Forex crackdown has eased market tension: expert 

A staff member counts US dollar notes at a bank in Ho Chi Minh City

The dong has strengthened against the dollar and dollar-denominated deposits have increased over the past week after the central bank clamped down on foreign exchange transactions in the unofficial market. On Thursday, the dollar traded at Vietcombank at VND20,865, down from VND20,880 a week ago.

Thanh Nien Weekly discussed the implications of the move with former State Bank of Vietnam Governor Cao Sy Kiem.

Thanh Nien Weekly: The government is strengthening surveillance of foreign currency trading in the black market. Will it be an effective measure given that the amount of foreign currency held by locals is very big, and administrative measures taken over the past ten years have been unsuccessful?

Cao Sy Kiem: The current measure aims to implement the foreign currency management ordinance which had been issued in the past. However, we did not implement it strictly, and this seriously affected foreign currency trading as well as supply and demand, resulting in speculation.

So, this measure is quite necessary. After strict implementation, the situation in the market is less tense, and the foreign exchange rate is down.


However, the issue is whether the measure is applied for a long time or not, and how ordinary people’s demand for foreign currencies is met. The surveillance tackles those violating the law and speculators who harm the market. Thus this is a normal measure and should be supported.

We have not paid due attention to strengthening activities of relevant agencies to meet the demand of people for foreign currencies. There should be commercial banks or local individuals with licenses, so that people can easily buy or sell foreign currencies to banks at stable prices.

The government has asked the State Bank of Vietnam to come up with a plan for foreign currency and gold bullion management and de-dollarization of the economy, which will be approved by the government in April.

If this is approved, together with the current measure, the problems in the foreign currency market will be dealt with. The market will develop in a more stable manner, and speculation as well as illegal trade in foreign currencies will be prevented.

Would foreign currency trade still continue as an underground activity?

– Obviously, when the surveillance is strengthened, we can expect that the trade in the black market will be disguised and conducted secretly. So we have to take tough measures to prevent it


Nguyen Quang Huy, head of the central bank’s foreign exchange management department, said the foreign exchange market has shown positive developments and the exchange rate has stabilized because domestic exporters who were selling foreign currencies to banks and authorities had adopted tough measures to stabilize the free market.

He conceded that this could affect some people who buy or sell foreign currencies in the free market.

According to current regulations, people can buy dollars at banks to meet their legal needs. However, some banks are still cautious about selling foreign currencies to individuals. People could also use international payment cards to meet their foreign currency spending needs abroad, he said.

The State Bank of Vietnam is considering some specific measures to make it easier for individuals to buy foreign currency cash from banks at reasonable prices.

In fact, one of the main reasons for the problem is the habit of hoarding foreign currencies. Is it easy to give up the habit?

– The habit is due to inflation and difficulties in buying foreign currencies from banks. As the Vietnamese dong is devalued, people buy dollars and gold as a way to protect their assets from inflation. So, we have to curb inflation, and when it is reduced, the dong’s value will increase. And when market management measures are brought into full play, speculation will be limited, helping narrow the gap in the exchange rates between the black market and the official market. When this happens, people will give up the habit.

In addition, our service should be better so that people find it easier to buy dollars from official channels. If it is easy for people to buy foreign currencies for legal needs like studying, traveling and getting healthcare abroad, they will stop hoarding.

However, it is not easy to buy foreign currencies from official channels.

– Yes, that is the current situation. However, the government has asked the State Bank of Vietnam to ensure that people can obtain foreign currency for their real needs even as it tightens controls over foreign currency trading.

Gunman wounds congresswoman, kills six 

People gather for a vigil at University Medical Center for US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was in critical condition after being shot in the head by a gunman in Tucson, Arizona.

A gunman shot a congresswoman in the head, seriously wounding her, and killed six other people in a shooting rampage at a public meeting in Tucson on Saturday.

The attack by a suspect authorities described as having a “troubled past” took place outside a supermarket where Gabrielle Giffords, a 40-year-old Democrat, was meeting with constituents.

Among the dead were a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl. Officials said 12 people were wounded.

The suspected gunman, identified by a federal law enforcement official as Jared Lee Loughner, 22, opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol at point-blank range. The suspect was tackled to the ground by two bystanders after the shooting and was in custody.

