16:59′ 04/09/2008 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Purchasing houses in the US and leasing the houses has become a new way for many Viet Kieu and Vietnamese people to earn their living.

Earning money in the US, spending money in Vietnam

A house on sale in the US

When returning to Vietnam to visit family and relatives, Nguyen Huyen said that house and land prices in the US are now at record lows, which proves to be a golden opportunity for many Vietnamese people to own houses in the US.

Huyen himself has purchased a house worth $320,000, for which he had to pay $100,000 in advance. The remaining sum of $220,000 he will pay over 20 years ($1,100 per month) at the interest rate of 5.8% per annum. The house is located in Seattle in Washington state, covering an area of 80 x 40 feet (12 x 24 m). Now Huyen is leasing the house, getting $1,000-1,500 while he lives in another house in Alaska.

A lot of Viet Kieu have decided to return to the homeland after many years of living in the US. Thien Pham said that before returning to Vietnam to settle down, he sold an apartment in California worth $1mil, and then purchased five houses in Houston for $170-200,000 each. Currently, he is leasing three of the five houses at $1,800 a month, while is offering to sell the other two to get money to buy an apartment in San Jose. He said that the leasing fee is higher there, at $2,500/month. With house leasing, he can pocket a lot of money after paying $2,000-3,000 in land tax for each house.

Thien Pham said that now in Vietnam he and his wife still go to work, but ‘just for joy’, not for earning money.

P.D, a musician, said that nearly all overseas musicians now want to return to settle in Vietnam. They are leading good lives in Vietnam with the money they get from leasing houses in the US. P.D said that he is now living in a leased house in Vietnam; however, the leasing fee is just equal to 1/10 of the money he can earn from leasing houses in the US.

Thien related that a lot of his friends in Vietnam are planning to purchase houses in the US for leasing. A cousin of his has just purchased an apartment with 3 bedrooms in Westminster at $480,000, and an apartment in California at $400,000 with payment by instalments. If the cousin leases the two apartments, he will get $2,800 a month from each.

US people sell, Vietnamese purchase

Tran Huy Phuong, Director of Selection Realty & Mortgage in San Jose, said that it is now easier than previously to fly to the US to visit relatives. Therefore, a lot of Vietnamese people are eyeing houses and land in the US. Previously, only very rich people could make the investments, but now, as land prices have decreased sharply, a lot of Vietnamese businessmen have jumped on the bandwagon.

That explains why Lan Nguyen, 32, is not trying to sell her apartment in the suburbs of Houston city in Texas through advertisements in the US, but asked Huyen to introduce the house to his relatives in Vietnam. In general, after successfully selling a house worth $600-700,000, sellers will have to pay $20,000 to an agent. As a matter of course, a lot of Viet Kieu have become real estate brokers.

Phuong from Selection Realty & Mortgage said that leasing houses proves to be a cushy job; it can bring fat profit much higher than the initial investment. However, he said, sometimes inexperienced investors do not get the money they want, while suffering heavy debts from instalment payments.

(Source: NLD)

By Matt Steinglass
Sep 5, 2008, 3:53 GMT
Ho Chi Minh City – It was not that long ago that Vietnamese Americans hesitated to do business in Vietnam for fear of being ostracized by their stridently anti-Communist community leaders back in the United States.

But if those days are not yet gone, they are on their way out, said Ryan Hoang Nguyen Hubris, a Vietnamese-American businessman in Ho Chi Minh City.

‘I see more Vietnamese Americans here than I do back in Orange County or San Jose [California],’ Hubris said. ‘It has become more socially and politically accepted.’

Hubris is executive vice president of the Vietnamese-American chain Lee’s Sandwiches, which boasts 36 stores in California, Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma. He spoke while sipping an iced coffee at the company’s first Ho Chi Minh City franchise, launched in early August under the spinoff brand Lee’s Coffee.

As commercial ties have burgeoned in recent years between Vietnam and the United States, the number of Vietnamese Americans living and working in Vietnam has swelled into the thousands. They bring with them a dose of US culture, and they are taking part in Vietnam’s breakneck integration into the global economy.

Some have established shrimp farms or telecommunications and oil companies. Others are going to work for international banks and financial and real-estate firms that value their Vietnamese language skills.

