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Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

Bulls return to Vietnam markets

In Vietnam Stock Market on November 30, 2009 at 10:13 am

The Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange recovered Monday, gaining 2.75 percent or 13.5 points, as Asian stocks and currencies gained after the United Arab Emirates pledged support for its banks.

The benchmark VN-Index index finished at 504.12, rather close to the session high. But with investors remaining cautious, the trading volume was only around 38.5 million shares worth VND1.63 trillion (US$90.9 million).

There were 131 gainers and 32 losers while 27 remained unchanged.

The biggest gainer was Vietnam’s largest battery maker Dry Cell and Storage Battery Co., or Pinaco (PAC), which rose by the maximum allowed 5 percent to VND105,000. Others to rise by 5 percent included HCM City-based BaoMinh Insurance Corp. (BMI) which rose to VND23,100, and Ho Chi Minh City Securities Corp. (HCM) which closed at VND73,500.

Banking, real estate, and construction stocks enjoyed robust trading.

Saigon Commercial Bank, or Sacombank (STB), was the most active stock by volume, with nearly 4 million shares changing hands at VND25,400, or 4.96 percent up from Friday’s close.

It was followed by Saigon Securities Inc. (SSI) which saw 1.77 million shares traded. Vietnam’s largest brokerage added 4.7 percent to close at VND78,000.

The Hanoi market also saw a bullish trend as the HNX-Index closed up 4.14 percent at 161.85. The trading value topped VND699 billion as volumes clocked 21.75 million.

In Asia, Japanese stocks were among those up sharply on speculation the impact from Dubai World’s request to delay debt payments will be limited and the yen stopped hardening.

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VN stock market to see trade settlement reduced

In Vietnam Stock Market on November 30, 2009 at 10:13 am

(Photo: SGGP)

Sai Gon Giai Phong Daily spoke with Nguyen Son, head of the Market Development Department about a recent announcement that beginning in December, securities firms will have to stop authorizing customers to sell or borrow before the T+4 trade settlement, where T denotes the transaction date.

Mr. Son said he considers this measure an effective solution to correct recent market infringements and ensure equality between firms and customers.

SGGP: Could you please explain why this correction hasn’t been implemented earlier?

Mr. Nguyen Son: After a periodic inspection, the State Securities Commission (SSC) found some securities firms were allowing their customers to sell holdings earlier than the standard settlement time, which is against the Securities Law.

Earlier, the commission warned firms to obey the law and continue to check T+ transactions. It has now ordered securities firms to stop such violations while waiting for the Ministry of Finance to issue new instructions for stock transactions.

It will investigate the infringements and report to the ministry to decide on a solution.

Obviously, there is a need to reduce trade settlement times. Do you think that it’s time to apply a shorter trade settlement on Vietnam’s stock market?

The SSC drafted a circular for transaction instructions, which allows investors to open many trading accounts and buy or sell same stock the same day. It also gives investors permission to sell the shares they bought on day T+2 and T+3 which means immediately after the Vietnam Securities Depository (VSD) cross-checks with market members.

The circular has been presented to the ministry for consideration. It will be applied at the beginning of next year if the ministry approves it.
Which requirements do you think Vietnam’s stock market needs to reduce trade settlement times?

The settlement currently finishes at 3pm on day T+3. Investors will receive shares and money in the morning when the trade settlement is reduced.

Technology plays an important role in reducing payment of stock transactions. The VSD has set up a new system and tested it. It plans to use this system by the end of the year. However, reducing the settlement not only requires effort from the VSD but also from market members.

Thank you!

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City launches inquest into chemical-laden porridge

In Vietnam Health on November 30, 2009 at 10:13 am

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health has begun an investigation of city businesses who sell rice porridge promoted as “nutritious.” The inquiry was launched following a Tuoi Tre Newspaper report that the porridge may contain harmful preservatives.

A girl eats rice porridge on No Trang Long street, Binh Thanh District in HCM City. Some porridge, sold as “nutritious,” in fact contains large amounts of harmful preservatives ( Photo: Tuoi tre)

Recently, a Tuoi Tre reporter posed as a businessperson who wanted to open a new rice porridge outlet. The reporter contacted a man who supplies chemical additives for the porridge recipe in HCM City’s Tan Binh District.

