(No.1, Vol.7,Feb-Mar 2017 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)
10 archaeological discoveries and 10 environment incidents
The announcement of archaeological discoveries in 2016 brought joy to those who have been concerned about the country’s history. The discovery of Early Neolithic items in An Khe in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai proved that humans had settled on the upper part of local Ba River in particular, and inside Vietnam territory in general, some 80,000 years ago. This, together with nine other discoveries in the country, made it a successful year in the archaeological sector.
At the same time, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment announced 10 remarkable environmental incidents that they had to deal with in the year of 2016. Intentionally, they did not list the environmental disaster caused by the toxic Formosa spill in the ocean in central provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue. The toxin has damaged the marine ecosystem, unemployed thousands of local fishermen, sent hundreds of businesses to bankruptcy and affected other economic sectors, and negatively impacted food sources for millions of people around Vietnam.
322 litres of beer consumed
Online newswire vnexpress on 2 February said that the country consumed a total of 322 million litres of beer during the most Tet holiday. This is an increase of 20 per cent over the same period last year. The consumption of a large quantity of beer also reflects a huge waste of money and time and a ruin of mental fitness. Vietnamese drinkers are reportedly binge-drinkers who encourage each other to over-consume alcohol, often leading to alcohol-related illnesses.
The figure does not include consumption of home-made wine and brandy, which are popular in every locality around the country and the consumed quantity is hardly measured. Alcohol consumption among male drinkers during Tet creates bad social consequences. But it also decreases the meaning of Tet, the most important holiday to Vietnamese and exerts more burdens on Vietnamese women, who have to prepare food for the drinking parties and do clean-up work.
4,500 drinkers hospitalized after fighting
Another online newswire, VietnamNet, released on 1 February quotes from the Ministry of Health that 4,500 drinkers were forced to go to hospitals during Tet due to injuries from fighting after drinking parties. Over-consumption of alcohol leads to aggression and impaired judgment, which may result in physical altercations.
Evidence shows a large volume of beer consumption during the rest of the year as well. Hospitalization means lost work time and also a financial burden for families due to the high cost of medical treatment. But moral lessons and lawful penalties seem not to be effective in stopping men from their drinking habit. Observers expect little change in mindset among Vietnamese men, as they consider drinking a large capacity as a way to show their manliness. Meanwhile, women are fed up with this way of ‘manly expression’ and many show their reluctance in getting married to this kind of man.
Traffic accidents kill 203 people during Tet
Vietnam News Agency’s online news site Vietnam+ on 2 February carried a news piece saying that 203 Vietnamese citizens died and 417 others were injured because of traffic accidents. This means at least 203 families had their Tet ruined and other 417 families were busy in hospitals during Tet.
There are several causes for fatal accidents in the holiday time and overconsumption of alcohol is the major one. In Vietnam, traffic vehicles are not just a means of transport but they are also used to show off wealth. Young drinkers take this holiday time to speed and demonstrate their ‘magic’ driving skill, resulting in the rise in number of accidents. Meanwhile, older drinkers lose control on their motorbikes and usually drive without consciousness of signalling or even brakes. One more reason for the increase of accidents during Tet is that Vietnamese do not obey traffic laws. During the holiday, of course, they think traffic cops are at home celebrating Tet, so drivers take many more chances.
10km traffic congestion delay workers after Tet
Also on vnexpress: On 3 February, this online newswire released that heavy traffic congestion occurred on the National Highway 1A’s section in central Quang Nam Province. The report said that a row of vehicles was lined up for 10km and each could only move a distance of several footsteps at a time.
The congestion happened on the sixth day of the Lunar New Year and several days before, because workers from northern and central provinces began their trip to HCM City to back to work. The congestion helps prove that an imbalanced economy exists, as the country relies too much on the southern economic hub, which draws a great number of workers from the northern and central regions. Millions of labourers moving from the regions to the South at the beginning of the year and moving back at the end of the year create so much chaos for society because of incomplete traffic infrastructure and low awareness among those workers and service providers. Guest workers also exert more burdens on the southern economic hub while local shortages of labourers for farming and manual work occur in many localities in the regions.