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Archive for November 12th, 2008|Daily archive page

Laos to speed up express railway construction

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2008 at 12:20 pm

Vientiane (VNA) – Laos has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Malaysian group to accelerate the construction of a 3 billion USD express railway running from Savannakhet province to a border gate with Vietnam.

Under the MoU inked on November 10, Malaysia ’s Giant Group will conduct surveys prior to carrying out a feasibility study to submit to the Lao government in two years time.

The 220km-long railway section is designed to depart from Kaysone Phomvihan district, Sannavakhet province, and to end at the Lao Bao bordergate, in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Tri, via the Sava-Seno special economic zone.

The railway section, the Lao government’s prioritised project, is expected to play an important role in the country’s economic development.

Previously, the Lao government signed an agreement regarding a smaller railway project with Japanese investors.-

Viet Nam meet Malaysia in Grand Royal Cup

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2008 at 11:00 am

Hard challenge: U22 team captain Mai Xuan Hop (right) vies with a Hai Phong Cement player in a friendly match last week. Hop will lead his team to compete in the Grand Royal Challenge in Myanmar. — VNS Photo Quang Thang

HA NOI — The Viet Nam Olympic team are set to meet Malaysia in their Grand Royal Challenge opener in Myanmar today.

This is the second consecutive match between the two teams this year. Viet Nam hoisted the Merdeka Cup in triumph after a penalty shoot-out win over Malaysia last month.

Coach Chung instructed his players to take advantage of all chances to shoot from outside the box in the match.

“Malaysia will come at us with a strong defence as a result of their loss in the Merdeka Cup final. We will play a defensive game and long range shoots are our favourite method to overpower Malaysia,” Chung was quoted as saying on the Viet Nam Football Federation website.

The coach has another reason to be confident for the tournament opener – three key players have recovered from injuries and will be ready to play.

Although top striker Phan Thanh Binh was called up by the national senior team last Wednesday and will miss the game against Malaysia, Chung believes that captain Mai Xuan Hop will do his best in today’s match along with strikers Nguyen Quy Suu, Hoang Danh Ngoc and Cong Huy.

Malaysian coach Satiananthan was impressed by Vietnamese goalie Bui Tan Truong and midfielder Hop in the Merdeka Cup final last month.

Truong, 22, blocked Malaysian Norhafiz Zamani Misbah’s shot-on-goal during the penalties shoot-out in the final.

The Vietnamese team is in group B with Malaysia and the South Korean Hyundai team. Myanmar, Indonesia and Bangladesh make up group A.

Last Friday, the team had a goalless draw to V-League’s Hai Phong Cement, who are trained by former national coach Austrian Alfred Riedl. —

Karate squad kicks off world champs

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2008 at 10:59 am

HA NOI — Viet Nam’s eight-member karate squad has arrived in Nippon Budokan, Tokyo for the World Karate Championships, which kicks off tomorrow.

The team, led by coach Le Cong, will compete in the men’s and women’s five weight categories kumite (combat) and kata (performance) events.

Vietnamese artists will face tough rivals at the week-long tournament, which has drawn 1,200 competitors from 120 countries and territories around the world. The Vietnamese squad is the cream of the crop, said coach Cong. It includes Doha Asian Games gold medalist Vu Thi Nguyet Anh and World Championship silver medalist Nguyen Hoang Ngan.

Ngan, 24, who was also crowned world champion at the Kobe Osaka International World Cup in Greece in 2006, will perform in the women’s singles event on Thursday. She will later gather with her teammates Dang Thu Ha and Nguyen Thanh Hang to compete in the women’s team event.

Ngan has sustained her form with flawless performances since the 2003 SEA Games in Viet Nam – where she took a team event gold.

The Public Security athlete said she had enough experience to clinch victory against tough rivals in the kata event.

Meanwhile, the 24-year-old Anh will compete in the women’s kumite under-53kg on Saturday. Nicknamed ‘little sparrow’ because of her delicate frame, Anh said she never backed down from a fight.

“She follows my exercises in counterattacking very well,” said coach Cong in a phone interview from the National Training Centre No 1 in Ha Noi on Monday. “This has helped her succeed in the SEA Games and the Asian Games. But this is the World Championships and she will have to fight against top athletes from around the world. Anh should compete all out every minute on mat to win.”

