Le Phu Cuong  

A Vietnamese expatriate living in Australia plans to start a $400,000 campaign to popularize pho, Vietnam’s traditional noodle soup, in his adopted country in 2008.

Le Phu Cuong, a cultural program coordinator at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Center in Liverpool in New South Wales state, said the Pho Goes Global project would feature a 90-minute documentary and an exhibition on the subject and a book on pho written by famous Vietnamese chefs and writers.

His government-funded center was looking for finance for the project, he said.

In June Cuong organized an exhibition at the center titled I love Pho.

After many Australians mispronounced it as “I love fur”, deeming it too anti-animal, he taught them to do it right.

“They now understand that wherever there are Vietnamese, there is pho”, he said jokingly.

Through the humble dish Cuong also hopes to teach Vietnamese culture and history to the younger Vietnamese generations.

People interested in the project can contact him at cuong@casulapowerhouse.com.

Reported by Quynh Nhu – Translated by Hoang Bao

15:58′ 05/11/2006 (GMT+7)

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VietNamNet Bridge – With the market-opening itinerary of seven years, competition in the banking market of Vietnam will be very fierce as many foreign banks want to join the market.


According to the head of Vietnam’s WTO negotiation mission, Luong Van Tu, when Vietnam integrates into the global trade playground, of 12 service fields, finance and banking is one that particularly must raise its management capability.


Foreign banks are coming


According to statistics of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), foreign banks have come to Vietnam in the following forms: branch (34), joint venture (4), and representative offices (40 from 10 countries mainly based in Hanoi or HCM City). Most of the foreign banks operating in Vietnam are in the top 1,000 banks of the world.


Fast growth, earning profits and deep penetration into the local market is the best way to describe the situation of foreign banks in Vietnam.


Recently, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), the largest foreign bank in Vietnam, bought 10% of chartered capital of the Technology and Commercial Bank of Vietnam (Techcombank) to become Techcombank’s strategic investor. Previously, ANZ bought stocks of the Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Sacombank), Standard Chartered purchased shares of the Asia Commercial Bank (ACB), and OCBC Singapore bought shares of VPBank.


This trend is continuing as some other foreign banks have also expressed their plans to buy shares of Vietnamese commercial joint stock banks, namely Citibank with East Asia Bank.


Notably, foreign financial firms have also expressed their interest in establishing wholly foreign-owned financial companies in Vietnam. The “marriage” between local banks and foreign banks, according to experts, is a clever maneuver by foreign banks to get their foothold on the fertile land that domestic banks are holding.


By late 2005, the market share of foreign banks in terms of outstanding debt was more than 9%, up nearly 1% compared to 2004. The total outstanding debt balance of all foreign banks in Vietnam grew by nearly 30%, totaling VND49,000 billion. Overdue debt ratio fell from over 0.1% to 0.06%. Their deposit capital also increased by more than 20%, with corporate clients accounting for more than 70%.


Should local banks worry?


Dr. Le Xuan Nghia, Head of the SBV’s Development Strategy Department, said that the biggest challenge for Vietnamese commercial banks when Vietnam joins the WTO will be the increasing competition pressure in the local market.


The weakness of local commercial banks is their modest financial scale (averaging from $20 to 250 million); high percentage of bad debt under international accounting standards; low minimum capital safety index; poor capability in increasing capital and settling bad debts. In addition, their services are still simple.


As a member of the WTO, Vietnam will not be allowed to restrict the number of banking service providers, the total of transaction value of banking services, the number of banking services as well as the number of workers at banks.


“There will surely be a flow of high-grade and professional human resources from local to foreign banks because the need for human resources grows by at least 50% per year,” said Le Dac Son, General Director of VPBank.


The best way to keep employees, according to Mr Son, is for local banks to prepare preventive human resources.


The opening of the local financial market will heighten the market risks in terms of price, interest rate, and exchange rate. Domestic banks will have to face risks of crisis, the impacts from financial and economic shocks in the region and the world, the lost of advantages associated with client and distribution.


A challenge that local commercial banks must solve themselves is part of their strategic customers, which are under the protection of the State, can make higher risks on the operations of those banks in case they operate poorly.


What commitments must Vietnam fulfill?


