Police in Phu Duc commune in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta Province are keeping their eyes wide open, night and day, to ensure their latest prisoner doesn't escape.
Last week, a local farmer handed in a big snake that he caught in his garden. The reptile, a full 3.1 metres long, weighs nearly 6.5 kilos and has a vivid black and yellow body. Regional forest watchers quickly identified it as a King Cobra, a highly deadly venomous reptile that is rare and highly protected.
Police then planned to release the snake back into its natural environment. However, the farmer who caught it heard of their plans and turned up asking for money. He felt that VND1 million (US$47) would pay for his troubles in catching and handing in the dangerous reptile.
However, local authorities refused to pay, telling him that the rules were strict: his prize catch was not allowed to be hunted, caged or sold. As the dispute between the two sides escalated, the farmer asked for the snake back.
Things being what they are in Viet Nam, he decided that if his catch was worth nothing, then it definitely was still worth eating - and he intended to dine on it himself. But the authorities refused.
To keep the snake safe from children who arrive every day to tease it with a stick, police take turns to keep their eye on it. They also have to give it food (unspecified) and water until it is released back into the wild by experts.
Of course, none of this would have happened 10 years ago. The rare reptile would have quickly made a delectable dish.
This isn't the road to success
Fifty-year-old Nguyen Van Tuyen, head of Road Man agement Agency 73, is being treated at the general hospital in Can Tho city in the Mekong Delta province of the same name.
Tuyen claims he was hit by his former boss, Huynh Hon Dung, the director of Bac Lieu's 719 Road Construction Company, during a dinner last week. He told the press that he, Dung and another man named Nguyen Thanh Long joined up for a drink. They admitted that they had all been drinking earlier.
Tuyen said Dung suddenly took his beer glass, hit him in the face with it, jumped into his car and sped off. The surprised victim said he did not expect the assault. In fact, he said he thought Dung was going to invite him to drink some beer.
Tuyen recalled the conversation at the time. "We were talking about the moment our former company was separated years ago. There were no arguments", he said. When Tuyen was taken to hospital, he was, no surprise, found to have an excess of alcohol in his system.
After the incident, Dung said that he was so drunk at the time that he barely knew why he hit his former colleague. "I honestly don't remember anything. The driver took me back to Bac Lieu,", Dung said.
However, the embattled Minister of Transport, Dinh La Thang, who has had his share of worries about sleeper buses and road deaths, has proposed sacking Dung due to his unacceptable behaviour.
He apparently made no mention about the dangerous amount of alcohol in both men's systems.
Culture at any price
The titles of Culture Commune and Culture Village are awarded to communes and villages for having families that strictly follow the laws, live in a peaceful environment and take part in all approved social activities.
Many communes and villages have been presented with the award for their real achievements in social cohesion, an ability approved by Vietnamese for hundreds of years. However, one local government in southern Viet Nam faced some difficulties in getting acknowledgement for its so-called achievements.
One man returning from his studies in HCM City is told by his younger sister was happy to find that his family has been given the title of "Culture Family" to acknowledge his admission to university. However, he was later surprised to learn that neighbouring families had similarly been honoured.
He was even more shocked because the other families were known for fighting each other and were often summoned by the police. But then he learned about the efforts by authorities for their commune to be listed as one of culture.
So they simply invented the required number of "cultural families" and other "proof" and the title was theirs. Maybe the HCM City student should hand his family's award back to the authorities in protest! — VNS