Archive for the ‘Vietnamese’ Category

Vietnam court upholds blogger’s jail term

December 4, 2008

An appeals court in communist Vietnam on Thursday upheld a blogger’s two-and-a-half-year jail sentence for tax fraud in a case media watchdog groups have said was politically motivated.

The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court confirmed the September verdict and sentencing of Nguyen Hoang Hai, who uses the weblog name Dieu Cay and is a member of the online Free Vietnamese Journalists Club.

“After several hours of debate with his lawyers, the court upheld the first instance sentence of two-and-a-half years imprisonment for Nguyen Hoang Hai on the charge of tax fraud,” court official Phan Tanh told AFP.

AFP

Hai — who has taken part in anti-Beijing demonstrations about a sensitive sea territory dispute with China — was arrested in April, days before the Olympic torch passed through the southern city, formerly called Saigon.

“The authorities are trying to silence this blogger,” said media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in a statement before the hearing.
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“Dieu Cay should be freed at once,” said the Paris-based group which has called the weblog writer a “cyber-dissident.”

“We call on the foreign embassies in Vietnam to defend free expression by urging the Vietnamese government to release him.”

Read the rest:
http://tech.yahoo.com/news/afp/20081204/tc_afp/
vietnamjusticerightsinternet_081204171612

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By: Human Rights Watch

New York, September 12, 2008 – Human Rights Watch condemned a crackdown on democracy activists in Vietnam this week, coinciding with the visit of US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte for bilateral talks on security issues, economic ties, and human rights.

Human Rights Watch also called for the immediate release from prison of a prominent internet writer and activist, Nguyen Hoang Hai, known by his pen name Dieu Cay, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison on September 10, 2008. Following Dieu Cay’s closed-door trial, police detained and interrogated at least a dozen other democracy activists, bloggers, and human rights defenders.

“Vietnam’s government is well-known for having zero tolerance for free expression,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The current wave of arrests of democracy activists is a thinly veiled effort by the government to silence independent bloggers, journalists, and human rights defenders in Vietnam.”

Many of the activists detained this week, like Dieu Cay, have participated in protests against China’s claims to the disputed Spratly (Truong Sa) and Paracel (Hoang Sa) islands. It is thought that Vietnamese authorities are possibly trying to prevent demonstrations on the issue planned for September 14. The authorities may also be trying to thwart high-profile activists from joining mass prayer vigils that have been staged since mid-August in Hanoi by thousands of Catholics, who want the government to return confiscated church land in Thai Ha Parish.

Dieu Cay (which means “the Peasant Water Pipe”), 56, is known for his hard-hitting internet postings calling for greater democracy and human rights in Vietnam and his participation in protests in Vietnam against Chinese foreign policy. A former soldier with the People’s Army of Vietnam, Dieu Cay was one of the founding members of the Club of Free Journalists (Cau Lac Bo Nha Bao Tu Do) in 2006.

Anti-China Protests

Since December 2007, growing numbers of activists in Vietnam have joined rallies protesting China’s claims to the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands, over which both China and Vietnam assert sovereignty. The protests were sparked by China’s November 2007 announcement that it was placing the islands under the administration of a new government district.

In January 2008, Dieu Cay and six other activists unfurled banners in front of the Opera House in Ho Chi Minh City criticizing China for its claims to the disputed islands. On April 19, 2008, police arrested Dieu Cay in Dalat, a city in central Vietnam, shortly before the arrival of the Olympic Torch in Ho Chi Minh City, an event the Vietnamese authorities were determined to ensure was protest-free. Prior to his arrest, police had summoned Dieu Cay for interrogation at least 15 times.

On September 10, a court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced Dieu Cay to two and half years in prison on charges of tax evasion on a rental property he owns. Dieu Cay’s lawyers argued that the renter, not Dieu Cay, was liable for back taxes owed on the property, because the rental contract provided for the renter to assume payment of all property taxes, which is allowable under Vietnamese law.

