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Archive for February 26th, 2010|Daily archive page

Tourism sector launches promotion abroad

In Vietnam Travel on February 26, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Tourism sector launches promotion abroad

QĐND – Thursday, February 25, 2010, 22:11 (GMT+7)

Three tourism promotion programmes will be launched in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia by the National Department of Tourism, in conjunction with more than 20 travel agencies, from February 28th to March 6th.

Activities will take place in Bangkok, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur on March 1st, 3rd and 5th, respectively.

According to Ms Duong Mai Lan from Vietravel Company, one of the organisers, tourism products  will focus on the National Tourism Year of 2010 programme.

The overseas promotion campaign by the tourism sector this time is expected to receive the participation of more than 100 tourism companies and management agencies as well as airlines, newspapers and television stations. 

In 2009, Vietnam received 3.8 million international tourists. In January of 2010 alone, more than 400,000 tourists came to Vietnam, up by 20% compared to that of the same period last year. The country is expecting to host 4.2 million international tourists this year.

Source: Vnexpress

Translated by Hoang Anh

Source: QDND

Devalued dong stabilizes forex market

In Vietnam Economy on February 26, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Devalued dong stabilizes forex market

QĐND – Thursday, February 25, 2010, 22:10 (GMT+7)

The State bank of Vietnam’s surprise move in the final days before the Tet (lunar New Year) holidays to devalue the dong by another 3.3 percent has had a positive effect in narrowing the gap between official and black market exchange rates.

On February 24, the interbank exchange rate was 18,544 VND per US dollar, while commercial banks were selling dollars at about 19,000 VND, Meanwhile, on the black market, the dollar was going for 19,350 VND, shrinking the difference between the bank and street exchange rates from an average of about 800 VND a week ago to just 350 VND.

“The central bank seems to have achieved its goal of colling off the dollar since the latest devaluation hasn’t made the dollar increase on the street the way it has in the past,” an owner of a Ha Trung street-based foreign currency shop in Hanoi told Vietnam News.

Several banks, meanwhile, have reported that enterprises have begun selling more dollars back to banks, easing recent dollar shortages.

“The new exchange rate and limits on US dollar deposit rates have discouraged enterprises to hold the dollar,” said Asia Food Co director Nguyen Van Tan. “Many enterprises are now willing to sell dollar to banks.”

”We sell dollars immediately when we have them,” said a representative of Thuan Phuoc Seafood Co, adding that the company was currently receiving about 19,000 VND per dollar from commercial banks.

Since commercial banks continue to be restricted to an exchange rate of no more than 3 percent over the interbank rate, they can now quote rates of up to 19,100 VND per dollar, up from the pre-devaluation 17,987 VND.

“In short, the tension on the forex market has been resolved for the time being,” said Pham Thanh Ha, head of Vietcombank’s treasury department. US dollar supplies were no longer dependent just on the value of the dong but were being influenced by a variety of factors, he said, including enterprise demand.

While some importers needing to buy dollars for overseas payments were continuing to report difficulties in obtaining them from banks at quoted exchange rates, Asia Commercial Bank deputy director Nguyen Thanh Toai said, “We can just look at different buy and sell prices to know that the US dollar supply is abundant.”

The central bank adjusted the value of the dong against the dollar by 3.36 percent before Tet, following a depreciation of 5.44 percent back in November. The action was taken to improve foreign currency liquidity and control the trade deficit but at a high risk of igniting a new surge in inflation.

On the non-deliverable forward (NDF) market – a currency futures market – the US dollar on Feb. 24 was slightly down against Feb. 23 and was expected to decrease to 19,130 VND next month, 19,980 VND in six months, and 20,730 VND by next February.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

“Your Excellency” buried on Tuesday at the mouth of the Cai Cung River in Bac Lieu province

In Social life on February 26, 2010 at 3:22 pm

“Your Excellency” buried on Tuesday at the mouth of the Cai Cung River in Bac Lieu province

QĐND – Thursday, February 25, 2010, 22:10 (GMT+7)

A strange and solemn burial took place last Tuesday at the estuary of the Cai Cung River. A large 15 ton, 16 metre whale, which had been named “Your Excellency” by local fishermen, was sadly found floating, dead, 42 km from the coast on Monday.

Dozens of fishermen, using more than ten boats, managed to drag the remains of the huge creature to shore to honour it and pay their last respects.

More than 10,000 people travelled to the locality on Tuesday, to mark the burial of the remains and to pay their respects and burn incense, according to Do Tien Ha, an official of the Vietnamese Coast Guard Service. This is similar to the respect shown when a special friend or honoured leader dies. Plans are now being discussed to build a pagoda or temple to honour the remains.

