Dr. Dang Be Nam looks really good for her age. In fact, she looks so good that on December 4, six months before she was set to retire (June 2015) as director of the obstetrics and pediatrics ward at a major hospital in Ca Mau City, she was reappointed to her post for another 3.5 years.
The perfectly reasonable explanation given for the re-appointment was that she "looked quite young and healthy."
The hitch though, is that Vietnamese law requires that women working for State agencies retire when they are 55, and men do so when they are 60. Then there is a Government decree that also stipulates that even when a person's retirement can be extended, she or he cannot hold any senior or management positions.
The decision to reappoint Dr. Be was made by Huynh Quoc Viet, Director of the Health Department of Ca Mau Province. His explanation about her looks, health and ability came in response to media reports on the unusual extension of service.
Yesterday, the good doctor herself told the media that she felt that she was in good health to continue serving in her position.
There are many reasons that a qualified doctor is asked to stay on her or his job – shortage of people to take over the position, possessing an expertise that is particularly needed, outstanding track record, and so on and so forth. A valid argument can also be made for gender parity.
However, such were not the reasons given. The mention of her youthful looks as a rationale has sparked some dissatisfaction among the public, some of whom have called it an "awkward" excuse.
Let us look on the bright side, though. This could be an opening for plastic surgeons and other beauty experts to offer the "younger look" to those about to retire, so that they get a chance to extend their working career.
This column has the intellectual property rights to this idea, so wannabe entrepreneurs be warned.
The wooden box stood in the middle of the road, and hundreds of people stood around it, gawking.
A woman had informed authorities in Nha Trang City about the anonymous box, and explosives experts were sent to the scene to check it out. Traffic was blocked for hours and people thronged the site, climbing on nearby fences and gates to get a better look at what the experts would find inside the box.
The explosion took place when, inevitably, a picture of this edifying sight made its way to social media, and reader after reader slammed the lack of sense shown by the onlookers. What if there was actually a bomb or some other explosive device, they asked.
Yes, what if? The proverbial cat can afford to be curious, it has eight lives to spare, but human beings without that luxury could end up in big boxes themselves.
Pho contest stacked against diners
It sounded too good to be true. Imagine a restaurant that pays you for eating there.
This is exactly what an eatery in HCM City offered as a marketing ploy designed to hit the headlines, which it did.
All you had to do was finish a jumbo bowl of pho (rice noodle soup with beef or chicken) to the last drop and the restaurant would pay you VND1 million (about US$47).
The catch? The 4-kilo tangle had to be slurped down in under 45 minutes. Those who failed would have to pay VND200,000 (about $9.5), which the restaurant said was just enough to cover the food cost for a bowl of soup.
It has been reported that only 10 per cent of about 150 contenders in the first two weeks won the challenge.
However, those who failed the challenge can take heart and pat their stomachs in commiseration. The cook and the manager at one of the restaurant chain's branches were apparently caught violating the rules of the game. They were putting between 1,000-1,100 grams of noodles into each jumbo bowl instead of the 750 grams advertised. They also put more fatty beef and broth into each bowl, making it much more difficult for contestants to finish it.
Reports say that the staff did not accept responsibility for their actions and were fired. The management has also said that customers would be contacted and their money refunded. The contest, it has added, would continue with greater transparency.
Moral of the story: Where there is gambling, there is rigging. — VNS