Vietnam affirms ASEAN’s commitment to human rights

Vietnam that serves as a coordinator for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the UN Human Rights Council has affirmed the association’s commitment to promoting and protecting human rights.

“One of the purposes enshrined in the ASEAN Charter is to strengthen democracy, enhance good governance and the rule of law, and to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, with due regard to the rights and responsibilities of the Member States of ASEAN,” Ambassador Nguyen Trung Thanh said in his speech on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the council’s 25th session in Geneva on March 6.

ASEAN’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms has been witnessed upon the establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in 2009 in Cha-am Hua Hin, as the overarching institution responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights in ASEAN, added the Vietnamese Permanent Representative at the UN, World Trade Organisation and other international organisations in Geneva.

The ASEAN Heads of State/Government adopted the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) in Phnom Penh on 18 November 2012 and affirmed their commitment to the full implementation of the AHRD to advance the promotion and protection of human rights in the region, he went on to say.

Furthermore, ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children was established in 2010 in Hanoi and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and the Elimination of Violence against Children in ASEAN was adopted at the ASEAN Summit in Brunei in 2013.

“ASEAN Member States share a common interest in and commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms which shall be achieved through, inter alia, cooperation with one another as well as with relevant national, regional and international institutions/organisations, in accordance with the ASEAN Charter,” the diplomat reiterated

Vietnam was elected by the UN General Assembly at its 68th session to become one of 14 new members of its Human Rights Council on November 12, 2013. ASEAN agreed to appoint Vietnam and the Philippines to serve as its coordinators at the 2014 UN Security Council on February 14.

ASEAN consists of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

President welcomes new ambassadors

State President Truong Tan Sang yesterday accepted the credentials from new ambassadors from throughout the world and voiced support for the diplomats in carrying out their missions in Viet Nam.
The new ambassadors represented Pakistan, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Myanmar, Thailand, Djibouti, the Marshall Islands and Suriname.

Sang noted that Viet Nam and the ambassadors’ countries need to step up their economic and investment cooperation for the sake of their people’s prosperity.

The diplomats vowed to work to improve their countries’ ties with Viet Nam, suggesting that they increase high-level exchanges and carefully review commitments for effective implementation in the future.

Brunei Ambassador Pengiran Haji Sahari bin Pengiran Haji Salleh expressed his hope to learn from Vietnam’s experience in agricultural development and boost cooperation with Viet Nam in culture, education, tourism and labour.

UAE Ambassador Khalid Ibrahim Abdulaziz Shohail Al-Qahtani said the two countries could cooperate in trade, investment and labour, while Kazak Ambassador Beketzhan Zhumakhanov underlined the need to create a legal foundation to allow for additional cooperation.

Also, the Egyptian diplomat, Youssef Kamal Boutros Hanna, said his country would seek to study Viet Nam’s experience in economic development.

Thai Ambassador Panyarak Poolthup confirmed that his country would seek to increase its trade with Viet Nam to reach US$15 billion.

Meanwhile, the Ambassador of Djibouti, Ahmed Araita Ali, stated his country will become a gateway for Vietnamese goods to be shipped to African and Arab markets. He hoped to receive more investment from Viet Nam in agriculture, aquaculture, healthcare and education.

Marshall Islands Ambassador Tom Kijiner, for his part, emphasised the necessity of signing a visa exemption agreement to increase exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.

Also, the Ambassador of Suriname, Lloyd Lucien Pinas, voiced his desire to acquire Viet Nam’s assistance in developing agriculture, along with small and medium-sized enterprises.

HCM City hopes for enhanced ties with Cambodian localities

Ho Chi Minh City wishes to promote cooperation with Cambodian localities, Chairwoman of the municipal People’s Council Nguyen Thi Quyet Tam has said.

Tam made the wish at a reception for a visiting delegation from the Cambodian Senate’s Committee for International Cooperation, Information and Communications led by its chairwoman Ty Borasy on March 6.

She described the visit as a contribution to further strengthening the traditional friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and Cambodia.

She expressed her hope that after the visit, Ty Borasy will help foster cooperation and experience exchange between HCM City and Cambodian localities in areas of mutual concern.