‘There’s an energy here with so many Vietnamese Americans coming to start businesses,’ said Katherine Thinh, 33, a native of Silicon Valley, California, and the chief financial officer of the online music startup Pops.vn.

But many Vietnamese Americans said it was not until they arrived in Vietnam that they realized how American they are.

‘For me, being so immersed in American society and then coming back, the first few months was tough,’ said Hubris, who was 7 when he left the city, then known as Saigon, in 1975. ‘Even though you understand what the Vietnamese are saying, just the practices are very different.’

Some of the culture clashes cited by Vietnamese Americans working in Vietnam are the familiar complaints of First World businessmen in a Third World country: a relaxed attitude toward deadlines, lack of clarity as to when an agreement has been reached or what the next step should be and an incoherent regulatory system that places companies in constant legal jeopardy.

But other tensions are specific to the Vietnamese-American story.

‘Everything runs on connections in Vietnam,’ said Thinh Nguyen, 49, who launched Pyramid Software in Ho Chi Minh City in 2001, 26 years after fleeing Saigon for California. ‘And for obvious reasons, we don’t have any connections.’

Or rather, the connections they do have tend not to endear them to Vietnam’s governing elites.

Almost all Vietnamese Americans immigrated to the United States after the fall of South Vietnam to the Communist North in 1975, which led to economic hardship and political repression. Many suffered grueling odysseys as ‘boat people’ and spent years in refugee camps.

They arrived in the United States as ardent anti-Communists, often refusing to accept the legitimacy of the government in Hanoi.

For its part, Hanoi mistrusts Vietnamese Americans’ ties to the former South Vietnamese regime. It monitors US-based political groups that seek multiparty democracy in Vietnam, sometimes arresting their members on visits to Vietnam if they engage in political activity.

‘We got caught between two worlds,’ Nguyen said. ‘We belong to the community in the US that’s still very anti-Communist and then we’re ruled by the government here that’s still not too trusting of the overseas Vietnamese.’

These political disadvantages can make Vietnamese Americans vulnerable. While those with dual citizenship can legally own real estate in Vietnam – unlike other foreigners – some said they have had property they bought seized by the government or by well-connected Vietnamese.

Despite such hurdles, the business opportunities that have opened up since the signing of a Vietnamese-US trade agreement in 2000 are irresistible. The United States is now Vietnam’s number one export customer, taking in more than 12 billion dollars in Vietnamese goods in 2007.

Many Vietnamese Americans said they feel they are bringing a different working culture to the country, one with less hierarchy and greater individual responsibility.

Thinh said where a Vietnamese company might block employee access to the internet to prevent surfing and gaming on company time, Pyramid Software keeps access open but expects employees to motivate themselves.

But the most striking thing Vietnamese Americans bring to Vietnam is a language – not Vietnamese, but the language of American business in the internet age. Most have grown up in the computer, media and retail capitals of Silicon Valley and greater Los Angeles, and you can hear it in their vocabulary.

Hubris peppers his speech with references to vertical integration of the production line, market research, branding and logo integrity.

Pops.vn chief executive Esther Nguyen, a 32-year-old Californian, talks about how long it took for her young Vietnamese employees to understand what she meant by a ‘social networking site,’ highlighting just some of the remaining cultural gaps.

The Gazette

On Sept. 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh stood in Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi and made a simple declaration to the 100,000 people gathered there. “Vietnam has the right to enjoy freedom and independence,” he proclaimed, calling for an end to almost a century of French occupation.

Indochina, as the colony was known, has alternated roles of victor and victim since then. Partitioned in 1954, it was fought over by the Americans until 1975, united as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976 and, since the mid-1980s, has slowly opened up again to the West.

It is now part of the World Trade Organization and this year even gained a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

On Tuesday, this feisty nation of 85 million people celebrated its National Day. If you thought you knew Vietnam from U.S.-centric war flicks like Apocalypse Now, Platoon or The Deer Hunter, it’s time to see the country a different way, through the viewfinder of some of its finest filmmakers.

Exemplified by the meticulous work of emigré director Tran Ang Hung, these finely-crafted works of art are typical of the Vietnamese sensibility. They’re the sublimely spiritual products of hearts and minds attuned to the human scale, subtly observed and deeply felt.