As of 2006, the country has to gradually lift restrictions on stock ownership of financial institutions under the Vietnam-US bilateral trade agreement. By 2008, Vietnam will have to abolish all restrictions on capital contribution, services, transaction value at foreign banks under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS).


Under WTO rules, banks will be allowed to receive deposits in Vietnamese dong without limitation by 2009 and 100% of foreign banks will be permitted to operate in Vietnam by 2010.


(Source: Tien Phong)

Returning to Vietnam

November 6, 2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Just in time for Saturday’s Veterans Day holiday, WQED’s “Black Horizons” host Chris Moore revisits his past as a veteran for “In Country: A Vietnam Story” (8 and 10 p.m. Thursday, WQED-TV).

Moore, a native of Little Rock, Ark., left college to join the U.S. Army, becoming a member of the 46th Engineers, 20th Engineering brigade, responsible for building roads half a world away during the Vietnam War.

“I was a country kid,” he said. “I had been in college two-and-a-half years and I was muddling around. There was talk about getting drafted, so I joined the service to see what that was all about. To guys [over there] who were worldwise, who knew what life was like in the streets, here I was coming, going, ‘Woo hoo! Look at that!'”

As an Army private, he was taken under the wing of LeRoy Perry, the platoon sergeant, and Specialist 5th Class Andrew Boone.

“They’re five years older than me and said, ‘Come here, fool, before you get killed,’ ” Moore recalls of the old friends who joined him for the return visit to Vietnam that “In Country” documents. “They’re like my big brothers.”

Moore made the journey after urging from Tony Accamando, one of the members of the local charity Friends of Danang, which raises funds for humanitarian projects near Danang, Vietnam.

“He gently encouraged me to make that trip back with them to Vietnam as part of the healing process for all the veterans who went through that war experience. I listened to him for a couple of years politely and he continued to gently prod, and finally I thought it was a good idea,” Moore said. “But he always said, ‘Don’t go alone. Go with somebody you were there with.'”

After writing a proposal and securing underwriting for the film from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Moore made the trip with his two friends. Moore, Perry and Boone join members of Friends of Danang half-way through the hour, including Noreen Doloughty, a former Post-Gazette employee, whose father was killed in Vietnam when she was an infant.

“It’s not a travelogue, it’s a personal story, as most of my documentaries are,” Moore said. “It’s a personal essay of three men going back and confronting their past and coming to peace with it.”

The program was filmed in high-definition video by a crew of five that included producer Minette Seate and Darryl Ford-Williams, WQED’s vice president of production.

“Talk about an excellent opportunity to launch our local high definition [programming],” Ford-Williams said. “We shot in a place with the richest colors and most beautiful sights I’ve seen.”

Moore said he knows not every veteran will agree with sentiments about the futility of war — even a young, pre-Vietnam Moore was a hawkish adherent to the Domino Theory — so he keeps politics and parallels to Iraq out of the new film.

“We tried to avoid comparisons,” he said. “I think there might be one place where I say I wonder what it was worth now that America is Vietnam’s largest trading partner, but we didn’t want to make it a real political statement.”

Instead the film tracks the three men and their reaction to revisiting the past, including Moore’s own memories of his self-described racist reaction to the Vietnamese. When he realized he was doling out the same treatment he sometimes received at the hands of others back home, Moore said he knew a change in his own mind-set was in order.

“That’s when I started wondering, ‘What the hell are we doing?'” he said. “That’s when I started to question the futility of war. And I still question it today. There’s got to be a better way to solve our problems.”

(TV editor Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Ask TV questions at www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Q&A.)


Two Vietnamese peasants who designed and constructed a helicopter out of an old Russian motor and spare parts, are now anxiously awaiting a license for its maiden flight while time is running out.


Tran Quoc Hai and Le Van Danh from southern Tay Ninh province’s Tan Chau district last year made news when they created a helicopter at a cost of VND300 million (US$18,750), and managed to “drag it off the ground” before local authorities impounded the invention.

It is illegal to own an aircraft in Vietnam.

Last August, defense ministry delegates inspected the helicopter and decided to issue a permit for a trial flight, but they said the test must be done no later than 31 December 2006.

Over two months have passed but a license has yet to arrive.

