Vietnam index loses 1.2 pct on widespread selling

Vietnam's benchmark VN Index dropped 1.24 percent to a one-week low close on Friday, as investors cut their risk exposures ahead of a central bank ruling that will limit banks' loan for stock investments. Banks led falls in more than half of the equities on the last trading day before the central bank's circular capping loans for investment in shares at 5 percent of a bank's registered capital comes into effect on Feb. 1, analysts said. The index closed at 576.07 points on Friday, the lowest since Jan. 22, based on Reuters data. Hanoi-based Vietcombank, Vietnam's top bank by market value, lost 3.25 percent, and lender BIDV dropped 3.85 percent, offsetting strong rallies in the sector earlier this month. Other big-caps also fell, including PetroVietNam Gas , the country's biggest firm by capitalisation, with a 0.65-percent decline, and dairy product maker Vinamilk that lost 0.95 percent. The index has advanced nearly 10 percent this month as investors bet on firms with … [Read more...]

Vietnamese man gets life sentence for strangling his father to death

Dang Hung Phuong, 28, stood a trial in the southern province of Vinh Long for patricide on January 30. Photo: Thanh Duc A 28-year-old man in southern Vietnam has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his father and then dumping the body in Ho Chi Minh City last year. According to the indictment, Dang Hung Phuong from Vinh Long Province had an argument with his 66-year-old father after being accused of stealing. Phuong then repeatedly hit his father with a wooden kitchen pestle on the head, before strangling him to death with a rope. After that he wrapped the body in clothes and put it into a sack. He carried it with him to Ho Chi Minh City, around 135 kilometers away, on a bus. Then he dumped the body near an industrial zone. The body was discovered by locals the next day. Prosecutors said Phuong did not get along with his father, who reportedly often abused him and his mother. He was getting ready to move out of the house when the fight happened. … [Read more...]

4 Vietnamese projects named among ‘Building of the Year’ finalists

Four projects of Vietnamese company Vo Trong Nghia Architects have made it to the final round of the Building of the Year Award by the world’s top architecture website ArchDaily. ArchDaily’s readers have evaluated over 3,000 projects and selected five finalists in each category of the annual award. Vo Trong Nghia Architects has been listed in four of the 14 categories: Houses, Hospitality, Educational Architecture, and Refurbishment. In the Houses category, the company’s project named House for Trees has been selected for the final round. The US$156,000 house is designed to bring green space back to the densely-populated Ho Chi Minh City. Five concrete boxes are designed as "pots" to plant trees on top. With thick soil layer, these pots also function as storm-water basins for detention and retention, therefore will help reduce the risk of flooding in the city. House for Trees Meanwhile, the company’s Son La Restaurant project, located in the northern … [Read more...]

U.S. armed drone program in Yemen facing intelligence gaps

Followers of the Houthi movement demonstrate to show support to the movement in Sanaa January 23, 2015. The United States is facing increasing difficulty acquiring intelligence needed to run its stealth drone program in Yemen, undermining a campaign against the most lethal branch of al Qaeda after Houthi rebels seized control of parts of the country’s security apparatus, U.S. officials say. Gaps in on-the-ground intelligence could slow America's fight against a resurgent al Qaeda in Yemen and heighten the risk of errant strikes that kill the wrong people and stoke anti-U.S. sentiment, potentially making the militants even stronger in areas where al Qaeda is already growing. Iran-backed Houthi rebels have taken up positions in and around several defense and intelligence installations whose teams had previously cooperated with Washington, cutting off key sources of information for drone-missile attacks, the officials told Reuters. Turmoil in the wake of last week's collapse of … [Read more...]

Jetstar Pacific Airlines employees busted in massive, daily fuel theft scheme

Police raided the den of a gang of jet fuel theft thieves in HCMC on January 28. Photo credit: Phap luat TPHCM Some employees of low-cost carrier Jetstar Pacific were among the seven arrested suspects in a massive fuel theft that may have targeted the airline for years, police said Thursday. Ho Sy Tien, who was in charge of the investigation, said three tanker drivers of Jetstar were suspected of siphoning the Jet A1 fuel from the airline’s airplanes which were parked overnight or for more than six hours at Tan Son Nhat Airport. The stealing often took place during maintenance checks between flights, in which fuel is required to be pumped out in small amounts for testing, the official said. He quoted the drivers as confessing to police that they had stolen 600-900 liters per day for at least two years. They transferred the fuel into 30-liter cans and hid them somewhere within the airport, before contacting Tran Van Suu, 42, who would send his people there to bring the fuel … [Read more...]