Police officers from the Internal Security and Counter-Espionage Departments (Cuc An Ninh Noi Chinh and Cuc Phan Gian) of the Ministry of Public Security in Ho Chi Minh City arrested Dieu Cay. This department is primarily responsible for monitoring and intervening in political cases. International press freedom organizations called the tax evasion charges a baseless pretext to punish Dieu Cay for his political activism.

“It’s bad enough that the Vietnamese government took an anti-China activist off the street only days before the Olympic torch passed through Ho Chi Minh City, but to imprison him now on questionable charges is a new low,” said Pearson.

Internet and media controls

Dieu Cay’s imprisonment fits a wider pattern of harassment and arrest by Vietnamese authorities of independent journalists, human rights activists, cyber dissidents, religious freedom advocates, and farmers protesting confiscation of their land. The Vietnamese government tightly controls the print and electronic media, as well as the internet in Vietnam, and is swift to prosecute dissidents and independent writers.

In May 2008, for example, police arrested two investigative reporters who had exposed a major corruption scandal in 2005. The reporters, Nguyen Viet Chien of Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper and Nguyen Van Hai of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, were charged with “abusing their positions and powers while performing official duties.” After their newspapers publicly challenged the arrests, on August 1, the government revoked the press accreditation of four journalists from the two papers, including both publications’ deputy editors.

Vietnam’s Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a state party, grant citizens the right to exercise freedom of expression, assembly and association.

“The Vietnamese government should take its own laws seriously and tolerate the expression of views it does not share,” Pearson said. “It’s time for Hanoi to cease harassing and arresting cyber dissidents, human rights defenders, and independent journalists.”

Background information

Activists arrested and detained by police on September 10 and 11 include:

* Land rights protesters Lu Thi Thu Duyen, Lu Thi Thu Trang, and Hoac Kim Hoa, who were detained and interrogated by police in Ho Chi Minh City on September 10 after they tried to attend Dieu Cay’s trial;
* Human rights defender Pham Van Troi, 35, an active member of the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam, who was arrested in Hanoi just before midnight on September 10;
* Writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia, 58, a member of the executive board of the democracy movement known as Bloc 8406 (named after the April 8, 2006 date of its inception by Father Nguyen Van Ly) was arrested at his home in Haiphong just after midnight on September 11;
* Land rights activist Pham Thanh Nghien, who was arrested by 10 police officers at 11 a.m. on September 11 at her home in Haiphong and taken to Hanoi for questioning by police. In June 2008, municipal authorities in Hanoi rejected an application submitted by Nguyen Xuan Nghia, Pham Van Troi and Pham Thanh Nghien to conduct a demonstration protesting China’s occupation of the Paracel and Spratly islands;
* Student Ngo Quynh and poet Tran Duc Thach, who were arrested in Hanoi on September 10 as they were on their way to Thai Ha parish, where a mass rally by Catholics protesting government policy is taking place;
* Democracy activist Nguyen Van Tuc, a Bloc 8406 member, who was arrested in a midnight raid by dozens of police at his home in Thai Binh province on September 11;
* Vu Hung, who was dismissed from his job as a high school physics teacher two months ago because of his contacts with Vietnamese democracy activists and who was arrested at his home in Ha Tay province at 8 p.m. on September 11; and
* Bloggers Uyen Vu and Quynh Vi, who were summoned to the police station in Ho Chi Minh City for interrogation on September 11.

In addition, on September 10, authorities in Hanoi charged four Catholic protesters from Thai Ha Parish who were arrested on August 28: Nguyen Thi Nhi, Nguyen Dac Hung, Nguyen Thi Viet, and Thai Thanh Hai.

For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on Vietnam, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/doc?t=asia&c=vietna

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Vietnam seeks Google, Yahoo! help to control, “regulate” bloggers

December 2, 2008

Communist Vietnam wants Internet giants Google and Yahoo! to help “regulate” the country’s flourishing blogging scene, state media said Tuesday, and stop “incorrect information” being published online.

The government will announce new rules this month, stressing that weblogs should serve as personal online diaries, not as organs to disseminate opinions about politics, religion and society, senior officials were quoted as saying.

The regulations aim “to create a legal base for bloggers and related agencies to tackle violations in the area of blogging,” said Information and Communication Deputy Minister Do Quy Doan, according to the Thanh Nien daily.

