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Vietnam accuses UNHCR of instigating refugees exodus to Cambodia

Dec 29, 2004
AP via Yahoo!

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - State-controlled Vietnamese media on Wednesday accused the United Nations' refugee agency of stirring up an exodus of ethnic minorities from Vietnam's restive Central Highlands into Cambodia.

A front-page article in the World Security newspaper accused two staff from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees of training 13 Central Highlanders to instigate others to flee to Cambodia.
 
The paper identified the two as Katy Grant, deputy head of a refugee camp in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, and Y Xuan, a Cambodian of Vietnamese origin who is a translator in the camp.
 
The two also issued documents for the 13 highlanders, who were staying at the Phnom Penh camp, to return to Vietnam so they could prod ethnic minority members to flee, the paper said.
 
The two "had turned the refugee camp into a place to train people how to create disturbances and send them back to Vietnam," it said.
 
Thamrongsak Meechubot, the UNHCR representative in Cambodia, rejected the accusation.
 
"For this kind of thing, we don't even need to answer because this is clearly baseless. UNHCR would not do this kind of thing. We have no involvement in political issues in any country. Our assistance is purely humanitarian," he said.
 
He said the 13 refugees had left the Phnom Penh camp for Vietnam on their own because they missed their families.
 
More than 1,000 ethnic minority members, collectively known as Montagnards, fled Vietnam's Central Highlands after a 2001 crackdown on protests by the minorities, many of whom are Christian and claim the government persecutes them. Vietnam is predominantly Buddhist.
 
The refugees have been resettled in other countries, mostly the United States. The U.N. still shelters about 700 Montagnards at camps in Phnom Penh and in Cambodia's Ratanakiri town.

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Vietnam 2004 GDP +7.69% Vs +7.24% In 2003

Dec 29, 2004
Money.iwon.com

HANOI (Dow Jones)--Vietnam's economic growth accelerated to 7.69% in 2004 from 7.24% last year, the General Statistics Office said in a report published Wednesday.
 
Gross domestic product was VND713.071 trillion for the year, the office said. The government targeted a growth of 7.5% to 8.0%. The World Bank said recently that full-year growth will more likely be around 7.2%.
 
Vietnam usually releases data before the end of a reporting period.
 
The GSO report said the gross value of the agricultural sector in the year was VND155.144 trillion, up 3.5% from 2003. The sector accounted for 21.76% of GDP. The industry and construction sector was worth VND285.864 trillion, up 10.2% from 2003 and accounted for 40.09% of GDP for the year.
 
The total value of services was VND272.063 trillion, an increase of 7.47% from 2003 and accounted for 38.15% of GDP.
 
The government of Vietnam targets the economy to grow 8.5% in 2005.

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Vietnam determined to develop service sector

29 December 2004
xinhuanet.com

HANOI, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Vietnamese government has just targeted to increase the proportion of the service sector in gross domestic product (GDP) to 45 percent by 2010 from below 39 percent currently.
 
In other words, the sector's annual growth, in the next five years, must be over 10 percent, compared with this year's estimated figure of nearly 7.5 percent, according to Vietnam News Agency on  Wednesday.
 
To this end, the country will develop fields with advantages and high competitiveness such as retail trading, tourism, hotel and sea transport, and expand international economic cooperation on fields like aviation transport, telecommunications, banking, finance and technology transfer.
 
Vietnam will also create a more equal playing field for all economic sectors operating in the service sector. It should facilitate services offered by the non-state sector, especially those operating in the fields of communications, telecommunications, banking and finance.
 
Now, the state-owned sector holds a lion share of more than 55 percent in the service sector. Foreign investment in the sector accounts for some 22 percent of the total number of foreign- invested projects in Vietnam, and nearly 31 percent of the combined registered capital.

