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Vietnam architects oppose plan to revamp Da Lat historical site



A proposed plan to completely revamp a historical site in the downtown area of Da Lat – the capital city of Lam Dong Province and a tourist hot spot in the Central Highlands region of Vietnam – has faced a backlash from local architecture experts for its lack of urban planning and historic preservation.

The historical site in question is Dinh Hill, which houses ‘Dinh Tinh Truong’ – the residence of the head of the erstwhile Tuyen Duc Province, which is now part of Lam Dong Province, during the French colonial era.

Dinh Tinh Truong was finished in 1910, incorporating a style of architecture considered to be among the most beautiful in Da Lat even by today’s standards.

However, lack of maintenance has caused the building to fall into disrepair over the last few decades.

Dinh Hill is considered a ‘golden land plot’ because it is the only remaining major green space in the center of Da Lat City with a commanding view in all four directions.

Over 90 percent of Dinh Hill’s nearly 1.7-hectare area is green space, with the rest occupied by the Dinh Tinh Truong building.

The proposed revamp for Dinh Hill is part of a master plan for Da Lat and surrounding areas planned for 2030, with a vision toward 2050, that received approval from the prime minister in 2014.

According to the plan, the Hoa Binh Theater area, which covers 3.37 hectares in downtown Da Lat including Dinh Hill, will become a mixed-use complex with modern architecture for services and entertainment.

Da Lat authorities have presented three options for Dinh Hill, with a survey to be conducted among local residents, tourists, and experts to gather public opinion and feedback on the three choices.

One common feature in all three options is the planned construction of a modern multifunction high-rise hotel complex that offers accommodations, exhibitions, and services on the current site of Dinh Hill, which has attracted vigorous objections from experts.

This collage shows artist’s impressions of three planning options for the future Dinh Hill featuring a complex of hotel, exhibitions and services in Da Lat City, Lam Dong Province, Vietnam.

This collage shows artist’s impressions of three planning options for the future Dinh Hill featuring a complex of hotel, exhibitions, and services in Da Lat City, Lam Dong Province, Vietnam.

A mistake waiting to be made

“This is not a ‘spatial planning’ for Dinh Hill in a professional sense,” said a member of the Lam Dong Architects Association, who did not want to be named.

“It is just what they call it. In fact, these are just graphical illustrations of ideas to build a grand multifunction hotel so as to bring in business benefits for an investor that will emerge in the future.”

Reputable architect Ngo Viet Nam Son, who has a strong attachment to Da Lat, said “the detailed planning of the Hoa Binh Theater area is already erroneous in terms of urban conservation and development, and the Dinh Hill planning is even worse.”

According to Son and the community of architects and planners, the general planning, as well as the three options for a Dinh Hill revamp, that the provincial People’s Committee has proposed will not be beneficial to the local people.

Son explained that the first option, which proposes Dinh Tinh Truong be raised 28 meters higher than its current location, will be no different than destroying the over-100-year-old residence and replacing it with a new construction.

Additionally, this plan calls for old trees on the hill to be removed for new ‘green spaces’ that are mainly covered by shrubs and potted plants, small plants of little value, Son said, warning that this method will change the topographic structure in the area.

The second option, in which a modern large-volume building will be erected next to Dinh Tinh Truong, would interfere with and detract from the integrity and originality of both works, according to Son.

In the third option, the current green area in Dinh Hill would be destroyed by about 70 percent.

“If the plan is really implemented, disregarding the community’s benefits, its consequences are clear: overurbanization in the city center and permanent loss of heritage space,” the architect warned.

“Its implementation will be making a mistake in history and for posterity.”

“I think that if we respect the people, history and heritage [of Da Lat], the planning of the Hoa Binh Theater area that the provincial People’s Committee approved more than one year ago should be abolished.”

Son suggested the approved planning of the Hoa Binh Theater area should be carried out in other areas far away from Da Lat’s center, in accordance with the spirit of the prime minister’s approval in 2014, which envisioned the place as a heritage city and “a city in the forest – a forest in the city.”

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Two Laotian nationals caught in possession of significant drugs haul



Border guards operating in the northern province of Dien Bien recently detained two Laotian citizens as they were in the process of attempting to smuggle a large quantity of drugs into the nation.

The pair were caught red-handed along the country’s border with Laos in Pa Kha hamlet of Na Bung commune in Nam Po district at 10 p.m. on December 3. According to Dien Bien border guards on duty at the time, the Laotian nationals were in possession of 90,000 pills of recreational drugs.

As a means of smuggling the drugs into the nation, the pills had been tightly wrapped inside a number of nylon bags before being hidden within their backpacks.

The drug traffickers were later identified as Vang Chong Vu, 35, and Vang A De, 26, both of whom have Laotian nationality and reside in Samphanh district of Phongsaly province in Laos.

