News on 26 July 2016

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1) Tran Dai Quang sworn in as President

Tran Dai Quang was sworn into office this afternoon, officially becoming the President of the Vietnam for the next five years. The swearing-in ceremony took place soon after the voting result came in, of which 485 out of 487 members of the newly-elected National Assembly voted for Tran Dai Quang to become the next President. "Standing under the honorary national flag, in front of the National Assembly, the citizens and voters of the country, I, President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, swear to uphold absolute loyalty to the country, to the people, and to the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam," Quang stated. The 60-year-old Quang was first voted to be President on April 2 this year to replace his predecessor Truong Tan Sang in the last two months of Sang’s term. President Tran Dai Quang comes from the northern province of Ninh Bình and spent most of his career in the Ministry of Public Security. He became the Minister of Public Security in 2011 through to 2016.

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2) Legislator who approved Formosa’s Vietnam operations deflects blame

A former top official in the north-central province of Ha Tinh may have licensed Formosa to begin operations in the area, but believes he should not be blamed for any failures of the Taiwanese company following his approval. Vo Kim Cu was deputy chairman of the Ha Tinh administration and head of the management board of the Vung Ang Economic Zone in 2008, when Formosa Plastics Group received the investment license for its steelmaking project in Vietnam. That year, Cu signed a proposal on behalf of the province’s chairman, calling on the government to consider allowing the Taiwanese firm to invest in Vung Ang. Later the same year, as head of the economic zone, Cu granted the license for Formosa to officially start operations. In January 2015, Cu held three high positions at a time: chairman of the provincial administration, secretary of the province’s Party Committee, and a lawmaking National Assembly member. He is now a member of the assembly and chairman of the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance, but keeps no post in the Ha Tinh administration. While it is obvious that Cu held a crucial role in approving Formosa’s steelmaking facility in Ha Tinh, he has never accepted any request for comment on his responsibility, when the Formosa facility was hit by the fish death scandal in April and May. He refused to answer calls from the media, and tried to avoid reporters who attempted to meet him on the sidelines of the recent National Assembly meetings. On Sunday night (July 24), he finally agreed to talk with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, but consistently deflected blame for all the damage Formosa Ha Tinh has caused. Cu said he had rejected the media over the last three months because “[I] was too busy,” and because “a 20-minute break at the National Assembly meeting is too short to talk anything in detail.” “Some reporters also contacted me when the government was conducting studies to find the cause of the fish deaths, so I just could not make any statements then as it was beyond my authority,” he explained.

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3) Mining firm allegedly pollutes Tuyên Quang

A mud waste product of manganese mining and exploitation has allegedly polluted the environment and threatened the lives of local residents in Chiem Hoa District in northern Tuyen Quang Province. Phuc Son Manganese, Mineral and Mechanics Joint-stock Company has exploited manganese mines for 13 years in Phuc Son Commune, Chiem Hoa District, home of the largest manganese reserve in the province. The volume of mud waste has reached thousands of cubic metres after years of manganese production - and containment dams for the mud waste were poorly built, a Tuyen Quang-based Vietnam News Agency (VNA) correspondent has found. Upstream reservoirs of post manganese production were also filled with mud, making it hard to distinguish between the containment reservoir’s and the muddy wastewater. Local residents told the VNA correspondent on Friday (July 22) they had to build small dams around their fields to protect them from the mud waste.

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4) Vietnam Creative Festival 2016 kicks off in Ho Chi Minh City

A festival dedicated for Vietnamese entrepreneurs in the creative industry was launched on Thursday (July 21) in Ho Chi Minh City, expected to attract thousands of participants during its two months and a half course of activities. The event, running until October 8, showcases a number of activities including competitions, conference, and exhibition under the theme of “Senses of Vietnam.” Organized by the Vietnam Creative Entrepreneurs Network since 2014, the eventful occasion is considered a platform to promote creative sectors in the country by providing practical supports to local businesses, allowing them to meet and share experiences. For instance, the “Nice Vietnam” contest, to be held as part of the months-long festival, is dedicated to either individual or group that have creative ideas, including paintings, stamp, animation, and video to promote the image of Vietnam to international friends. Entries must be submitted by September 15. The first individual prize is VND15 million (US$672), while the prize for the winning group will be VND30 million ($1,354). An exhibition and conference themed “Creative Entrepreneurship and Innovation” will be held on October 7 and 8 with talk shows and panel discussions on the creative industry in recent years.

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5) Verizon to buy Yahoo's core business for $4.8 bln in digital ad push

Verizon Communications Inc said on Monday (July 25) it would buy Yahoo Inc's core internet properties for $4.83 billion in cash, marking the end of the line for a storied Web pioneer and setting the stage for a big new internet push by the telecom giant. Verizon will combine Yahoo's search, email and messenger assets as well as advertising technology tools with its AOL unit, which it bought last year for $4.4 billion. Verizon has been looking to mobile video and advertising for new sources of revenue outside the oversaturated wireless market. The No. 1 U.S. wireless operator is betting that it can take data on more than 200 million unique monthly visitors to Yahoo sites, many of them on mobile devices, and combine it with data on 150 million or so unique monthly AOL users and data on its own user base of over 100 million wireless subscribers to offer a more targeted service for advertisers. Barclays said last month Verizon could save $500 million a year in costs of acquiring internet traffic and other expenses by buying Yahoo's internet business. The deal likely means more investment in popular content sites such as AOL's Huffington Post and Yahoo Finance when they become part of a much larger entity. "It now becomes somewhat easier to justify investing in content," said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research. Verizon said it would provide more detail on the strategy behind the acquisition when it announces second-quarter earnings on Tuesday (July 26)

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(All the above News Items have been sourced from: Reuters, ThanhNien News, Vietnam Net, Tuoitre News, Vietnam News, New York Times)

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