Social News 14/7
Thousands of workers back to work after strike at Korean firm
Over 1,500 workers at Panko Company, a subsidiary of South Korean Panko Group, returned to work this morning after four days of a strike for higher payment in Tam Ky city, the central province of Quang Nam.
The workers went on strike on July 9 after three months of working because the company paid them lower than promised wages. Specifically, the salary was only VND2.7-3.1 million per worker a month instead of VND4 million (US$180) as per its recruitment announcement.
In addition, Panko Company did not assist workers with accommodation and lunch allowance as the announcement.
The workers came back to work after the company agreed to conduct four commitments, which have been reached after the Quang Nam Province Labor Union worked with the company and worker representatives.
First, the company will increase lunch allowance from VND11,500 to VND15,000 a worker and improve the menu.
Second, it will review working ability and skills of each worker to apply appropriate wage level and increase the bonus for industrious workers to VND100,000-200,000 a month starting July. However, the company said it has yet to be able to give workers fuel allowance as their requirements.
Third, Panko will respect workers’ choice of primary health care places on their health insurance cards instead of having a single choice of Minh Thien Hospital in Tam Ky city as before.
The provincial Labor Union and Panko Company has also agreed to establish a grassroots labor union to protect workers’ rights.
Int’l Telefilm exhibition begins
The Việt Nam International Exhibition on Film and Television Technology (Telefilm) was officially launched at the International Centre for Exhibition in Hà Nội yesterday morning.
The exhibition aims to step-by-step, and officially, set up a transaction exchange centre for films and TV content and technologies of the highest quality, as a place focusing on qualified TV stations and units in the region.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the event, general director of Vietnam Television, Trần Bình Minh said that Telefilm 2016 was a significant event that has attracted both domestic and international media attention.
“In the context of global integration and development, Việt Nam’s television has acquired considerable multifaceted development and breakthroughs, especially in terms of technologies”, he said.
“The event therefore creates a chance for Việt Nam’s television to meet and exchange experiences with counterparts, enhance the process of professionalising film and television production, update modern trends and gain new co-operation with domestic and international enterprises”.
Two seminars on copyright protection and new technologies in producing TV programmes were also held during the first day of the exhibition.
More than 200 companies, TV stations and units from 15 countries and territories including the United States, Germany, Japan, and South Korea, in addition to India, Turkey, mainland China, and Hong Kong, among others, have registered to open 350 stands to display their items.
The event has also attracted producers nationwide including Cát Tiên Sa, BHD, TNS, and Lasta, as well as Sóng Vàng, ADT, Sunrise, Viêt com and Dolphin.
One of the remarkable things in Telefilm 2016 is that preparations and behind-the-scenes stories from the event are streamed live on social networks like Facebook and YouTube. In addition, visitors also have a chance to experience visual studios and TV production stages.
The event will end tomorrow.
Conference intensifies Vietnam-Thailand relations
The time-tested amity and all-round cooperation throughout history of Vietnam and Thailand will help the two become good partners in the ASEAN community, as heard an international conference held in Chulalongkorn University, Thailand on July 12.
The event, jointly held by the Chulalongkorn University’s Institute of Security and International Studies and the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies under the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, is part of the activities to celebrate 40 th anniversary of Vietnam-Thailand diplomatic relations.
Leading diplomats, researchers and policy-makers discussed significant issues to bilateral relations, noting potential for two countries to further cooperation in economics, politics, labour, climate change response and global warming.
They also touched upon the cooperation among Mekong sub-region countries, ASEAN’s stance on the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)’s fresh award on the East Sea dispute and climate change.
They also mulled over the critical impacts of hydropower dams upriver on the Greater Mekong Sub-region countries and potentials of the East-West Economic Corridor in correlation with the Southern Economic Corridor.
Regarding regional and global peace, sustainability and development, the participants suggested that Vietnam and Thailand should join hands with neighbouring countries to maintain peace, stability, and security in the East Sea.
It is necessary to address differences and disputes related to sea in line with globally-recognised laws, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), they highlighted, appealing to all parties concerned to respect the PCA’s ruling over the East Sea dispute.