Giffords, beginning her third term in the House of Representatives, was in critical condition after surgery at Tucson University Medical Center and doctors said they were cautiously optimistic about her prospects for recovery.

The shooting shocked Washington, where Congress called off a key vote on healthcare reform next week, and a nation that went through acrimonious midterm elections in November. Some suggested the political vitriol might have played a role in the rare shooting of a federal lawmaker.

It was not known if the shooting was connected to any political stance, although Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said he believed that Giffords was the intended target of the shooting.

“(The suspect) has kind of a troubled past and we’re not convinced that he acted alone,” Dupnik told a news conference. Authorities were seeking a second man in connection with the shooting, he said.

Dupnik said the suspect had made threats to kill in the past but not against Giffords. “All I can tell you is that this person may have a mental issue,” Dupnik said.

Dr. Steven Rayle, who helped restrain the gunman, told CNN he was dressed in a shabby manner but looked focused as he fired indiscriminately into the crowd.

President Barack Obama sent FBI Director Robert Mueller to Arizona to oversee the investigation, telling reporters, “We don’t yet know what provoked this unspeakable act.”

“The surgeons I spoke to are cautiously optimistic (that Giffords will survive),” Richard Carmona, a former US surgeon general and family friend, told the Tucson news conference. “With guarded optimism I hope she will survive.”

House cancels votes

Giffords was hosting a “Congress on Your Corner” event — public gatherings to give her constituents a chance to talk directly with her — when the gunman attacked from about 4 feet away, National Public Radio said.

He approached Giffords from behind, firing at least 20 shots at her and others in the crowd, MSNBC said, citing law enforcement officials and witnesses.

The shooting prompted lawmakers in Washington to postpone their agenda for next week, including a vote on the repeal of Obama’s healthcare overhaul. The new Congress convened this week after November 2 elections in which the Republican Party gained control of the House.

Giffords, a supporter of healthcare reforms that passed last year, had said that heated political rhetoric had prompted violent threats against her and vandalism at her office.

In an interview last year with the MSNBC television network, Giffords cited a map of electoral targets put out by former Alaska Republican Governor and prominent conservative Sarah Palin, each marked by the crosshairs of a rifle sight.

“When people do that, they’ve got to realize that there’s consequences to that action,” Giffords told MSNBC.

Palin quickly condemned the shootings on Saturday and offered condolences to the victims.

FBI investigates videos

In several videos on the Internet site YouTube, a person who posted under the name Jared Lee Loughner criticizes the government and religion and calls for a new currency. It was not known if he was the same person as the suspect.

“The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar. No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver! No! I won’t trust in God!” the site said.

The FBI was investigating whether the shooting suspect was the same person who posted the videos.

In a biographical sketch on the site, the author of the post writes that he attended Tucson-area schools and that his favorite books include Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto,” and Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” set in an insane asylum.

“My favorite activity is conscience dreaming: the greatest inspiration in my political business information,” the writer says.

CNN quoted law enforcement authorities as saying the suspect’s gun had been purchased legally. The US Army said in a statement released to the media that Loughner had tried unsuccessfully to enlist in the military.

Polarized state

Giffords, who is married to a NASA astronaut, is a rising star in the Democratic Party. She narrowly defeated a conservative opponent and was one of the few Democrats to survive the Republican sweep in swing districts in the November elections.

Her state has been at the center of a political firestorm the past year, symbolizing a bitter partisan divide across much of America.

The spark was the border state’s move to crack down on illegal immigration last summer, a bill proposed by conservative lawmakers and signed by Republican Governor Jan Brewer.

Most Arizonans supported it, but opponents and many in the large Hispanic population felt it was unconstitutional and would lead to discrimination. Giffords said it would not secure the border or stop drug smuggling and gun running.

Dupnik, who was a friend of federal judge John Roll, one of those killed, criticized the political environment in Arizona and the rest of the country, and speculated it might have had a role in the shooting.

“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,” Dupnik said.

“And, unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

House Speaker John Boehner, who holds the top post in the House of Representatives, said in statement he was horrified by the attack on Giffords and members of her staff. He called a news conference for 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Vinashin’s debt troubles to hurt Vietnam banks’ credit quality, S&P says 


Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group’s potential failure to make debt payments is likely to undermine the credit quality and profitability of Vietnam’s banks, according to Standard & Poor’s.