VietJet Air wins $400 mln credit line to buy Airbus planes

Budget airline VietJet Air has got a credit line worth $400 million until 2020 from Vietnamese lender TPBank, the bank said on Thursday, in a bid to help the unlisted carrier buy Airbus planes under a $9 billion order placed in 2013. Under an agreement signed on Thursday, TPBank will arrange the credit between now and 2020 for the airline, Vietnam's first privately owned carrier, the Hanoi-based bank said in a statement without giving further details. A VietJet Air official confirmed the bank's statement. VietJet Air has committed to buying 92 planes worth $9 billion from Airbus by 2024, according to a deal signed in 2013. In September 2014, TPBank granted $21 million in credit to help VietJet Air make a downpayment for the Airbus order, the bank, which is not listed, said. VietJet Air operates a fleet of 20 Airbus planes, including two new Airbus A-320s delivered last year under the Airbus order, the airline said. The airline's network spans 28 domestic and international routes … [Read more...]

Transsexuals banned from Vietnam women’s football competition

Two players vie for the ball at the 2014 National Women's Football Championship. Photo: Kha Hoa Transsexual players are not allowed to participate in the National Women’s Football Championship, which will kick off on March 5, according to the Vietnam Football Federation. "The national championship is exclusively for women, so transsexuals will not be allowed," Duong Nghiep Khoi, vice secretary of the federation, said Thursday. "This regulation is to ensure fair competition and for the development of Vietnam women’s football," Khoi said. He did not say whether there are any players affected by this ban, or how many there are. The 2015 National Women’s Football Championship – Thai Son Bac Cup will see the competition of one new team, Tao Dan from Ho Chi Minh City, besides six regular teams. They are Hanoi 1, Hanoi 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Phong Phu Ha Nam, Thai Nguyen and the defending champion Than Khoang San Vietnam. Seven teams will play each other in two … [Read more...]

Tac Tinh: The waterfall of love

Tac Tinh Waterfall is around 30 kilometers to the southeast of Lai Chau Town. You can go along the National Road 4D to reach Tam Duong Town, where you turn left into a rough road that stretches some three kilometers before ending at the waterfall. Marigold flowers are blooming all along the way to the waterfall this season. Locals shortens the name of the waterfall to "Tinh", which means "Love" in Vietnamese. Legend has it that a forbidden love between a man and a woman of the Dao ethnic group tragically ended here when she jumped down the waterfall. The waterfall starts at the height of 130 meters from the Hoang Lien Son Range and ends with a 100-square-meter lake. To have the best view of the waterfall, you need to climb up for about 15 minutes. After that you can go back to the lake, where, if you are lucky and it is sunny enough, you can see a rainbow. … [Read more...]

New Saudi king announces major government shake-up

Saudi Arabia's new King Salman (C) speaks with Crown Prince and Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef (L) at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on January 27, 2015 Saudi Arabia's new King Salman further cemented his hold on power, with a sweeping shakeup that saw two sons of the late King Abdullah fired, and the heads of intelligence and other key agencies replaced alongside a cabinet shuffle. Top officials from the Ports Authority, the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the conservative Islamic kingdom's religious police were among those let go. The new appointments came a week after Salman acceded to the throne following the death of Abdullah, aged about 90. Salman also reached out directly to his subjects on Thursday. One of his more than 30 decrees ordered "two months' basic salary to all Saudi government civil and military employees," the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said. Students and pensioners got similar bonuses. "Dear people: You deserve more and whatever I do … [Read more...]

Vietnam orders a cut in entrance fees to world-renowned caves

The Thien Duong (Paradise) Cave in the central province of Quang Binh. File photo Vietnam’s tourism authority has asked the central province of Quang Binh to bring entrance fees at its world famous caves back to the original level, following a steep increase heavily protested by travel agencies. The move came with bad timing, as Vietnam was in the middle of a campaign to boost tourism, the agency said. Quang Binh should consider increasing the fees at a different time, and even offering discounts to local tourists, it added. Early this month local tour operators complained about the province’s doubling ticket prices at the Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, which boasts a series of caves that have made global headlines since being discovered by a group of British explorers in 2009. Entrance to Thien Duong (Paradise), for instance, now costs VND125,000 (US$5.83) for children and VND250,000 ($11.67) for adults, compared to VND60,000-120,000 previously. Ticket prices to … [Read more...]

