ho Chi Minh City has increased its budget allocation for preschool education and has called on the private sector to invest in building kindergartens to meet increasing demand.

Since 2016, the city has allocated more than 17 trillion VND (731.9 million USD) for education and training development, according to the municipal Department of Education and Training.

Thanks to the fund, the city has created nearly 1,500 new classrooms each year, including 300 for pre-school education.

Le Hong Son, Director of the city’s Department of Education and Training, said the rate of children aged 1-3 going to kindergarten accounts for 31 percent and 86 percent for those aged 4-5.

The city provides compulsory pre-school education for 99.6 percent of 5-year-old children.

The city aims to provide compulsory pre-school education for 4-year-old children, Son said.

The city’s kindergartens are continuing to provide services during extra hours for workers at industrial park and export processing zones.

Education reform at many kindergartens has placed more emphasis on creativity and thinking skills, he said, adding that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education is also provided.

Many public kindergartens have called for investment from the private sector to build Robot technical rooms, applied science rooms, technical playgrounds and others to create a stimulating environment for children to practise, Son said.

The city has 181 standard kindergartens and 16 others working toward an advanced model with high standards, he added.

However, the number of classrooms has failed to meet demand, and the number of children in each classroom is still too high. The city has nearly 880 private kindergartens.

Le Thi Oanh, head of the education and training division in Nha Be district, said the district’s economy is developing rapidly and attracting a large number of workers, leading to challenges in ensuring a sufficient number of kindergartens and other schools for children. The district has 90 kindergartens, of which 13 are public.

Phan Thi Kim Duyen, deputy head of district 9’s education and training division, said the district has more than 60 public and private kindergartens.

Duyen said that nearly 60 percent of more than 17,000 children in the district are taken care of at private kindergartens and nurseries.

Khuu Manh Hung, head of the district 12's education and training division, said that private kindergartens helped their public counterparts reduce the number of children in each classroom and increased the rate of pre-school enrollment in the district. The district has 337 private and public pre-schools.

In Thu Duc district, the number of pre-school-aged children is increasing, creating pressure on classrooms. The number of public kindergartens in the district meets only 40 percent of demand. Private kindergartens and nurseries take care of the remaining 60 percent.

Oanh of Nha Be district said that district authorities had provided equipment and facilities to small private nurseries and trained teachers regularly.

Many other districts have asked the city’s committee to issue preferential policies for public pre-schools. The city should lease land for long periods and build kindergartens at preferential prices, especially in areas with industrial parks where workers need schools for their children, they said.

The need for private kindergartens is also high, but issues relating to land have prevented investors from expanding their kindergartens and building new ones.

According to a city regulation, land for building kindergartens has to be included in the planning for the educational sector.

Oanh said the city has not had preferential tax policies for kindergartens. Most of them have to rent facilities at high prices, so the school fees must be high. The fee deters parents from sending their children to these kindergartens.

Duyen of district 9 said that more small private nurseries have opened, leading to management difficulties because of the low number of division staff. The nurseries’ teachers and staff often change, leading to training and quality issues, although the division has a team to assist in training, she said.

HCM City's project on pre-school education development in the 2019-2025 period aims to improve quality and develop kindergartens and nurseries to ensure that at least 35 percent of children aged 1-3 and 95 percent of children aged 4-5 will attend.

Under the plan, the rate of private pre-school establishments would account for more than 60 percent by 2025./.

Hanoi pushes for 10 pct. fall in road, rail accidents in 2021

Hanoi has set a target of cutting the number of road and rail accidents next year, especially those caused by drink-driving, by between 5 and 10 percent.

Under the city’s plan on traffic safety and congestion during 2021, it will strive to address accident black spots and tackle 10 or so traffic jam hotspots.

Public transport has been tasked with ensuring quality services are provided, with buses to meet 17-18 percent of travel demand.

Street patrols, COVID-19 prevention and control measures, scientific and technological application in transport management, and communications campaigns raising public awareness about safe transport will also be intensified.

Traffic order and safety have been called for during the 13th National Party Congress and other important political events.

Thirty-three traffic hotspots were identified in Hanoi in 2019. Its traffic safety committee has introduced a number of solutions to ease or eliminate traffic jams, such as installing warning signs and speed bumps or adjusting traffic lights.

But with a high density of vehicles and regular violations of traffic rules, congestion is still an urgent matter in need of drastic measures, according to Nguyen Duc Toan, deputy head of the Traffic Infrastructure Management Unit at the Hanoi Department of Transport./.

Hanoi to build second waste-to-energy plant

Hanoi plans to build the second waste-to-energy plant on the outskirts to serve the capital city’s garbage treatment.

Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Chu Ngoc Anh requested departments, sectors and the People’s Committee of Son Tay town to create favourable conditions for the investor to start construction on the Seraphin plant project in the first quarter of 2021, and complete the work within 20 months

The People’s Committee of Ba Vi district was urged to coordinate with the Department of Planning and Investment and related units to complete legal procedures to approve the investment project to serve as a foundation for land acquisition and ground clearance.

Hanoi’s first waste-to-energy plant was built at Nam Son waste treatment complex in Soc Son district./.

Vietnam puts forward 11 sports for ASEAN Para Games 2021

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ASEAN Para Games is to honour people with disabilities

The Vietnam ASEAN Para Games Organising Committee (VIEAPGOC) has proposed a total of 11 sports to be played at the 11th Southeast Asian Para Games (ASEAN Para Games 11) which is scheduled to be held in Hanoi from December 17-23.

The 11 sports comprise athletics, badminton, swimming, table tennis, chess, powerlifting, boccia, judo, goalball, wheelchair tennis, and archery.

The games will be held at the My Dinh Sports Complex in Hanoi and adjacent stadiums.

In addition to the Vietnamese proposal, the APSF Executive Committee will also consider ideas and concepts from other ASEAN member states in mid-January./.

Indonesia begins COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Indonesia on January 3 started nationwide distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine that was developed by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech and mass inoculations are scheduled to begin later this month.

Indonesian state vaccine producer Bio Farma received 1.2 million doses of the vaccine on December 6 and 1.8 million doses on December 31.

During a press briefing, the company’s COVID-19 vaccination spokesman Bambang Heriyanto said that all vaccine cold chain facilities at between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius are ready, voicing a hope that it will help ensure the quality of the vaccines.

Bambang added that Indonesia has carried out a number of national vaccination programmes in the past so infrastructure would not be an issue.

Indonesia plans to inoculate 181.5 million people aged 18 and above, or around 67 percent of its nearly 270 million people, within 15 months.

The shots will first be given to its 1.3 million health workers. Another 17.4 million front-line workers will get vaccinated after and then 21.5 million people aged 60 and older will get the jab between January and April.

In the second phase, scheduled to run from April this year to March 2022, 63.9 million people in high-risk areas will get vaccinated, followed by the remaining 77.4 million of the targeted population.

Indonesia has so far secured nearly 330 million doses from five different suppliers, including Sinovac, AstraZeneca and Novavax.

The world’s fourth most populous nation has reported 758,473 COVID-19 infections and 22,555 deaths as of January 3./.

Thailand sets stricter measures for COVID-19 red zones

Thailand’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has declared stricter measures for 28 "red zone" provinces, including the capital of Bangkok, amid COVID-19 spikes across the country.

CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said the CCSA and the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) agreed on the stricter controls following a rise in local infections. The restrictions will be effective from January 4 until February 1.

The heightened restrictions, which will be submitted to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for approval on January 4, are divided into two tiers, Taweesilp said.

The first tier limits the operating hours of businesses, closes at-risk ones, searches and arrests people who gather illegally, discourages inter-provincial travel, closes academic institutions, and encourages work from home across the red zones, he said.

Other measures in the first tier include travel restrictions for people who come from the red zones, urgent active case finding and disease investigation.

If the first tier is unsuccessful in controlling the virus, second-tier measures will be introduced, Taweesilp said.

In the second tier, the restriction on operating hours will be expanded to more businesses and some types of businesses will be closed. Gatherings of many people will be prohibited.

The CCSA spokesman insisted that dining in at restaurants is still allowed for now and there was no need to hoard goods at this stage.

If a dine-in ban was issued, the CCSA would ensure restaurants have time to prepare, he said.

Last week, Bangkok announced that schools will be closed for two weeks after the New Year holiday as part of tighter measures against the new wave of the novel coronavirus.

On January 1, Thailand confirmed 279 new coronavirus cases, with the majority of them linked to a cluster among migrant workers in Samut Sakhon province south of Bangkok, and another cluster linked to illegal gambling dens that started in the eastern province of Rayong.

These new clusters have started to spread into Bangkok, prompting the city's administrator to tighten measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, the spokesman for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, said the city begins to detect new cases linked to students and other service businesses so it decided to close more places.

All schools, daycare centres for the young and elderly, preschool and tutorial centres will be close from January 4 to 17, he said.

Thailand’s national COVID-19 tally has reached nearly 7,700 as of January 3./.