The state-run company, known as Vinashin, may default on foreign-currency debt due in “in the near term,” highlighting the need for lenders to assess the creditworthiness of each government-controlled entity, S&P said in a statement Monday.

Vinashin may represent as much as 3 percent of the individual loan portfolios of some state-owned Vietnamese banks, according to Moody’s Investors Service. Banks that had counted on government bailouts in the event of problems in lending to state-run firms may post larger-than-expected credit losses, S&P said Monday.

“Vinashin is the first signal that state-owned banks have more doubtful loans than appeared to be the case in the past,” Alain Cany, the Ho Chi Minh City-based chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, said by telephone on Monday. “This may reduce the valuations of state-owned banks, but the problem is that not many people know the extent of it yet.”

Vinashin had debt of about VND86 trillion ($4.4 billion) as of June, the government said in August. The shipbuilder may delay a $60 million payment on a $600 million loan, Moody’s said last month in a note.

One-year delay

“All eyes are now on an impending syndicated loan repayment that the company must make,” Vietnam Holding Ltd., a UK-listed fund, said in a note posted on its website Monday. “Vinashin’s management is seeking a one-year delay in the timing of the payment, for want of sufficient cash.”

Nguyen Ngoc Su, chairman of Vinashin, didn’t immediately respond to telephone calls, while Chief Executive Office Truong Van Tuyen wasn’t immediately available on his mobile phone.

“Vinashin’s woes highlight the lack of transparency, weak accountability and poor corporate governance in Vietnam,” Ivan Tan, a credit analyst at S&P, said in the note Monday. “A wide disconnect exists between industry-reported non-performing loan ratios and the true state of the system’s asset quality.”

Government-controlled companies in the nation account for 30 percent to 40 percent of loan books at state-run banks, S&P said.

While Vietnam’s government is “restructuring Vinashin’s projects” to help the company operate profitably, the shipbuilder should make its $60 million debt payment on its own, Minister of Planning and Investment Vo Hong Phuc said Dec. 8.

Company’s credit quality

The government’s stance on Vinashin indicates that it expects creditors to lend to government-related entities based on each company’s credit quality, “without an expectation of timely extraordinary government support when required,” S&P said.

The government is coping with a budget deficit and doesn’t want to come to Vinashin’s rescue, Vietnam Holding said.

“Until now, commercial banks — both foreign and local alike — have tended to regard loans made to large state-owned corporations as having an implied government guarantee,” said Vietnam Holding. “It now looks like Vinashin will serve as the acid test for this perception.”

Vinashin’s problems are also unlikely to stop capital injections into state-owned lenders in Vietnam, it said, citing the banks’ systemic importance, and the government’s majority ownership and history of providing support.

Venezuelan missile purchases worried US: WikiLeaks 

People demonstrate in support WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Barcelona.

The United States tried to stop delivery of Russian anti-aircraft missiles to Venezuela in 2009 amid concerns it could pass them on to Marxist guerrillas in Colombia or Mexican drug gangs, The Washington Post said on Sunday, citing diplomatic cables from WikiLeaks.

Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez heads a strongly anti-American government, received at least 1,800 of the SA-24 shoulder-fired missiles from Russia, the Post said, citing UN arms control data.

Secret US cables said Washington was concerned about the acquisition by Caracas of Russian arms, including attack helicopters, Sukhoi fighter jets and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, the newspaper reported.

It quoted a US State Department cable on August 10, 2009 to embassies in Europe and South America as saying Russian arms sales to Venezuela totaled "over $5 billion last year and growing." Concern about Spanish plans to sell aircraft and patrol boats to Venezuela were also cited in the cable.

Russia reported to the U. Register of Conventional Arms earlier this year the purchase totaled 1,800 missiles, the Post said. US Air Force General Douglas Fraser said publicly this year Venezuela could be buying as many as 2,400 of the missiles, the newspaper said.

A missile expert at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, Matt Schroeder, told the Post the Russian missiles are among the world’s most sophisticated and can bring down aircraft from 19,000 feet.

