What the papers say April - May 2015

No 3, Vol.6, May - June 2015

HCM City to get first pedestrian street next month
Thanh Nien News, 30 March
Nguyen Hue Street will become HCM City’s first walking street on 20 April.
Authorities plan to completely ban trucks on the street and all motor vehicles between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
Trucks can get permission in individual cases to use the road. The plan to upgrade the street is expected to cost $20 million and will turn the 670-meter downtown street into a cultural hub, with 3D art events and water fountains at night.
The street runs from the People’s Committee office to Bach Dang Wharf on the Saigon River.

Champa relics discovered at construction site
Thanh Nien News, 31 March
Archaeologists said they have discovered Cham relics and structures dating back to the 9th century in the central province of Quang Nam.
The Institute of Archaeology’s official said they have unearthed 20 pits along the construction site of Danang-Quang Ngai Highway since January this year.
A number of structures have been found at the unearthed area of 2,000 square meters, including a 60-meter-long wall system and box-like structures.
The structures are believed to be rooms in which Brahman monks gathered to pray and perform religious rituals.
Archaeologists also discovered bricks, tiles, Cham terra-cotta relics and ceramic items of various origins.
Vietnam to bring more tourists to Spratly
Thanh Nien News, 2 April
Ho Chi Minh City has instructed tourism companies to plan new tour services to Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands, after a Hai Phong company became the first to bring tourists there last December.
Saigontourist and Tan Cang Offshore Travel Joint Stock Company were ordered to offer a reasonable price to attract tourists to the islands.
In February, the Ministry of Transport announced a plan to launch civilian flights to Truong Sa this year.

Helmet laws to be enforced
Thanh Nien News, 3 April
Next week, traffic police nationwide will pull over motorbike drivers whose children are not wearing helmets and ask them to pay a fine, according to the National Enforcement Action Plan launched in early Aril.
The rule is applied to children aged six or above.

Strong public opposition against ‘tree massacre’ in Vietnam capital
Tuoi Tre News, 27 March
A number of architects and netizens in Hanoi and elsewhere are working on a documentary to protest against the capital’s plan to fell 6,700 trees.
A documentary called 6,700 People for 6,700 Trees has recently been launched by Am-Architecture Movies Club.
The makers decided to make the film amidst the heated public outcry against Hanoi authorities’ plan to cut down 6,700 of the city’s 120,000 trees from 2015 to 2017 at an estimated cost of around $2.82 million.
Since the city started carrying out the plan on 19 March, many people have protested it because some of the trees which have been felled – as many as 500 – included those that were still growing well.
Traffic ban
Tuoi Tre News, 30 March
The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport has announced a ban on traffic on two street sections in District 1 from 30 March to 6 May, 2015.
The ban is aimed at ensuring safety and security for the construction of a stand that will serve a ceremony to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Reunification Day (30 April).
Accordingly, vehicles of all kinds are banned from travel on a section of Pasteur Street, running from Han Thuyen Street to Alexandre de Rhodes Street; and a section of Le Duan Street, running from Pham Ngoc Thach Street to Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street.

Company named largest salangane producer
Tuoi Tre News, 30 March
Khanh Hoa Salanganes Nest Co. has been acknowledged to boast the most natural salangane islands and the highest yields of salangane nests in Asia.
The company received the certificate for those achievements from the Asia Book of Records, a New Delhi-based record organization.
Based in Nha Trang, the capital of the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, the company currently manages 32 salangane islands, which are home to 169 natural caves, within the Khanh Hoa waters.
It also jointly runs several such islands in the waters spanning from the north-central province of Quang Binh to Con Dao off Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, some 100 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh City.

Baby elephant dies in central Vietnam
Tuoi Tre News, 25 March
A baby elephant weighing about 100kg has been found dead, with a patch of skin flayed, four missing feet, and a part of the tail cut off in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak.
The Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre on Wednesday said the dead elephant was found in the Ea H’Leo District.
Local residents said a herd of about 20 elephants flocked to the forest area to search for food recently.
As the animals looked fierce, nobody dared to approach them, locals said, adding that after these elephants left the commune, they found one of them lying dead in the subzone.
When alive, the elephant was worth VND700 million ($32,830).

Experts pinpoint impacts of reclamation
Tuoi Tre News, 31 March
A large project, now suspended, to build a residential area by encroaching on the Dong Nai River flowing through the province that carries its name has met with criticism by many experts.
Local experts have continued to express criticism of a multimillion-dollar project to build a residential area by reclaiming land from Vietnam’s longest river due to its potential adverse impact on the environment, even though the developer has suspended it.
The 8.4ha project is intended to develop a residential area along one bank of the Dong Nai River by reclaiming land from it.