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Economic crimes in Vietnam cause bigger losses in 2004

29 December 2004
Xinhua News Agency

HANOI, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Vietnam suffered total losses of 946. 6 billion Vietnamese dong (60.3 million US dollars) caused by 7, 937 cases of economic crimes this year, up 6.9 percent in value and 0.1 percent in volume against last year.
 
A large number of the crimes are related to smuggling, tax frauds and implementation of investment projects, local newspaper Young People on Wednesday quoted the General Department of Police as saying.
 
In 2004, the smuggling of gold, diamond and fake currencies progressed complexly. In the first 10 months alone, Vietnam confiscated over 8.4 billion counterfeit Vietnamese dong (535,000 dollars).
 
The country also detected 25,153 criminal cases, destroying 3, 045 gangs and arresting 32,937 people in the year. It seized 239.4 kg of heroin and 39,467 lab-made drug pills, posting year-on-year respective increase of 57 percent and 46 percent, although the drug-related cases and arrests were down 6.4 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively.


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PetroVietnam Plans Divestiture

29 December 2004
International Oil Daily

State oil monopoly PetroVietnam has announced plans to divest three subsidiaries by the end of 2005, a company official said Tuesday. The companies up for sale are Petroleum Technical Services Co., the Drilling and Well Services Co. and the Drilling Mud Co.
 
The divested shares will be offered to international investors in line with the government reform policy to partially privatize Vietnam's state oil company. The government has limited foreign ownership up to 30% with the state securing more than 50% of the stake in the companies. The equity ratio is subject to change, depending on how important a role the international investors play in the privatization process, said the PetroVietnam official.
 
Vietnam is eager to boost its crude output and likely needs around $10 billion for exploration and production activities by 2010. Recently, PetroVietnam reported that it raised its production by 15% for the first eight months of 2004, to about 400,000 b/d (IOD Sep.29,p3).

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A Dangerous Christmas In Vietnam

29 Dec 2004
Source: NGO latest
www.alertnet.org

Quang Tri Province, Vietnam- Weapons of a decades-past war continued to claim lives and maim civilians in four separate incidents in one particularly dangerous Christmas day in Vietnam, as reported by Clear Path International. Each of the following incidents happened on December 25th.
 
Two children in Vinh Linh district, near the former DMZ in Quang Tri province, Vietnam, one aged 10 and the other aged 12 were injured when an old warhead they were playing with exploded. They both sustained fragment injuries in the left thigh and one received fragments in his left hand. They are now in Vinh Linh  hospital for treatment.
 
An unexploded ordnance (UXO) accident injured a 30-year-old man in Huong Hoa, a mountainous district of Quang Tri province while he was farming. His face was badly burned and his two legs were broken. He was taken to Quang Tri General Hospital for treatment.
 
A 22-year-old man in Hai Lang district of Quang Tri province is fighting to save his eyesight after detonating an explosive device while hoeing his land. It was later reported to Clear Path International that the man lost one eye and may still lose the other.
 
As previously reported by Reuters, four children aged between nine and 14 and a 20-year old man were killed in southern Vietnam when a war-time mortar shell they were playing with exploded,
 
Although the Vietnam War ended nearly 30 years ago, bombs that remain in the ground still regularly claim lives and limbs. Since the war ended in 1975, nearly 40,000 Vietnamese have been killed by leftover ordnance.
 
Clear Path International serves landmine and bomb accident survivors, their families and their communities in former war zones in Southeast Asia. This assistance takes the form of medical and social services to survivors and their families and equipment support to local hospitals. Current Clear Path projects are in Vietnam, Cambodia and on the Thai-Burma border.