Vietnam and Thailand need to make concerted efforts to tackle problems encountered in fishing and labour spheres, they underscored.
US$3.5 million for poor children in Quang Tri
The Plan International Viet Nam cooperates with the central province of Quang Tri to launch projects to improve life, health and nutrition for poor children in disadvantaged districts in Quang Tri.
The provincial People’s Committee and the Plan International Viet Nam on July 12 inked an agreement on the realization of a program to improve poor children’s living standards.
The program, worth US$3.5 million, will be launched within five years from 2017-2021.
It is aimed at improving disadvantaged children’s life through a number of community development programs in terms of comprehensive child care and development, child protection, climate change adaption and natural calamity reduction.
The two sides agreed to establish a cooperative program to launch the programs and projects effectively.
Promotional activities boost agricultural restructuring in Mekong Delt
Plentiful promotional activities have contributed to enhancing the agricultural restructuring efficiency in the Mekong Delta, said Phan Huy Thong, Director of the National Centre for Agriculture Promotion.
The efforts include shifts to other crops from rice to better adapt to climate change, and the application of technologies and VietGap standards in regional agricultural production.
As one of the provinces hardest hit by drought and saltwater intrusion, Tra Vinh has expanded the model of planting forests in combination with shrimp growing.
The province has also replaced one of its three low-efficient rice crops with other more lucrative plants such as corn and peanut, bringing in a profit of between 20-60 million VND (900 – 2,700 USD) per hectare to farmers.
Meanwhile, Vinh Long has expanded the model of large-scale fields in the districts of Vung Liem, Tam Binh and Tra On, increasing rice productivity by 0.5 tonnes per hectare as well as reducing losses and production costs.
The province has also piloted the cultivation of seasame, soybean, yam, and corn on 120 hectares in line with the VietGap standards, generating a profit of between 12-103 million VND (530 – 4,600 USD) per hectare, nearly eight times higher than that from rice.
The rate of using machines in agricultural production activities has reached 82-97 percent, saving production costs and human resources while increasing rice quality and incomes for farmers.
Deputy Director of the Vinh Long Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Van Liem suggested regional localities coordinate with each other to fully tap consumption markets in an effort to boost the agricultural restructuring.-
Israeli experts help Quang Nam develop advanced agriculture
A delegation of Israeli experts had a working session with central Quang Nam authorities on July 12, pledging to help local farmers access advanced farming methods.
The event was in preparation for the project to establish a centre for advanced agriculture development in the the central province.
The experts briefed the local authorities on their recent fact-finding in Tam Phu commune, Tam Ky city, saying that agricultural production activities remain on a small scale.
Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Le Tri Thanh echoed the remarks of the experts on local agricultural production and spoke highly of the advanced agriculture of Israel.
Quang Nam agreed to build a centre for advanced agricultural production in Tam Phu commune, Tam Ky city, the official said, adding that the project will be carried out in other localities.
He called on the experts to take into consideration the local natural conditions and local farming practice to enhance the efficiency of the project.
The official also stressed the need for applying public-private partnership (PPP) model in building the centre.
Tam Ky city is calling for investment in environment-friendly projects to turn it into a green city.
The city also aims to develop a cleaner agriculture to generate higher added values on the same cultivation area.
Quang Tri helps affected fishermen earn living
A conference was held in the central province of Quang Tri on July 12 to seek solutions to expand the means of earning a living for fishermen who have been effected by the recent mass fish deaths.
More than 8,000 households of 16 communes and towns in four local coastal districts have borne the brunt of the environmental incident. They are still relying on fishing, aquaculture and fishery services. The practice of farming remains small and scattered, yielding low productivity and output.
At the function, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chinh said the priority is to develop agricultural sectors such as plant cultivation and animal husbandry, adding that Quang Tri is now calling for investments and partnerships in agriculture.
Fishermen will receive vocational training to secure jobs other than fishing, alongside assistance to continue their engagements in the fishery sectors, he noted.
As heard at the conference, a number of farming models have been implementing across the affected area; local authorities are focusing on helping farmers expand production, starting from the autumn-winter season this year until the end of 2017.