Upon being questioned by local police forces, the pair confessed to transporting the large drugs haul from Oudomxay province in Laos across the border, with the intention of selling the drugs to a Vietnamese person named Tu at price of VND800 million, equal to US$34,782.

At present, the case remains under further investigation. VOV


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All direct contacts of recent local coronavirus infections in Ho Chi Minh City negative



The Ho Chi Minh City Center for Disease Control said on Saturday morning that all people in direct contact with recently announced local COVID-19 cases had tested negative for the virus.  

A total of 2,261 people in contact with patients 1,342, 1,347, 1,348, and 1,349 were tested for the novel coronavirus.

Among them, 861 were F1 individuals – people who had direct contact with positive COVID-19 cases, and 1,400 were F2 people who had direct contact with the F1s.

In addition, 655 others were tested for community review, bringing the total number of people taking the virus test to 2,916.

Results of 2,528 samples returned negative for the virus, while the remaining 384 community review samples are still waiting for test results.

As many as 295 people are being quarantined in concentrated centers whereas nearly 566 others are isolated at home or other accommodations, and four are monitored at medical facilities.

Ho Chi Minh City recorded no new local COVID-19 cases for three days in a row as of Saturday morning.

The four patients 1,342, 1,347, 1,348, and 1,349 are now in good health, said Nguyen Tri Dung, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Disease Control.

Before patient 1,342’s third test returned positive for the virus, he had developed some mild symptoms such as fatigue, stuffy nose, sore throat, sputum, and decreased appetite, while the other three cases were asymptomatic.

Patient 1,342, a 28-year-old flight attendant with Vietnam Airlines, tested positive for the novel coronavirus on November 28 while self-quarantining.

He returned to Vietnam from Japan on flight VN5301 on November 14 and was quarantined at a facility managed by Vietnam Airlines at 115 Hong Ha Street in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City from November 14 to 18.

When staying at the quarantine center, the flight attendant came into contact with his colleague, patient 1,325, who was also put in quarantine there, but in a different isolation area.

As patient 1,342’s first two tests for the virus while at the quarantine facility returned negative, the flight attendant was let go to self-isolate at home, as per regulations.

He hosted a male friend during the self-quarantine at his home.

The flight attendant also visited several public places, including his university, and came into contact with many others during that period.

He was registered as patient 1,342 on November 29.

The friend who stayed with him was confirmed as patient 1,347 on Monday.

Two other individuals who had been in direct contact with the friend were then confirmed as patients 1,348 and 1,349 on Tuesday.

Vietnam has recorded 1,361 coronavirus patients as of Saturday afternoon, with 1,220 recoveries and 35 virus-related deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.

Before the detection of patient 1,347, the country had gone 88 days with zero domestic infections.

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Central province to quarantine HCMC entrants to stem Covid-19 spread



Central province to quarantine HCMC entrants to stem Covid-19 spread

Body temperature scanners are put at the Chu Lai Airport in Quang Nam Province for Covid-19 prevention, July 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh.

Quang Nam Province would place people that have frequented the same HCMC locations as its current Covid-19 cases into centralized quarantine upon entry.

The decision applies to those who have visited 16 HCMC locations, including certain gyms, karaoke parlors, malls and restaurants frequented by newly confirmed Covid-19 cases, Tran Van Tan, the province’s deputy chairman, said Saturday. They would have to report to authorities immediately and enter centralized quarantine for 14 days, he stressed.

“They will be tested for the novel coronavirus twice as per existing protocols. Once the centralized quarantine period is up, they would be self-isolated at home for 14 days,” he said, adding the move seeks to actively prevent Covid-19 from entering Quang Nam.

Besides the 16 locations, those entering Quang Nam from HCMC’s Tan Binh, Binh Tan, District 6 and District 10 are also requested to self-isolate at home for 14 days. The province has also ramped up Covid-19 prevention efforts, including telling people to wear masks outside their homes.

In central Nghe An Province, the provincial department of health on Friday requested relevant authorities to track the health status of anyone entering the locality from HCMC recently. Those suspected to be infected, came in contact with confirmed Covid-19 cases or stem from locations with high risks of infection must be tested and quarantined, the department stated.

The Nghe An Center for Disease Control (CDC) must be ready to perform mass Covid-19 testing if requested as well, the department added.

Quang Nam and Nghe An’s measures came after Vietnam’s first Covid-19 community transmission case in nearly three months was confirmed in HCMC on November 30.

The patient, a 32-year-old English teacher in HCMC, has since infected at least two others: his one-year-old nephew and a 28-year-old student. All these cases originated from another Covid-19 patient, a 28-year-old Vietnam Airlines flight attendant who breached quarantine protocols and got himself infected by another crew member.

As of Saturday, HCMC has four Covid-19 community transmission cases.

Vietnam has recorded 1,365 Covid-19 patients so far, including four imported cases reported Saturday evening. Thirty-five have succumbed to the disease, many being elderly patients with underlying conditions like diabetes or kidney failure.


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