SOCIETY IN BRIEF 31/3

March 31, 2011

Central province conducts free heart operations for children

Doctors at the children’s hospital in the northern province of Thanh Hoa are conducting 250 free surgeries for child heart patients.

Nguyen Huu Thanh, deputy head of the Heart Division at the Thanh Hoa hospital, said that medics are selecting children suffering from serious heart diseases. Parents should contact the division for operations in March.

Since the beginning of 2010 until March 2011, the provincial medical workers have carried out heart surgeries of nearly 200 disadvantaged kids. Among them, 78 underwent open-heart surgery.

Moreover, Thanh Hoa hospital has performed heart surgeries on fewer than five-kilogram babies, which are complicated operations for a province hospital to perform.

An operation costs at least VND60 million(US$2,880). Insurance company will cover the fee for kids under the age of six, while the hospital will support kids over six years of age from funds donated by benefactors. Around 10,000 children suffering from heart ailments await operation.

Six missing after boat sinking off central region

A Phu Yen province-registered fishing boat bearing number plate PY92355TS with 10 sailors on board was capsized in high waves and sank in the sea off Khanh Hoa central province early morning.

The accident scene is one nautical mile away from the province’s Hon Doi Island.

By 10am today, four among them were identified to be alive after they struggled to swim ashore while the 6 others still remain missing, said local police officer Nguyen Danh Du.

Among the victims is boat captain 36-year-old Tran Minh.

The boat was in distress when it headed towards mainland after its 22-day trip.

Shortly after the incident, authorities in two provinces of Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa took prompt actions to search for and rescue the victims.

Truck hits 2 motorbikes in Danang, 2 hurt

A truck smashed into two motorbikes on National High Way 14B in the central city of Danang this morning, severely injuring two men.

According to eyewitnesses in Hoa Vang District, where the accident occurred, the truck — driven by 33-year-old Nguyen Thanh Ngan and headed to Quang Nam Province – first hit a motorbike traveling in the opposite direction.

The two men on the bike were severely injured and had to be taken to hospital.

The truck then another motorbike but fortunately the rider had jumped off and escaped with minor injuries.

The eyewitnesses told police the truck could have been speeding.

Ho Chi Minh City language school vanishes

A language school in Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Phu District abruptly shut down two weeks ago, leaving students scratching their heads, a reader has written in to inform Tuoi Tre.

“My kid enrolled for an 18-month course at Chien Thang language school at 915 Truong Chinh Street last April,” the reader said.

But recently the child went to the school only to see it shut and a notice that reads: “The school is temporarily closed for renovation and will move to a new location between March 17 and 28. For further inquiries, contact Ms Trang at 0121 3814844.”

But no one picks up the phone at that number, the reader said.

Tuoi Tre’s efforts to reach the person at the number on Monday and Tuesday met with the same result.

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training has promised to investigate.

City earmarks $19.7 mil for keeping prices stable

Producers of essential goods participating in this year’s price stabilization program in Ho Chi Minh City will get interest-free loans worth VND412 billion (US$19.7 million).

The program, to run from April 1 to the lunar New Year next February, will keep the prices of nine items – rice, sugar, cooking oil, meat, poultry, egg, processed food, vegetables, and seafood – low, the Department of Trade and Industry said.

Seafood is included for the first time in the annual program.

The prices of the goods and the list of participants are expected to be announced on April 1.

However, the prices will be subject to change based on market developments to prevent hoarding and speculation in case a big gap develops between the program prices and market prices.

This year the volume of goods will be increased by 14-41 percent compared with last year to meet the growing demand.

Ha Long Bay to ensure safety for tourist boats

In an effort to attract more tourists, Ha Long Bay plans to set higher safety standards for all tourist boats.

The Quang Ninh Provincial Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism are drafting a plan on more stringent safety standards for tourist boats working in Ha Long Bay.

At present, Ha Long Bay has 475 certified tourist boats with a total 18,600 seats, including 151 night-tour boats with 1,200 rooms.

Police officer harasses woman hairdresser

A drunken man who created a scene at a hairdresser’s in My Tho city and insulted and tried to assault its woman owner has been identified as a police officer.

H.C.D, a lieutenant colonial in the Tien Giang Province police department, was still kicking up a fuss at Y.O. in Ly Thuong Kiet Street when four policemen arrived on the scene. But he insulted them too.

Meanwhile, curiosity-seekers had flocked, blocking the road and causing an accident, police said.

The man fled when officers of the 113 mobile police force arrived.

HCMC to reward electricity economizers

Amidst worries of power shortages which will lead to a routine cut, the Ho Chi Minh City Electricity Corporation has launched a program to reward households if they cut down their power consumption in April-June.