"It’s the largest recorded transfer in the UN arms registry database in five years, at least. There’s no state in Latin America of greater concern regarding leakage that has purchased so many missiles," Schroeder was quoted as saying, in an apparent reference to reports of Venezuelan arms flowing to Colombian guerrillas.

Bush, Obama

The UN database also showed that from 2006 through 2008, Russia delivered 472 missiles and launching mechanisms, 44 attack helicopters and 24 combat aircraft to the OPEC member and major oil exporter, the Post said.

It said the cables showed the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama both tried to stop the arms sales by suggesting to Russia the weapons could end up with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, a rebel group that Colombian officials say has received material support from the Chavez government.

"In early March, Secretary Clinton raised the sale with Russian FM Sergei Lavrov," the August 2009 cable says, referring to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russia’s foreign minister, according to the Post.

It reported that a February 14, 2009 cable from Washington to Moscow said FARC computer files seized by Colombia’s army showed Venezuela had tried to help with arms deals for the rebels.

It expressed concern that missiles acquired by the FARC, which is involved in drug trafficking, could end up in the hands of Mexican cartels that "are actively seeking to acquire powerful and highly sophisticated weapons."

Chavez and his government have consistently denied providing help to the FARC.

The August 2009 cable noted Russian ammunition sold to Venezuela was found in FARC hands and US officials raised the issue with Russian diplomats in Washington, the Post reported.

It said an official at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington said envoys there could not respond to the allegations by US officials and that the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry did not respond to phone calls.

The US efforts to prevent the sales of arms by Russia and Spain to Venezuela appeared to strain ties with both countries, the Post reported.

It said an official in charge of disarmament issues at Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Anatoliy Antonov, told a US Embassy official in Moscow in 2005 that Washington was trying to restrict Russian access to the arms market.

Spain went ahead with the sale of patrol ships and corvettes, but was blocked by Washington from selling Caracas C-295 transport planes and patrol aircraft because they used sophisticated US electronics, eliciting a complaint by Spain’s foreign minister cited in a cable from the US ambassador in January 2006, the Post said.

Website launched to link Vietnamese diaspora 


A website designed to connect the overseas Vietnamese (Viet Kieu) community in all parts of the world was opened on Wednesday (December 8).

Jointly launched by the Vietnam News Agency, the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Agency for Foreign Information Service under the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), the website – – provides valuable information on the State’s guidelines and polices on overseas Vietnamese.

It also gives information about the activities of overseas Vietnamese regarding their homeland, showcasing outstanding achievements in particular.

The website is divided into national pages so that its readers can quickly learn about the lives of the overseas Vietnamese community in each country.

The Community News column will be supplemented with information from reporters, agencies for foreign affairs, overseas Vietnamese trade missions as well as overseas Vietnamese themselves.

Readers can find an overview of each nation and its relations with Vietnam.

The website also provides systematized State documents and policies divided into such categories as nationality, investment-business and verification of Vietnamese origin.

A list of overseas Vietnamese diplomatic agencies, associations, companies, trade centers and restaurants will be provided and regularly updated to facilitate business transactions and personal relations.

A new chapter 

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at a luncheon in Hanoi in July. Her back-to-back visits to Vietnam this year articulated the rising US commitment to bilateral relations.

Hillary Clinton’s back-to-back visits to Hanoi articulated the rising US commitment to US-Vietnam relations. Clinton’s recent announcement “The US is back in Southeast Asia,” struck a chord of surprise for many in the region.

In his farewell interview with Thanh Nien Weekly, departing US Ambassador Michael W. Michalak speaks broadly of the new cooperation between the two countries. The US has publicly opposed the damming of the Mekong River and Michalak articulates an emerging US position toward the Lower Mekong River Basin.

Michalak will leave Vietnam for his next assignment in the first week of January 2011.

Thanh Nien Weekly: How do you view your term as US Ambassador to Vietnam in the scope of your long career as a diplomat?

Michael W. Michalak: My experience as Ambassador to Vietnam has been one of the most interesting and rewarding experiences of my life, and certainly of my 30-plus years with the Department of State. Being able to play a role in moving beyond our painful past and building a strong partnership has been a tremendous honor.

What effects will the damming of the Mekong River in China, Laos and Cambodia have on the Mekong Delta?

