According to Euromonitor International, a London-based market research company, Viet Nam now ranks among the top Southeast Asian beer-drinking nations. Last year, Vietnamese drank a total of three billion litres - equal to 30-31 litres per person. This places the nation third in Asia behind China and Japan.
It should be noted that 10 years ago, Vietnamese drank only about 1.29 billion litres of beer a year. However, the Ministry of Industry and Trade predicts that last year's figures could double again to 4.5 billion litres by the end of 2015.
A recent report from the International Labor Organisation said Viet Nam's productivity was among the lowest in Southeast Asia, about 15 times less than in Singapore. Even though it does not necessarily mean that beer is the main cause for this, it is alarming that Vietnamese workers are such big beer drinkers.
But the real amount of beer swallowed by Vietnamese might be even higher. On top of the known amounts of beer consumed, there are also the vast quantities that go unchecked after being produced by households and makeshift factories.
Starting next year, officials plan to raise consumption tax for beer to 55 per cent to deter people from drinking. However, this will only work for beer legally produced. There'll always be a place to drink cheap, smuggled beer or substandard alcohol.
With so little checks on bia hoi or drunken drivers, no wonder many people are worried that the situation may get much worse.
Woman sends robbers fleeing
A 23-year-old woman has become the darling of the internet for snatching a thief's motorbike after he stole her Iphone. Recalling the story on Facebook, she said she fought two thieves on motorbikes when they tried to grab her phone.
She must have been fairly fearsome, because one of the thieves decided the best thing to do was to run - and he did, disappearing on foot down a dark alleyway. His accomplice stayed with the motorbike, trying to fight off the unwilling victim.
The young woman then managed to shove the second guy off the motorbike and screamed out to locals for help. They shouted back to her to grab the key of the motorbike and throw it as far as she could. She managed to do this, so the second thief decided she was too much and also fled on foot, leaving the motorbike.
A few days later, the motorbike was given to the police. We presume the heroic young lady was given some of the proceeds.
Exam cheats vie for tax jobs
A news site has reported that thousands of would-be future tax officals awaiting an exam organised by the Viet Nam Tax Administration recently queued up at photocopy shops inside an exam centre at a local university.
They wanted to get exam notes reduced to tiny photocopy packages and use them for reference during the test. In other words, cheat their heads off! Surprise, surprise, the blank booklets are even sold at these photocopy shops!
In 2014, the Viet Nam Tax Administration plans to recruit 1,796 people for jobs in 21 provinces and cities nationwide. About 30,000 are competing for the positions.
It's good that young people want to work for government offices if they have the drive to make the system better and more transparency. But despite all the talk about tax reforms, having tax officers cheat at entrance exams is certainly not the way to do it.
Reforms often start in the bottom, but let's make sure they are made by the right people. — VNS