Sea water intrudes into coastal rice fields
Tuoi Tre News, 31 March
Hundreds of thousands of hectares of rice fields in coastal areas in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam have been badly affected by the deep intrusion of sea water into rivers and canals.
In Soc Trang Province, the salinity measured this year was 0.8 percent. At this time last year, it was only 0.4 percent.
In Hau Giang Province, the salinity in river water is increasing by 0.05-0.1 percentage points per day and travelling 2-3km deeper into rice fields a day.
In Kien Giang Province, salinity has penetrated 30-35km from the mouths of the Cai Be and Cai Lon Rivers.
The National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting of Ca Mau Province also announced the salinity degree of water in major rivers in the province is higher than last year’s.
The provinces have been known as Vietnam’s rice granary for decades.

VN tops Southeast Asian alcohol consumption
Tuoi Tre News, 2 April
Vietnam ranks first in Southeast Asia in terms of beer and wine consumption growth. A report by the Hanoi-based Health Strategy and Policy Institute said Vietnamese spend around $3 billion a year on beer and $744.2 million on wine.
Each Vietnamese person drank an average of 3.8 litters of wine a year in the 2003-2005 period, and 6.6 litters in 2010, according to the institute.

Local firm offers tours to cave system
Tuoi Tre News, 2 April
A local company has launched tours to Vietnam’s volcanic cave system, which also boasts Southeast Asia's longest and second-longest grottos.
The system, located in Krong No District of Dak Nong Province in the Central Highlands, consists of 12 caves.
The He Tre Co., a travel firm based in Ho Chi Minh City, has just begun operating tours which allow tourists to explore Caves C3 and C6 of the system.
Dak Nong authorities are conceiving a project to build a geological park (geopark) that houses the 12 volcanic caves, with a view to obtaining UNESCO recognition of the place as a global geopark in the future, a senior official said following its discovery.
The project will be submitted to the prime minister and relevant agencies for consideration, the official said.

American Centre re-opens
Tuoi Tre News, 3 April
The U.S. Consulate General’s American Centre in Ho Chi Minh City now re-opens its doors to welcome a larger number of visitors with updated, modern facilities after being closed for four months for renovation.
The renovated American Centre, still located on the 8th floor of Diamond Plaza at 34 Le Duan Street, District 1 is now divided into different areas, each of which has a specific purpose and set of activities.
The place features new lounges where visitors, especially students, can find relax while watching movies or accessing the Internet.
It has a special area where readers can sit on large, smooth couches and view the city through the windows.
Besides 18 computers, the lounge also includes 30 iPads which visitors can use to read documents, including e-books and magazines on a digital platform.
The American Centre, which opens to the public from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday, now has its library with approximately 2,500 books and 750 DVDs which can all be loaned free of charge.

Post office building gets new coat
vnexpress.net, 5 April
HCM City reopened the city’s historic post office building after a restoration process.
City authorities have conducted a project to fix several ruins inside the building and repainted it.
Earlier, managers of the post office had the building repainted, but faced public opposition over the work as the new paint colour was different from the original one.
City authorities later ordered a testing campaign of colours, with consultation from experts.
The building was constructed in 1886 by the French colonialists and has been used as a post office up to now.

Move to raise visa fees
english.vietnamnet.vn, 3 April
The Vietnamese Ministry of Finance wants to increase the single-entry visa fee for overseas Vietnamese and foreigners from $20 to $45.
The news has resulted in double the number of people seeking passports since February against the same period of last year, according to the HCM Police immigration unit.
But the ministry clarified that the fee for Vietnamese people to acquire a passport remains unchanged at $10. Passport renewal will also remain at $20 and passport extension fees at $5 for locals.
The ministry suggested that fees for visas of less than six months and more than six months for overseas Vietnamese and foreigners be raised from $50 and $100 to $65 to $255, respectively.
Visa-granting fees for travellers arriving by ship will remain unchanged at $5.

Following the tunes (“Spring comes to Muong Hum hamlet high up the mountains with heart-rocking distant singing…” ) of talented composer Nguyen Tai ...
In the heart of the darkness of Saigon's backpacker land,ambling along down raucous Bui Vien Street and wishing I had not come out without my ear ...
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