The Scent of Green Papaya (France/Vietnam, 1993). Amazingly, Tran’s first feature film was filmed entirely in a studio in Paris, his adopted city. Even so, it faithfully recreates the atmosphere of middle-class family life in 1950s Saigon, as an impressionable servant girl named Mui uncovers her masters’ hidden foibles. Out-of-print in North America, the DVD is available from Britain in an all-region version by Second Sight (try amazon.co.uk).

Cyclo (France/Hong Kong/ Vietnam, 1995). Tran’s second film is a wild departure from the first. It’s a violent, disturbing portrait of the nasty and brutish life of a man who

drives a “cyclo” (a bicycle taxi) in Ho Chi Minh City and who gets himself and his sister messed up with drugs, gangsters and prostitution. Radiohead’s song Creep figures prominently. The New Yorker DVD is a solid transfer.

Three Seasons (U.S./Vietnam, 1999). Billed as the first American film to be set in Vietnam (and scripted mostly in the Vietnamese language) since the last U.S. helicopter beat a retreat in 1975, this multi-storylined melodrama was the debut feature of young director Tony Bui. A street urchin, a cyclo

driver, a prostitute and an ex-GI (Harvey Keitel) find their lives interconnect in the big city. A fine Canadian DVD from Seville Pictures.

The Vertical Ray of the Sun (France/Germany/Vietnam, 2000). Good things come in threes, as Tran’s third feature proves. Alternatively titled At the Height of Summer, it’s the most accessible of the bunch, signaled by the choice of opening music, Lou Reed’s laconic Pale Blue Eyes. Three sisters in Hanoi prepare a banquet honouring their dead mother, and family secrets are revealed. The Columbia Tri-Star disc skimps on extras but looks great.

Buffalo Boy (France/Belgium/ Vietnam, 2004). Another

feature debut, this time from American-educated writer-

director Minh Nguyen-Vo. The film takes place in rural Indochina in the mid-1940s, and centres on a peasant teenager who sets off on a life-and-death search for food for his family’s two starving water buffalo. Fate has him fall in with a gang of knife-wielding herders. The extras-rich DVD is in First Run Features’ Global Lens Collection.


18:29′ 06/09/2008 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Overseas Vietnamese lecturer Doan Cam Thi, who teaches Vietnamese literature at the University Paris 7 – Denis Diderot, has translated books by young Vietnamese writers into French. Thi talks about her work as well as her latest translation, the Au rez-de-chaussee du paradis (Heaven’s Ground Floor), which was published in France recently.

It’s can be said that Au rez-de-chaussee du paradis is the first collection of short stories by young Vietnamese writers to be widely published in France. Why did you decide to translate this book?

Although my main work revolves around research, criticism and lectures on modern Vietnamese literature, I became interested in the work of young writers since 2002. These writers include Phan Thi Vang Anh, Ngo Tu Lap, Phan Trieu Hai, Nguyen Trong Nghia and Nguyen Ngoc Tu. The more I read their work, the more fascinated I am by them. In addition, many of these writers say they want to have a chance to access more readers, other than Vietnamese readers. That’s why I want to present them to French readers. The Au rez-de-chaussee du paradis collection features 14 short stories by 14 young Vietnamese writers.

What challenges did you face in selecting the stories as well as in translating them?

I have to stress that to present the collection to French readers is not a simple task. First at all, I had to find a publishing house that would agree to take a risk and back the project. When I persuaded the director of the Philippe Picquier publishing house, Philippe Picquier, to publish the book, he did not hide his doubts over the book’s success, and asked me: “Give me a reason why I should publish this book?”

The book has been welcomed by French readers and that’s evidence that I made the right decision. The book has attracted a large number of French readers as well as readers in other Francophone countries.

Can you tell us more about the French readers’ reaction to the book?

Telerama, the biggest weekly cultural and art magazine in France, described the collection as a breath of fresh air from a distant land. They wrote that “there are not many French people who know much about distant Viet Nam, but this country is coming back, bringing a fresh breath in the form of a collection of literature about [Vietnamese people’s] dreams and fears.”

The Amazon website placed the book in its list of French best-sellers about Viet Nam. Many readers have said that the diverse writing styles in the collection makes each story in the book interesting in its own way, worth reading and contemplating.

What will be your next translation?

