On a recent December morning, people passing through the Ton That Tung-Truong Chinh intersection in Dong Da District were startled by a group of youths endlessly shouting their heads off - one by one. Each screamed 100 times: "I am successful!" Around their heads they wore a cloth band saying: "As strong as soldiers".
A student from the National Economics University said the youths were from classes set up to develop confidence skills.Shouting out in the middle of large, crowded places was part of the practice. The shouting is an obligatory activity of the classes, which cost VND250,000 (US$12) to attend.
The course aims to make students more self-confident and mature, therefore, they are required to shout confidently in crowded places, such as the streets.
However, commuters passing through the intersection thought it was crazy. They figured the students would get nothing but a lot of dust and fumes up their nostrils.
One said if the method really works, everyone can practice by themselves - anytime and anywhere without paying a dollar!
It's so nice to have friends
For many years, Viet Nam Railway Freight Transportation Company, a subsidiary of the State-owned Viet Nam Railways Corporation, has allowed three big customers, namely Region 1 Railway Services JSC, Railway Trade and Transportation JSC, and Song Than Station, to unconditionally get in the red with their freight bills to the tune of VND20 billion (US$952,000).
At current bank interest rates, this could earn the freight company interest of VND200 million ($9,500) a month, according to the chief accountant of the company, Nguyen Hong Hai, However, as the companies are considered prestigious, they are allowed to chalk up bills without interest - and on trust! The Viet Nam Railway Freight Transportation Company has regulations stating that customers who can't or don't want to pay immediately must put up a bank guarantee not lower than the owed freight.
The strange thing is that both State auditors and independent auditors overlook the company's benevolence even though the chief accountant admits things are abnormal. Meanwhile the company's general director, Tran Duy Luan, is quoted as saying that he was newly appointed and thus did not know about the situation. When questioned by reporters what the company would do if its customers became insolvent, chief accountant Hai replied simply "We will learn from experience!"
Caught in the act
Kieu Van Be, director of southern Ninh Thuan Province's Home Affairs Department, recently announced that in one week, 224 State officials had violated working rules by disappearing to do their own jobs - and to have drinks outside the office. In Ninh Hai District, they even found there was not one official working in the division specialising in dealing with citizens' petitions.
How did they nab them? Well, they simply appointed inspectors, equipped them with cameras and told them to catch work dodgers in the act - even if they were enjoying themselves at bia hois.
Phantom of the operating room
For the past two years, Chau Thanh A District in the southern province of Hau Giang has taken the lead in a campaign to encourage men to be sterilised.
One resident of Mot Ngan Town said that despite knowing he was unmarried, an official offered him VND620,000 (US$29.5) and a health-insurance card if he would go to hospital and be sterilised. After pondering the possibility of being able to reverse the "string tie" procedure, the man agreed and went to the hospital nominated. After lying down on a bed fora while, he was told he could go and receive the money and insurance card as promised.
People in the town said that at least 14 people had been encouraged to go through the sham operation. All they had to do was to take a rest and receive VND620,000.
According to the director of the Family Planning and Population Centre, Le Thi Hong, each sterisation is suppported by VND2 million ($95) from the Government and an insurance card. She said that in the Mot Ngan Town, the target was just eight cases but in fact, 98 men had officially been sterilised. However, she denied accusations that local officials encouraged single men to have the operation done so that they could squeeze money out of the system and claim a high success rate for the campaign.
Chau Thanh A District officials are now being investigarted for its practices. Maybe there is a phantom doctor in the waiting room who works at magic speed with string! — VNS