The issue of certificates for seafood netted in safe areas is also a priority.
The province is working to upgrade the local fleet suitable to offshore fishing between now and 2020.
Former vice chairman of Ministers’ Council dies
The former vice chairman of the Council of Ministers, Nguyễn Ngọc Trìu, died on Saturday after a long illness, the Vietnam News Agency reported yesterday. He was 91.
Trìu was born in 1926 in Tiền Hải District, Thái Bình Province. At the age of 19, he engaged in revolutionary causes and became a member of the Communist Party of Viet Nam one year later. He was a member of the Party Central Committee for three consecutive tenures, from the 4th to the 6th, and a National Assembly deputy for six terms.
He also served in various significant positions in both local and central Government. The former vice chairman of the Council of Ministers (the post is now called Deputy Prime Minister) was Secretary of the Thái Bình Province’s Party Committee, Minister of Agriculture (now Agriculture and Rural Development), and head of the Central Economic Department (now the Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission).
Trìu was deputy minister of agriculture in 1977 and then minister from 1979 to 1987. In his very first task as minister of agriculture, Trìu issued Instruction 339 to liberate the cattle labour force. The Instruction allowed households to raise cows and buffaloes without any quota, and gave the go-ahead for the free trade and slaughtering of the cattle without licence. It also permitted farmers to import cattle for breeds of better quality.
That period witnessed some of the most challenging times for the country’s economy, including the agriculture sector. More than 80 per cent of the country’s population were involved in agricultural production. Trìu was known for his contribution to reforming the country’s backward farming industry.
For his service, Trìu was honoured with the Hồ Chí Minh Order, the 70-year Party membership badge, and many other orders and medals. A national funeral will be held for Trìu.
Bình Dương faces acute shortage of schools
The southern Bình Dương Province is inviting private investors to build schools in an attempt to tackle the acute shortage of classrooms for new students.
Bình Dương, which is home to many industrial zones, experiences a large increase in the number of students every year due to rising numbers of immigrant workers.
“Investment in education from the private sector is encouraged because the province is unable to build enough new schools,” Dương Lê Nhật Nam, deputy director of Bình Dương’s Department of Education and Training, said.
“The greatest problem we face is that the land fund for education is depleting, whereas the number of students is skyrocketing in some localities,” he said.
He said the number of students at all levels, from nursery to high school, in the province was expected to rise by 30,000 in this school year.
“With an annual increase of up to 30,000 students, the province needs to build at least 30 to 40 new schools each year, costing about VNĐ3 trillion (US$133 million),” he said.
He said many schools had prepared plans to “stuff as many as 45 to 50 students into a classroom” in this school year, which begins in September, because there was no other solution.
The province has sought several ways to tackle the problem, such as repairing old classrooms and reducing the number of day-boarders, to create more space for students.
Priority in school enrolment is given to children of permanent residents or those having stayed in a locality for more than six months, in order to avoid overloading in localities that have a huge number of immigrants.
Another solution, according to the Department of Education and Training, is that companies can build their own nursery schools in the precinct of their factories to look after workers’ children.
Twelve private companies in the province have built nursery schools on their land, which were able to accommodate 2,400 children, the department said.
Phan Thị Ánh Hồng, a worker of Shyang Hung Cheng Company that has built its own nursery school, said the model was very helpful and convenient.
“By having a place to take care of our children, we feel secure and have a stronger attachment to our company,” she said.
HCM City methadone programmes treat over 4,000 addicts
The methadone detoxication programme in HCM City has had the desired effect and contributed to security and social order, the city People’s Committee has reported.
The pilot programme began in 2008 and now includes 19 methadone treatment centres across the city, where a total of 4,029 patients have been treated, the city’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Committee reported on Monday.
Trần Ngọc Du, director of the city Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affair’s Social Evils Prevention Department, said the current number of methadone treatment patients only constitute half the targeted number.
The city plans to set up three more centres in late 2016, to accommodate an additional 1,500 patients.