Accordingly, a reward of VND200,000-500,000 (US$9.6 – 24) will be given to every household that can reduce its total power use in the next three months by 10 percent compared to that in the same period last year.

The program, to be conducted with the support of the city Energy Saving Center and the Women’s Union, is aimed at offsetting power supply shortages in the next three months.

If local households, now accounting for 40 percent of the city’s total power use, can cut their daily consumption by 10 percent, or 2 million kWh, the city will not suffer from a power shortage, the Corporation said.

Currently, the city is short of 1.5 million kWh per day, which will rise to about 2 million kWh per day in April, according to the city’s dry-season power supply plan that has been passed by the city government.

Mr. Nguyen Trung Tin, deputy chairman of the city People’s Committee, has ordered the Corporation to step up measures to improve its power supply, call on manufacturers to limit production activities in peak-hours, and encourage large businesses equip themselves with stand-by generators.

A power cut to repair a power line must not exceed 5 hours per day and must not be carried out twice per month, he said.

Along with the city, many other cities and provinces like Dong Nai, Kien Giang, Can Tho, An Giang, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Binh Phuoc, Binh Thuan and Hanoi have also adopted their own plans to improve energy efficiency and save power use.

Cop gets penalty for assault incident

Major Bui Minh Thang, deputy head of the southern Hau Giang Province’s Road Traffic Police Department, has been given administrative penalty for assaulting a taxi driver last week.

Colonel Vo Quoc Viet, deputy head of the Hung Thanh Ward police, Cai Rang District, Can Tho City, this afternoon issued two decisions on imposing penalties on Thang for his offences in the fields of security and social order.

Under the first decision, Thang was given a fine of VND2 million (US$95.7) for “causing harm to others,” and according to the second decision, he was fined VND200,000 for “offending honor and dignity of others.”

Major Thang was required to pay the fine amounts to the local State Treasury.

The decisions were made following the investigation into the incident on March 20 in which Thang assaulted taxi driver Do Quoc Thai, who works for Mai Linh Corporation in Ho Chi Minh City.

That day Thai had picked up Thang at Cai Khe Island and when they neared the access road to Can Tho Bridge, Thang twice ordered him not to stop at the red light. When he refused to obey, Thang grabbed the wheel from the back and threatened to shoot him.

Thang later used a belt to attack Thai and injuring him on the head.

When the Hung Thanh Ward police summoned both Thai and Thang for inquiry, Thang threatened officers and asked one to kneel and apologize to him.

When contacted by Tuoi Tre over phone, Thang admitted to “exchanging some angry words” and getting into a “minor fight” with the driver and to earlier drinking wine and beer with friends.

The Hung Thanh Ward police yesterday held a mediation meeting between Thang and Thai. At the meeting, the two men agreed it was an unfortunate incident and consider the matter closed. Thai also agreed not to take legal action.

Thai is on leave from work and will resume when he fully recovers.

Legal action taken against driver killing 6 in accident

Local police in southern Hau Giang Province’s Nga Bay Town have commenced their legal proceedings against Le Thanh Phong who killed six in Monday’s truck accident, Lieutenant Colonel Vo Thai Hong, the town’s police deputy chief, said late today.

Eyewitnesses said Phong drove a large truck in the small hours of yesterday crossing the newly-built Phung Hiep Bridge and crashed into sidewalk shops in Hiep Thanh market.

The accident killed six and severely injured two.

The driver then abandoned the truck and fled the scene but, according to newswire VnExpress, later turned himself in.

Phong admitted he was asleep when hitting these people.

He will be in jail for three months pending investigation, Hong said.

Two survivors of the dreadful accident are Vo Van Nam and his wife Phan Thi Hon coming from Mang Ca Hamlet, Dai Hai Commune, Ke Sach District, Soc Trang Province in the Mekong Delta.

Four jailed for trafficking women to China

The southern Tay Ninh province People’s Court yesterday announced sentences ranging from 4 to 10 years imprisonment to four people for trafficking women to China.

The convicted include Nguyen Thi Thu Xi, 49; Trinh Thi Trinh, 52; Huynh Thi Nhuan, 52; and Ho Thanh Phong, 25. All of them are local residents.

Xi was sentenced to 10 years in prison, while the jail terms for Trinh, Nhuan and Phong were 6, 5, and 4 years respectively.

On May 26, 2010, the Tay Ninh police and the Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat Airport security force caught Xi taking three local women – Nguyen Thi P, 29; Le Thi Thu C., 23, and Ngo Thi Bich L. – to the airport to fly to Hanoi before trafficking them to China, where they will be sold as potential wives to Chinese men, according to the indictment from the local Procuracy.

