As the election of deputies to the National Assembly and People’s Councils is approaching, people in Tu Van Village in Thuong Tin District on the outskirts of Hanoi are busy making national flags to meet orders from across the country.
A workshop in Tu Van Village is seen busy at making the national flags and banners in preparation for the upcoming general election. (Photo: VNA)
Located 30km south of Hanoi, the trade village is famed for its embroidery and weaving and has made millions of national flags over the last 75 years.
According to local elderly people, embroidery and weaving first prospered in the village in the 16th century. Many of the villagers even opened shops on Hang Bong and Hang Gai streets in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
The tailors need to be meticulous in their work to make sure each flag complies with regulatory requirements. (Photo: VNA)
Ahead of the General Uprising on August 19, 1945, local craftsmen were asked to make national flags, with this historic moment marking the establishment of the national flag-making craft in Tu Van Village.
With the development of the market economy, many households in Tu Van Village have switched from traditional embroidery to specialising in making flags, panels and banners.
Orders were sent to the village earlier this year in preparation for the upcoming national election, with nearly double the number of the previous year.
Therefore, all stages of making national flags from choosing fabrics, operating machines, printing, embroidering and sewing have been implemented urgently to meet high demand.
The five-pointed yellow star is embroidered manually.
“We all feel happy and proud when our products, the national flags, are hung solemnly in many institutes across the country, even though the work is hard and the income is not high,” said Nguyen Thu Phuong while rapidly but accurately embroidering the five-pointed yellow star on a national flag.
A complete national flag involves dozens of steps that do not require much skill, but the tailors need to be meticulous in their work to ensure each flag complies with regulatory requirements.
According to experienced tailors, the steps of printing, placing and embroidering the five-pointed star on the cloth are the most important. For them, the national flag represents the soul of the nation so the step is performed with high concentration by skilled tailors.
Whether the flag is tens of square metres large or as small as a palm hand, the five-pointed yellow star must be placed in a solemn position with the most harmonious proportion.
“We have to work with enthusiasm, maximum ability and technique to make the most beautiful flags,” said Nguyen Van Phuc whose family has been in the trade for three generations./. VNA
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the life of performing artists in Việt Nam even harder. Many have had to take up extra jobs to earn a living like selling food online, shipping goods or selling insurance. They are in urgent need of State support to be able to stay in their profession.
By Minh Thu & Lương Hương
Hastily wiping the sweat dripping from her forehead, Nguyễn Thùy Dương put boxes of fried spring rolls into bags so that her husband, Hoàng Đức Thắng, could deliver them to customers for dinner.
Looking at the couple engrossed in loading their motorbike with boxes of fried spring rolls, you wouldn’t think they are top artists of the Việt Nam Circus Federation and used to shine on world stages with their silk swinging performances.
Before the ongoing fourth wave of COVID-19 infections in Việt Nam that started at the end of April, they spent a lot of time training for their busiest time of the year – summer.
The closure of their workplace, Hà Nội Central Circus, following national measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 immediately hit their monthly income. The young couple has had to take up an extra job to make ends meet.
According to the urgent dispatch of the Hà Nội authority on April 27, all cultural and art programmes had to be postponed to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
A series of performances by theatres were stopped, even though the artists had prepared to entertain audiences during the national holidays of April 30 and May 1.
The Việt Nam Circus Federation had to cancel its Circus Gala that gathers artists from provinces and cities nationwide.
Tống Toàn Thắng, deputy director of the federation, said that he and all other circus artists felt great sadness.
“We overcame a very difficult period in 2020. This year, our artists have been very excited to practise for many new projects such as the performance that combines cải lương (reformed opera) and circus Thượng Thiên Thánh Mẫu , the yearly Circus Gala, the Đi Cùng Năm Tháng show that aims to pay tribute to the heroes and martyrs in July and especially, the special performances to entertain the children this summer holiday.
“But when the pandemic suddenly broke out again, all plans had to stop. We felt like we were trying to get up but then were knocked down again,” he said.
“I felt so sad and wanted to cry when the pandemic broke out again and I believe that circus artists and performing artists, in general, also felt the same way,” Thắng said.
He said the sadness came from the artists’ regret of being unable to demonstrate their creativity and training over the past year as well as income worries, particularly for those with small children.
The federation authority has encouraged them to continue training to stay in shape, as their skills could fade after just a fortnight without training.
