7 killed in Vietnam quarry rockslide

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/world/view_article.php?article_id=109216 

HANOI — Seven workers, six of them women, were killed in a rockslide at a central Vietnam quarry and one laborer dug out from the rubble was in intensive care, officials said Friday.

“A huge rock collapsed when the laborers were working,” a local official told Agence France-Presse from the Ru Moc quarry in Thach Ban commune, Ha Tinh province after Thursday’s deadly accident, the second at a Vietnamese quarry this month.

“We were hired to work for just 15,000 dong per day, and now we have to endure such tragedy,” one woman who barely escaped death herself was quoted as telling the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

Eighteen Vietnamese workers died in a rockslide on December 15 while they were quarrying stone for the construction of a hydro-electric plant in central Nghe An province.

Hundreds of Vietnamese workers evacuated due to radioactive leak

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/003200712291017.htm 

Hanoi (Xinhua): Between 400 and 500 workers of a limited-liability company in Vietnam were evacuated after a radioactive source used to inspect an oilrig was misplaced, according to local newspaper Ho Chi Minh City Law on Saturday.

The workers of the Alpha Maritime Engineering Technical Service Company were evacuated on Friday afternoon after the radioactive source used to inspect welding knots of the oilrig in southern Vung Tau city was lost for over an hour.

In the late afternoon of the same day, the misplaced radioactive source was found.

The workers asked the oilrig management board to explain the accident’s cause and clarify its potential impacts on their health, the newspaper said.

Vietnam is upgrading security systems of its radioactive sources. The country currently houses 188 industrial and healthcare establishments having a total of 1,961 radioactive sources, some of them have not been equipped with tight security systems, according to the Vietnam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety and Control under the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Vietnam’s sole nuclear reactor, becoming operational in the Da Lat Nuclear Institute in Da Lat city in central highlands Lam Dong province in 1984, has a capacity of 500 kw. It is used for training and research purposes, especially medical ones. Vietnam plans to build its first nuclear power plant between 2015 and 2020.

Hundreds of Vietnamese workers evacuated due to radioactive leak

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/003200712291017.htm 

Hanoi (Xinhua): Between 400 and 500 workers of a limited-liability company in Vietnam were evacuated after a radioactive source used to inspect an oilrig was misplaced, according to local newspaper Ho Chi Minh City Law on Saturday.

The workers of the Alpha Maritime Engineering Technical Service Company were evacuated on Friday afternoon after the radioactive source used to inspect welding knots of the oilrig in southern Vung Tau city was lost for over an hour.

In the late afternoon of the same day, the misplaced radioactive source was found.

The workers asked the oilrig management board to explain the accident’s cause and clarify its potential impacts on their health, the newspaper said.

Vietnam is upgrading security systems of its radioactive sources. The country currently houses 188 industrial and healthcare establishments having a total of 1,961 radioactive sources, some of them have not been equipped with tight security systems, according to the Vietnam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety and Control under the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Vietnam’s sole nuclear reactor, becoming operational in the Da Lat Nuclear Institute in Da Lat city in central highlands Lam Dong province in 1984, has a capacity of 500 kw. It is used for training and research purposes, especially medical ones. Vietnam plans to build its first nuclear power plant between 2015 and 2020.

Vietnam suspects bird flu killed young child

 http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSHAN292148

HANOI, Dec 26 (Reuters) – Doctors suspect bird flu may have killed a four-year-old child in northern Vietnam, state-run radio said on Wednesday.

A Health Ministry official told a government meeting on Tuesday the child had a fever and serious pneumonia after eating chicken which died of unknown cause in the mountainous province of Son La, the Voice of Vietnam radio said.

It said the child died in a hospital in Hanoi but gave no gender. Doctors were testing to see if the H5N1 bird flu virus was the killer, the ministry official was quoted as saying.

Vietnam last reported outbreaks among poultry in October, but Son La was not on the government’s bird flu watchlist.

The H5N1 virus killed four of the seven Vietnamese who have caught it this year, taking the country’s death toll since late 2003 to 46. The last death was reported in August.

Health officials had worried that winter in northern Vietnam might trigger a new wave of outbreaks among poultry as the virus seems to thrive best in cool temperature.

The Agriculture Ministry said 63 of Vietnam’s 64 provinces had been vaccinating birds against the virus this year.

The H5N1 virus remains mainly a virus of birds, but experts fear it could mutate into a form easily transmitted from person to person and sweep the world, killing millions.

Globally, the H5N1 virus has killed 209 people out of 340 known cases and most of the deaths are in Indonesia, followed by Vietnam, World Health Organisation figures show. Hundreds of millions of birds have died or been slaughtered. (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Michael Battye and Sanjeev Miglani)

Vietnam must regulate blogs, say officials

http://news.smh.com.au/vietnam-must-regulate-blogs-say-officials/20071226-1j0y.html 

Vietnam needs to control blogs to prevent the spread of subversive and sexually explicit content, communist government officials said according to a state media report Wednesday.

Weblogs have exploded in Vietnam in recent years, especially among youths, providing a forum for chatting about mostly societal and lifestyle issues and providing an alternative to the state-controlled media.

Recent anti-Chinese protests over the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands, which were halted following rebukes from Beijing, were organised and debated on the Internet but almost completely ignored by the official press.

The ministry responsible for culture and information, which controls traditional media, in July said it was drafting regulations that would fine bloggers who post subversive and sexually explicit content online.

Deputy Information and Communications Minister Do Quy Doan this week told a conference on Vietnam’s press law that “controlling weblogs is about developing them in accordance with the law, not forbidding them.

