Nha Trang official calls critics of beachfront megaproject ‘shortsighted': report

A blueprint of the development plan for Nha Trang beach shows a thick line of high buildings along Tran Phu, the city's main road facing the beach. File photo The chairman of Khanh Hoa Province has reportedly called those criticizing the controversial plan to urbanize Nha Trang "a shortsighted minority," arguing that the town has to be rebuilt to rival Singapore and Hong Kong. Tuoi Tre reported that Nguyen Chien Thang met with local residents Wednesday to justify his plan that will add a lot more multi-story buildings along Tran Phu, the main road facing the beach in the tourist town. The road now has several hotels and buildings of between 29 to 41 stories. It is going to host four other mix developments of between 17 and 50 stories. But the new plan also gives most of the eastern part of the road to Phoenix, a megaproject that includes a boardwalk, a luxury apartment building of 50,000 square meters and a hotel-shopping mall complex of over 10,000 square meters. Indian developer … [Read more...]

3 locations proposed for Vietnam’s new, larger nuclear reactor

The Da Lat Nuclear Research Center, which is home to the current nuclear reactor The Central Highlands province of Lam Dong has suggested three possible sites where a new nuclear reactor should be built to replace the existing facility in its resort town of Da Lat. The proposal has been sent to the the Ministry of Science and Technology, news website VnExpress reported. Plans for the new nuclear reactor have sparked controversy since they were announced in 2012. The planned reactor is set to replace the one in Lam Dong, which has been operating for more than 50 years and is scheduled to shut down in 10 years. The National Atomic Energy Institute plans to build the new reactor – with a capacity 30 times larger – near the current one, which is located within Da Lat. Since 2012, the province has repeatedly asked that the location of the future larger reactor be moved to a different location in Lac Duong District, which is 35 kilometers from the resort town. It said the … [Read more...]

Asia’s fastest growing cities aren’t all in China

Photo: Nguyen Manh Hien Move over, Shanghai. The fastest growing city in Asia over the next five years will be Delhi, according to Oxford Economics. Chinese cities make up only three of its top 10 list, with India accounting for six. Ho Chi Minh City is the sole outsider beyond the two giants. Delhi's economy is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of 8.5 percent over the next five years, with the southern city of Chennai and the financial hub of Mumbai seen expanding at a pace of 7.8 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively. Beijing, which is in 10th spot, is seen growing at 6.2 percent a year. "Our forecasts suggest that growth in China will be more evenly spread in future than in the past, with second-tier cities gradually accounting for more economic growth," said Richard Holt, head of global cities research at Oxford Economics. "However, that adjustment takes time. Meanwhile the national economy is being forced to slow." India, on the other hand, is seeing stronger growth … [Read more...]

Montblanc to Apple: our Swiss smartwatch will outlast yours

A Montblanc TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap wristwatch is displayed at the Le Locle factory. Photo: Bloomberg By the end of the decade, smartwatches from Apple Inc. and others might elicit guffaws rather than envy. At least that’s the view of Montblanc’s Alexander Schmiedt, who’s developed an electronic watchband for Swiss luxury timepieces that tracks steps, reads emails and even helps take selfies. The speed at which gadgets evolve poses a design challenge to the four-century-old Swiss watchmaking industry, Schmiedt, Montblanc’s managing director for watches, said in an interview. High-end wristwatches are made to last, while electronic devices become disposable within years, as seen in the demise of the 1980s calculator watch. "Our products should have very long life cycles," Schmiedt said at Montblanc’s watch factory, housed in an Art Nouveau villa in the rural Swiss town of Le Locle. "In modern technologies the life cycle is exactly the opposite. It … [Read more...]

Jailed ‘nut rage’ Korean Air executive to be released on appeal

Former Korean Air executive Heather Cho is surrounded by journalists after she received a suspended jail sentence and was freed by a Seoul appeals court. Photo: AFP The daughter of Korean Air Lines Co.’s chairman will be released from jail after an appeals court suspended her prison sentence for undermining a pilot’s authority in ordering a crew member to disembark over service of macadamia nuts. The Seoul High Court on Friday handed Heather Cho a suspended 10-month sentence after rejecting an earlier ruling that she was guilty of changing the plane’s flight route, a court official said. Cho ordered the plane back to the gate in New York so she could eject the crew member she had scolded for offering her macadamia nuts in a bag, rather than on a plate in the first-class section. Cho had been sentenced in February to one year in prison. The court said she has "done enough reflection and needs a new chance after changing her disposition," the spokesman said by phone, … [Read more...]