The trader revealed that many supposed nutritious rice porridge enterprises in fact use unsafe amounts of preservatives to enhance the flavor of food or keep it fresh and viscid.

The reporter said he was shown three bags of chemicals to use in the recipe including sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate and xanthan gum.

Sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate are used as preservatives to keep food from spoiling. The trader said every porridge enterprise has its own recipe and uses different amounts of the chemicals.

He usually told companies to use around one gram each of sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate per kilogram of rice porridge, though if a business wanted to keep food fresh longer or if hygienic conditions were poor, a porridge maker may increase the amount to over two grams of each chemical.

Xanthan gum is an industrial food thickener. If porridge is watery, using the agent will help it look more pleasing as a thicker porridge can support shrimp, eel and fish on the surface.

Many businesses also reportedly add flavor enhancers, known to cause a host of adverse health effects in some people.

Businesses are not permitted to use any chemicals in porridge as regulated by the Ministry of Health, unless they first gain permission from the Ministry who will inspect the origin and safety of the agents.

Tuoi Tre reporters took four samples of porridge from two businesses on No Trang Long street, Binh Thanh District to the Center of Analytical Services and Experimentation of HCMC under the Department of Sciences and Technology for tests. On November 27, the center reported that all four porridge samples contained 191,9 mg a kilogram of each of the three chemicals.

Chief inspector for the HCM City Department of Health, Nguyen Minh Hung, said his department has now launched an investigation into several city businesses, taking rice porridge samples for testing. Official test results will be publicized shortly, he said.

Dr. Tran Van Ky from the Vietnam Association of Food Science and Technology said some additives are allowed in food sold as nutritious, but businesses must first obtain permission from the health ministry as the origin and content of the chemicals must be determined.

Children are especially vulnerable to chemical additives and can suffer adverse health problems from ingesting them. Consuming large amounts of such chemicals can lead to malnourishment, poor growth and attention deficits.

Dr. Nguyen Xuan Mai, former deputy head of the HCMC Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, said babies are particularly at risk of developing liver and kidney problems if they consume certain food additives over a long period.

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VN asks WHO for H1N1 vaccine direction

In Vietnam Health on November 30, 2009 at 10:12 am

Following the recent withdrawal of two batches of H1N1 vaccine in Canada due to suspected poor quality, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health has asked the World Health Organization (WHO) to make an official recommendation for Vietnam.

The country has imported around 1.2 million doses of H1N1 vaccine, said the National Steering Board for Vaccination against H1N1 on November 29. GlaxoSmithKline, through the WHO, supplies the vaccine for Vietnam and Canada.

Canadian health authorities decided to suspend the use of two batches of GlaxoSmithKline-supplied vaccine in late October, after higher-than-normal rates of adverse reactions were reported.

Vietnam has suggested the WHO provide another batch of vaccine or use a different supplier to ensure patient safety in case the vaccines were taken from the same batch as that in Canada.

Nguyen Tran Hien, director of the Central Institute of Hygiene Epidemiology, said 40 nations are currently using the H1N1 vaccine with 60 million people now inoculated worldwide.

In related news, the health ministry on the same day reported another death from swine flu. The 59-year-old victim from the northern province of Quang Ninh died on November 26. He also suffered from schizophrenia.

To date, Vietnam has reported 11,000 swine flu infections with 44 fatalities.

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Environmental mural sets new national record

In Vietnam Culture on November 30, 2009 at 10:12 am

A ceremony to unveil the country’s longest mural depicting environmental images was held at the Hanoi Polytechnic University on November 29.

Volunteers paint a 115-meter long, 1.5-meter high mural in Hanoi on November 29. The artwork set a new record for longest environment-themed painting in Vietnam. (Photo: SGGP)

The mural, 112 meters long and 1.5 meters tall, broke the previous record for the longest painting in Vietnam. The first record was set in Nha Trang with a 100-meter long, 1.4-meter high mural.

The new painting highlights the problems of global warming, air pollution, and clear-cut logging; as well as environmental solutions for a greener future.