The ministry “will contact Google and Yahoo! for cooperation in creating the best and the healthiest environment for bloggers,” he added.

The proposals follow the jailing in September of the high-profile blogger Dieu Cay — real name Nguyen Hoang Hai — for two and a half years on tax fraud charges. His appeal hearing is set for Thursday, court officials said.

Media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders charged that he was punished for criticising China‘s claims over disputed South China Sea islands and called on the court “to acquit this cyber-dissident.”

From AFP

Read the rest:
http://tech.yahoo.com/news/afp/20081202/tc_afp/vietnammediarightsblogs_081202174628

Refugee, Immigrant, U.S. Senator To Retire

December 2, 2008

This man is one of our true favorites at Peace and Freedom. A former refugee, immigrant and a true man of strength and character, he has seved his nation and mankind in coutless ways.  Vietnamese immigrants and those locked in Communist jails were among those he stood up for…. He is truly “the embodiment of the American Dream.” 

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S. Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, who has struggled to boost his approval ratings because of close ties to President George W. Bush, announced Tuesday he will not seek a second term in 2010.

His seat was widely seen as vulnerable in two years, but Martinez, a Republican, rejected suggestions he faced difficult re-election prospects in a state won last month by Democrat Barack Obama.

“I’ve faced much tougher obstacles in my life,” Martinez said. “My decision is not based on re-election prospects, but on what on what I want to do with the next eight years of my life.”

By BRENDAN FARRINGTON and MARK WANGRIN, Associated Press Writers

Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., speaks at the Republican National ... 
Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., speaks at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Sept. 4, 2008. Martinez , who has struggled to boost his approval rating since taking office, will not seek a second term in 2010, a state Republican party official said Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008.(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Martinez, 62, was elected in 2004 after serving as the U.S. secretary for Housing and Urban Development during the Bush administration. He served as general chairman of the Republican National Committee for 10 months, resigning in October 2007.

Martinez was born in Cuba. At the age of 15, he fled to America as part of a Catholic humanitarian effort called Operation Pedro Pan. Catholic charitable groups provided Martinez, who was alone and spoke virtually no English, a temporary home at two youth facilities. He then lived with two foster families, with whom he remains close. He was reunited with his family in Orlando in 1966.

In appointing Martinez in 2001, Bush said he was “the embodiment of the American Dream.”

Vietnam: Japanese investors worry about inadequate infrastructure

December 2, 2008

Some 78% of Japanese businesses said roads in Vietnam need to be improved while 60% said the power supply and 45% said seaports need to be upgraded.

VietNamNet Bridge – The Japan Bank for International Cooperation’s (JBIC) survey in the 2008 fiscal year reveals that Japanese investors continue to worry about underdeveloped infrastructure in Vietnam, particularly roads, ports and power systems.

JBIC’s survey was compiled based on 620 questionnaires collected from Japanese companies overseas. According to the survey, 2008 is the third consecutive year that Vietnam ranks third among countries and regions that have medium-term business potential, after China and India.

 

Low labour cost is still the main reason why Japanese investors see Vietnam as a country with investment potential. Other elements include market development potential, risk diversification, and abundant human resources.

 

However, according to Matsuda Noriyasu, chief representative of JBIC in Vietnam, many Japanese investors say labour costs in Vietnam have increased and become a new concern.

 

Notably, only 48% of Japanese businesses appreciate the “market development potential” of Vietnam, compared to 53.4% last year.

 

Matsuda Noriyasu said Japanese companies continue to worry about underdeveloped infrastructure in Vietnam, especially roads, ports and power. “This is the most serious matter to Japanese producers,” JBIC’s survey noted.

 

Some 78% of Japanese businesses said roads in Vietnam need to be improved while 60% said the power supply and 45% said seaports need to be upgraded.

Read the rest:
http://english.vietnamnet.vn/politics/2008/12/816504/

Vietnam’s First Refinery Readies to Process Domestic Crude

December 1, 2008

Vietnam’s first oil refinery will use 4 million metric tons of crude from Bach Ho field during a one- year test-run, Vietnam News Agency reported, citing state- controlled Vietnam Oil & Gas Group.