Nguyễn Thị Hồng Phượng, director of the Consultative and Drug Rehabilitation Centre under the city’s Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Department, said the facility had treated 359 drug addicts during two years ( May, 2014 - May, 2016).
At present, 287 patients are being treated at Ms. Phượng’s centre. “"After a period of methadone treatment, many patients recovered well and reintergrated into the community. Most found jobs and a stable life,” she said.
Dr. Phạm Thanh Hiếu of District 8’s Preventive Health Centre said free methadone was supplied to over 300 drug addicts, half of whom didn’t reside in the district. He said some patients stopped treatment but most addicts were detoxicated successfully.
The city’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Committee said the methadone detoxification programme, funded to the tune of VNĐ18.345 billion (US$823,000), had met the aspirations of drug addicts as well as of their families and the community.
However, the programme has met with funding difficulties after international organisations cut down their aid and the Vietnamese Government’s budget is limited, according to Du.
Company fined for polluting water
A copper mining company in the northern Hòa Bình Province faces a fine of VNĐ320 million (US$14,200) for polluting a stream, leading to mass fish deaths in its neighbourhood in early July.
The penalty imposed on An Phú Copper Mineral joint-stock company was proposed on Monday to the province’s leaders by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, deputy head of the department Nguyễn Trần Anh said.
The waste water containing copper ore of the company, located in Yên Thượng Commune in Cao Phong District, was found flowing into the Màn stream on July 4.
The incident led to mass fish and shrimp deaths along 5km of the stream. Fish in two ponds of two households in the neighbouring Yên Lập Commune also died.
Nguyễn Trần Anh said the company admitted responsibility right after the incident and agreed to pay VNĐ61 million ($2,700) as compensation to the two affected households.
He said the quality of the stream water was safe now, as confirmed by a test carried out on Monday.
“People can use the water for their daily activities and for fish culture now,” he said.
“We are examining soil samples and will publish the information later.”
Adequate housing hard to find near industrial zones
Ho Chi Minh City has a shortage of affordable rental homes available for people working in industrial zones, according to a recent study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The study shows that single wage earner households in the City making US$179 per month must on average pay US$30.43-US$39.38 per month more than they can afford on basic housing costs and other necessities.
Thus, it is mandatory for both spouses of a family to work or other group living arrangements worked out just to pay the rent and put food on the table, says the Ministry of Construction (MoC).
The number of affordable and available rental units in the industrial zones of the City meets just 20% of the demand, Trịnh Truong Son, deputy head of the MoC told a recent housing committee in Hanoi.
The JICA study has borne out what those who work in housing policy have known for a long-time, said Mr Son, — that the majority of workers in the City’s industrial zones can’t afford the housing costs.
In addition, an on-the-ground examination of the homes reveals that most are in varying states of disrepair, he said.
Fixing the houses up to bring them to a liveable condition would require a substantial investment, he said, and in fact the cost of repairs would in many cases exceed the resulting value of the home.
The houses also lack access to key amenities such as being in close proximity to public transportation hubs, retail establishments, and good quality parks – that so many of us here in Hanoi take for granted.
Kenichi Hashimoto, head of the JICA research team that performed the study in turn emphasized that the inadequate housing situation is the primary cause that industrial zones are having trouble retaining skilled workers.
It’s critically important that a national workforce and housing initiative address the problem by creating new affordable homes in neighbourhoods located near the industrial zones of the City.
For his part, Nguyen Chi Hung, deputy chief of the Management Board of Industrial and Export Processing Zones favoured constructing new homes as opposed to renovating existing homes.
I recognize that any forward-thinking housing plan needs to create a balance between making a more significant investment in the development of new affordable homes and the preservation of existing homes, he said.
But due of the massive movement of workers to the industrial zones nationwide and the fact that it by far outstrips existing housing, we’ve already taken preliminary steps to begin a nationwide search for land to build new houses, he said.
Based on its study, JICA experts suggested a few measures to help develop better housing for workers including reducing interest rates for loans to below 5% and stretching out the amortization period for repayment to more than 20 years.
As the City struggles to spur equitable growth, the government must advance strategies that allow residents to benefit from the changes, the experts said, and improving the existing stock of affordable homes should be high on the list of top priorities.