VR needs to standardise quality of vehicle registry

The Vietnam Register (VR) should build a more modern registration model and improve the quality of motor vehicle registration service, according to Deputy Minister of Transport Le Dinh Tho.

The VR has performed well in State management and providing public services to people and businesses, notably online registry service, and contributed to ensuring traffic order and safety, he said at a recent workshop.

However, he said the current registry model has revealed some shortcomings, adding that the VR needs to study to build a more appropriate and modern model.

"This is a task that needs to be implemented in the first months of 2021," he said.

Tho asked the Vietnam Register to standardise the quality of motor vehicle registration services, solving the unevenness of facilities and service quality among private-invested centres and State-owned entities.

The VR needs high-quality human resources and they must perform well in state management on vehicles and provide quality public services, Tho said.

Tran Ky Hinh, the VR's director-general, said that for many years, the VR has been highly appreciated by the World Maritime Organisation and prestigious foreign registry organisations for the quality of the registry. The VR has been authorised by foreign registry organisations to inspect foreign ships.

"In 2021, the Vietnam Register will study and build a more suitable model to meet demand people and businesses,” said Hinh.

In 2020, registration centres discovered more than 394,000 cars failing to meet technical quality (equivalent to more than 11 percent of the total number of registered cars), according to the VR's reports.

Nearly 50 motor manufacturing and assembling establishments and registration centres were found and punished for violating regulations on quality standards of means of transport./.

NA takes innovative approaches to fulfill 2020 missions despite COVID-19 crisis

Though 2020 is a challenging year for Vietnam with the rise of COVID-19, the 14th National Assembly (NA) has taken innovative approaches and managed to complete an enormous workload to fulfill all its three missions in lawmaking, supervision and major decision-making.

The NA’s 9th sitting has put a mark on its 70-year history as for the first time, the NA deputies from different locations met virtually for days in May as a measure to deal with the spread of COVID-19.

The lawmakers have used tablets to cast their votes while reports and information have been regularly delivered to them by apps.

Such flexible and active adaption to the new situation has laid a foundation for the NA’s innovation in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The 9th sitting has received positive feedback from the deputies as all virtual meetings were run smoothly without any difficulty or technical problems.

It reflects the NA’s efforts to innovate and be flexible in its operation while maintaining its spirit of democracy and openness, said NA Vice Chairman Phung Quoc Hien.

Nguyen Hanh Phuc, Secretary-General of the NA and Chairman of the NA’s Office, said it is critical for the NA to promote the application of information technology in its activities. The shift to virtual meetings is fundamental to the NA looking into how the next sittings would be organised, he said.

NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan also said the new meeting format once again shows that the NA, in any circumstances, has always worked hard with great responsibility for the benefit of the people and the country.

Following the success of the 9th sitting, the NA continued to organise the 10th sitting via video teleconference in October and November.

One of the highlights of the 10th sitting was the question-and-answer (Q&A) sessions during which the deputies raised question to Government members and others in various areas, particularly the implementation of the NA’s resolutions on specialised supervision in the 14th tenure and several others of the 13th term.

The Q&A sessions covered a wide range of matters of public concerns, such as devastating landslides and flooding in central Vietnam which had taken major human and economic toll in October and November.

This year, the Vietnamese NA works as the Chair of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA). Because of impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 41st AIPA General Assembly (AIPA-41) was held online from September 8 – 10 for the first time in the history of the organisation.

Under the leadership of Vietnam, the AIPA-41 arrived at a success and reflected through the full participation and support of member parliaments, observers and international parliamentary organisations. Notably, at the AIPA-41, the AIPA Committee on Political Matters was able to convene a meeting, after none was held in the three previous General Assemblies.

Also during this General Assembly, Vietnam raised initiatives on the organisation of the AIPA Young Parliamentarians’ Meeting and a conference on “Parliamentary Partnership on Educational and Cultural Cooperation for Sustainable Development”, which were supported by all member parliaments.

The AIPA Chairmanship Year 2020 and the AIPA-41 have helped the organisation define a strategic vision for the next 5-10 years, affirming the role of parliamentary diplomacy in the region and the world and contributing to developing the ASEAN Community.

Over the past 25 years, the Vietnamese NA has made important contributions to the AIPA, and the success of the ASEAN Chairmanship Year, as well as the AIPA-41, is another Vietnamese contribution to AIPA’s development, NA Chairwoman Ngan said.

Also this year, the NA has adopted 17 bills and 34 resolutions, including those ratifying the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 105 on Abolition of Forced Labour, which lay legal basis for the country’s sustainable growth and international integration./.

Source: VNA/VNN/VNS/SGGP/VOV/NDO/Dtinews/SGT/VIR