The federation has supported artists by providing free lunches for those with rehearsal schedules.
This idea was also implemented by the Hà Nội Drama Theatre during the pandemic in 2020. Nguyễn Trung Hiếu, director of the theatre, said he greatly sympathised with the artists.
“Currently, the theatre includes mainly 30 artists, in addition to young ones and those with contemporary contracts. Our artists’ income largely depends on shows so the cancellation of shows means an immediate drop in their income,” he said.
Dương and Thắng still train hard every day with other members of the federation. In addition, Dương makes food to sell online to earn extra money to raise their two small children, aged 2 and 11.
“If the pandemic hadn’t broken out, our income would be sufficient to cover our daily needs. However, our salary has been lowered at this time of the year, so we have no other choice but to find a part-time job, though we know that it is only a temporary solution and could not improve our family’s situation,” Dương said.
She makes spring rolls and other dishes to sell online while her husband is in charge of delivery.
“Thắng is a hard-working husband who frequently helped me with the housework even before the pandemic. When we receive many orders, he rolls up his sleeves and goes to the kitchen to fry spring rolls for me,” she added.
Being in the same profession means they can understand each other’s struggles well.
Another couple of the circus federation are Dương Quyên and Lê Minh Sinh who are renowned for their double string performance.
Since the closure of their shows, the couple started to sell chickens and fresh vegetables that their parents sent from the countryside. Quyên also runs yoga classes for women online.
“We trained day and night, spending a lot of time preparing for upcoming shows but then we didn’t have the chance to perform. We have been overwhelmed with disappointment and also worries about our income,” Quyên said.
She added that all circus artists have been struggling to make ends meet as they understand the federation is also encountering difficulties without income and is therefore unable to subsidise all artists.
“However, the leadership of the federation has been very concerned about our lives. We have been provided with free lunch on the days we train while young performers with financial difficulties will be allowed to live in the dormitory of the federation.”
Quyên said circus artists have a difficult and short career, but passion for the art inspires them to keep going.
“Taking up a part-time job is just a temporary solution. We always want to present special performances to the audience and make money from our creativity,” she said.
In 2020, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism supported 12 theatres to set up plays and organise performances to attract audiences back to the stage.
This year, the artists hope for similar support from the state management body.
They have also proposed more long-term solutions for performing arts in Việt Nam, such as a support package, tax exemption and reduction for performing businesses and a scheme to develop online theatres.
According to artist Phạm Ngọc Tuấn, director of Việt Nam Tuồng Theatre, the mechanism could not be changed immediately so it is important to find a timely solution.
“The economy this year is much tougher than last year. After the pandemic, people’s lives are also difficult because all industries have been affected. I’m afraid they will not be able to spend money on visiting theatres. We hope the Ministry of Culture and Sports and Tourism helps to remove difficulties in terms of human resources of performing arts,” he said.
Agreeing with Tuấn, artist Nguyễn Xuân Bắc, director of the Việt Nam Drama Theatre, said theatre managers should pay more attention to artists’ lives.
As a solution to deal with closures due to the pandemic, many theatres have concentrated on online performances.
The Việt Nam Drama Theatre, for example, has focused on developing YouTube and TikTok channels to broadcast entertainment programmes and reveal behind-the-scenes stories.
The Việt Nam Chèo Theatre is expected to premiere famous plays on social networking platforms while the Puppet Theatre and the Circus Federation plan to work with television stations to record performances and broadcast them on TV.
Trần Hướng Dương, deputy director of the Performing Arts Department under the Ministry of Culture, said the ministry is working to find specific solutions before holding meetings with theatres.
“I deeply understand the concerns of artists. Not only us but all of society is suffering from a difficult time. Through their work, artists can bring spiritual strength to the masses and therefore they need timely encouragement to continue to pursue their jobs,” he said. VNS
The Government has created conditions for localities and businesses to stimulate the import of Covid-19 vaccines, however, no proposals have been sent to the relevant agencies.
Strict conditions have made it difficult for businesses to import vaccines despite the country is dealing with the fourth wave of the Covid-19 outbreak that has caused widespread community transmissions in many parts of Vietnam.
|A doctor conducts vaccination against Covid-19 at E Hospital in Hanoi. Photo: Cong Hung|
The Ministry of Health has recently listed 36 businesses qualified to import, transport, and preserve vaccines in Vietnam, however, there are no businesses have registered to take part in this challenging market.