I am now working on the novel China Town by Thuan. The book is expected to be published in French by the Seuil publishing house next year. Along with Nguyen Binh Phuong and Nguyen Viet Ha, Thuan is one of the best Vietnamese writers at the moment.

Following the success of Au rez-de-chaussee du paradis, how do you evaluate Vietnamese literature’s standing in the world?

Vietnamese literature has became “younger” thanks to a growing number of young writers and critics, including the those who were born in the 1980s. Their works presents their desires, which often include adventure and discovery. In my opinion, that is a positive sign and I’m optimistic about the future of Vietnamese literature. Being a Vietnamese reader, I hope Vietnamese literature will be in harmony with the world’s literature.

You have been living in France for more than 20 years. What are your observations on the life of Vietnamese-French writers?

Almost all of them left Viet Nam many years ago, but they always have a sense of nostalgia in their heart for their homeland.

(Source: VNS)


09:13′ 09/09/2008 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Activities to show support for Vietnamese children and Agent Orange (AO)/Dioxin victims were held during the 12th “Day of Solidarity” in the German capital of Berlin last weekend.

As many as 8,000 Euros were donated on the occasion.

Among others, the Solidarity Service International (SODI) and the Help Children in Vietnam organisation showed pictures about Vietnamese AO victims. SODI also introduced projects relating to mine clearance and resettlement in Vietnam.

As many as 8,000 Euros were donated on the occasion. The money will be used to buy equipment for a primary school in Da Nang Province and to support the Thuy An Rehabilitation Centre in Ba Vi District (Hanoi) where more than 100 AO heavily-affected children are given with care.

SODI opened an online campaign on its website to collect 100,000 signatures to support Vietnamese AO victims’ fight for justice. SODI also called on 37 US chemical companies that supplied AO toxin to the US armed forces during the Vietnam-American War to admit their responsibility and compensate the victims.

The “Day of Solidarity,” initiated in the time of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), became an annual event in 1996 with the aim of raising funds to support development projects in Africa, Asia and the Latin America.

This year’s event, which was held in the Alexanderplatz Square, drew the participation of 31 publishers and newspaper offices, 19 associations for solidarity, three union organisations and some 10,000 visitors.

(Source: VNA)

www.chinaview.cn 2008-09-10 11:16:00 Print

HANOI, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) — Some 2,800 Vietnamese women and children were trafficked to foreign countries, mainly neighboring ones, between 2005 and June 2008, many of whom have been forced to act as prostitutes, local newspaper Youth reported Wednesday.

Criminals often told women that they would help them tour or do business across borders, but in fact sold them to prostitution dens or foreign men in remote areas, said delegates to a national conference on human trafficking held in Hanoi on Tuesday.

Besides, a number of Vietnamese women and children have been trafficked via air and sea routes to farther countries such as South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and some European and American nations, Nguyen Quoc Nhat, vice director of the Social Order-Related Crime Investigation Department under the Ministry of Public Security, said, noting that they have been forced to work as either prostitutes or slaves.

The trafficking of Vietnamese infants, men and human viscera are showing embryonic signs, he said at the conference.

Expatriates living in Vietnam are the stars of a popular new game show airing every Wednesday this month until the end of November.

Titled “Say it if you dare,” the 30-minute game show – aired only in Vietnamese – features expat contestants who are taught Vietnamese words by two local celebrities. Contestants must then use the words in situations given by the judges such as bargaining at the markets or ordering at restaurants.

The judges will evaluate the contestants’ pronunciation and ability to use the words they have learnt.

The show, broadcast on VTC7 at 8 p.m. Wednesdays, is hoped to foster good relations between expats and Vietnamese citizens.

For information about the show, email todaytv@imcorp.com.vn or phone (08) 830 4448.

Reported by Da Ly

17:54′ 12/09/2008 (GMT+7)

Nguyen Van Quy (on the wheelchair) on the way to the New York Court of Appeals on June 18, 2007, three weeks before he died.

VietNamNet Bridge – Two Vietnamese Agent Orange victims, Dang Hong Nhut and Tran Thi Hoan, will go to the US from September 27 to October 31 to talk about the consequences of AO/dioxin in Vietnam.

According to Mai The Chinh, an official of the Association of Vietnamese AO/Dioxin Victims, Dang Hong Nhut, 67, from the southern province of Dong Nai, took part in the war of resistance against the US troops and was infected with AO.