More than 400 volunteers from 20 Go Green clubs at universities in Hanoi took part in painting the project. In addition to illustrating environmental problems, they were encouraged to express their hopes for a better, more beautiful future in the images they created.

The Record Environment Painting Festival was organized by Toyota Motorbike Vietnam to raise awareness amongst youth about protecting the country’s environment.

The event also featured several games and music performances, which encouraged young people to become environmental advocates.

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Dong Nai River on verge of death

In Vietnam Society on November 30, 2009 at 10:12 am

The Dong Nai River, which provides water for countless households in the southern region, has become extremely polluted in recent years. Unregulated dumping of household and industrial wastewater into the river is the main cause for the contamination.

Tan Van, a branch of the Dong Nai River, is extremely polluted (Photo: SGGP)

Sai Gon Giai Phong recently carried out an inspection at areas where wastewater is poured into the river such as Suoi Cai Stream, a confluence of the Nhum Stream in Binh Duong Province and Xuan Truong Stream in Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Duc District. The water here was found to be seriously polluted.

Tran Cong Tuan, a resident in Thu Duc District who lives near the Suoi Cai Stream, said that recently the water had given off a foul smell.

Ten years ago, the river sometimes changed to a muddy color, but now it turns a variety of shades including red, violet and green, he said.

Traveling along the river’s upper reaches, reporters said they had difficulty breathing because of the foul stench of feces and garbage, which surrounded the water and floated in it.

Several industrial zones (IZs) and export processing zones (EPZs) as well as pig-breeding farms that lack treatment systems, are responsible for the river’s pollution.

The water is black at a branch of the river where Tham Luong, Ben Cat, Vam Thuat and Nuoc Len canals travel through several inner districts of HCMC and empty into the Sai Gon River.

Around Thi Tinh, a branch of the Sai Gon River, the water is yellow and gives off a terrible smell.

Responsibility shirked

Since 2005, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has held many meetings with12 provincial leaders to find solutions to save the river, but decisive action remains to be seen.

Deputy Minister Tran Hong Ha said that development projects combined with a lack of environmental protection has led to the pollution of the river.

The Dong Nai River system receives wastewater from the cities and provinces of HCM City, Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Lam Dong, Dac Lac, Dac Nong, Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan, Tay Ninh and Long An.

Since the river runs through so many areas, no one has stepped up to take responsibility, said Mr Ha.

According to the ministry’s statistics, the river also receives wastewater from around 70 IZs and EPZs.

Of these, 15 are located in HCMC, 16 each are in the neighboring provinces of Dong Nai and Binh Duong, three each are in Long An and Binh Phuoc provinces, and one is in Tay Ninh.

The river receives 1.73 million cubic meters daily of household wastewater and 1.54 million cubic meters of industrial wastewater.

The above statistics do not include wastewater from tens of thousands of industrial production units outside the IZs.

According to research carried out by the ministry, the river’s lower area is the most polluted.

At some places like Phu Cuong, Binh Phuoc, and Phu An in HCM City, microorganism levels are 168 times higher than the permitted level.

In particular, a 10-kilometer section of brown-black water in the Thi Vai River valley is completely “dead.” The dissolved oxygen concentration (DO) is below 0.5mg/liter, making it unable to support any aquatic life.

Environmental experts say authorities must act quickly to save the river and the water it provides for the region’s citizens.

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Tropical low-pressure system weakens

In Vietnam Weather on November 30, 2009 at 4:12 am

A tropical low-pressure system has weakened to a depression zone after moving into the southwestern area of the East Sea, the national weather bureau reported November 28.

A tropical low-pressure zone situated over the southern part of the East Sea on November 27 (Photo: National Hydro Meteorological Forecast Center)

The strongest winds near the depression’s eye decreased to below level 6, or less than 39 kilometers per hour, said the bureau.

The tropical depression on November 28 was at 4.8-5.8 degrees latitude and 108.8-109.8 degrees longitude.

The center forecasts that the depression zone will slowly move southwest at a speed of 5 kilometers an hour over the next 24 hours.

It will remain over the sea for the next two or three days, the center said.