Dung Quat refinery, scheduled to start up by February, will produce 3.4 million tons of petroleum products initially and 5.7 million tons by 2010, the report said today. The plant will need about 6.5 million tons of crude annually.

Bach Ho, the country’s biggest oil field, has been operated by Vietnam Oil & Gas and Russia’s OAO Zarubezhneft for more than two decades. The field produced 4.02 million tons of crude between January and July, according to the joint venture.

By Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen
Bloomberg

Vietnamese Among Happiest People

November 29, 2008

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam has the highest level of happiness in the Asia Pacific region, according to the latest global happiness survey by US market research firm The Nielsen Company.

The results of the survey, released Wednesday, shows that Vietnam is expected to have the highest level of happiness in the region over the next six months.

Moreover, Vietnamese citizens are ranked first globally regarding how satisfied they are with the global political situation.

The Nielsen Happiness Study, which polled 28,153 respondents online this May, found that there are three main drivers of happiness – personal financial situation, mental health and work.

Vietnamese are very happy with their physical health, personal security and finance, the government and the country’s present economic situation and not so satisfied with the state of their mental health, access to health care and information, the survey report said.

Vietnam and Japan top global rankings in valuing parental relations as an important happiness factor.

Vietnamese also consider relationships with their boss as a strong happiness driver, The Nielsen Company discovered, suggesting this finding is something employers in Vietnam should take notice.

Asha Phillips, manager of marketing and communications at The Nielsen Company Vietnam, said 49 percent of Vietnamese save their spare cash, indicating the people’s forward-thinking orientation.

“Many of the world’s emerging markets outrank developed countries in terms of happiness and satisfaction levels in nearly all aspects of lives,” said Bruce Paul, vice president of Consumer Research at The Nielsen Company. “For consumers in rapidly developing markets, there could be a greater sense of appreciation for improved social welfare compared to what they had a few years ago.”

The survey also revealed that globally, women are happier than men in most of the 51 countries polled, with the exception of Brazil, South Africa and Vietnam.

(Source: TN)

Vietnam PM Puts Together Measures To Avert Recession; More Floods, Rain In Central

November 28, 2008

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has put together a package of measures to help prevent the economy falling into recession but the government has yet to detail what those measures will be.

The prime minister, who met with officials from various ministries late Thursday, said the impact of the global financial crisis is increasingly spreading to Vietnam and hurting its exports, tourism and especially the stock market.

“Vietnam’s economy is slowing down, with the threat of recession looming large,” Dung said in a statement published Friday on the government’s Web site.

“All the state organizations should combine their efforts to prevent recession, support production and maintain reasonable economic growth,” Dung noted.

From Dow Jones

He said the package includes measures to boost production and exports, stimulate domestic consumption, increase loans, support the poor and a review of taxation.

No further details were available although state media reported that ministers proposed a further cut in benchmark interest rates to 10% from the current 11% and delaying the implementation of a planned capital gains tax to July from January.

Ministers also proposed increasing the disbursement of state funds for welfare, healthcare, education and infrastructure projects, plus reducing taxes for businesses.

Neither did the government say how much it plans to spend, although analysts have speculated that it could be for around US$1 billion.

Vietnam, once expected to be the next Asian boom economy, has suffered a marked slowdown in economic growth.

In late September, the government estimated that gross domestic product expanded 6.5% in January through September from a year earlier compared with 8.2% growth in same period of 2007.

That slowdown was in part due to government spending cuts and price controls on some goods to stem inflation that still stood at an elevated 24.2% on year in November. Slowing offshore demand for Vietnamese goods and falling inward investment have added to the woes lately.

Vietnam’s key stock-market index, which has declined 67% so far this year, ended up 3.7% Friday after state media announced that the government will take urgent measures to support the economy.

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Officials say floods and landslides triggered by several days of heavy rain have killed 13 people in central Vietnam this week.

Disaster official Le Viet Binh of Quang Ngai province says rains have stopped but water levels remained very high on Friday, hindering rescue efforts. Floods and landslides have claimed four lives in the province.

“We have mobilised militiamen and police to rush food aid and medicine to one isolated district,” Binh says.