The police seized from Xi 4 air tickers, 12 passports, 5 laissez-passers and many other documents and VND63 million (US$3,000).

In June 2009, Xi travelled to China to make deals in cosmetics and in doing business there. She met Bui Thi Hong, who had Xi lure Vietnamese women to China to sell them to Chinese men.

Hong promised to pay Xi 5,000 yuan for each woman accepted by Chinese men.

Xi later persuaded Trinh, Nhuan and Phong to join her in trafficking Vietnamese women to China. Xi paid them VND1 million for each woman she accepted.

The human trafficking ring led by Xi sold 10 women to China to get VND62.5 million from Hong.

Trinh alone sold 4 women to China to get VND10 million.

After receiving those trafficked women, Hong sold them as wives to Chinese men, most of them suffering malformation or mental diseases.

Hong has been wanted by the Lao Cai province police since 2000, when she fled from her residence.

$95,000 firm offers loans of over $20 billion

A company in Dak Lak province signed contracts with businesses to offer them loans worth 215,000 times higher than its charter capital of VND2 billion (US$95,700).

Local police warned businesses about the case.

The Dak Lak People’s Committee Province has issued an Official Letter to relevant agencies and local businesses to warn them about signs of fraud of The Tan Thien Bao Uoc Nguyen Joint Stock Company, Nguyen Huu Toan, deputy head of the provincial People’s Committee’s Internal Affairs Department, told VnExpress yesterday.

The company, which has made its business registration in Ho Chi Minh City, has signed contracts with 165 businesses and organizations across the country to offer them loans worth a combined VND433,000 billion ($20.73 billion), according to the Official Letter.

In Dak Lak alone, the company has offered to provide 5 entities with loans totaling VND5,000 billion.

The warning was made after the provincial Police Department said that there were signs of swindling in the company’s lending activities.

The local government has yet to know whether or not any businesses have actually received loans from or repaid debts to the said company, the official said.

The authorities called on all agencies and businesses to be vigilant against financial deals with Tan Thien Bao Uoc Nguyen, especially when they use their assets as mortgages for ‘loans’ provided by the company.

According to local police, the company was established in late 2010 in Ho Chi Minh City with a charter capital of just VND2 billion.

The company’s lines of business include building industrial and civil works, clearing and preparing sites for construction, and providing financial services.

Blast at southern company kills Taiwan director

A Taiwanese businessman, director of Tan Hiep Wood Manufacturing Ltd. Company in Binh Duong southern province was reported to be killed by a blast Monday.

On the afternoon of March 28, many people living nearby heard a big explosion from the company. When they came, the director was found dead near the destroyed barrel with multi wounds on his body.

According to some eyewitnesses, before the accident, Mr. Chiu, the company director, was curious when witnessing his expert sawing a 200-liter barrel used to contain gasoline. The explosion happened 10 minutes later.

According to initial investigation, the blast was mainly caused by a spark from the saw.

Tsunami rumor causes worry to Quang Ngai people

The last several days have seen a significant number of locals rushing to the stores to stockpile on foods to prepare for a possible tsunami which was rumored to hit the province soon, said a local official in Quang Ngai province.

Nguyen Ngoc Thu, head of the Phuoc Thien hamlet, Binh Hai commune, Binh Son district, said local residents had been buying essential commodities, including instant noodle, to prepare for a possible evacuation after rumors began to spread that a tsunami would be striking soon.

The widely spread rumor caused undue consternation among local residents, especially those living in coastal areas, including Phuoc Thien, where 6,000 people live in areas next to the sea, he said.

The cause of the rumor seemed to stem from a report published several days ago in which some newspapers quoted the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment as saying, “If an earthquake measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale occurs in the Manila Trench in the Philippines, it may cause a 6.2-meter tsunami in Quang Ngai province and another one, 2.1 meter high, in Nha Trang City. In case a 9.2 degree quake breaks out in the same location, it may trigger a 10.6-meter tsunami in Quang Ngai and a 5-meter one in Nha Trang.”

It was likely that the forecasting information had been exaggerated into the rumor that spread in Quang Ngai.

Local residents returned to their normal activities yesterday evening after the authorities announced that the rumor was groundless.

Cop, taxi driver bury the hatchet after assault

A Hau Giang police officer who assaulted a taxi driver last week and threatened to shoot him has apologized and admitted he was drunk, and the driver has agreed not to press charges.