The southwestern region of the East Sea including Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands and waters off the coast of Binh Thuan to Ca Mau provinces will see heavy rain and level 6 winds with gusts up to level 7-8.

A cold font is forecast to affect northern and central provinces on the afternoon and evening of November 29 as it continues to move into the southern region.

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6,000 unsafe milk products still for sale: VFA

In Vietnam Health on November 30, 2009 at 4:12 am

An advertisement for Dutch Lady Vivinal GOS milk

FrieslandCampina Vietnam has recalled around 96 percent of its Dutch Lady Vivinal GOS milk which reportedly caused allergic reactions in some children who consumed the product, said the Vietnam Food Administration (VFA). However, some 6,000 products remain in the market.

The VFA recently ordered the company to withdraw the remaining products and publicize warnings about the milk in the media.

Vivinal GOS is advertised as containing GOS (Galacto Oligosacharide), a natural fiber in dairy that helps enhance absorption of nutrients and stimulate healthy growth.

Some 21 toddlers in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi were hospitalized in recent weeks with rashes, breathing problems, and stomach upset, allegedly after drinking Dutch Lady Vivinal GOS milk.

Related articles:
Dutch Lady Vivinal GOS milk recalled over allergy scare
HCMC health officials investigate Dutch Lady’s dodgy milk

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Central Highlands gong festival celebrates culture, tradition

In Vietnam Culture on November 30, 2009 at 4:12 am

On the occasion of Vietnam’s Cultural Heritage Day (November 23), a Gong Festival was held at Di Linh Commune in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong November 28-29. The event aimed to preserve and promote the gong culture of the area’s ethnic minority people.

Gong melodies are used as background music for the elders of the ethnic groups who sing songs based on their stories and epics.

Eleven groups including more than 300 artisans from ethnic minorities such as Mr, K’ho, Churu and M’nong attended the festival.

The event kicked off with an offering ceremony to the God of Fire of the K’ho ethnic minority, followed by a performance of gong and folk music accompanied by traditional dancing.

Other activities included a buffalo ceremony and time honored folk games.

The Central Highlands Lam Dong Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism gave permission to 12 gong troupes in the province this September to perform for locals and hold events.

As of September 2009, there were more than 100 gong troupes in the region with 14 troupes in villages of Lac Duong District, Lam Dong Province – most of who perform for tourists.

With permission from the culture department, the troupes will be able to enlarge the scale of their performances to promote the culture of the Central Highlands, attract more tourists to the province, and improve the lives of local ethnic people.

The provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism said it would continue to appraise and license more gong troupes to perform at tourist sites.

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Canadian opera star to perform ‘Phantom’ with local artist

In Vietnam Culture on November 30, 2009 at 4:11 am

Renowned Canadian opera singer Genevieve Charest spoke to the press November 28 in Ho Chi Minh City about her upcoming performance of The Phantom of the Opera with local singer Duc Tuan.

Duc Tuan and Genevieve Charest will perform The Phantom of the Opera November 29 in HCM City

The top opera singer has traveled the world performing in several musicals including Les Miserables, Don Juan and The Phantom of the Opera. Her voiced is described as haunting and beautiful, with audiences eagerly awaiting her duet with Tuan.

This is Charest’s first trip to Vietnam, though she said she wasn’t nervous as she had previously traveled to Korea and Japan to release albums.

During the press conference, Charest presented the song “I dream a dream” in French. The famous song is performed in the opera Les Miserables, in which Charest played one of the characters.

The vivacious singer trained as a soprano vocalist, but later crossed over into classical music. On her latest album, Charest returns to opera with the song Nessun Dorma in Turandot, proving her forte as an artist.

Charest has released three albums including H2O, L’ete du Labrador, and Tant Rever, receiving several nominations and prizes for her body of work. She credits her manager, Raymond du Berger, with helping to solidify her place as a top performer on the opera scene. Du Berger has also accompanied Charest on her trip to Vietnam.

Duc Tuan, who released the album “Music of the night” in July, will perform with Charest November 29 at HCM City’s Opera House.

In addition to singing with Tuan in the The Phantom of the Opera, Charest said she will wear a traditional Vietnamese gown known as an ao dai.

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