The 55-year-old coach added that the squad had been training according to their own regime since early this year. “They have been working on their strengths and weaknesses which will help them show off their power in the kumite weight categories,” said Cong, who was voted one of Viet Nam’s top five outstanding coaches of 2006 and 2007. —

Plush resorts push villagers into poverty

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2008 at 10:58 am

QUANG NAM — Many villagers in the central province of Quang Nam who ceded their farms on the coast to a resort in the hope of being employed there have neither jobs nor a livelihood.

This is a fate shared by many farmers who have lost their sole means of earning a living to projects that tranform rural landscapes into plush neighbourhoods but render its inhabitants vulnerable and destitute.

A 15km coastal stretch from Dien Ngoc to Dien Duong communes in Dien Ban District is lined with dozens of resort projects.

As the fancy buildings and other facilities go up, many cultivators, fishermen and craftsmen see their lives crash.

These villages have shrugged off their rural aura and present a starkly contrasting study of ex -travagant luxury and climbing penury. Posh resorts have eaten up houses, gardens, paddy fields and wharves, while nearby, the relocation site is dotted with half-built awkward flats.

Desperate times

Workers who once toiled in the fields are now crammed into coffee shops. Some sip a beverage leisurely, while others whistle to the music or play chess. But this casual scene belies the desperation that increases with every passing day that they do not have work. They are increasingly wistful for their former lifestyle.

Nguyen Thi Huong, a 59-year-old matriarch of a family of ten used to grow vegetables on an area of 1,100sq.m and rice on 2,200sq.m. The farming alternated between rice, vegetables and livestock, and the yields were sufficient for the whole family. When the wave of resorts struck, she lost her lands for around VND100 million (roughly US$60,000) in compensation and a 350sq.m plot for relocation.

Huong managed to erect a standard house for the whole family. But without their farming occupation, life has become tougher and tougher. Her three sons who are of working age were rejected by all employers because they do not have degrees. Her daughters-in-law struggle with petty trade at local markets to make ends meet. With their meagre savings spent up, the family members are in panic about their future.

Cao Van Chat, a 58-year-old fisherman for more than 40 years points to the resort-filled beach as a barrier blocking his way to the sea. The boats now have to make a detour around the resorts and arrive late at the markets, causing them to lose customers for their catch.

With off-shore fishing in decline, other related works are being dragged down. Hundreds of people engaged in seafood trade, selling fuel to fishing vessels, and selling and repairing boats are stuck with dwindling businesses. The villages have become less dynamic and more impoverished than before.

This is also the case for hundreds of households in the region. They are now embittered by a sense of redundancy. Young workers, once involved in agriculture or fishing, have left the villages to seek jobs in big cities because their chances of employment at the newly-built resorts are almost zero. The elderly cannot leave and can do nothing but stare out of their windows, day in, day out.

Le Van Khue, Deputy Chairman of the People’s Committee of Dien Duong Commune, says local authorities are preoccupied with the situation.

He names a series of resorts that have consumed the beach, like the Nam Hai, Ha My, La Vin, Sai Thanh, Viet My, Truong Son, Ben Thanh, Kinh Vinh and Quyet Thang. He admits that these projects had been expected to create jobs for those affected, bringing them a chance to improve their living standards.

This has not happened. He is disappointed that only 20 per cent of the displaced villagers have been recruited by the completed resorts – quite low compared to the enormous need. In Dien Duong Commune alone, up to 1,500 households with 13,000 people were displaced to give way to eight kilometres of resorts.

Vo Luong, Deputy Chairman of the People’s Committee of Dien Ngoc Commune, says: “The households who lost land also lost jobs. Their lives are now much tougher. They have to live on the compensation money and have become worse and worse off.”

Le Van Khue feels that the authorities need to focus their attention on helping displaced villagers settle and stabilise their lives. The most urgent task is to create jobs for farmers and workers over 40 years of age who are still capable of working, he says. —

Nation must plan to care for ageing populace

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2008 at 10:58 am

The elderly participate in a performance in Ha Noi. The country is facing an ageing population and the pressures it will place on families, health services, social welfare policy, lifestyle and transportation. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Tran

HA NOI — Viet Nam must prepare to care for an ever increasing number of elderly, advises Viet Nam Social Science Institute Foreign Affairs Department deputy director Dang Nguyen Anh.