Whales play an important part in the beliefs of some ethnic minorities in Vietnam, particularly those with long traditions of sea fishing.

Some of these beliefs involve the Whale God, a powerful spirit that can calm the waves and lead seafarers to shelter, and hence the reason why some fishermen pay homage and respect to this huge inhabitant of the seas. He is referred to as ‘ngu ong’, which means ‘Mr. Whale’. This name is a sign of both fear and reverence, a god so powerful that even to speak his name is considered to be tempting luck and danger.

But living whales are honoured as well, and these fishermen never hunt the large marine mammals, which they regard as giant fish. The carcasses of whales that have died natural deaths are buried with great respect and ritual ceremonies. After three to five years, the bones are exhumed, shrouded in ceremonial cloth and carried to a temple to be honoured, as if the creature was a beloved community god.

Whale funerals always attract large crowds and the whale cult is deeply rooted in Vietnam’s culture.

There are many festivals in different towns and provinces associated with the worship of the whale god. In Vung Tau, there is a pagoda devoted to the deity and a very popular annual festival which takes place in the eighth lunar month. On festival days, the temples are decorated with flower garlands, while colourful lanterns are hung during the night. There are also cultural activities including hat boi (classical drama performances) and hat ba trao (traditional folk songs). These festivals are now considered to be important attractions for tourists, due to the strange fascination which Europeans, Americans, Australians, Vietnamese and others have for these creatures, all of which help contribute to the local economies.

In Da Nang, a centuries-old whale festival takes place each year in the middle of the 3rd lunar month each year. The whale temple, as well as all the houses and boats, are beautifully decorated. The peace offering is conducted in the first evening at the whale temple by village elders. Offerings, which do not contain seafood, are distributed when the ceremony begins.

At dawn the following day, a procession of boats on the sea in a set formation displays the fishermen’s devotion to their Whale God. At midnight, the official ceremony is conducted as school children offer incense and the orchestra plays traditional music on local instruments.

These beautiful rituals are still practiced today and the last whale burial was in 2002.

Franc Neary

Source: QDND

Remote schools remain empty after holiday

In Social life on February 26, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Remote schools remain empty after holiday

QĐND – Thursday, February 25, 2010, 22:10 (GMT+7)

Students in remote and poor areas nationwide are dropping out of school after the Tet holiday despite the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET)’s best efforts to support poor students returning to class.

Before the Tet holidays, the ministry sent a document to departments of education and training nationwide to provide help and support to poor students so that they would not drop out of school after Tet, an annually re-occurring problem.

In many schools, teachers are finding that students have not returned to class.

Student absences are mainly due to having to help their parents in farming, according to Tran Thi Viet, principal of Hoang Then Primary School in the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau.

For some other students, it is because they want to have longer holidays, she said.

Even with the efforts of teachers visiting parents to persuade them to get their children to return to school after Tet, schools only welcomed 86 per cent of the students on the first school day after the holiday.

Some 150 students out of 1,800 students at the school failed to return after Tet, accounting for 8.4 per cent of the total, three times higher than the allowed rate of the MoET.

Only 70 of 250 students in the secondary school of Tra Lanh Commune in the central province of Quang Ngai returned to school after the holiday, according to Dinh Van Lep, head of the Education Unit of Tay Tra District.

Meanwhile, only 90 per cent of students in Nam Se Secondary School in Lai Chau came to school after Tet, according the school’s principal Pham Thi Mai.

“Some of them have quit school, but others return after a long Tet holiday as it is traditional for Dao ethnic people to take a longer break, this happens every year,” she said.

Nguyen Xuan Luong, vice principal of Mu Sang Primary School in Lai Chau said he was worried as students taking long periods of time off school could affect their studies.

Ngoc Anh, principal of Trung Leng Ho School in Bat Xat Commune of northern mountainous province of Lao Cai , said that the provincial People’s Committee had to support the school in calling for students to return to class.

The commune’s authority would also organise a festival to gather residents in the commune and ask them to take their children to school.

To tackle the problem, MoET has recently ordered departments of education and training in cities and provinces nationwide to set up lists of students in difficult circumstances.

Schools nationwide will have to submit their reports on the number of students dropping out of school after the Tet holiday to MoET by the end of this month, according to Do Thi Van, an expert at the ministry’s Department of Planning and Finance.