To gain green light from the Government and relevant agencies, the vaccine importers need to prove their capabilities in importing, preserving, transporting, and deploying vaccination, along with commitments to fairness, anti-fraud, -dumping and -price hike in the process.
An expert from the health sector, who wanted to be anonymous, told The Hanoi Times that the businesses engaged in this big “game” need to prepare the best conditions for their warehouse system and transportation to ensure the quality of vaccines.
“The import of vaccines is not like that of normal pharmaceuticals, therefore, it is difficult for businesses to import vaccines to Vietnam even though it has been facilitated,” he said.
According to an instruction released by the Ministry of Health recently, the vaccine importers need to have a dossier including Ex Works (EXW) or certificate of quality granted by management agencies, which will be approved by the National Institute for Control of Vaccines and Biologicals within 48 hours, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), to ensure quality and avoid importing vaccines of unknown origin.
Vietnam has allowed the import of vaccines, including AstraZeneca from the UK, Sputnick V from Russia, Pfizer from the US, Sputnick from India, and Sinovac from China, through the Government’s assigned agencies and qualified businesses.
Vu Tuan Cuong, Head of the Ministry of Health’s Drug Administration of Viet Nam, told The Hanoi Times that his department has promptly handled all orders of importing the Covid-19 vaccines from the Covax vaccine-sharing program proposed by the AstraZeneca Vietnam Company.
He said the department has also guided diplomatic organizations to submit dossiers enabling them to import the vaccines into Vietnam via non-commercial way according to the law, and approved the import of vaccines from AstraZeneca, Gamaleya, Sinopharm, and Pfizer that will be used in emergency cases.
“We have also asked businesses to send their dossiers to import other vaccines from pharmaceutical firms including Moderna and Johnson&Johnson,” Cuong said.
Cuong said the department has discussed with a number of localities, corporations, and enterprises about procedures related to the vaccine import. However, the ministry has not received any order to import Covid-19 vaccines from them.
A businessperson, who doesn’t want to disclose his name, told The Hanoi Times that the Government’s policy of opening up opportunities to import vaccines to Vietnam is a right and wise decision. His company has been negotiating with at least two vaccine manufacturers approved by WHO.
“However, this is an uneasy business at this time because the demand for vaccines is very high in many countries while the supply is limited. In addition, the conditions for importing vaccines are extremely strict. The expiry date of the vaccine is a short time, within six months from the time of production,” he said.
It may take 1.5 months to transport to Vietnam and half a month for testing and making procedures. If the vaccination is delayed, it may lead to the expiration of the vaccine,” he added.
Modern technology required
|Vietnam has imported more than 400,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine. Photo: kinhtedothi|
Vietnam Vaccine Joint Stock Company (VNVC) was the first to have imported 30 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Vietnam. It has so far received the second batch with 287,600 doses, bringing the total number of vaccines to Vietnam under this contract to 405,200 doses.
Deputy Minister of Health Truong Quoc Cuong has directed VNVC to seek and order more Covid-19 vaccines to serve the people’s vaccination needs. In the following months, VNVC will receive millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine per month.
VNVC is currently the only unit in Vietnam that owns a GSP standard cold chain system at its more than 50 vaccination centers nationwide, which are fully equipped with the modern automatic temperature control system, over-temperature warning system, and refrigerated vehicle for vaccines, ensuring standards required by the manufacturers.
The company is also the first and only unit in Vietnam to have a system of three sub-zero temperatures from around -40 degrees Celsius to -86 degrees Celsius, making the total capacity of vaccine preservation under the GSP standards up to 180 million doses of all kinds.
According to Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long, the ministry has carried out nearly 200 negotiations with global vaccine manufacturers for vaccine import and aid. They have committed to providing Vietnam with about 128.9 million doses this year. The ministry will try its best effort to reach 150 million doses from now until the end of the year, ensuring the country’s herd immunity and bring life back to normal.
The vaccine called Comirnaty is developed from the messenger RNA or mRNA, which contains the instructions for human cells to construct a harmless piece of the coronavirus called the spike protein.
Pfizer Vietnam suggested for the vaccine to be approved, with the green light given by Deputy Health Minister Tran Van Thuan on Saturday, making it the fourth coronavirus vaccine allowed in Vietnam after the U.K.’s AstraZeneca, Russia’s Generium and China’s Sinopharm.
