What the papers say September - October 2015

No 3, Vol.10 , September  -  October 2015

Ghost festival to be recognized
Viet Nam News, 15 August
Le Vu Lan (Filial Piety ceremony or Ghost festival) may soon be recognised as a national festival of Vietnamese culture.
An associate professor of the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences said that the ceremony, which is a Buddhist practice, has been altered to fit with Vietnamese culture since Buddhism arrived in Vietnam about 2,000 years ago.
The festival falls on the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar, known as the spirit month in Buddhism. On the full moon, wandering souls are believed to return to their former homes.

Gender imbalance in Vietnam rises steeply
Viet Nam News, 21 August
Vietnam's gender imbalance ratio is expected to continue increasing rapidly, especially in the Hong (Red) River Delta region, according to the General Department of Population and Family Planning.
Vietnam will have 2.3-4.3 million fewer women than men by 2050 if the gender gap isn't reduced, the department said in a report.
The surplus of males of marriageable age may lead to the disintegration of family structures as a significant proportion of men will have to marry late and many cannot get married at all.
The direct cause of the imbalance is that many families have abused medical technology to determine the gender of their unborn child and choose to continue the pregnancy only if they are carrying a child of the preferred gender.

Cable car green lighted for Vietnam’s nature reserve
Viet Nam News, 10 August
Khanh Hoa authorities have approved a $15 million project to build a cable car system to the Hon Ba Nature Reserve, a popular tourist attraction on a mountain some 35 miles from Nha Trang.
The project is expected to attract up to 1.5 million tourists every year once it is completed.
Currently, the nature reserve attracts about 800,000 tourists annually.
The new tourism area will be established on an area of 470 acres on top of the Hon Ba Mount, on an altitude ranging from 1,400-1,578 metres.
Currently, Hon Ba is reachable by cars and motorbikes.

HIV aid to be cut in 2017
Viet Nam News, 25 August
Medical experts are concerned that many people with HIV in the country will be forced to drop their anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment in 2017. This is because international aid, which covers all medical fees for people with HIV, will cease.
The funding stoppage will be fully introduced in 2017 because Vietnam has now been classed as a middle-income country. Until then, international aid will cease for new cases.
In response to the situation, the health ministry has issued circular saying that the health insurance agency will cover all costs for ARV treatment, but only for pregnant woman and children under the age of six with HIV.
The circular added that from 2017, the agency would cover 80 to 95 per cent of medical fees for ARV treatment for other people.

Poverty rate falling as services improve
Viet Nam News, 27 August
The poverty rate has reduced dramatically in rural households from 27.1 per cent in 2012 to 13.2 per cent in 2014 while access to public services such as vocational and educational training and health care has improved.
This was revealed at a workshop held on 26 August in Hanoi to review a survey on rural household's access to resources.
The economic activity of rural households has diversified, however, agriculture is still the biggest source of income, accounting for 47.9 per cent of total income in 2014, the survey found.

Minimum wage may rise 12%
Viet Nam News, 27 August
A 12 per cent increase in next year's national minimum wage would be ‘reasonable’, a high-ranking congressman said on 25 August.
The deputy head of the National Assembly's Social Affairs Committee, said a 12 per cent salary increase would ensure fairness to employers and employees.
Representatives from labour and business groups failed to reach an agreement on the minimum wage increase at a second meeting on the matter.
The minimum wage debate comes amid concerns that the recent depreciation of the dong will put in jeopardy this year's government's inflation target of 5 per cent. The government raised the minimum wage 15 percent on 1 January after inflation slowed to 4.1 per cent last year.

Fishing village listed among world’s most beautiful towns
Tuoi Tre News, 14 August
A small fishing village in the northern Vietnamese province of Quang Ninh has recently been listed among the world’s prettiest small towns by the American online news site Huffington Post.
Located in the well-known Halong Bay, the Cua Van fishing village made it onto the list which Huffington Post titled ‘11 Insanely Beautiful Small Towns From Around the World’, published on its site last weekend.

Fruits ripened by chemicals dominate Vietnam’s markets
Tuoi Tre News, 26 August
Fruits ripened by chemicals are rampantly displayed at markets in Vietnam, even though it is common knowledge that such chemicals are harmful to the health of consumers.
Farmers and sellers apply chemicals to keep fruits in a batch evenly ripe and attractive for better sales and profits.
Most consumers are unable to distinguish fruits ripened on trees and fruits ripened by chemicals.
Eating such chemical fruits can negatively impact the liver, gall bladder, heart and other internal organs in the long term. Other consequences include unconsciousness and eyesight problems.