“We should provide guidelines that help people know what type of information they can upload online,” Doan said according to a report in the English-language Than Nien (Youth Daily) newspaper.

Bloggers would also be held responsible for information they access, he reportedly said, adding: “Once we have obvious regulations, I think no one will be able to supervise weblogs better than the bloggers themselves.”

Nguyen The Ky, head of the press management and publishing bureau, said: “It’s alright some bloggers have recently showed their patriotism, posting opinions about the Paracels-Spratly archipelagos on their weblogs.”

“But some have sparked protest, causing public disorder and affecting the country’s foreign affairs.

“It’s impossible to control the Internet, so I think we should bolster technical security measures in addition to creating regulations.”

Vietnam ’07 inflation above economic growth-report

 http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKHAN23324920071224

HANOI, Dec 24 (Reuters) – Vietnam’s economy is estimated to expand 8.44 percent this year but its inflation would be above the growth rate, with prices jumping to a record 12.6 percent in 2007, state-run newspapers quoted a government official as saying.

Planning and Investment Minister Vo Hong Phuc estimated higher prices of food and fuel were behind the consumer price index rise of 12.63 percent, the Saigon Giai Phong (Liberation Saigon) newspaper reported on Monday.

Phuc told a cabinet meeting on Sunday that exports this year would rise to $48.3 billion and foreign direct investment would soar nearly 70 percent from 2006 to $20.3 billion.

Inflation stood at only 4.5 percent in 1996 when the economy of the southeast Asian country expanded 9.34 percent. Prices last rose beyond the 10 percent mark three years ago, reaching 10.3 percent in October 2004 from a year earlier.

The Vietnamese government had previously targeted 2007 GDP growth at 8.5 percent and inflation below the growth rate.

Last month, Vietnam raised the 92-octane petrol retail prices by 15 percent to 80.5 U.S. cents per litre, while diesel prices firmed 18.6 percent to 63 U.S. cents per litre, as Hanoi moved to help cut losses by state-run importers when global oil prices surged.

At the cabinet meeting, Industry and Trade Minister Vu Huy Hoang forecast prices next month would firm 1.8 percent from this month, driven by consumer’s demand ahead of the Lunar New Year festival, Vietnam’s largest, which comes in early February, 2008.

The government is expected to release full GDP details and trade statistics later this month. (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Valerie Lee)

TO UNDERSTAND MODERN VIETNAM, LOOK TO ITS CONFUCIAN PAST

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/12/23/IN6BU1MRT.DTL

Vietnamese students are in the streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City protesting what they call a renewed Chinese “invasion” of the Spratly and Paracel Islands in the oil-and-gas-rich South China Sea. Their last war was a brief one in 1979, though less than two decades ago a confrontation near the Spratlys left several dozen Vietnamese dead.

Vietnam claims the islands because they are off its coast, but with so many resources under the sea, several other nations in the region claim them as well, most forcefully China.

There has long been an intense love-hate relationship between these two countries, who share a border as long as that between the United States and Mexico. China’s influence began in the second century B.C. and actually increased after Vietnam won its independence a millennium later. Many Vietnamese today play down this heritage, and only 3 to 5 percent of 85 million Vietnamese are identified as ethnic Chinese. Vietnam does have its own very specific identity. Still, as Vietnam National University law Professor Pham Duy Nghia has argued, to understand contemporary Vietnam, one must look back to its Confucian past.

Vietnam’s war with the United States was a terrible and destructive experience, but it has far less significance for Vietnam today and tomorrow than the deeply rooted Confucian-based culture. Vietnam’s reforms are themselves in many ways closely patterned on those launched almost 30 years ago in China and, despite periodic disputes relations between the two, are expanding exponentially.

The cultural heritage stands out in many ways. Most obviously, there is the elitist government that sees governance in moral terms and maintains a paternalistic relationship between rulers and ruled. Since it launched reforms in 1986, the Vietnamese government has set high goals to be achieved by pragmatic economic change, rapidly improved education and a strong goal-oriented work ethic, encumbered by corruption.

Other Confucian-influenced governments in East and Southeast Asia preceded Vietnam in exploiting these qualities and became Asia’s economic “dragons” and “tigers,” most moving in time beyond traditional Confucian institutional authoritarianism to some form of democratic governance. Countries in Asia without the Confucian background have had much less success with reforms.

Today, Vietnam is still a rapidly growing tiger cub, so to speak, because it got started late in its market-oriented reforms. This was because Le Duan, who succeeded Ho Chi Minh as Communist Party boss in 1969, rejected reconciliation at the end of the war in favor of a brutal campaign of reprisals. He further centralized the economy and focused his persecution especially on the Chinese-Vietnamese entrepreneurs who had made what was then Saigon so prosperous. Hundreds of thousands fled across or into the sea as “boat people.”

When Le Duan finally died in 1986, Vietnamese pragmatists launched the “renovation” (doi moi) program that is remaking Vietnam today. While doi moi does not include democratization, as the continuing harassment and imprisonment of political dissidents demonstrates, it does recognize the need for the greater individual opportunity and personal initiative that in some other countries have in time resulted in more democratic governance.

Vietnamese and Chinese leaders today are pragmatic and know they have too many common roots and interests, bilateral and beyond, to get sidetracked into real conflict, even over oil in the South China Sea.

William Ratliff is a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and author of the forthcoming book “Getting Down to Business in Vietnam: Entrepreneurship in Asia’s Tiger Cub” (Independent Institute).

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.