The Hung Thanh Ward police in Cai Rang District, Can Tho City, yesterday held a mediation meeting between the officer, Major Bui Minh Thang, deputy head of the Hau Giang Province’s road traffic police, and the driver, Do Quoc Thai, who works for Mai Linh Corporation in Ho Chi Minh City.

Thang admitted that he was so drunk when he got into the taxi on March 20 that he was unable to control himself.

Thai had picked up Thang at Cai Khe Island and when they neared the access road to Can Tho Bridge, Thang twice ordered him not to stop at the red light. When he refused to obey, Thang grabbed the wheel from the back and threatened to shoot him.

The two then exchanged blows, with Thang using a belt to attack Thai and injuring him on the head.

When the police summoned both Thai and Thang for inquiry, Thang threatened officers and asked one to kneel and apologize to him.

When contacted by Tuoi Tre over phone, Thang admitted to “exchanging some angry words” and getting into a “minor fight” with the driver and to earlier drinking wine and beer with friends.

At the meeting, Thang and Thai agreed it was an unfortunate incident and consider the matter closed. Thai also agreed not to take legal action.

Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Van Sang, deputy head of the Cai Rang District police, said the ward police will decide about the administrative punishment to be awarded to Thang today.

Thai is on leave from work and will resume when he fully recovers.

Colonel Nguyen Hoang Dieu, deputy director of the Hau Giang Province Police, said he is awaiting reports on the incident.

Binh Duong police bust bike-stealing gang

Police in Thu Dau Mot town in Binh Duong Province have arrested two members belonging to a gang of motorbike thieves that reportedly sells bikes to fences in Cambodia.

After a week’s surveillance of the gang’s activities at the Lam Hong bus station and a café in Di An District, officers caught Nguyen Thi Thanh Hien, 36, of Ben Tre Province and Do Trong Vo, 46, of Thanh Hoa Sunday while they were allegedly riding stolen bikes.

They had received the vehicles from other gang members at Co Tich Café.

Both have previous convictions for dealing in stolen assets.

They confessed to transporting stolen motorbikes from Binh Duong to neighboring Binh Phuoc Province, from where they would be taken by other members to Cambodia for sale.

Other times the gang, after stealing, would take the bikes either to the bus station to deliver to Muoi Thu, a fence, or to public parking lots to elude the police.

Once buyers were found, they would retrieve them from the parking lot and make delivery.

The gang sometimes took stolen bikes to Da Nang for sale in the central region.

Cambodian fences made payment by transferring money to a bank account in Vietnam designated by Muoi Thu.

The police are continuing their investigation and hunting for other members of the gang.

Driver of killer truck admits he nodded off

The driver of the truck that mowed down six people yesterday morning outside a market in Nga Bay town, Hau Giang Province, has admitted he had nodded off at the wheel.

At 4:45, while driving the truck down from the Phung Hiep Bridge to the entrance of Hiep Thanh market, Le Thanh Phong lost control of the vehicle.

Five people died on the spot and three others were severely injured, with one of them later succumbing in hospital.

The five dead were Vo Van Dung, 76; Nguyen Thi Bay, 71; Huynh Thi Nhanh, 70; Duong Kim Lanh, 56; Chu Thi Kim Dung, 52; and Lau Hai Hung, 23.

Vo Van Nam, 76, and Pham Thi Hon, 54, remain in hospital.

Phong, from Ben Tre Province, fled the scene of the accident but later turned himself in to the local police, Vo Thai Hong, deputy head of the Nga Bay Police Department, said.

Phong admitted he was sleepy at the wheel after driving without rest from Ho Chi Minh City from midnight of March 27.

The police are holding him for investigation.

Candies left on streets poisoned students

Central Quang Ninh Province’s Ha Long City police are hunting for those who left cakes and sweets under a tree on a street that allegedly poisoned five students some days ago.

At 2 p.m. March 24, five students of four classes of the Hung Thang junior high school suffered symptoms of food poisoning like vomiting, dizziness, limb trembling and exhaustion, after they ate some cakes and sweets left under a tree about 400 meters from their school.

They were taken to hospital and after emergency aid, have recovered.

Some other students also ate the cakes and candy, but they were not poisoned as they ate them less than the five.

After being informed, local police have launched an investigation into the case to hunt for those who left the food there, according to senior lieutenant colonel Phi Van Minh, head of the city police department.

The police seized about 20 kg of cakes and candy left under the tree and sent them to the city sub-department of Standardization, Metrology and Quality Control for testing, the official said.

These cakes and candy were packed in colorful boxes and bags with Vietnamese legends that indicate Ho Chi Minh City as the place of production, Vu Van Hanh, head of the city Education and Training Department, told Dan Tri.

Most of the foods were within the best period for use, as indicated by the expiry dates on the packaging, Mr. Hanh said.