No addictive substances found in Hanoi street foods: officials

Street foods, such as sausage, grilled pork roll and permented pork roll, are popular treats on Hanoi roads. File photo. Hanoi food safety authorities said Friday that tests on some street foods sold in the city were negative for addictive substances. They did the tests following rumors picked up by a news website that food vendors add drugs to hook customers. Tests of 15 different samples, including sausages, grilled meat rolls, and fermented pork rolls, found no addictive substance like morphine or codeine, the main ingredients in marijuana, a report from the Hanoi Food Safety Department said. Doi Song & Phap Luat (Life & Law) website had quoted an unnamed food-additives trader as saying that most street foods in the city contained small amounts of marijuana extract. "I have not myself seen their mixing process, but I am sure there is a small amount of marijuana in the Chinese spices added to the foods, which are very popular," he said without explaining how he … [Read more...]

Forced to work without lights, 600 workers go on strike in Hai Phong

Garment workers in Hai Phong gather in front of their company in a strike against heavy workload on May 21, 2015. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre More than 600 garment workers in Hai Phong have struck work for the last three days after their company forced them to work extra time without lights. Nguyen Thi H., a worker at the leather shoe factory of Dinh Vang company, said the company recently required each worker to work on 50 pieces an hour, up from the earlier 30. Most could not manage and had to work during the lunch break without lights, she said. "Many of us had to use the torch in our cell phones." Tran Trong Hung, a manager, said the factory kept the lights off so as not to disturb workers having a nap. "The factory has nearly 3,000 workers and only a small number of them were working during the lunch break." Hung said many of the striking workers have agreed to return to work after the company promised to reduce their workload. Tran Thi Nguyet, a labor union official, said … [Read more...]

National Geographic takes a trip to ‘infinity’ inside Vietnam’s Son Doong Cave

Technology has made it a lot easier to travel nowadays: sometimes all you have to do is just to click. National Geographic has just released a series of 360° panoramas that allows anyone with an Internet connection to experience Vietnam's Son Doong cave, one of the world's biggest. Photojournalist Martin Edström set out with a team in January 2015 to build a virtual tour of this "infinite" cave. Son Doong is located in the central province of Quang Binh's Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. It became known as the world's largest after British explorers discovered it in 2009 with the help of a local guide. The biggest chamber of Son Doong is more than five kilometers (3.1 miles) long, 200 meters (660 ft) high and 150 meters (490 ft) wide. Edström, whose work has been supported by the National Geographic Society's Global Exploration Fund, hopes to bring the cave to as many people as possible. He also wanted to document Son Doong in its relatively untouched state, just in … [Read more...]

Man robbed of $31,000 at HCMC filling station

The filling station in Ho Chi Minh City where a man’s bag with more than $30,000 in cash and valuables was robbed this week. Photo: Cong Nguyen The Ho Chi Minh City police are searching for a young man and his accomplices who robbed a bag from another man’s motorbike at a gas station in District 6 on May 18. At the gas station on Hau Giang Street, Le Tan Thanh, a local resident, opened the storage under his motorbike seat when a young man came up on a motorbike, snatched a bag from the storage space, and raced away. Two other young men, who were sitting on motorbikes nearby, also fled. Thanh screamed for help and chased after the trio but they were gone in a flash. Thanh told the police the bag had VND480 million (US$22,000) in cash and 10 luxury watches worth $9,600. He said the three men had filled their bikes and were about to leave when they noticed the bag. They winked at one another to set up the heist, he said. … [Read more...]

Global funds aren’t buying Thai junta’s Year of Happiness

Prayuth Chan-Ocha has said he’ll return the country to democracy next year if there is no dissent. Photo: Bloomberg Thailand’s army chief pledged to return happiness to the country after seizing power a year ago. Foreign investors aren’t buying it. Global money managers have sold a net $784 million of Thai equities since Prayuth Chan-Ocha took over in a May 22 coup, the only net outflows from eight Asian stock markets tracked by Bloomberg. While the benchmark SET Index has risen 8.8 percent in the period through yesterday, Morgan Stanley predicts gains won’t last as the outlook for the economy and corporate earnings worsens, while UBS Group AG has cut its position in the nation’s stocks to underweight from neutral. The government is struggling to revive an economy that grew at its slowest pace in three years in 2014 as government spending on infrastructure and a rebound in tourism fail to counter a slump in exports and domestic demand. Prayuth grabbed … [Read more...]

