News on 9 August 2016

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1) Ho Chi Minh City to ban extra classes in schools: official

Schools in Ho Chi Minh City will no longer be allowed to run extra classes, starting with the upcoming academic year, the city’s education chief said last week. Le Hong Son, director of the Department of Education and Training, spoke in front of members of the municipal People’s Council in a routine query session on August 4, during which he announced his plan to ban all school-run after-hours classes. He said the ban would likely be enforced for the coming academic year. In Vietnam, the school year normally begins in late August or early September and ends around late May or early June the following year. The director said that teachers will still be allowed to use their free time to teach extra classes operated by private institutions. Son also admitted that the new regulation would likely lead to a boom in the establishment of private institutions in the coming years. His plan was met with skepticism by members of the council however, as many raised questions on its practicality and necessity.

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2) Quang Nam to protect elephants

Nong Son District in the central province of Quang Nam plans to set up an elephant conservation centre to protect the remaining small wild population in the province as well as other endangered species, conservationists said. Nong Son is one of 15 areas in the country that still have populations of wild elephants, Cao Chi Cong, deputy general director of the Vietnam Administration of Forestry, said. A 17,500-hectare forest area in Que Lam and Phuoc Ninh communes ranks fourth in Vietnam in terms of its elephant population, Cong told a conference held on Wednesday (August 3) in Quang Nam Province. Based on the evidence of footprints, scientists estimate that six to 10 elephants are living in the area. In early July locals in Que Lam Commune found six elephants wading through a stream in Cam La village, including a male animal with 30-cm long tusks. In June the Quang Nam Province People’s Committee had submitted a proposal to the Vietnam Forest Administration for establishing a elephant conservation site in Nong Son. The project aims to help conserve the wild population and reduce human-elephant conflicts.

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3) Thua Thien-Hue receives $332m of investment

Central Thua Thien-Hue Province yesterday (August 8) granted 16 investment certificates with total investment of nearly VNĐ7.5 trillion (US$332 million) and signed six co-operation agreements with partners. The Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) agreed to provide VNĐ7 billion to implement the locality’s tourism plans. The bank also inked agreements and contracts in principle to provide credit capital amounting to VNĐ4.5 trillion for seven projects. The moves come after conference to promote investment in the province held yesterday (August 8), with Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue and more than 500 representatives from international and domestic businesses attending. Speaking at the conference, Deputy PM Hue said that the province still had room for development. He asked provincial leaders to make clearer policies to call for investment and make lists of projects that needed private investors. He urged the province to develop tourism into its spearhead economy, suggesting tapping the tourism potential based on market economic principles, as well as building special mechanisms to uphold local heritages and boost public-private partnership in relic restoration and upgrades.

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4) Singapore looks to the future on National Day

Singapore’s National Day is close to the heart of every Singaporean. It is a time when we celebrate our past but at the same time look towards the future. This year’s National Day is also special as it marks the beginning of the next chapter of Singapore’s development, after we commemorated 50 years of independence last year. It is therefore apt that the theme for Singapore’s National Day this year is “Building Our Singapore of Tomorrow”. This theme would also have been relevant when Singapore became independent in 1965, except that we were literally concerned with what happens “tomorrow”. At that time, few believed that Singapore could survive as a small nation with no natural resources. Against all odds, we managed to prosper. This was possible because we sought to improve ourselves and make ourselves relevant. It was also possible because the Southeast Asia that we live in has been relatively peaceful, stable and prosperous. ASEAN has played an important role in fostering this environment for growth and that is why one of the key goals of Singapore’s foreign policy is to maintain a cohesive, strong and autonomous ASEAN.

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5) Wal-Mart to Acquire Jet.com for $3.3 Billion in Cash, Stock

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. signed a $3.3 billion deal to buy web retailer Jet.com Inc., bringing in some outside help to jump-start growth at the retail giant’s e-commerce operations. The deal is the largest ever purchase of a U.S. e-commerce startup and a sign Wal-Mart Chief Executive Doug McMillon sees the shift to online shopping and the expansion of Amazon.com Inc. as existential threats to the company’s five decades of growth. Jet’s 46-year-old founder Marc Lore will join Wal-Mart as CEO of e-commerce and be responsible for both Walmart.com and Jet.com, Mr. McMillon said Monday (August 8). Wal-Mart’s top online executive, Neil Ashe, is leaving the company. The Journal reported last week that Wal-Mart was in talks to buy the unprofitable startup, which launched last year and has been spending heavily to market itself. Wal-Mart said the transaction includes about $3 billion in cash and $300 million of Wal-Mart shares, which will be paid over time. It is expected to close later this year. The deal marks a significant shift in how Wal-Mart approaches e-commerce. It first launched Walmart.com more than 15 years ago and has spent billions building up its own online operations. It has opened seven large-scale distribution centers in the U.S. to fulfill orders and hired hundreds of e-commerce staffers at offices in San Bruno, Calif.

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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, BBC, The Wall Street Journal)

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