Leaving no stone unturned
The country is cracking down on illegal mineral exploitation, which is threatening to harm the environment and costs the Government huge sums of money in lost tax revenue. Among those recently accused of mining minerals without a licence is the unfortunate, or fortunate depending how you look at it, Le Hung Dung, who lives in Central Highlands Gia Lai Province's Chu Se District.
It transpires that while Dung was digging up his land three years ago, he uncovered two large boulders. Reluctant to pay the cost of having them removed, he left them where they were – and no doubt told visitors he'd created a rock garden.
And then he forgot about them, that was until he had a visit from Chu Se District officials and local policemen, who ordered Dung to hand over the boulders.
The reason given was that Dung's land had been licensed for agricultural use, not mineral exploitation, ergo, the boulders belonged to the nation.
Officials also quoted sections of the Minerals Law, which clearly states that only those who have a mineral extraction licence from the relevant authorities can mine the land.
The boulders, the district deputy chairman later informed Dung, would be put up for auction – even though their mineral content had yet to be determined. Dung was also told that he would be given part of the proceeds from the sale.
Dung was unfazed – if the stones were bought, their new owner would no doubt have to pay the cost of removing them, and he stood to make some money in the process.
But the authorities' actions have caused dismay among those who practise the ancient and mysterious art of Feng Shui – after all, the placement of stone benches, rock gardens, boulders and statues in the northeast represents wisdom and intellectual growth.
A recent report by the Steering Committee for Smuggling, Counterfeit Goods Trading and Commercial Frauds Prevention showed that more than 14,000 tonnes of illegally mined ore and coal were confiscated last year. One wonders if poor Mr Dung's boulders were included in the figure.
It was recently discovered that the 41-year-old principal of Phu Nghia Primary School in southern Binh Phuoc Province's Bu Gia Map District had beaten 49 students in her care for failing to properly arrange their sandals when entering the classroom.
Incensed by their disregard for school protocol, she beat the hapless youngsters across the hands and back with a long wooden ruler – an act that in many Western countries would considered physical assault or battery and punishable by law.
After complaints by parents, the leaders of the district's Education and Training Department investigated the matter and concluded that the head teacher had acted improperly.
And what was the punishment for her? A good birching perhaps? Expulsion (or dismissal)? No, the strict disciplinarian with a penchant for thrashing untidy children was simply demoted. And not very far at that – she was made deputy head.
Now what does that teach our children about crime and punishment?
A star is born, again and again
It has become fashionable among young K'dong parents in central Quang Ngai Province's Son Tay District to name their children after Korean film stars.
Particular favourites include Dinh On Jun Sing, Dinh On Jun So, Dinh Thi A La Na and Dinh Y Li Vi.
The fad however has caused consternation in the community. It seems these names do not translate well into the ethnic K'dong language or indeed Vietnamese. Spellings, which are generally phonetic, are thus inconsistent.
Dinh Van Von, head of the local Son Mua Commune police department, said the authorities had tried to persuade K'dong parents not to name their children after their Korean screen idols because of the confusion it created and the possible erosion of the ethnic minority's cultural identity – to no avail.
It seems the only chance the authorities have of persuading young parents to give their offspring a nice K'dong or Vietnamese name is if their Korean screen idols do the same. — VNS