Twist in the tale

May 30, 2017 - 09:00

Tied up in a truck

On Monday morning, people in Phước Thành Commune in the southern province of Tiền Giang’s Mỹ Tho City heard the sound of a horn coming from a container truck parked along the road.

On investigating the noise, they discovered the truck driver, later identified as Trần Minh Dũng, tied up and blindfolded in the cabin, Người Lao Động (Labourer Newspaper) reported.

Dũng later told police that during the night he had been transporting tonnes of cassava, valued at some VNĐ300 million (US$13,194), from Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province to Đồng Nai Province, when some armed assailants flagged down his truck and tied him up.

The masked men tied Dũng’s arms and legs, blindfolded him and forced him to lie on the floor of the truck’s cabin.

They commandeered the truck and drove around selling the goods, before stopping in Mỹ Tho City, locking the door and leaving Dũng in the cabin.

After two hours of struggling, the driver managed to lean on the steering wheel and honk for help.

The case is still under investigation. However, it seems like the thieves were professional, as they knew how to drive a heavy vehicle and were able to offload the cassava in a short period of time.

New area codes prove to be troublesome

From February this year, 59 out of 63 Vietnamese cities and provinces had their area codes changed, under a decision issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications.

The ministry said its aim is to make all area codes a uniform three digits; currently there are one-, two- and three-digit codes. With the new codes, all phones numbers will have 11 numbers; they range from 10 to 11 now.

However, there have been some teething problems.

Many people found that their calls weren’t being connected. The reason was that some people thought the calls were coming from foreign countries and refused to answer, the Labourer reported.

Trần Minh Thông, a resident of HCM City’s Gò Vấp District, shared his experience.

His aunt called him several days ago but he decided not to answer the call as he saw a strange prefix.

Recalling some articles about scam calls from unknown international numbers, particularly from Somalia, Thông refused to answer despite receiving numerous calls from the number.

It wasn’t until a relative rang Thông using a mobile phone did he realise know that the strange prefix (+294) was the new code for Trà Vinh Province.

Similarly, Cao Ngọc Minh, who is also from HCM City, received a call with the code +225. Thinking that the number was from Somalia, he rejected the call. He even blocked the number. He later found out that it was actually his relatives in Hải Phòng City.

A branch of a company in HCM City ended up in the most trouble.

As soon as the telephone area codes changed, the office was unable to communicate with its customers and some company leaders in HCM City because no one was answering. Finally, branch employees used other methods ranging from social networks, email and mobile phones to "report" the change in phone codes to customers and company leaders so they didn’t block numbers.

Over the past few months, many mobile phone users were reporting receiving calls from international numbers like Somalia (+252), Liberia (+231), Sierra Leone (+232), Guinea (+224), and if they return the call their credit is drained or a large amount of money added to their bills.

To avoid being charged, mobile phone operators have urged customers not to answer or call unfamiliar numbers.

It’s true that it will take time to adapt to the changes. It is necessary that operators provide more information about the area codes change so users won’t worry so much when receiving calls from strange numbers.

No headmasters no year-end certificates of merit

In Việt Nam, parents wait in frenzied anticipation for year-end reports on their little angels’ test scores and behaviour at school. 

Hundreds of parents and students attending a ceremony to mark the end of the school-year in Tân Thuận 1 Primary School and Secondary School in Kiên Giang Province’s Vĩnh Thuận District were surprised when no students were awarded certificates of merit.

Had all the students failed their exams? Was Tân Thuận 1 more of a borstal than school?

The answer is much simpler and more shocking in a society so dedicated to efficient organisation; the school didn’t have a headmaster or staff to sign the certificates.

Vũ Thi Niêm had been headmaster from August 2011 but was let go in July 2016. According to Niêm, Vĩnh Thuận District People’s Committee knew she would be leaving from May 5 last year but failed to hire a replacement.

Lê Thanh Tài, whose son is in 8th grade at school, said his family was looking forward to seeing his child’s certificate of merit.

No parents were informed about the incident beforehand, Tài was quoted by Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper as saying.

Earlier, in November last year, Niêm was punished for the school’s poor financial management. She received a warning from the district’s People’s Committee, which was cancelled on appeal in March this year.

Better late than never, the district’s Education and Training Department said students would receive awards at the beginning of the new school-year and promised to appoint a headmaster soon.

Still, many are shaking their heads at district authorities, as failing to reward hard working students means they’re like a school in summer: no class. — VNS