Based on evidence from clinical trials among people aged 16 years and older, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95 percent effective and requires two doses given 21 days apart, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The health ministry said Pfizer Vietnam is responsible for cooperating with vaccine manufacturers to ensure its production, safety and quality.
The company will also cooperate with the Administration of Science, Technology and Training under the health ministry to evaluate the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, and with the National Institute for Control of Vaccines and Biologicals to evaluate the jab by providing samples and other relevant materials, before the vaccine could be put into use.
Earlier, the ministry stated it had secured a deal to get 31 million Pfizer vaccine doses this year.
Vietnam is also among 92 countries and territories the U.S. will donate Pfizer–BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine shots to by June of next year, the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi said Friday.
Vietnam has been using the AstraZeneca vaccine for its inoculation program, under which over 1.3 million people have gotten shots so far.
It aims to secure 150 million vaccine doses this year to cover 70 percent of its population.
‘Make in Vietnam’ online conferencing platforms show that Vietnam’s problems are best solved by Vietnamese, but Vietnamese people need to give these platforms an opportunity to be used and improved.
The June meeting is organized online
Several days ago, the June meeting of the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) digital technology division was organized online, via the netMeeting online conferencing platform developed by NetNam.
Nearly 500 officers from 100 points nationwide attended the meeting.
Online conferencing has become more and more frequent for agencies and businesses in Vietnam during Covid-19 with the support of digital technology, including ‘Make in Vietnam’ platforms.
Previously, most meetings of an agency or enterprise took place in a direct form, with limited attendees, depending on the organizational model. But a ‘revolution’ has occurred which has flattened the traditional tree-shaped organizational chart, eliminating limits and creating a no-distance working environment.
Many state agencies are using next-generation online conferencing platforms, allowing officers to attend meetings at any time and anywhere with mobile devices and at negligible cost, instead of high-cost TV conferencing system as used before.
The quality of netMeeting, as shown at the meeting, is in no way inferior to foreign products.
eMeeting, another ‘Make in Vietnam’ online video conferencing developed by AIC and Bkav Corporation, was chosen by the National Assembly for the first online conference in history of the legislative agency, the ninth session of the 14th National Assembly.
eMeeting allows National Assembly Deputies to participate in sessions from a distance. It allows the Deputies to attend sessions via iPads in their offices in their home provinces with standard quality images and sound. There is no need to go to specialized meeting rooms with expensive equipment.
Vietnamese cannot solve the world’s questions well, but they can solve Vietnam’s problems the best, because they understand Vietnam’s culture, habits and its existing problems.
In the digital technology era, Vietnamese are continuing to make every effort to solve problems. The next-generation conferencing platforms are an example.
Vietnam’s digital technology firms have researched, developed and put into use a series of platforms, including Zavi of Zalo, eMeeting of AIC and netMeeting of NetNam.
Vietnam’s platforms use domestic connection bandwidth and can be customized to enhance security and safety.
Agencies and institutions can use the platforms on their infrastructure and control everything themselves, with no information leaking to third parties. They can further develop or rent to others to tailor the platforms to their needs.
‘Make in Vietnam’ products needs support
However, the online conferencing solutions developed by foreign technology firms are still favored and more commonly used by institutions and individuals in Vietnam.
|‘Make in Vietnam’ online conferencing platforms show that Vietnam’s problems are best solved by Vietnamese, but Vietnamese people need to give these platforms an opportunity to be used and improved|
A NetNam representative said that in the last two to three years many agencies and businesses have begun encouraging and creating a driving force for Vietnam’s technology firms to boldly make investments and develop new solutions.
“As a business, we believe that cooperating to build and improve competitiveness is very important. Vietnamese technology firms need to take full advantage of their understanding of the market demands and Vietnamese tastes, and use the world’s open technology to solve questions raised by domestic institutions and businesses,” he said.
He also expressed the hope that the Government would prioritize the use of Make in Vietnam services and technological solutions that have high quality and competitive prices.
Like a seed that needs good soil and regular watering to grow, Make in Vietnam platforms will only be able to dominate the domestic market and reach the world market if they are given opportunities to be used and perfected.
The market of 100 million people is a great asset of Vietnam. Each user and each comment about the weak points of products is extremely useful.