‘Boat people’ likely posing as Rohingya for aid, says Myanmar general

Plywood with the words ''We are Myanmar Rohingya'' is seen in an abandoned boat which carried Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants from Thailand, found off the coast near the city of Kuta Binje, Indonesia's Aceh Province May 20, 2015. Myanmar's military commander-in-chief said some "boat people" landing in Malaysia and Indonesia this month are likely pretending to be Rohingya Muslims to receive U.N. aid and that many had fled neighboring Bangladesh, state media reported on Friday. The remarks are sure to spark concern after the United States lambasted Myanmar this week for failing to address the cause of the crisis, which observers say stems from Myanmar's refusal to recognize the Rohingya, an ethnic minority group living in western Myanmar, as citizens. Most of Myanmar's 1.1 million Rohingya are stateless and live in apartheid-like conditions. Almost 140,000 were displaced in deadly clashes with Buddhists in the western state of Rakhine in 2012. UN agencies have urged regional … [Read more...]

Vietnam court orders prosecutors to pay man $128,000 for 8 months of wrongful confinement

Dinh Quang Dien (c) leaves a trial unhappy in Dak Lak Province May 21, 2015 as it only approved less than half of his compensation demand for an eight-month false custody. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre A court in Dak Lak Province in the Central Highlands has ordered prosecutors to pay compensation of more than VND2.8 billion (US$128,400) to a man for detaining him for a crime he did not commit, in the process hurting his business. Prosecutors in the provincial capital Buon Ma Thuot approved a warrant to arrest Dinh Quang Dien in June 2011 based on an anonymous complaint that he had committed fraud. Dien, the owner of a wood processing company, was in custody for eight months until a police investigation established that he was innocent. The prosecutors publicly apologized to Dien in early 2013 but refused to meet his compensation claim of nearly VND7 billion. So he went to court. Dien said at the trial that he believed he lost more than VND21 billion because of the detention as … [Read more...]

3,000 m above northern Vietnam, a new peak beckons

The top of Bach Moc Luong Tu, the fourth highest mountain in Vietnam, touches the sky at nearly two miles high. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre After plans to build a cable car to Vietnam’s highest peak, Fansipan, were announced, climbers are flocking to a mountain next door. They hope to conquer Bach Moc Luong Tu, the fourth highest mountain in Vietnam at 3,046 meters, before it gets a cable car too. The peak is one of three in Vietnam, besides Fansipan and the second highest, Pu Ta Leng, to have a steel icon at the top, where every climber poses for commemorative photos. It is the highest of a mountain range of the same name that lies between Lai Chau and Lao Cai provinces in northwestern Vietnam. Bach Moc Luong Tu’s rough terrain started attracting adventure-seekers in 2012. To reach the top, one has to hike through 30 kilometers of forests, hills, forests of giant bamboo trees, and mossy cliffs. Luong Thu Huong, a climber from Hanoi, told Tuoi Tre newspaper that the … [Read more...]

Vietnam’s loans in early May rise 3.69 pct vs Dec 2014: central bank

Vietnam's credit grew 3.69 percent from the end of 2014 to May 8, the highest growth in that period for several years, its central bank said on Thursday, citing stable macroeconomic growth and lenders' improved financial capacity. Stable inflation and credit incentive programmes by the government have allowed banks to allocate loans more efficiently at lower cost, the State Bank of Vietnam said in a statement on its website. (sbv.gov.vn) Vietnam has projected lending to rise 13-15 percent this year and said it could allow annual expansion of up to 17 percent to push economic growth to 6.2 percent, from 5.98 percent recorded in 2014. … [Read more...]

U.S. admits two children killed in Islamic State campaign

Syrians check a damaged house, reportedly hit by US-led coalition air strikes, in the village of Kfar Derian in the western Aleppo province on September 23, 2014. Photo: AFP Two children were likely killed by a U.S. air strike in Syria in November, the U.S. military said on Thursday, the first time the Pentagon has acknowledged civilian casualties since it began an air campaign against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. Two noncombatant adults also received minor injuries in the November air strikes, which targeted an explosives manufacturing facility operated by the al Qaeda-linked Khorasan Group, the U.S. military's Central Command said after an investigation of the reported casualties. There have been several dozen reports of civilian casualties in the coalition bombing campaign that began Aug. 8, but the investigation released on Thursday was the first time the U.S. military has confirmed that civilian deaths were likely. The military has examined 46 separate reports of … [Read more...]