Binh Dinh province is the worst-hit, with five people being drowned, according to the provincial Web site.

Vietnam Airlines says dozens of flights to the seaside city of Nha Trang have been cancelled.

Vietnam is prone to floods and storms that kill hundreds of people each year.

Vietnam facing water shortage

November 27, 2008

VietNamNet Bridge – According to the Danish Embassy in Vietnam, around 60% of Vietnamese people depend on underground water resources. Due to overexploitation, the underground water level is decreasing and threatening the stability of water resources.

 

An overview research of water conducted by the Vietnamese government and international donors recently shows that water may be the major factor that hinders Vietnam’s further social and economic development.

 

This issue has impacts on around 8.5 million Vietnamese urban people and 21 million rural residents who don’t have access to safe water yet. For those who have safe water, the current standards of water supply service are low compared to the international level.

 

During the dry season, many big rivers face abnormally low water levels and the threat of water shortage will rise in the future.

 

Water quality is downgrading quickly because Vietnam’s geographical position is at the bottom of river systems and pollution from other countries pollutes the river systems in Vietnam.

 

According to the overview, Vietnam is one of countries that are vulnerable to natural calamities, especially water-associated catastrophes. The matter becomes more serious as around 50% of Vietnam’s population lives on the coast. Meanwhile, over 80% of the population directly confronts impacts of natural calamities.

 

Vietnam is also among the most vulnerable to climate change.

 

(Source: Dan Tri)

A man paddles a boat on a flooded paddy field in My Hung commune, ...
A man paddles a boat on a flooded paddy field in My Hung commune, 25 km (16 miles) outside Hanoi November 12, 2008. Hanoi reported 22 deaths from one of the worst inundations in more than three decades, officials said.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Vietnam Needs to Increase Rice Exports to Africa, Tuoi Tre Says

November 26, 2008

Vietnam needs to increase rice shipments to Africa as there is strong demand for the country’s exports, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported, citing three officials from the continent.

African nations buy about 20 percent of Vietnam’s rice exports and have become the third-largest market after Asia and the Middle East, the report said, citing government data released yesterday at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Southeast Asian nation shipped about 1 million metric tons of rice to Africa this year, Tuoi Tre said, without giving figures for earlier years.

The officials named in the report included Macaria Baira, vice chairwoman of International Cooperation and Integration for South Africa and Jules Touka from Cameroon’s Chamber of Commerce.

From Bloomberg,
By Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen

Vietnam to tighten two-child rule

November 21, 2008

Officials in Communist Vietnam alarmed by a new baby boom are to crack down on couples having more than two children, family planning chiefs said on Thursday.

AFP

The government worries that rising numbers are putting strain on education, health and other public services in the country of 86 million, about two thirds of whom are under 35 thanks to a post-war population explosion.

The government first launched a two-child policy in the early 1960s but this was relaxed in a 2003 ordinance that encouraged small families without making it illegal for families to have a third child.

That decree was “so general that people haven’t understood it and have sometimes taken advantage of it”, said Duong Quoc Trong, deputy head of the government’s General Office for Population and Family Planning.

“The demographic boom is damaging the country’s sustainable development.”

Many of the Vietnamese couples who have a third child do so because they already have two daughters, due to a long-standing belief that sons must care for their parents in old age and carry on the family name.

In the first nine months of the year about 93,000 third-child births were registered in Vietnam — 10 percent more than in the same period last year — according to official statistics released by the office.

This week the cabinet agreed on a draft amendment that would turn the two-child rule into law once it is passed by the National Assembly.

In the past, Communist Party members have faced warnings, reprimands or expulsion for breaching the two-child rule, and citizens have been punished with pay cuts and other disciplinary measures at work.

Officials did not say what penalties may apply in future under the new law.

Some groups will be exempt, including members of ethnic minority groups with less than 10,000 people, said the state-run Vietnam News Agency.

Couples will also be allowed to ask for permission to have a third baby under certain conditions, for example if one of their children is disfigured because of an accident or suffers a fatal disease.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081120/lf_afp/vietnam
populationtwochildpolicy_081120174157