During her visit to Hanoi (in October), Secretary of State Clinton discussed the potential impact of proposed dams on the mainstream of the Mekong River with her Lower Mekong Initiative partners in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Secretary recommended a pause before major construction continues and said the US would sponsor a study of the issue. Hydropower development on the Mekong mainstream is an issue of concern, as recent studies show that even one dam could cause irreparable damage to the complex ecosystem of the Mekong River Basin and pose an immediate and long-term threat to the food security and livelihoods of millions. For Vietnam, upstream dams will reduce water and sediment flows, resulting in saltwater intrusion, soil erosion, and decreased soil fertility, threatening agriculture and aquaculture productivity. The Mekong Delta is Vietnam’s “rice basket,” and Vietnam is the world’s number two rice exporter. This issue has consequences for global food security.

US Ambassador Michael W. Michalak

If these dams are built, how will they impact the livelihoods of those living in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta and in other lower Mekong countries? How will the residents of the Mekong Delta survive if they can no longer make a living farming and fishing?

It is critical to address the livelihoods of the 20 million Mekong Delta residents in Vietnam, 85 percent of whom rely on agricultural activities. The Delta has a higher GDP than the national average—10.2 perent growth in 2008, compared with 7-8 percent national growth. What’s more, Delta rice production accounts for 60 percent of the country’s total export turnover.

While some research is currently underway about adapting agricultural practices to address increased water salinity, for example, more is needed. The US’s Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) addresses education and environment among its four pillars. The DRAGON (Delta Research and Global Observation Network) Institute at Can Tho University, jointly established by the US and Vietnamese governments in 2008, continues to research Delta ecosystems and sustainable river deltas in the context of climate change.

Do you have any suggestions to promote more effective cooperation between the members of the Mekong River Commission?

In 2009, the US joined with Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam to launch the LMI. These four countries also make up the Mekong River Commission. The purpose of the LMI is to enhance cooperation on issues of regional importance.

One of the ways we have pursued this is through the sister-river partnership between the Mekong River Commission and the Mississippi River Commission. The Mekong River Commission and the Mississippi River Commission both play key roles in managing waterways that are vital to the livelihoods of millions of people. The sister-river partnership enables the two bodies to cooperate and share expertise and best practices in areas such as climate change adaptation, flood and drought management, hydropower impact assessment, water demand, and food security.

Data-sharing among the countries of the Mekong River Basin is key to finding sustainable ways to develop the basin. Last December, the US Geological Survey and Can Tho University brought together scientists and experts from throughout the region to share information on how climate change and human activities could impact the ecology and food security of the basin.

The US remains committed to forging fruitful, long-term ties to all four Mekong River Basin countries.

The recent visits of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton further strengthened the commitment of Vietnam and the US to ambitious cooperation in the areas of climate change, education, business, security and nuclear energy. Could you please give us more specific details regarding this cooperation?

The two visits by Secretary Clinton to Hanoi, less than four months apart, demonstrate the importance of the US-Vietnam relationship. In just 15 years, the scale of bilateral cooperation has increased dramatically in several areas, particularly in terms of trade, education and security.

During Secretary Clinton’s visit, she witnessed the signing of two very significant commercial agreements—between Vietnam Airlines and Boeing, and between Microsoft and the Ministry of Information and Communications.

Education has been another of my top priorities as Ambassador. And I’m very happy to say that in three years, the number of Vietnamese studying in the US has nearly tripled.

However, let me be clear: there is much work to be done. I agree with those Vietnamese who say that educational reform is key to taking Vietnam to the next developmental level, and the US looks forward to working with Vietnam as it takes the necessary, tough steps to strengthen its educational system.

Both Secretary of Defense Gates, who participated in October’s ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus Summit, and Secretary of State Clinton reaffirmed the US government’s interest in deepening security cooperation with Vietnam. Specifically, the US and Vietnam agreed to work bilaterally and through regional institutions such as ASEAN to address such challenges as humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, search and rescue, maritime security, and peacekeeping.

Our two countries also agreed to deepen cooperation in military education and exchanges. It is an area that has developed at a deliberate pace, but one that has great potential and is very important to maintain peace, prosperity, and stability in the region.

On nuclear energy, the US and Vietnam concluded a general Memorandum of Understanding on civilian nuclear cooperation in March. We have not yet opened formal negotiations on the 123 agreement, but we look forward to doing so.

