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Pandemic wipes out demand for house, office cleaners



Pandemic wipes out demand for house, office cleaners

A house helper cleans the kitchen. Photo by Shutterstock/ucchie79.

Helpers and cleaners have become more vulnerable to job loss than other domestic workers as Covid-19 continues to plague the country.

Huyen Kim, who works for a company that cleans office buildings in HCMC, is in dire need for a job.

She was furloughed by the company in late May as the fourth Covid-19 wave began to spread, and told she would be taken back in July if the outbreak is better controlled. But she is worried sick since this is the worst Covid situation Vietnam has faced so far.

“I asked my nephew to help me find a housemaid or babysitter job online, but have had no luck so far,” the 43-year-old woman said.

“I am waiting for the day I can start working again. All I can do now is wait for the outbreak to die down.”

She used to earn around VND8 million ($345) a month cleaning five offices every day in the city’s downtown.

Kim is by no means the only domestic helper to be severely hit by the new wave, which has stripped many of their livelihoods.

A study published Tuesday by the International Labor Organization (ILO) said cleaners and helpers have suffered job losses at nearly three times the rate as other workers. It said in the second quarter of 2020 they suffered a 17 percent jobless rate compared to 6.1 percent for other workers like drivers, cooks, security guards, and others.

For people from rural areas, getting stuck in metropolises amid the pandemic is a luxury they cannot afford, especially when many neighborhoods in Hanoi and HCMC have been placed under lockdown.

Pham Thu Hang, 40, who works in Hanoi’s Long Bien District, moved back to her hometown in the northern Phu Tho Province in late May to work as a farmer when the capital saw Covid resurge.

“I need to save money to support my children in Phu Tho, so the idea of getting stuck in Hanoi for months scared me,” she said.

She is reconciled to alternating between the two places after having faced such upheavals before. In January too she had to move back to Phu Tho soon after the third wave began, and only returned to Hanoi to work in March after it died down.

“I’m now used to the fact that my job is unstable. The only thing that saddens me is that I can put less food on the table for my children.”

She used to earn a monthly income of around VND7 million ($302) in Hanoi. She admitted she is afraid of getting infected and so “fleeing to her hometown is the best bet.”

With the outbreak continuing to rage, HCMC authorities extended social distancing by two more weeks after imposing the first one on May 31.

Since the fourth wave began on April 28 the southern city has become the third hardest hit locality with 1,346 cases as of Friday evening. Hanoi was in fourth place with 464.

Some families have taken extra precautions and decided to stop hiring cleaners after the number of daily cases continues to rise.

Following the Ministry of Health’s preventive guidelines, Phi Thi Thu Thao has stopped hiring helpers from a service company after HCMC mandated social distancing.

“Since the company my husband and I work for allows us to work from home, we have been taking turns caring for our two-year-old son and doing household chores,” the 33-year-old accountant said.

In the same report the ILO said the working hours of cleaners and helpers fell by 24.7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019. As a result, wages plummeted by 26.2 percent.

Some commercial cleaning services are struggling to survive.

Nguyen Truong Son, a marketing staff for, a home and office cleaning services company with offices in Hanoi and HCMC, said revenues had fallen by 50-60 percent since the Lunar New Year [in mid-February].

Besides, the demand for office cleaning services had also declined since people have started working from home.

“The company offers disinfection services along with cleaning at a cheap price to attract and retain customers. But the promotion is not effective since not many people want a combination of those services,” he said.

Cleaners like Kim are desperate to go back to work and make a living.

“I just hope the outbreak will be under control soon so that things can go back to the pre-pandemic era,” she said wistfully.



Vietnam affirms stance on condemning use of chemical weapons



Vietnam affirmed its stance on condemning the use of chemical weapons and emphasised the need to respect and fully implement the Chemical Weapons Convention at the United Nations Security Council’s meeting 

on the implementation of Resolution 2118 (2013) on chemical weapons in Syria.

Vietnam affirms stance on condemning use of chemical weapons hinh anh 1

Destroyed buildings in eastern Aleppo city, Syria, where chemical weapons were allegedly used (Source:

Addressing the meeting on August 4, Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the UN, welcomed the readiness of Syria and the Secretariat of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to hold high-level communications, saying that this is an opportunity to step up dialogue towards the complete settlement of the chemical weapon issue in Syria.

He stressed the important role of constructive cooperation and unity among the international community to create favourable conditions for collaboration efforts of the OPCW and Syria.

Thomas Markram, Deputy to the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said that the OPCW Secretariat and Syria continued to focus on addressing differences in the country’s initial report, stressing the need to find solutions to several existing issues of the initial report as soon as possible, which is considered an important basis for definitively solving the chemical weapon problem in Syria.

At the meeting, UNSC members expressed concerns over the accusations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria and called for increased cooperation in this issue.

The countries emphasised the importance of promoting collaboration between the OPCW Secretariat and Syria to resolve existing issues, towards the full implementation of obligations under the CWC and the UNSC’s Resolution 2118./.