Fighters captured in Ukraine admit to serving in Russia’s army: OSCE

Pro-Russian separatist soldiers stand on their tank as they drive along a road near the village of Kirovske on April 21, 2015 in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic European mediators in the Ukrainian crisis said Thursday that two men captured by Kiev's troops had confessed to being members of the Russian armed forces sent in to back up pro-Moscow separatist fighters. The revelation by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) provides some of the strongest independent evidence to date of Russian President Vladimir Putin's direct involvement in the 13-month war in the neighbouring nation. Kiev and its Western allies have long accused the Kremlin of covertly coordinating the loosely organised rebel units' tactics and backing them up with high-tech weapons and troops in their fight against Ukraine's pro-Western government. Russia denies the allegations and says the claims are part of a US-led campaign to topple Putin and contain Russia's regional … [Read more...]

China jails ‘Fast & Furious’ Lamborghini, Ferrari drivers

Chinese officials inspect the mangled wreckage of a Lamborghini that was damaged in a high-speed illegal road race in Beijing, on April 12, 2015 Two unemployed men who crashed a Lamborghini and Ferrari as they reportedly staged a "real-life Fast and Furious" race through Beijing were sentenced to jail Thursday for dangerous driving, the court said. According to reports a woman passenger in Tang Weitian's green Lamborghini was left with a broken spine in the accident. The other driver Yu Muchun, 20, drove a red Ferrari. Tang, 21, was sentenced to five months in prison and fined 10,000 yuan ($1,600), Beijing's Chaoyang District People's Court said in an online post. Yu was jailed for four months and given an 8,000 yuan fine, it added, saying both men indicated they would not appeal. The official news agency Xinhua described the accident last month as the result of a "real-life 'Fast and Furious' drag race in downtown Beijing". Pictures of the high-performance cars' mangled wreckage … [Read more...]

Turkish intelligence helped ship arms to Syrian Islamist rebel areas

A locally made shell is launched by rebel fighters towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at the frontline in al-Breij district of Aleppo December 10, 2014. Turkey's state intelligence agency helped deliver arms to parts of Syria under Islamist rebel control during late 2013 and early 2014, according to a prosecutor and court testimony from gendarmerie officers seen by Reuters. The witness testimony contradicts Turkey's denials that it sent arms to Syrian rebels and, by extension, contributed to the rise of Islamic State, now a major concern for the NATO member. Syria and some of Turkey's Western allies say Turkey, in its haste to see President Bashar al-Assad toppled, let fighters and arms over the border, some of whom went on to join the Islamic State militant group which has carved a self-declared caliphate out of parts of Syria and Iraq. Ankara has denied arming Syria's rebels or assisting hardline Islamists. Diplomats and Turkish officials say it has in … [Read more...]

Baltimore grand jury indicts police in death of Freddie Gray

Baltimore state attorney Marilyn Mosby speaks on recent violence in Baltimore, Maryland in this May 1, 2015 file photo. A grand jury has brought charges against six Baltimore police officers in the death of a black man who suffered fatal neck injuries while in police custody, a case that touched off angry protests and a day of looting and arson in the Maryland city. The charges, including a count of second-degree murder against one of the officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, were announced on Thursday by Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby. The officers, three white men and three African Americans including a woman, will formally hear the charges and enter pleas at a July 2 arraignment. Mosby, a 35-year-old African American who took office in January, surprised many Baltimoreans early this month by announcing her swift decision to seek the charges. Under the U.S. judicial system, grand juries are empowered to hear a prosecutor's evidence and return charges … [Read more...]

US planes keep distance from Chinese ‘islands’ — for now

Aerial photograph taken from a military aircraft on May 11, 2015 shows alleged on-going reclamation by China on Mischief Reef in the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea US surveillance aircraft and naval ships have yet to test China's territorial claims around artificial islands built in the South China Sea, but the Pentagon warned that could be "the next step." Although the United States does not recognize China's claims of sovereignty around the man-made structures, American P-8 surveillance planes and naval vessels patrolling the area have not ventured within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands -- the standard territorial zone around natural land. "That would be the next step," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren told reporters. Asked if the military would move to within that sensitive zone, he said: "We don't have any announcement to make on next steps. We are going to continue our routine flights." US officials have said they are weighing sending … [Read more...]