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In central Vietnam, villagers suffer due to overlapping geographical boundary dispute



Over 1,000 people from 238 households in Tra Vinh Commune’s Village 3 in Nam Tra District, Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam have endured a rough life on the hillside for years due to the authorities’ unresolved conflict regarding overlapping geographical boundaries.

The total area of the overlapping land between Kon Tum Province and Quang Nam Province is nearly 6,200 hectares, with the length of the whole route running through it at over 10 kilometers. 

This problem has lasted for years, but the two provinces have yet to agree on a solution, resulting in the precarious survival of over 1,000 people on the hillside.

They long for fundamental infrastructures similar to those in other villages, including electricity, a road system, schools, markets, and telecommunication services. 

Where there is no light

“A well-off family can buy their own water-powered electricity generator and place it at the top of the stream [that runs through the village]. But for the less able, they often team up in groups of three to four families,” said Ho Van Thong, a villager there.

“If the light goes out in one family, the others will be in darkness, too.

“The electricity produced is in small quantities, just enough for charging phones and keeping lights on.

“To use the TV set, you have to turn off the light, and vice versa.”

It is a mere 20-kilometer eastward journey from the center of Dak Nen Ward in Kon Plong District, Kon Tum Province, but it takes two hours to get to this village due to the sloppy road full of cracks and heavy bumps.

There are overflowing dams, powerful streams, and makeshift hanging bridges.

As the authorities have not adequately invested in this village, the people have to make their own roads and hanging bridges.

As the authorities have not adequately invested in this village, the people have to make their own roads and hanging bridges.

At times, travelers will have to push their motorbikes up a rocky cliff. 

Lacking amenities

A few children are seen peeling some pomelos they have just picked near the stream, with their dirty faces, bodily scratches, and barely any clothing. 

Under the afternoon shower, the adults return home after a hard day working in the field, trying to make ends meet.

Thong and his wife live in a darkly lit wooden house. 

They can identify the difficulties due to the overlapping boundaries that their neighborhood unfortunately gets stuck in. 

This family used to burn wood logs for light. 

In the evening, the whole of Village 3 is buried in darkness, with flickering light from the fireplaces. 

The secluded lives of these people for years have remained unchanged. 

Nguyen Xuan Dieu, 30, experiences similar shortcomings. 

According to him, villagers there have always lived like this. 

They even have to clear the paths to make their own roads and build their own hanging bridges from natural materials.

Their place is only accessible by foot, which is extremely exhausting. 

A few household owners were able to purchase motorbikes in 2008, but the challenging road system did not spare them. 

“The roads and the bridges were spontaneously created by the people here, so they are of low quality and can cause damage to the vehicles,” said Dieu.

“The only telephone signal spot is on top of the hill.

“Whoever needs to make a phone call will have to climb all the way up this hill, but the signal is not so good. It can be okay during the dry season, but for the rainy season braving this hill is a big deal.” 

The only occasion when these villagers will travel far to get hold of basic necessities for sale is in time of a ceremony, be it a wedding, a funeral or a death anniversary. 

Most of their meals are based on foraged foods like bamboo shoots and wild plants. 

High hopes for their children’s education

The correspondents from Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper braved the slippery slopes, flights of steps, and protruding branches in order to get to the highest house in the village. 

The most valuable objects in this house are the pots and the weary kitchen lights, blackened due to smoke from burnt wood. 

Nguyen Thanh Chim, head of Village 3 of Tra Vinh Commune, said that the unresolved overlapping boundary dispute between Kon Tum Province and Quang Nam Province has led to insufficient investments in infrastructures there. 

“Everything is difficult around here. Everything is lacking, especially a road for traveling, transporting goods, doing business, and taking children to school,” said Chim. “Most people here don’t have a motorbike and have to walk all day with a basket on their back to the more crowded areas to sell whatever products they have.”

“They told us to move into Kon Tum Province altogether, but we cannot leave this land as we have lived here for generations,” said Ho Thi Phien, a 53-year-old of Village 3. 

“Our ancestors rest here, and all of our neighbors and relatives are in Tra Vinh Ward.

“We hope that the authorities of the two provinces will soon settle their disputes so that we can have a more stable life.”

A note from the authorities

Regarding the overlapping land dispute, Tran Van Minh, chairman of the People’s Committee of Dak Nen Ward, said that the two provinces recently had a meeting to resolve this conflict. 

The Quang Nam representatives proposed transferring the land of Village 3 to their ownership, while the Kon Tum officials also offered to relocate the 238 households to Kon Tum Province.

Nguyen Thanh Chim, head of Village 3, and his family members live in a badly lit house due to the absence of electricity.

Nguyen Thanh Chim, head of Village 3, and his family members live in a badly lit house due to the absence of electricity.