“Viet Nam’s population will be old before the country becomes wealthy,” he says.

And the growing number of elderly will put pressure on families, health services (including mental health); social welfare policy, lifestyle and transport.

A National-Committee-for-Population-Family-and-Children survey last year found that more than 70 per cent of Viet Nam’s population remain rural dwellers.

Most of the rural elderly have had to rely on agriculture for their livelihood. Unable to save for their old age, they are dependent on their children.

“This reinforces the need to develop social welfare policy for old people,” says Population and Social Affairs Institute Director Nguyen Dinh Cu.

Such a policy will have to emphasise the development of care suitable for the elderly in an industrialised society, he explains.

An example is retirement homes.

These are now few in number but will have to be increased for those who can afford them.

The director also suggests that organisations and industries should be encouraged to open retirement homes.

But it will be necessary to have the young comfortable to have their parents been cared for in retirement homes, he says.

The elderly, in turn, should accept the model and realise that their children have not neglected their duty to them.

Numbers don’t lie

The proportion of Viet Nam’s population older than 60 totalled 9.45 per cent last year.

The figure is forecast to rise to about 18 per cent within the next twelve years with the proportion of young people in the workforce falling very quickly, says the deputy director.

A country’s population is ageing when the number of elderly is above 10 per cent, according to the United Nations.

Life expectancy for Vietnamese was about 71 in 2005, up from 68 in 2000. —

City calls for funds for poor

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2008 at 10:57 am

HCM CITY — Authorities of HCM City have urged all sectors, branches and people of all walks of life to continue contributing to its poverty reduction fund for the 2009-2013 period.

The fund, formerly known as the Hunger Eradication and Poverty Reduction Fund, is part of the city’s poverty reduction programme to collect donations from individuals, organisations and savings to support needy people.

The city has so far allocated VND7.25 trillion (US$453.1 million) from the fund to help 200,000 households escape poverty, reducing the ratio of poor households to 0.99 per cent this year from 17 per cent in 1992.

In 1992, those listed as below the official poverty line had an average annual income of less than VND3 million ($187.5) per capita in urban areas, and less than VND2.5 million ($156.3) per capita in rural locations.

By comparison, in 2008 the income threshold for poverty is below VND6 million ($375) a year per capita. The fund has also helped narrow the difference in living standards of the people in rural and urban areas, and contributed to achieving the sustainable socio-economic development and improved quality of life for city residents.

City authorities continue to ask every organisation and individual at home and abroad, including the overseas Vietnamese community, to make contributions and lend a helping hand to those in poverty.

The city strives to lower the proportion of poor households by 2015 by increasing the poverty threshold to an average annual per capita income of VND12 million. —

ADB to fund health project

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2008 at 10:57 am

Ethnic children of Tak Po Village in Quang Nam Province’s Tra My District receive medical check-ups. An ADB project will improve healthcare in seven provinces. –VNA/VNS Photo Xuan Quang

MANILA — The Asian Development Bank is financing a project to improve healthcare services in Viet Nam’s south and central coast regions, home to 9 million people, half of them ethnic minorities.

The project covers Da Nang and seven provinces (Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan), four of which have poverty levels significantly above the national average of 19.5 per cent.

The 32-year, US$72 million loan will be sourced from ADB special funds.

The Vietnamese Government will provide an additional $8 million to complete the financing requirements.

The nation’s public healthcare system lacks resources and is burdened with old facilities and equipment.

Demand for health services is rising rapidly due to higher incomes and education, ageing population, migration, and increases in non-communicable diseases and traffic accident injuries.

In addition to health services for the poor, the project will target healthcare for women, children and ethnic minorities, with a special focus on reproductive healthcare.

“The country can only achieve its Millennium Development Goals by 2015 if it makes a considerable effort to improve the quality of care and financial access for the poor and ethnic minorities in lagging communities with high mortality, morbidity and malnutrition rates,” said Vincent de Wit, principal health specialist in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

The project will help build or upgrade 20 hospitals, five district preventive medicine centres and a training school for nurses and paramedics. It will also equip new and existing facilities with water, sanitation and medical waste management systems.

Support will be given to the hiring and training of medical staff and village health workers, and for improvements in basic health care for over 400 remote communes as well as for the development of provincial health systems.

The ADB project will be followed by a national sector development programme in 2009, which is currently in preparation. —