After the poison incident, the department has ordered all local schools to warn their students not to eat any cakes or candy left on streets. Parents have also been asked to advise their children on the matter, the official said.

Students have been required to report to their schools whenever they find out any strange candy, he added.

Province buries 20 tons of rotten pork

Environmental police in Dong Nai southern province in cooperation with veterinary authorities destroyed more than 20 tons of rotten pork Monday morning.

The large amount of pork was buried in Bien Hoa city’s Long Binh ward.

Earlier, the pork without legal certificates was found in front of a private house owned by Nguyen Thi Kim Phuong in the city’s Tam Hoa ward.

She told police she purchased the frozen meat from slaughterhouses and some companies but she failed to prove their origin.

After seizing the decayed meat, some officials suggested the pork could be processed into food for crocodiles but local authorities didn’t agree.

83-year-old man stabs own belly in protest

Huynh Huu Thanh, 83, a resident of Ho Chi Minh City, was taken to the Nhan Dan Gia Dinh Hospital yesterday for emergency treatment after he stabbed his own belly with a knife in protest over a roadwork project.

The man, residing on Nguyen Huu Canh Street, Ward 22, Binh Thanh District, was hospitalized while the knife remained stuck.

Huynh Quoc Phong, Thanh’s son, said her father committed the dangerous act after he failed to prevent some of his neighbors from raising up the surface of the street.

Thanh’s house foundation is already much lower than the street’s surface as well as the floors of other houses nearby, so his house is frequently submerged in water whenever it rains, Phong said.

Therefore, if the street surface is raised up by 40 cm as planned by the neighbors, Thanh house will be more heavily flooded, Phong said.

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, head of household group 41, where the man is living, confirmed with local authorities that there had been a conflict between Thanh and a number of local residents over the upraising of the road’s surface.

And yesterday morning, when seeing a neighbor prepare to raise up a section of road in front of his house, Thanh got angry and stabbed himself.

Dr. Huynh Van Binh, at Nhan Dan Gia Dinh Hospital, said the stab did not cause damage to Thanh’s bowels as well as other organs. After a surgery, the man’s condition became relatively stable, the doctor said.

Car runs over another after hitting 2 motorbikes

A Toyota Corolla Altis car Monday afternoon smashed into two motorcycles before climbing up on the front of another Ford Focus vehicle parked nearby, slightly injuring two men.

At the scene located at the crossroad of Trung Yen – Trung Hoa in Hanoi’s Cau Giay district, two motorbikes were seen crushed under the Corolla Altis.

Fortunately, no casualty was reported. There were only two men on the bikes suffering minor wounds. They were sent to hospital later.

Eyewitnesses said that the driver of Corolla Altis could have lost control and hit the two motorbikes when he was driving the vehicle in reverse.

The accident caused the above crossroad to suffer a jam.

School boss appeals 9-year verdict over sex

Sam Duc Xuong, former headmaster of the Viet Vinh High School in northern Ha Giang province, has appealed against the 9-year sentence the court gave him recently for having sex with underage female students.

Nguyen Thi Toan, Xuong’s wife, said she visited her 54-year-old husband last Saturday and was told by Xuong that he had lodged his appeal to the Ha Giang province People’s Court on March 25, the deadline for him to do so.

Toan said, “He said that the sentence on him was unfair and that he would appeal it to the last.”

Earlier, during a closed-door hearing for Xuong on March 10, the court sentenced Xuong to 9 years in prison for having sex with female students from 13 to under 18 years old from July 2008 to August 2009.

The sentence is one and a half years shorter than the first instance verdict that was meted to him by the Vi Xuyen District People’s Court in December 2009.

The fact that Xuong, 54, had paid his underage female students for having sex with them while he was headmaster caused anger among the public and left a big stain on teachers’ noble image, the provincial People’s Court commented.

Therefore, his acts had to be strictly punished as a warning to others, the court concluded.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Thuy Hang, 19, and Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy, 18, who were found to have procured sex for Xuong five times, were sentenced to 36 months and 30 months under probation respectively for “brokering prostitution.”

After repeatedly prostituting themselves for Xuong, the two girls acted as brokers procuring underage and virgin girls for the headmaster and his friends.

For a virgin, Xuong would pay her VND3-4 million for one night with her and he would also pay Hang VND500,000 as a commission.

After the case was uncovered, police suspected that Nguyen Truong To, former chairman of the Ha Giang Province People’s Committee, and 15 others had paid for sex with minors sourced from Hang and Thuy’s underage sex ring.

But last year, the local Procuracy dropped charges against them all due to insufficient evidence.

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