Hai said it was now practically impossible for him to test his craft even if he laid hands on a license from the defense ministry.

He explained he would then have to obtain permits from the local government and science and technology department among other agencies. There will simply not be enough time.

Not for sale

The helicopter first weighed around a ton but later the two inventors trimmed it down to 680kg. The new version now measures 11 meters in length, 2.3 meters across and 3.5 meters high.

The engine uses 60 liters of gasoline in eight hours and can reach 150 kilometers per hour during flight, somewhat similar to a car.

The vehicle has 300-horse power engine and once flew 3m off the ground, Vietnam News Agency last year quoted Danh as saying.

“This aircraft is not for sale,” Hai once announced.

Recently, he refused to sell the aircraft to Australian experts who were ready to pay hundreds of thousands of US dollars for exhibition purposes.

The helicopter is a unique and alien product in industrialized Australia, Hai, who understands English well, quoted the Australians as saying.

Others from Singapore, Poland, the US, England and Cambodia have made visits.

The duo has received all kinds of offers; a US delegation asked to provide technical assistance, a Cambodian team invited them to make aircraft in their country, the duo recently told VietnamNet.

The Wright brothers

Hai recalled his childhood home being next to a US military base in Tay Ninh’s Go Dau district.

“Seeing helicopters up and down everyday caused me to think why only the US had such vehicles.

One adult told me then that Vietnamese technology was not good enough to make aircraft,” he recalled.

Though Hai later became a student at a sport university, his passion for aircraft did not abate. He studied mechanics and searched the Internet for aircraft information in his free time.

He opened a welding shop, which allowed him to meet a prominent client with equal passion for flying machines.

Danh, a policeman-turned-farmer often visited the workshop to weld farm implements, and the two became friends.

After Danh complained about the hardship of spraying pesticides manually and expressed a wish to have a small aircraft to do the job, the duo embarked on the invention journey.

Though not related by blood, the two curious minds definitely think alike.

Source: VietnamNet, Tuoi Tre – Translated by Hoang Bao

15:37′ 05/11/2006 (GMT+7)

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Mr Than Trong Phuc (first from the left) and Dr. Bui Manh Nhi with the MoU.

VietNamNet Bridge –

Ho Chi Minh City University of Pedagogy earlier had conducted trials to provide the Intel® Teach program to about 85 officials and tutors and 591 students during the academic year of 2004 – 2005.

After the trial, Intel® Teach’s curriculum has been proved to be compatible with the training curricula of the Education, Methodology and IT Basics modules of the University. This will be a strong momentum to plug budding teachers into technology.

The integration is planned to start from the academic year of 2006 – 2007, along with the University’s new training curriculum.

According to this MoU, Intel® Teach will be integrated as a mandatory subject into the curriculum for full-time students in faculties at Ho Chi Minh City University of Pedagogy.

English Department is the first faculty of the University to officially implement Intel® Teach-integrated curriculum from the first half of the academic year of 2006-2007.

Support from Intel will also include providing 2,500 textbooks and CDs for the first three years of officially implementing this integrated training program.

Addressing the ceremony, Dr. Bui Manh Nhi, Rector of Ho Chi Minh City University of Pedagogy said “IT technology has been creating a real revolution in all aspects of people’s lives including education.”

“Therefore, with this MoU signed today, we expect that Intel® Teach program will greatly assist in the training of a modern teaching force with skills needed for the future that will open a wide range of new opportunities for Vietnamese students and schools.” he added.

“Preparing Teacher Educators for a technology-driven education is essential,” said Than Trong Phuc, Country Manager, Intel Viet Nam and Indochina.”

Intel® Teach is part of the Intel Innovation in Education initiative, a unique collaboration with educators in communities around the world to improve the quality of engineering, mathematics, science and technology education to help students develop the higher-level thinking skills they need to succeed in a knowledge-based economy. The program incorporates the use of the internet, web page design and student projects. Intel® Teach was launched in 2000 and has trained over three million teachers in 36 countries. For further information, visit www.intel.com/education
Intel® Teach was officially introduced in Viet Nam by Intel and the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) in December 2005. The Vietnamese localized Intel® Teach program has been approved by MOET. About 7,000 university, college and high-school teachers nationwide have received training so far.