Source: VNA


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2030 Businesspeople Club delivers necessities to people in quarantined areas



Members of the 2030 Businesspeople Club transport relief to a quarantined area in HCMC – PHOTOS: LE VU

HCMC – Through the “Food for Saigon during Social Distancing” program, the 2030 Businesspeople Club, a member of the Saigon Times Club, handed over 40 tons of vegetables, fruits, rice and other necessities to people living in areas under lockdown or quarantine in HCMC on August 3 and 4.

The event was part of the Saigon Times – Great Circle 2021 series, an initiative of the Saigon Times Group, that is aimed at supporting people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nguyen Dinh Tu, vice chairman of the 2030 Businesspeople Club, said through the program, the club expects to mobilize 8,000 gift sets for disadvantaged people across 20 districts of the city.

Up to now, the club has delivered 4,000 gift sets, each comprising 5 kilograms of vegetables and fruits and 5 kilograms of rice, to needy people in 10 districts. The club has also provided eggs, instant noodles and other necessities to poor households in the city.

Each gift set comprises vegetables, fruits, rice and other necessities

During 30 days of the “Food for Saigon during Social Distancing” program, the 2030 Business Club expects to give some 150 tons of vegetables and fruits as well as essentials to people whose livelihoods are severely affected by Covid-19 in HCMC and the neighboring provinces.

The Saigon Times Group launched the “Saigon Times – Great Circle 2021” program with the theme, “Join hands to fight off the pandemic”, on June 2. The program receives donations from organizations and individuals and then distributes them to the needy in HCMC and other provinces.

Donations for the program can be sent to:

Tap chi Kinh te Sai Gon

Bank account number: 1007 1485 1003318

Vietnam Export Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Eximbank) – Hoa Binh Branch – HCMC

Transaction content: Name – UnghoSaigon Times – NVTL – Donghanhchongdich

To participate in the program, please contact:

Huynh Huong (Phone number: 0913118711)

Or Huy Han (Phone number: 0902696617)



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Obituary: Veteran painter Đỗ Quang Em dies



Veteran painter Đỗ Quang Em, a leading artist of the South’s fine arts, died at home on Tuesday in HCM City. He was 79. Photo courtesy of the artist’s family

HCM CITY — Veteran painter Đỗ Quang Em, a leading artist of the South’s fine arts, died at home on Tuesday in HCM City. He was 79.

His funeral took place on Thursday in HCM City. 

Chairman of Việt Nam Fine Arts Association Lương Xuân Đoàn told Tuổi Trẻ newspaper: “Đỗ Quang Em was one of the four cornerstones of the fine arts world that evolved in pre-1975 Sài Gòn.” 

Đỗ Quang Em was born in Ninh Thuận Province in 1942. He studied photography from his father, owner of a small photographic studio when he was a child. 

He was sent to study at the Gia Định College of Fine Arts in Sài Gòn (now the HCM City University of Fine Arts). 

In 1965, he became involved in painting after graduating from college. His work earned recognition from art lovers and critics. 

In 1973-74, he worked as a lecturer at Gia Định College of Fine Arts. 

Đỗ Quang Em was part of a family of three generations of artists and trained himself to be a master of light in his paintings.

An oil painting called Bùa Hộ Mệnh (Amulet) was released in 2000 by late painter Đỗ Quang Em who used hyperrealism, a type of drawing technique, to create his art. Photo courtesy of the artist’s family

Em’s art focused on the use of strong contrasts between light and dark. 

Because of his love for photography, Em chose to paint realistic items but pushed his style further into the realm of hyperrealism. The technique, which takes a lot of time and skill, looks as real as a photograph.

“Em was professional in his use of this technique. The use of light and shadow helped the painter build up texture and detail,” said art critic Nguyên Hưng. 

Hyperrealism was an art movement and style popular in the United States and Europe in the 1970s with Carole Feuerman being the forerunner along with Duane Hanson and John De. 

Founded on the aesthetic principles of photography and photorealism, the artists often worked to create paintings that resembled photographs.

Hyperrealists took ordinary everyday objects and used them as a means to convey more subdued emotions in their paintings. They presented these objects as living and tangible, painted in meticulous detail to the point that they created an illusion of reality far from the original photo.

Hyperrealists often add subtle, pictorial details to create the illusion of a reality which doesn’t exist often conveying the emotional, social, cultural and even political messages of the artiste.

Đỗ Quang Em’s works feature a range of topics and objects, from people to animals and still life. Many of his paintings portray his wife and daughters. 

He also loved to draw cups, glasses, oil lamps and origami figures. 

A paiting called Chân Dung Vợ Hoạ Sĩ (Portrait of Artist’s Wife), released in 1975 by late painter Đỗ Quang Em. Photo courtesy of the artist’s family

He organised several solo and group exhibitions in HCM City, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

His works have been displayed and collected by Vietnamnese and foreign galleries and collectors, including the HCM City Musuem of Fine Arts. 

Chân dung vợ họa sỹ (Portrait of Artist’ Wife), 1975. Đỗ Quang Em

 Two of his famous paintings are Tôi và Vợ Tôi (My Wife and I) and Ấm và Tách Trà (A Teapot and Cups, which were auctioned for US$70,000 and $50,000 in Hong Kong in 1994-95.  

His paintings in the 1990s sold for $60,000-70,000 in the foreign market. —


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