Vietnamese police find 20 dried primates after pulling over bus

Some of 20 primate carcasses confiscated from a bus in Hanoi on January 28. Photo credit: news.zing Police in the capital city of Hanoi busted the transport of 20 dried carcasses of a yet identified primate species on a bus Wednesday. According to police, they discovered two smelly and suspicious sacks that contained the animal bodies on the bus driven by Do Xuan Phuong, 29. Phuong was pulled over for a traffic violation. The man told police that he was hired by a person at a local bus station to deliver the sacks to the northern province of Thai Nguyen. That person promised to call another person to collect them when the bus arrived in Thai Nguyen, he said, adding that he did not know the sender and the receiver. The case is now being under investigation. There are 26 primate species in Vietnam. Most of them are endangered and are protected from hunting, trade and transport under Vietnamese laws, including the douc langur. Many experts have warned that the use of primates in … [Read more...]

Pilots disabled critical computers moments before AirAsia crash

The pilots of AirAsia Bhd. Flight 8501 cut power to a critical computer system that normally prevents planes from going out of control shortly before it plunged into the Java Sea, two people with knowledge of the investigation said. The action appears to have helped trigger the events of Dec. 28, when the Airbus Group NV A320 climbed so abruptly that it lost lift and it began falling with warnings blaring in the cockpit, the people said. All 162 aboard were killed. The pilots had been attempting to deal with alerts about the flight augmentation computers, which control the A320’s rudder and also automatically prevent it from going too slow. After initial attempts to address the alerts, the flight crew cut power to the entire system, which is comprised of two separate computers that back up each other, the people said. While the information helps show how a normally functioning A320’s flight-protection system could have been bypassed, it doesn’t explain why the … [Read more...]

Vietnam to get tough on bribery for job, promotion: officials

Vietnam Communist Party Chief Nguyen Phu Trong has instructed a crackdown on bribery for promotion. Photo: Truong Son Bribery for job and promotion has caused deep public frustration in Vietnam, ranking second only to corruption, according to a new survey conducted by the propaganda and education committee of the Communist Party. At a conference in Hanoi on Thursday, where findings of the survey were discussed, Party’s General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong instructed relevant agencies to inspect if there is bribery for promotion at governmental agencies in Vietnam. Trong said people have been talking about bribery for promotion, power, certificates, awards and the like, and this phenomenon is "quite common", even in the field of education and training. "It’s painful to hear allegations that people have to pay this or that much for a certain position," he said. Trong said public concerns over bribery for promotion have to be solved by transparency, with better regulations … [Read more...]

Vietnam’s traditional healers take oath against rhino horn

A poster, seen on a street in Hanoi, reads, "Rhino horns are just like buffalo horns, human hair and nails. Do not waste your money." Photo credit: Reuters Vietnam's leading practitioners of traditional medicine have vowed not to use threatened wildlife products in their practice. "Traditional medicine practitioners have relied on the moral values and knowledge of traditional medicine for thousands of years to protect the nation's health," said Nguyen Hoang Son, Deputy Director of the Traditional Medicine Administration--a branch of the Ministry of Health. "They continue this tradition today as they commit to do their part to protect the world’s wildlife by refraining from the illegal use of endangered species," Son said. The practitioners signed the pledge following meetings held between the ministry and the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC on January 21-22 in Ho Chi Minh City and on January 29-30 in the central province of Ha Tinh. During the meetings, the … [Read more...]

Chinese poultry smuggling raises bird flu risk in Vietnam

A Vietnamese farmer hold his ducklings while it gets vaccinated against bird flu. Photo: An Lac The bird flu virus strain that killed at least one man in China last year has spread widely through northern and central Vietnam due to rampant poultry smuggling. Tuoi Tre newspaper reported that the Animal Health Department has detected H5N6 in fowl in the northern provinces of Phu Tho and Bac Giang, and the central provinces of Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Nam and Quang Ngai. The strain’s genetic structure is 99 percent similar to the H5N6 strain that killed a man in China last May. Vietnamese authorities detected the virus for the first time in August of last year at Lang Son Province along the Chinese border and Ha Tinh Province in central Vietnam. Border guards said poultry smuggling along the Chinese border has fallen, but still persists. An officer said it costs only 20 US cents a kilogram to hire people to carry cargo across the border. But porters tend to raise … [Read more...]