Man arrested for running US$340-million illegal sports gambling ring
The Haiphong police said July 12 they arrested a 43-year-old man for allegedly running a major sports gambling racket with thousands of clients.
Bui Quang Duong was taken in a month after the police arrested his 23 henchmen in Haiphong, Hanoi and several northern provinces.
Investigators said Duong had been organizing the gambling online since June last year through websites with overseas servers with the total bets adding up to VND7.6 trillion, or over US$340 million.
Following the arrests of his men, Duong fled to Ha Long Town in Quang Ninh Province by boat.
He has confessed to his crime to the police.
The Haiphong police are coordinating with the Ministry of Public Security to find out if more people were part of the gang.
In Vietnam, gambling is illegal.
Last month the ministry had arrested 10 people belonging to a gang that allegedly organized football betting involving thousands of gamblers in Haiphong, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
It reportedly raked in hundreds of billions of dong from bets on football games, mostly played at the recently concluded European championship.
WWF Vietnam launches “Save Saola” campaign
The Vietnamese office of the World Wildlife Fund has launched a campaign to increase commitment from both the public and private sectors in the conservation of saola, one of the world’s most endangered mammals.
The “Save Saola” campaign was kicked off on July 9, which has also been declared the World Saola Day by WWF-Vietnam.
The moves were both meant to raise public awareness of saola, which is also one of the world’s most rarely seen mammals.
Saola, often called the “Asian Unicorn”, was discovered in north-central Vietnam in May 1992 during a joint survey carried out by the erstwhile Vietnamese Ministry of Forestry and the WWF.
Since that discovery, the mammal, which lives in the dense jungles of Vietnam and Laos, has only been recorded in the wild a handful of times.
In November 2013, a number of camera trap photos gave renewed hope for its survival, 15 years after the last photographic evidence.
This rare kind of mammal is threatened by poaching snares and the destruction of its habitat from illegal logging and injudicious development.
There could have been as many as a 1,000 saola’s at the end of the American war in Vietnam, but scientists estimate only a few hundreds, or a few dozens of them exist in the wild today, according to WWF-Vietnam.
In 2006, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) designated the animal “critically endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species TM.
“The saola symbolizes everything that’s at stake for us. If we can save it, we can save our forests, wildlife and the ecosystem including the freshwater that people living here depend upon”, said Dr. Van Ngoc Thinh, WWF-Vietnam’s country director.
Amongst the early efforts to combat such threats, saola protected areas were established in 2007 in the provinces of Quang Nam and Thua Thien-Hue with support from WWF-Vietnam.
Under the Carbon and Biodiversity (CarBi) Project, supported by the German KfW Development Bank, these areas have since grown into a network of protected areas across the saola’s core range in Vietnam and Laos, covering more than 200,000 hectares of Truong Son forests.
The forest guards WWF-Vietnam recruited from local villages had by the end of 2015 removed 75,295 snare traps and dismantled 1,000 poaching and illegal logging camps.
Saola are recognized by two parallel horns with sharp ends, which can reach 20 inches in length and are found on both males and females.
They are a cousin of cattle but more closely resemble an antelope.
Saola have striking white markings on their faces and large maxillary glands on the muzzle, which could be used to mark territory or attract mates.
They are found only in the Truong Son Mountains of Vietnam and Laos.
8,000 new bikes, 750 cars hit Vietnamese streets every day
Vietnamese are buying cars and motorbikes like there's no tomorrow.
Sales of vehicles continued to grow at a very fast pace in the first half of the year, with car ownership in particular becoming even more affordable and appealing to many people.
Figures from the Vietnam Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers showed that domestic sales in the first six months increased 8% year-on-year to more than 1.44 million. That translates to around 8,000 new bikes every day.
Meanwhile, nearly 136,000 cars were sold over the same period, or nearly 750 every day. Compared to the same period last year, that was a staggering 31%surge.
Industry insiders believe many people have been buying cars to avoid higher luxury taxes on large cars, which came into effect on July 1. But sales of small cars in upcoming months may benefit from lower tax rates, not to mention upcoming preferential tariffs for cars from regional countries.