Ho Chi Minh City to hike first-time car registration fee by 500%
Tuoi Tre News, 28 August
The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee has issued a decision to raise the fee for registering vehicles for the first time, with the new fee for under-ten-seat cars to be over five times higher than the current rate, from the current VND2 million ($89) to VND11 million ($489.5).
The decision will take effect on 1 September, 2015.
The decision to hike the fee for first-time registration of vehicles was made based on a proposal by the city police, which said the hike serves the policy of limiting the use of personal vehicles and is suitable for the living conditions of city residents.

Vietnam debates design of helmets for ethnic women with high buns
Tuoi Tre News, 28 August
Wearing helmet is compulsory for all motorcycle drivers in Vietnam, but following such a rule is not quite an easy task for women of some ethnic minority groups, who wear high buns as a centuries-old custom.
The question whether there should be a helmet exclusively designed for such Vietnamese ethnic women has sparked off a heated debate between the National Traffic Safety Committee and the Ministry of Science and Technology, as they met at a conference on the issue in Hanoi.
For women of the Black Thai ethnic group, the high bun indicates that they are married, and removing the hairstyle is considered an unfaithful act against their spouses.
Vietnamese ethnic women do not want to breach traffic law, but at the same time do not want to go against their custom and tradition, so they will just wear the helmet atop of their high buns, which makes the protective headgear easily fall off.

Works start on Vietnam’s first solar power plant
Tuoi Tre News, 31 August
The construction of a multimillion-dollar solar power plant, the first of its kind in Vietnam, kicked off during a groundbreaking ceremony in the central province of Quang Ngai.
The site of the 19.2 MW Thien Tan Solar Power Plant project is located in Duc Minh Commune, Mo Duc District.
The developer, Thien Tan Investment and Construction Joint Stock Company, expects to spend nearly VND900 billion (US$40.05 million) on this plant, whose construction is scheduled for completion in July 2016.
The plant will add about 28 million kWh of electricity to the national grid a year.

$56.7mn water plant inaugurated
Tuoi Tre News, September 1
The Ho Chi Minh City’s water supplier inaugurated a new facility on 21 August, hoping to increase clean water supply for around 600,000 local households.
The Thu Duc 3 Water Plant, located in Thu Duc District, has a capacity of 300,000 cubic metres a day, according to its operator.
A total of about 600,000 households in these districts will benefit from the new plant, according to SAWACO.
Construction of the plant began in January 2013 with a total investment of $56.7 million.

Pigs block traffic in Hanoi
Tuoi Tre News, 5 September
A truck with a double-deck cargo packed with pigs was travelling on the overpass heading to Thanh Tri Bridge in the capital city when the swine fell off from beneath the vehicle.
As soon as they reached the ground, the animals started running around the street, while some others chose to rest beneath the truck, forcing the driver to struggle to get them back.
Many other vehicles had to stop to wait for the pigs to be caught, slightly tying up traffic.
The driver later had to ask another truck to come to help carry some of the pigs to continue his journey.

Swine found having agent residue
Thanh Nien News, 2 September
Inspectors have found pigs at a breeding centre in the southern province of Dong Nai containing the residue of a substance at a level 650 times higher than the acceptable level.
The findings were recorded at breeding farms in Thong Nhat District during an inspection carried out by inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and other relevant agencies.
The name of the substance has yet to be revealed.

Ho Chi Minh City launches boat tour
Thanh Nien News, 4 September
The Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Department on September 1 launched a boat tour of the Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe Canal in and around the downtown area.
The three-hour tour, offered by the Saigon Boat Company, covers a total distance of 4.5 km (2.8 miles) and takes visitors from a pier near Thi Nghe Bridge to Le Van Sy Bridge and back.
The tourist boats also see performances of don ca tai tu, a type of traditional southern music as well as modern music.
Tourists also learn about the history of the city, especially the canals.
Tickets cost VND220,000 per person for row boats with six passengers, and VND110,000 for cruise boats with a capacity of 20.

Vietnamese fined for letting 6-year-old son drive car
Thanh Nien News, 6 September
Police in Quang Ninh Province in northern Vietnam have fined a man after a video emerged on Facebook, showing his 6-year-old son on his lap driving the vehicle through busy roads.
Police have not specified the cash fine but said the man was punished for letting an unqualified person drive his car, a traffic violation subject to cash penalties of VND2-4 million ($89-178) in Vietnam.

A short while ago, I was asked if the Vietnamese fondness for eating snails were a consequence of the former French presence here.
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