John McCain calls protesters ‘scum,’ tells them to ‘shut up’

U.S. Senator John McCain had a blunt message for demonstrators chanting for the arrest of Henry Kissinger at a Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing on Thursday: "Get out of here, you low-life-scum." The protesters, from the Code Pink anti-war group, drew the ire of the Arizona Republican who chairs the committee after some of them approached Kissinger as he took his seat at a hearing on global security. Members of the group held up handcuffs and anti-Kissinger signs and called for his arrest for "war crimes." Addressing the hearing, McCain said: "I have been a member of this committee for many years and I have never seen anything as disgraceful and outrageous and despicable as the last demonstration that just took place." McCain said he would have Capitol Police arrest the protesters if they did not "shut up." He then told them: "Get out of here, you low-life scum." In a statement afterward, McCain, who was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, said the protesters had physically … [Read more...]

Google fourth-quarter revenue misses Wall Street target

Google Inc's revenue grew 15 percent in the fourth quarter but fell short of Wall Street's target on declining online ad prices and unfavorable foreign exchange rates. Shares of Google edged up 0.1 percent to $510.66 in extended trading after an initial dip on the news. Google's advertising revenue has come under pressure as more consumers access its online services on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, where ad rates are typically lower. The growing popularity of mobile devices has made No. 1 social network Facebook Inc (FB.O) a greater threat in the battle for advertisers. Facebook reported on Wednesday that mobile ads on its network doubled year-over-year during the fourth quarter. Google said on Thursday the average price of its online ads, or "cost per click," decreased 3 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter, while the number of consumer clicks on its ads increased 14 percent. Some analysts had hoped for gains in cost-per-click, said BGC Partners analyst … [Read more...]

Man wielding pistol arrested at Dutch national broadcaster

A 19-year-old Dutchman with a pistol forced his way into the studios of the national broadcaster NOS on Thursday demanding to be allowed to go on air, but was quickly arrested, officials said. Wearing a black suit and tie, the man entered the studio after threatening a guard with a pistol, witnesses said. It was unclear how he passed through security, which was increased after the attacks in Paris earlier this month. Footage aired on Dutch TV showed the man pacing in the studio with a black pistol behind his back. He had intended to speak to the country on the most popular evening news broadcast, but was led to an empty studio by a quick-thinking security guard. "This is taking too long," the man said. Then police stormed into the studio yelling, "Drop it! Drop it! And get on your knees!". He dropped the gun, saying, "I dropped it. It's dropped", and the police put handcuffs on him and took him away. The man lives in the central Dutch town of Pijnacker, near the university town … [Read more...]

Japan, Jordan working closely on fate of captive Japanese journalist

Anwar Tarawneh (R), the wife of Islamic State captive Jordanian pilot Lieutenant Muath al-Kasaesbeh, and his sister (C) weep after listening to a statement released by Islamic State in front of the Royal Palace in Amman January 28, 2015. Japan was working closely with Jordan on Friday to find out what was happening to a Japanese journalist held by Islamic State militants after a deadline passed for the release of an Iraqi would-be suicide bomber on death-row in Jordan. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said every effort was being made to secure the release of journalist Kenji Goto. "We are gathering and analyzing information while asking for cooperation from Jordan and other countries, making every effort to free Kenji Goto," Abe told a parliamentary panel. Jordan said on Thursday it was still holding the Iraqi woman death-row prisoner as a deadline passed for her release set by the militants, who threatened to kill a Jordanian pilot unless she was handed over by sunset. An audio … [Read more...]

Russia warns West support for Kiev could lead to ‘catastrophe’

Conscripts attend a ceremony marking enrollment of new conscripts in the Ukrainian army in Kiev January 29, 2015. Russia's envoy to the European security watchdog OSCE urged the United States and Europe on Thursday to stop supporting the "party of war" in Ukraine and warned "catastrophe" could result, Interfax news agency reported. "I would like to appeal to the states that have influence on Kiev's leadership, most of all to Washington. It's time to stop indulging Ukraine's party of war," said Russia's OSCE envoy, Andrei Kelin. "Only a big catastrophe can result from such developments." Russia has increasingly blamed the United States and NATO for the flare-up in violence in eastern Ukraine. The West accuses Moscow of feeding a pro-Russian insurgency with guns and soldiers. Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week the Ukrainian army itself was a legion of NATO sent to geopolitically contain Russia. "It's time to stop covering (Kiev's) inhuman actions, it is unacceptable to … [Read more...]