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Two dead and one seriously injured by Vietnam War-era shell

29 December 2004
Agence France Presse

HANOI, Dec 29 (AFP) - Two men died and another was seriously injured in central Vietnam when a suspected US naval shell left over from the Vietnam war exploded, a local official said Wednesday.
The accident happened on Tuesday when the four men tried to cut open a 50-kilogram (110 pound) shell they had discovered on a hill in Cam Ranh township of the central coastal Khanh Hoa province, a commune official told AFP.
Nguyen Thanh Tien, 36, and Nguyen Quang, 30, died on the spot while one of the two survivors was seriously injured.
"We suspect that the shell was shot onshore by the US navy during the War," the official said.
Since the war ended in 1975, more than 38,000 people have been killed and over 100,000 injured as a result of unexploded ordnance, according to Ministry of Public Security statistics published by state media.
According to the US military, more than 15 million tonnes of bombs, mines, artillery shells and other munitions were used during the Vietnam War. It is estimated that as much as 10 percent of this failed to explode. Most of the blasts are triggered by people farming or trying to salvage the metal casings and explosives from the munitions.

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Man arrested over US study scam in Vietnam

Wednesday, Dec 29, 2004,Page 6
www.taipeitimes.com

DPA , HANOI -  A man has been arrested on suspicion of swindling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Viet-namese students trying to study in the US, police said yesterday.

Pham Van Khien, 43, was arrested on Monday evening after the scam was uncovered at the beginning of last month, an investigative police officer from Ho Chi Minh City said.
 
On Nov. 2, nearly 300 students at Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat Airport found they had been the victims of a scam when a promised flight to the US for study did not materialize, said the police officer, who spoke on a non-attributable basis.
 
"It is reported that these student had paid the company between US$3,000 to US$5,000 each," the police officer said.
 
"All documents, including letterheads of the US consulate shown by the group  to these student and their families, are fake," the officer said.
 
The scam artists used the name "the Carlyle Group" for their fake education company, and the US embassy made clear earlier this month that the company had no legitimate US connections.
 
"The US Consulate General does not endorse or support any of the group's activities. This group also does not have any connection to the actual Carlyle Group based in Washington DC," the US consulate said in a statement.

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Roger Williams sets up Vietnam school

Published 12/29/2004
www.pbn.com

Roger Williams University has partnered up with a Vietnamese-American entrepreneur to establish a "major academic center" in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the first private American university in the southeast Asian nation. Slated to open Jan. 15, the American Pacific University of Vietnam is the
brainchild of Dr. Binh Thy Nguyen Tran, developed in collaboration with Roger Williams president Roy J. Nirschel and Michael Good, a professor at the University of California-Hayward and former head of John Cabot University in Rome.

Initially, the school will offer English as a second language through language centers; high school programs featuring a dual curriculum meeting both Vietnam Ministry of Education and U.S. Department of Education standards; a college preparatory program (College Bridge); professional development courses, and a number of pre-master's degree certificates.


APU has also secured agreements to provide technical and professional training for local organizations such as Vietnam Airlines.

Roger Williams' involvement is twofold: As part of the strategic planning process, faculty are developing a "2 + 2" articulation agreement for students to complete two years at APU in Vietnam and transfer to Roger Williams University to complete their bachelor degrees in business, engineering, the arts and sciences, and other disciplines. The school also plans to establish a distance learning curriculum, linking students from Vietnam to Roger Williams in Rhode Island.

"Roger Williams University is proud of its slogan, 'Learning to Bridge the World,' and our important role in establishing the first private American university in Vietnam," Nirschel said in a news release.

"For the past decade, I have tried to help Vietnamese youth by providing them with opportunities for study in the United States," Tran said. "Now, with the establishment of APU and our academic partnerships, we will be able to provide those same opportunities here in Vietnam. We hope that these academic relationships will foster better understanding between the people of Vietnam and the United States and further accelerate the economic development of the country."

To ensure that all Vietnamese students have access to its programs, the university will also offer various grants and scholarships.

The current plan is for APU to enroll 500 students during 2005 in various programs in Vietnam, with a five-year goal of increasing enrollment to about 6,000 students.

"Already, students have applied to study in our master of public administration program at Roger Williams University," Nirschel said. "Additionally, faculty are exploring a three-week winter session in 2006 as part of this historic partnership."