Alternatively, they would exchange an equivalent area of land if Kon Tum agrees to surrender the overlapping area. 

However, there has been no agreement. 

“The commune officials still maintain their original statement that the administrative boundaries have to remain unchanged because the arable land and forest land are in the interests of the people,” Minh said. 

“Moreover, the people in the commune are short of productive land. If they are to be relocated, they will lose this and forest resources, and the forest environmental services will also be gone.

“As the two parties disagree, the people bear the brunt. The Departments of Home Affairs of the two provinces will develop a plan. They will measure the area and organize an official meeting with the local people.”

Since 2008, the two provinces have held many meetings but have not yet agreed on a solution, causing hundreds of households in this area to face many difficulties. 

Because one side manages the people while the other is in charge of the land, the investment in infrastructures in this area is still problematic.

On the Quang Nam side, Nguyen Cong Ta, secretary of the Party Committee of Tra Vinh Commune, said that people in the overlapping area want to continue to work and live on their forefathers’ land. 

“Whatever you do, you must respect people’s opinions. We hope that the leaders of the two provinces have a plan to propose to the central government to resolve this problem soon so that the people will no longer suffer,” said Ta.

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Hà Nội to celebrate Ninh Thuận Culture-Tourism Day




Tourists pose for a photo in front of Po Klong Garai Temple in Phan Rang City, Ninh Thuận Province. VNA/VNS Photos Nguyễn Thành

HÀ NỘI — Hà Nội’s Department of Cultural, Sports and Tourism will organise a special event to highlight the cultural features and tourism potential of the central province of Ninh Thuận on September 30.

Ninh Thuận Culture-Tourism Day 2022 aims to strengthen cooperation between Ninh Thuận Province and Hà Nội in culture and tourism.

It is also expected to introduce the original cultures of the ethnic groups in the province, the provincial tourism products and specialities to both domestic and international friends.

Held by the Victory monument on Đinh Tiên Hoàng Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Ninh Thuận Culture-Tourism Day 2022 will feature arts programmes showcasing the cultures and traditional arts of ethnic groups from Ninh Thuận Province like Chăm dance. In addition, visitors can play ethnic musical instruments themselves or try special lamb dishes of the province.

The craft of making Bàu Trúc pottery will be part of Ninh Thuận Culture-Tourism Day 2022 in Hà Nội. 

The event also includes booths introducing handicraft products and traditional crafts like making pottery and weaving brocades of the Chăm people in Bàu Trúc and Mỹ Nghiệp Villages.

Another part of the Ninh Thuận Culture-Tourism Day 2022 is the promotion of Ninh Thuận’s tourism via the screening of videos, the introduction of tours and free distribution of handbooks, maps, brochures and postcards to tourists.

The event will also hold a photo exhibition showcasing Ninh Thuận’s tourism, cultural heritages and tourist attractions.

Ninh Thuận Culture-Tourism Day 2022 will conclude on October 2. — VNS



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First nature film festival takes place in Việt Nam




A scene from Il Était Une Forêt, a French film screened at #It’s Time To Act – A Nature Film Festival in Việt Nam. Photo courtesy of #It’s Time To Act – Nature Film Festival in Vietnam

HÀ NỘI International and local environmentally themed films are being screened at an environmental film festival organised in Việt Nam for the first time.

Held in response to the UN General Assembly (UNGA)’s Climate Week this year (September 19-25), the film festival, entitled  #It’s Time To Act – A Nature Film Festival in Việt Nam, is coordinated by the Spanish Embassy in Việt Nam with movies from Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Norway, Peru, Venezuela, Spain, the UK and Việt Nam.

WildAct Vietnam, a wildlife conservation organisation, is the organisational partner of the first edition of this festival, joined by Vietnam Film Development Association, the Delegation of EU to Việt Nam and nine environmental organisations from Việt Nam.

The festival will be showing 17 feature films, documentaries, and short films with subtitles in Vietnamese. Many film screenings will be free for the public and in a hybrid format (both online & offline) at more than five venues in Hà Nội and HCM City.

The venues are: The National Cinema Centre, National Documentary Film Studio, University of Hanoi, Casa Italia, Goethe Institute and ƯƠM Arthub.

Spanish Ambassador to Vietnam María Del Pilar Méndez Jiménez said: “It is always a Spanish priority to be a bridge bringing together countries and peoples in favour of global public goods.

“As the coordinator of #It’s Time To Act – A Nature Film Festival in Vietnam, we are very honoured to work together with institutions, civil society, individuals and the environmental community of 14 countries across three continents, with the common intention of fostering international cooperation in raising awareness around what a sustainable future looks like, to pool one message: Only One Earth”.

Dr Oriol Solà Pardell, Secretary, Administrative, Consular and Cultural Affairs of Embassy of Spain, coordinator of the festival, is confident that the film festival will inspire audiences to protect and preserve Nature, and that the festival is an international effort to bring Hope to Nature.