Source: VNA


Source: QDND

Housekeepers in hot demand after Tet holidays

In Social life on February 26, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Housekeepers in hot demand after Tet holidays

QĐND – Thursday, February 25, 2010, 22:10 (GMT+7)

Job agencies in Hanoi are seeing an increasing demand for housekeepers from families that have lost their aides after the year’s biggest holiday break, Tet.

Housekeepers have become an important labour force and many urban families have been dependent on them. The demand for both house cleaners and baby sitters has increased remarkably over the past few years.

“In the last few days following the lunar New Year holiday, we received hundreds of phone calls from families who are looking for housekeepers,” said Nguyen Thi Dinh from Hanoi ‘s Youth Job Intermediary Centre. “They are all in urgent need of housekeepers after the ones who worked for them before did not return after the Tet holiday.”

The centre, however, is unable to cope with the families’ urgent demand as most suitable candidates are still on holiday in the provinces.

“It is very hard to hire a housekeeper after Tet as the young ones, mostly teenagers, are still enjoying the holiday at home while the older ones want to extend their stay with their families,” said Dinh.

It is not only big cities like Hanoi and HCM City either, other provinces are also seeing an increasing demand for housekeepers.

“The demand from Hanoi alone is overloaded, we can not take requests from other provinces,” said Hanoi-based Tran Van Ha, who works as an intermediary for housekeepers.

Since demand increases, housekeepers have been asking for higher salaries.

“A housekeeper’s salary has never been this high before,” said director of Hanoi-based Tuan Lan Labour Supply Centre Tran Anh Tuan.

Less skilled housekeepers have asked for up to 1.2 million VND (63 USD) a month, 300,000-500,000 VND higher than in previous years. Those who are hired not only to do household tasks but also to baby-sit and take care of elders have requested monthly salaries of between 1.5-2 million VND. The recruitment fee has also increased from 480,000 VND to 600,000 VND.

Despite the higher salary, most housekeepers have found reasons to not come back or extended their stay at home.

“Some became busy with their own household tasks while others have found better jobs,” said Dang Trung Hai, director of Hanoi ‘s Rural Investment and Development Joint Stock Company.

“We had a phone call from our housekeeper during Tet and she said she would not come back as her children would not let her go,” said Tran Thi Minh from Hanoi’s Thanh Xuan District.

The shortage of housekeepers is also hitting restaurants and shops, which very much depend on their assistance. Owners of many restaurants and shops in Hanoi have had to work twice as hard to keep their businesses running after Tet.

“We opened on the sixth day of the lunar New Year but it’s been four days since the deadline and our housekeepers are not back yet,” said Anh Duc, owner of a beef barbecue restaurant on Ma May Street.

“Housekeepers have become an indispensable part of families in big cities where people are very busy with work,” said deputy head of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Welfare’ Gender Equality Department Pham Nguyen Cuong. “They help share the housework, especially with the women.”

To make the housekeepers come back, many families have had to promise to treat them better, pay them more and give them gifts and new clothes. Some have even visited their families in the provinces to persuade them to come back.

The majority of housekeepers are hired without labour contracts and that makes it easy for them to quit their jobs. Since housekeeping is not recognised as an occupation, the housekeepers do not have to take any responsibility for their work.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Non-state schools banned from providing law study branches

In policies on February 26, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Non-state schools banned from providing law study branches

QĐND – Thursday, February 25, 2010, 22:11 (GMT+7)

Tentative regulations that non-state schools are not allowed to teach law, journalism and education have been facing strong opposition from privately founded universities.

The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) on February 23 released the draft document on the required conditions for providing training branches at universities and junior colleges. The draft document said that non-state schools are not allowed to have law, journalism and education study branches. 

“Why not allow non-state schools to provide law, journalism and education study branches? Is this because non-state schools are just stepchildren of the State?” said Tran Hong Quan, chairman of the association of Non-State Universities and Junior Colleges. 

Quan stressed in talks with VietNamNet that he cannot see any legal foundation for prohibiting non-state schools providing these training branches. 

“I believe that there is no legal regulation that says that non-state schools cannot provide these study branches,” he said. 

He went on to say that the regulations, if approved, will generate discriminatory treatment between state and non-state schools. 

The only difference between state and non-state schools, Quan said, is the ownership. State owned schools are schools run by the state and funded by the state, while non-state schools do not get financial support from the State. Meanwhile, all schools licensed to operate in Vietnam have the common purpose of giving training to people and producing a labor force for society. 

Quan stressed that the State should take action to narrow discriminatory treatment between state and non-state schools. 