Reports from government agencies forecast that the demand for cars in Vietnam will be increasing in the coming years, which will impose heavy pressure on its overstrained transport infrastructure, especially in large cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, more than 45 million vehicles are crowding Vietnamese roads.
That has gone beyond the number of 36 million vehicles that the infrastructure system was originally expected to serve in the year 2020.
Vietnamese community in Philippines welcomes the Hague tribunal's ruling
This shows that "the rule of law always prevails over aggression, justice always prevails over coercion and intimidation,” they said in a statement on July 12.
The overseas Vietnamese community in the Philippines has welcomed the decision by the International Court of Arbitration and congratulated the Philippines, while asking China to respect and abide by the tribunal's decision.
The community held a press briefing in the Philippines on July 12 which was attended by nine political, social and religious organizations along with reporters from more than 30 local and foreign media outlets.
The ruling on the case creates a legal basis for narrowing the scope of the dispute, promoting peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea (Vietnam’s East Sea), averting one country’s efforts to recourse through sheer force of arms and the use of state bribery and intimidation, the statement said.
The Vietnamese community believes that the ruling is impartial, objective and may open up opportunities for other countries with territorial disputes with China to follow in order to reduce tensions in the waters.
“China’s attempt to bypass and ignore international law will have to bear all consequences and finally be stopped,” the statement said, urging China, a member of the UNCLOS-1982, to respect and abide by the tribunal's decision.
The community also called on ASEAN to raise a common voice in support of the tribunal’s ruling.
VAVA’s nationwide emulation campaign underway
The Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) launched the third national emulation congress held in Hanoi on July 13.
Speaking at the function, head of the Party Central Committee’s Mass Mobilisation Commission Truong Thi Mai took note of the support given to Agent Orange (AO) victims by public agencies as well as individuals and organisations in Vietnam and overseas.
She lauded the VAVA’s performance over the years, urging the association to continue their communication campaigns on the impact of chemical warfare.
The VAVA should work to consolidate its position as an official representative for legal rights and interests of the AO community, Mai said.
The implementation of policies targeting dioxin victims ought to be assessed for improvements, she added.
The congress announced the President’s decision to bestow the Labour Order, First Class, upon the VAVA.
On the occasion, standout individuals and groups inside the VAVA were granted the Labour Order, Third Class, and the Prime Minister’s certificate of merit in recognition for their contributions.
The third national congress, themed “For AO victims”, took place in Hanoi on July 12-13 with the participation of 300 delegates, and is one of the activities held in response to the 55th anniversary of the Day for Agent Orange/Dioxin Victims (August 10, 1961-2016).
About 80 million litres of toxic chemicals, mainly Agent Orange containing dioxin, were sprayed over the south of Vietnam during 1961-1971. Nearly 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to the chemicals and about three million people and their descendants suffer from health problems as a consequence of the exposure.
Ambassadors address social change in YouthSpeak campaign
Seventeen young people are taking part in the YouthSpeak Ambassador Campaign, which encourages youth to dare to take action and initiate positive societal change.
Among the outstanding ambassadors are Lê Nguyễn Thiên Hương, who has created a project to protect the World Natural Heritage site Sơn Đoòng; Lương Thế Huy, who fights for the rights of the LGBT community; and Hoàng Đức Minh, who has designed the Action4Future project.
The campaign is part of the Youth for Sustainable Development Goals – YouthSpeak 2016 project, organised and developed by International Youth Organisation AIESEC in Việt Nam and the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
It is based on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
The project consists of platforms for people aged 18 to 24 in HCM City, including the ambassadors campaign, YouthSpeak Contest, YouthSpeak Forum and an Opportunity Fair.
Of the platforms, the Youth Speak Contest is among the most important event designed to solve problems related to violence against children in Việt Nam, according to Phạm Phú Vinh, chairman of the project.
The contest has three rounds that will take place from July 1 to October 15 with a range of activities, including selection of qualified teams, training and analytical studies, and solutions presented to execute their ideas.
Two people will be selected to present their projects at the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur in November.