“Let’s save the future,” he said.

Dr Trang Nguyễn, founder of WildAct Vietnam, said the festival will leave an impact among the young audience:

She said: “Documentaries may serve as an increasingly important tool for engaging people in conservation efforts, as outdoor experiences become less common in human’s lifestyle.

“Scientific evidence has shown that nature documentaries increase sensitivity to the species portrayed, increase environmental citizenship, increase support for conservation organisations, and generate positive attitudes and social norms that can support policy change.

“This film festival is a wonderful opportunity for the Vietnamese citizens to celebrate, connect and most importantly, act for nature.”

The film screening schedule, ticket registration and introduction about each film can be found on or VNS


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Yên Bái hosts ceremony to receive UNESCO certificate on Xòe Thái dance



YÊN BÁI — A ceremony to receive the UNESCO certificate of recognition of Xòe Thái art as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity was held on September 24 in Nghĩa Lộ Town, Yên Bái Province. 

Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính, speaking on behalf of leaders of the Party and State, congratulated the authorities and people of ethnic groups in Yên Bái, Sơn La, Lai Châu, and Điện Biên on the recognition of Xòe Thái art as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during his remarks at the celebrations.

Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính and delegates joined in the Xòe Thái dance at the ceremony. VNA/VNS Photo Dương Giang

The Prime Minister has expressed his belief that the recognition of Xòe Thái as Việt Nam’s 14th heritage inscribed by UNESCO is a moment of great pride for the Thái people and the community of the country’s 54 ethnic groups.

PM Chính praised generations of folk artists and the Thái ethnic community for their tremendous efforts to conserve this priceless cultural heritage.

He also thanked and praised the efforts of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, the National Council for Cultural Legacy, other relevant ministries, agencies, and localities, collectors, and researchers to preserve and promote Xòe Thái art and Việt Nam’s cultural heritage.

The Prime Minister expressed his hope that UNESCO’s Representative Office and Christian Manhart, UNESCO’s Chief Representative, would continue to provide Việt Nam with close cooperation and effective help to ensure that the country’s cultural values are widely disseminated and in tune with the cultural quintessence of humanity.

To continue to create new vitality, spread, and strongly inspire the value of Xòe Thái art, the Prime Minister suggested that the authority, people, and Thái community in the Northwest provinces, as well as the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, work cooperatively to effectively implement the “National Action Programme to protect and promote the value of the intangible cultural heritage of Xòe Thái art” in accordance with the commitment to UNESCO.

“Let us do it with enthusiasm, with heart, with pride, with inner strength, so that the lyrics and music of Xòe khăn, Xòe nón, Xòe quạt, Xòe sạp, Xòe gậy, Xòe hoa,[ Xòe dancing using various props such as scarves, hats] continue to be nurtured, developed, and spread throughout the community of ethnic groups,” he said.

According to PM Chính, the noble and beautiful value of Xòe Thái art should be protected and promoted internationally as well as domestically. Therefore, it is vital to recognise that this is the representative intangible cultural legacy of humanity and take appropriate action.

“Xòe Thái represents the convergence of cultural beauty, therefore, promoting Xòe Thái is our shared responsibility,” he added.

The Prime Minister suggested expanding studies and coming up with concrete plans to protect and enhance ethnic groups’ and Xòe Thái’s identity and customs in socio-economic growth and tourism development.

He urged everyone to take steps to improve the lives of skilled artisans who are committed to preserving the heritage while also making it easier for people to experience and perform Xòe Thái in light of the country’s new development conditions. 

At the ceremony, Pauline Tamesis, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Việt Nam, presented the UNESCO certificate recognising Xòe Thái art as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity to the representative of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, as well as leaders of the People’s Committees of the provinces of Yên Bái, Sơn La, Lai Châu, and Điện Biên.

Tamesis offered congratulations for this significant event and wished that the Thái community and Vietnamese people would continue to maintain, promote, and disseminate the significance of Xòe Thái art, while also contributing more to UNESCO’s activities and human culture.

Hoàng Đạo Cương, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, receives the UNESCO certificate of registration for the art of Xòe Thái from Pauline Tamesis, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Việt Nam. VNA/VNS Photo Dương Giang

Following the UNESCO certification ceremony, attendees were able to enter the art space and experience the local distinctive culture through an art programme centred on the theme “Xòe Thái – Essence of the heritage region.”

Artists from Yên Bái, Sơn La, and Lai Châu all participated in the beautifully staged art programme, which featured dancing, singing, and performing arts acts of Xòe Thái.

The programme ended with the performance “The quintessence of Xoè art,” which brought together traditional folklore values that have become the heritage of the Thái people in the Northwest, with the involvement of more than 2,000 artisans and performers. VNS


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