“Some say that law and journalism are sensitive study branches which should be undertaken by state schools only. Does it mean that non-state schools are not reliable? Or does it mean that these schools are not put under the management of the State?” he questioned. 

In fact, both non-state and state owned schools are put under the management of the State. Non-state schools are a part of the national education system. 

“MOET should say these or that schools cannot provide these or that study branches because they cannot meet the requirements, not because they are non-state schools,” Quan said. 

Quan said that five years ago, a non-state school in Hanoi sought permission to open an economic study branch. MOET at that time said no’ to the application, because it was a non-state school. However, deputy prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem instructed MOET to give permission if the school could meet the requirements. Finally, the school, after a period of training, has gathered a lot of prestigious economics professors. 

President of Hoa Binh University Dang Ung Van has also protested the tentative regulations on not allowing non-state schools to provide law, journalism and education study branches. 

Van said that the regulations will come contrary to the current laws which say that there must not be any discriminatory treatment to state and non-state schools.

Meanwhile, Tran Thi Ha, Director of the University Education Department under MOET told VietNamNet that in fact, the regulations do not aim to ban schools to provide these study branches. 

“To date, no non-state schools have provided these three study branches,” Ha explained.

Source: VietnamNet

Source: QDND

35kg pachyrrhizus tuber attracts visitors

In Politics-Society on February 26, 2010 at 3:20 pm

35kg pachyrrhizus tuber attracts visitors

QĐND – Thursday, February 25, 2010, 22:11 (GMT+7)

A 35kg pachyrrhizus tuber, unearthed by Tran Van Hung, a villager in Phong Chau, Viet Tri, Phu Tho, is now attracting hundreds of people every day who wish to ook at it.

The pachyrrhizus plant was grown without care in his garden 10 months ago. When his daughter, Tran Thi Thao Nga, noticed part of the tuber emerging above the ground, she and her uncle spent over one hour digging it.

Many people have wanted to buy the tuber but Hung decided to keep it.

Pachyrrhizus is used as a kind of food to relieve “internal heat” of the body, and the crop is usually harvested between February and March.

Source: Vnexpress

Translated by Hoang Anh

Source: QDND

Level 5-forest-fire warning imposes on U Minh Ha national park

In Politics-Society on February 26, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Level 5-forest-fire warning imposes on U Minh Ha national park

QĐND – Thursday, February 25, 2010, 22:11 (GMT+7)

Nguyen Van The, director of the U Minh Ha National Park, on February 25th, announced that the forest fire warning was brought to level 5, an extremely dangerous level, for the Vo Doi special area and over 1,000 ha of forest under recuperation.

The rangers are ordered to temporarily prevent people from entering the park, or to limit the number of fruit pickers in the park.

As they work round the clock as fire watchers, all rangers have to grow vegetables and go fishing for their meals.

On the same day, the deputy head of the Ca Mau provincial People’s Committee agreed to give VND 200,000 to each 300 rangers on duty.

Source: TT

Translated by Mai Huong

Source: QDND

Water level on Red River at low record

In Politics-Society on February 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Water level on Red River at low record

QĐND – Thursday, February 25, 2010, 22:11 (GMT+7)

The water level in the Red River through Hanoi, was at 10cm, the lowest level ever recorded, on February 21st, by the Hanoi Water Level Measurement Station.

“The water level of the Red River had never been as low as now. The lowest level recorded in 2009 was at 70cm”, said Ms Nguyen Lan Chau, Vice Director of the Hydrometeorology Forecast Centre.

She said that hydro-power plants had to free water from reservoirs for the third time for irrigation.

On February 24th, the water level rose to over 1m and will reach 1.3-1.5m in the next few days.

Water levels, however, were said to drop again next week when reservoirs stop supplying water.

“Until the rainy season in the Northern Region in mid-March, the under 0.2m water level will be likely to happen once again”, she added.

At the present, except Vinh Phuc, other provinces have had enough water for irrigation.

Source: Vnexpress

Translated by Hoang Anh     

Source: QDND

Smart health website activated

In Politics-Society on February 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Smart health website activated

QĐND – Thursday, February 25, 2010, 22:11 (GMT+7)

PANO –, a website to provide thorough assistance in health check-ups and treatment to patients, was activated on February 24th in Hanoi.

As introduced, patients’ records are saved in computers to help doctors track patient records and prescriptions. Also, the system helps doctors share information with each other, as well as with patients and pharmacies.

It is the first time that people can create health records for themselves and their family’s members in the website.

Translated by Hoang Anh  

Source: QDND