Tran Thi Hoan, 22, is missing two limbs as a result of congenital malformation consequent of AO. Hoan is a student at HCM City University.

The two women will go to the US at the invitation of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign (VAORRC). In 2005 and 2007, Vietnamese AO victims went to the US three times to campaign for the US public’s support for Vietnamese victims in their lawsuit against US chemical companies.

The latest trip to the US by Vietnamese AO victims took place in June 2007. They took part in an oral argument at the US Court of Appeals. Nearly one month after that, two victims, Nguyen Van Quy and Nguyen Thi Hong, died because of dioxin.

Chinh said the Association of Vietnamese AO/Dioxin Victims and lawyers are preparing an appeal to lodge to the US Supreme Court. On February 22, the US Court of Appeals rejected the Vietnamese AO/Dioxin victims’ petition against US chemical companies which produced AO/dioxin used during the Vietnam War. The appeal will be sent to the US Supreme Court between now and early October.

Vietnam currently has around 3 million AO/dioxin victims.

17:32′ 15/09/2008 (GMT+7)


Bridge – Pascale Valery Tung Lam, a fashion designer for Thai Tuan Garment and Textile Company, designed the 2008 Miss Vietnam Collection for the 30 ladies who competed for the title of the country’s most beautiful woman in Hoi An.

You are the result of a romantic relationship between a beautiful French woman and a Vietnamese man. Please tell us more about yourself.

I am the result of a romantic love between a French lady from Champagne and a Vietnamese man from Ha Noi. They both had the same passion and played the violin. My father was a doctor and my mother a violin professor. She taught the violin to young students. I am the eldest of four children. I was born in Paris and lived in Ho Chi Minh City for the first 10 years. I learnt Vietnamese from my paternal grandmother. After 10 years I returned to France with my family because of the war. In 1996 I returned to Viet Nam for the first time.

Why did you decide to become a fashion designer? What were you doing before working with Thai Tuan?

I became a fashion designer like my French grandmother, who had a fashion house. She passed on to me her passion for this trade, especially for silk, and [taught me] how to match colours. After my studies – fine arts, marketing in England and the US and courses at Stanford University [in the US], I opened a fashion house in France and was lucky to meet my fashion godmother, Carven, who is a famous designer in Paris. I learned the sensorial approach and studied the aromas of wine with my husband Jean Jacques, who is a wine taster and export manager for a famous wine and spirit distributor. I also studied with Jacques Puisais, an eminent enologist. I designed dresses according to the aromas of wines and held very successful shows in France and other European countries, including in Paris, the capital of fashion. I developed my design and my business thanks to Ratti Spa, a big Italian factory that makes silk. I also design for other brands like Pierre D’Alby, Christine Laure, and Sarah B. I studied the history of the Vietnamese dress, the ao dai, and met Lien Huong, a famous fashion designer of ao dai. I invited her to France and suggested to UNESCO that the ao dai be classified as intangible heritage. During my stay in Viet Nam, I worked as a fashion consultant to producers like IGTC, Vita Jean, Sai Gon 2, and Sanding. Now I work for Thai Tuan Company.

Do you think your mixed Vietnamese-French heritage gave you an edge when designing the Miss Viet Nam Collection?

I think that I am very lucky to talk Vietnamese, French, and English fluently. I see it as advantage to speak many languages in this kind of job. Now, for the Miss Viet Nam Collection, I think it is easier if I speak Vietnamese.

Please tell us about your Miss Viet Nam collection? Why were you chosen as the designer for this event?

I worked and designed dresses for Miss Viet Nam because Thai Tuan Company asked me to do it. Thai Tuan is an important partner and sponsor of Miss Viet Nam. I designed the fashion collection based on a theme inspired by nature in a glittering, new material called voile that Thai Tuan Company produces. Finally, Tien Phong, the Miss Viet Nam organiser, chose the dress “light” as the most representative of the event. It is both elegant and sexy at the same time.

What do you think about the fashion industry in Viet Nam?

I think the fashion industry is better than 10 years ago. Viet Nam now has many very good designers, especially of the ao dai, but we may progress more with a contemporary Vietnamese style (casual and city wear). We must also make a big effort to improve the quality of textile products we can introduce to, and capture, foreign markets, especially Europe and the US.

(Source: VNS)