Climate change is an issue both the US and Vietnam take very seriously, which is why we established a joint working group to deal with this global threat. Vietnam is one of the countries that will be most severely impacted by rising sea levels caused by climate change, and we applaud it for its pro-active response.

What do you consider the most significant changes and improvements to the bilateral relationship during your term as US Ambassador to Vietnam?

I think the most significant progress in the bilateral relationship has been made in three areas: our trading partnership, educational exchanges, and security cooperation. Secretary Clinton, in fact, recently said the progress made in our relationship has been “breathtaking.”

State of new sports hospital shocks staff

The outside of the Vietnam Sports Hospital, a $3.25 million project which broke ground in 2001.

A Hanoi hospital, considered the leading sports medicine facility in Southeast Asia when it opened last year, is looking dilapidated despite repeated repairs to the building.

Hospital employees have pointed out cracks, leaks and sunken areas of the Vietnam Sport Hospital (VSH), which opened in May 2007 at Hanoi’s My Dinh Sport Complex.

The hospital, financed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s Physical Training and Sport Science Institute, broke ground in 2001 in preparation for the 22nd Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam in 2003.

However, the construction of the VND52 billion (US$3.25 million) project was not completed until last year, well after the games had come and gone.

It is the country’s first-ever hospital specializing in the treatment of sports injuries, equipped with 100 beds and modern facilities in 15 wards. The facility was designed to be able to provide diagnosis, treatment, orthopedics, physical therapy, sports medicine studies and doping testing.

A 10-meter-long crack is visible at the front entrance and many other cracks on the exterior walls can be easily seen from the outside.

The hospital’s four-story building was constructed by Vietnam Construction Joint-Stock Company No. 15, under Vietnam Construction & Import Export Corporation (Vinaconex Corp.), on an area of 1.5 hectares next to the My Dinh Stadium.

Hospital staff said there were cracks on the walls, floor and ceiling of the building and that some of the modern equipment had never been used because of the shoddy state of the building.

Hospital Deputy Director Pham Xuan Nga said the repairs had been underway for some time.

“It [the building] has shown gradual deterioration in many places,” he said. “The problem was only minor until recently.

“I don’t know the cause but the areas in front and surrounding the building have sunk again and again after several repairs,” he said. “A sunken area on the first floor was repaired once but recently it has started sinking again.”

Nga also said that leaks on many floors could be blamed on the structure’s European design, which did not take into account local weather conditions.

Head of the hospital’s Administrative Department, Vu Thi Bich Loan, said the hospital had been repaired for the first time in 2007, right after it opened.

Loan said the hospital had asked the builder to repair many cracks and sunken areas.

During a recent visit, Thanh Nien reporters found a number of faults in the building.

A 10-meter-long crack is visible at the front entrance and many other cracks on the exterior walls can be easily seen from the outside.

Some of the windows were cracked and some window frames distorted because the ground had sunk and the pavers around the building were loose and lifting up in many places.

Inside the building, workers were peeling off tiles in some rooms to repair sunken floors, while on the fourth floor there were puddles of water everywhere.

A doctor said some of the leaks could fill a bucket when it rained.

A crack in room 115, an operating theater, stretched the length of one wall, he said.

He said the ceiling of a postoperative recovery room had fallen in once but luckily no one was injured.

Equipment in storage

The deteriorations have left several rooms unable to be used. As a result, some of the hospital equipment has only recently been installed.

Pham Xuan Vu, an official from the hospital’s administrative department, said a diagnostic machine, valued at VND7 billion ($422,131) had to be put in storage for a long time while the room it was intended for was repaired.

Vu said most medical equipment had to be installed in specially-designed rooms in order to work properly.

He said in one room a machine used to process medical waste was also out of order because the floor had sunk.

“We have to wait until the floor is repaired before we can bring the machine back into operation,” he said.

Many doctors and nurses complained an endoscope machine was still not in use because its intended room had a sunken floor.

The staff also said leaking rainwater had compromised some operating theaters and sterile rooms.

Some of the hospital equipment had been damaged by power surges, with the building’s power supply constantly interrupted because of the cracked and sunken floors, hospital staff said.

Reported by Thanh Thuy – Kap Thanh Long