Congratulating Cambodia on its recent economic achievements, Tam expressed her belief that the Cambodian people will overcome difficulties to gain stronger development in the future.

Ty Borasy highlighted the developing ties between Cambodian localities and Vietnam, especially between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh , stressing that the Cambodian Senate will do its best to promote this cooperation.

She also revealed that her visit aims to exchange experience in external relations and communication work with Vietnam’s relevant agencies.

Cambodian also wants to learn experience from Vietnam in amending the Constitution, she added.

Hopes rise for better housing

Most members of the National Assembly Law Committee have agreed on the need to build draft amendments to the Law on Housing.

They also agreed that the lack of good building laws had led to the development of many very thin, multi-storey houses throughout Viet Nam.

At a meeting yesterday to examine the draft, they said the draft would create conditions for individuals to build houses and encourage more investment in housing development and trade.

Deputies said that after eight years in operation, the current housing law was found to have shortcomings.

For example, the current law only regulated the development of houses through market mechanisms, but lacked regulations on responsibilities of the State and related organisations and individuals in developing social housing. As a result, most businesses only focused on developing commercial housing.

Also, they said the current law failed to require localities to make housing development plans and clearly define land funds when approving housing development projects.

This has led to excessive development of houses, leading to a surplus in commercially built apartments but a shortage of social housing.

However, they said some proposals in the draft law failed to provide reasonable measures on housing for social-welfare beneficiaries, disadvantaged people and low-income earners.

Some deputies said the draft law still paid little attention to adjusting regulations on private houses and existing houses in residential areas and rural areas.

Deputy Nguyen Sy Cuong said the draft amendments still lacked regulations on general housing so they would create conditions for people to build houses following their own needs and interests, whether they met common requirements or not.

This was one reason for the existence of super-thin houses in recent decades, he said.

Regarding the transfer of house-ownership rights, the Standing NA Law Committee said it was essential that they be transferred between buyers and sellers at the time the deal was actually done.

Discussion also focused on funds for social housing, home ownership by foreign individuals and organisations in Viet Nam and public house construction projects.

Basing on opinions raised at this meeting, the compiling board will soon complete the draft amendments to the Housing Law to submit to the National Assembly Standing Committee for consideration at its 26th session this month.

Vietnam, Japan boost finance, customs cooperation

The Vietnam Ministry of Finance (MoF) has asked its Japanese counterpart to help Vietnam finalise its financial market institution, increase the capacity, and develop human resources.

MoF Minister Dinh Tien Dung made the proposal during talks in Tokyo with Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso during his visit from March 3-7.

Dung expressed his appreciation for Japan’s role as the biggest ODA donor to Vietnam, saying Japan has committed more than US$21 billion in ODA since 1993, contributing to the country’s socio-economic development.

He said the two finance ministries have cooperated well in such fields as customs, security, state-owned enterprise restructuring, human resource training, and technical equipment aid, particularly in the implementation of the Vietnam Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System and the Vietnam Customs Information System (VNACCS/VCIS).

Dung spoke highly of Japan’s role in the ASEAN + 3 multilateral cooperation mechanism, especially its direct support to member countries, including Vietnam, through the Japan-ASEAN Financial Technical Assistance Fund (JAFTA), to support its bond market development.

He invited Taro Aso to visit Vietnam and attend the inauguration ceremony of the VNACCS / VCIS system scheduled for April 2014.

After talks, the ministers witnessed the signing of a letter of intent for exchange and cooperation between the Chairman of the Japan Financial Services Agency and the Chairman of the State Securities Commission of Vietnam.

Minister Dinh Tien Dung also held talks with Shigeru Kiyama, Vice President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

He suggested Japan increase official development assistance (ODA) quota for Vietnam, and consider Vietnam’s proposals to deal with its ODA loans under the Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP).

In response, Shigeru Kiyama affirmed that JICA will continue to work closely with the Vietnamese Government to successfully implement their joint projects in the future.

Dung and Kiyama witnessed the signing of a loan agreement, worth JPY25 billion, for a Support Programme to Respond to Climate Change in Vietnam (SPRCC) and the First Economic Management and Competitiveness (EMCC).