Vietnamese runners target Olympics qualification 

Truong Thanh Hang (L) and Vu Thi Huong are training hard to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London.

Sprint queen Vu Thi Huong and middle distance runner (800m, 1,500m) Truong Thanh Hang are training hard to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London.

Local experts say the athletes should concentrate on the Olympics rather than the Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia in November where they should be defending their titles easily because as are no strong rivals in the region.

Huong and Hang both participated in the 2008 Olympics in China but they did so with wild card entries, not after qualifying. This time, they want to qualify.

Nguyen Manh Hung, deputy general Secretary of Vietnam Athletics Federation (VAF), said, “There are strong grounds for our ambition because Hang and Huong are at their peak.

“With a double budget of US$160,000 this year, we can make big track and field investments. For the first time, Huong, Hang and Le Ngoc Phuong will train in Germany at an expense of $44,000. We will also put VND150-170 million ($7,200-8,100) into cash prize funds.”

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is yet to announce an official requirement for qualification for the 2012 Olympics, but it is likely to be below 11.30 seconds for the 100m race, the benchmark for the 2008 Olympics.

“My personal best was at the Southeast Asian Games in 2009 where I did the 100m in 11.34 seconds. That is 0.4 seconds more than the Olympic qualification requirement. At the Asian Games in China in 2010, I won the bronze medal but I covered the 100m in 11.43 seconds. That’s why I must train hard now. I’m leaving for Germany on April 18 for a training course and I hope the 3-week training in Cologne and Frankfurt will improve my performance,” Huong told Thanh Nien.

Coach Nguyen Dinh Minh said, “It will be extremely hard to improve Huong’s performance, but we are determined to make it better. The main tests will be the Asian Track and Field Championships in Kobe (Japan, July 7-10), the World Track and Field Championships in Daegu (South Korea, August 27 till September 4) and the 26th Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia in November.”

Thanh Hang’s coach Ho Thi Tu Tam said, “Hang will train in China from May 1-28 before going to Germany for more training.”

German expert Uwe Freimuth, who is also training Hang, has said that Hang, who finished second in the women’s 800m and 1,500m races at the Asian Games in China in 2010, can qualify for the London Olympics.

A VFA website report said, “Uwe has suggested making Asian Games runner-up Hang one of the world’s top 10 in her category, which no Vietnamese expert has ever thought of before. However, Hang’s performances at the 16th Asian Games in China in 2010 have made VAF believe in Uwe Freimuth’s suggestion."

Hang herself said, “To be in the world top 10 is a dream for any athlete; but I know I must do more, especially in nutrition and technical skills.”

Scientists find superbugs in Delhi drinking water 

A girl waits to collect drinking water from a water tanker in New Delhi, March 21, 2007.

A gene that makes bugs highly resistant to almost all known antibiotics has been found in bacteria in water supplies in New Delhi used by local people for drinking, washing and cooking, scientists said on Thursday.

The NDM 1 gene, which creates what some experts describe as “super superbugs,” has spread to germs that cause cholera and dysentery, and is circulating freely in other bacteria in the Indian city capital of 14 million people, the researchers said.

“The inhabitants of New Delhi are continually being exposed to multidrug-resistant and NDM 1-positive bacteria,” said Mark Toleman of Britain’s Cardiff University School of Medicine, who published the findings in a study on Thursday.

A “substantial number” of them are consuming such bacteria on a daily basis, he told a briefing in London. “We believe we have discovered a very significant underlying source of NDM 1 in the capital city of India,” he said.

NDM 1, or New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1, makes bacteria resistant to almost all antibiotics, including the most powerful class, called carbapenems.

It first emerged in India three years ago and has now spread across the world. It has been found in a wide variety of bugs, including familiar pathogens like Escherichia coli, or E. coli.

No new drugs are on the horizon for at least 5-6 years to tackle it and experts are concerned that only a few major drug companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, still have strong antibiotic development programs.

Toleman’s study, carried out with Cardiff University’s Timothy Walsh and published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, investigated how common NDM 1-producing bacteria are in community waste seepage — such as water pools or rivulets in streets — and tap water in urban New Delhi.

The researchers collected 171 swabs from seepage water and 50 public tap water samples from sites within a 12 kilometer radius of central New Delhi between September and October 2010.

The NDM 1 gene was found in two of the drinking-water samples and 51 of seepage samples, the researchers said, and bacteria positive for NDM 1 were grown from two drinking-water samples and 12 seepage samples.

“We would expect that perhaps as many as half a million people are carrying NDM 1-producing bacteria as normal (gut) flora in New Dehli alone,” Toleman said.

Experts say the spread of superbugs threatens whole swathes of modern medicine, which cannot be practiced if doctors have no effective antibiotics to ward off infections during surgery, intensive care or cancer treatments like chemotherapy.

In a commentary about Walsh and Toleman’s findings, Mohd Shahid from Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital in Uttar Pradesh, India, said global action was needed.

“The potential for wider international spread of … NDM 1 is real and should not be ignored,” he wrote.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated April 7 as World Health Day and under the slogan “No action today, no cure tomorrow” it is campaigning about the risks of life-saving antibiotics losing their healing power.

“We are at a critical point in time where antibiotic resistance is reaching unprecedented levels,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO’s regional director for Europe.

“Given the growth of travel and trade in Europe and across the world, people should be aware that until all countries tackle this, no country alone can be safe.”

Lake legend spawns mystery creature 


Experts pooh-pooh claims of another animal spotted in Hoan Kiem Lake

Members of a rescue team stand around a giant freshwater turtle after successfully capturing it in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake last Sunday (April 3). The state established a team of animal experts, veterinarians and conservation workers to capture the rare turtle and administer treatment.

Controversy has given way to mystery following the capture of the turtle with legendary status in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake last Sunday.

It is said that while they were trying to capture the ailing turtle, workers spotted another giant creature surface several times, but foreign experts have expressed strong skepticism about the possibility, calling it “wishful thinking.”

As medical treatment gets underway for the captured turtle, scientists say the only hope of sustaining the species – and the legend – is to have a male turtle in another lake west of Hanoi be taken to China where it can mate with the only female alive.

Most experts believe the Hoan Kiem turtle belongs to a species called Rafetus swinhoei – of which only four members are believed to be left in the world. One lives in the Dong Mo Lake in the west of Hanoi, while two others are being raised in captivity in China.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Ngoc Khoi, general director of KAT, a local company hired to capture the Hoan Kiem turtle, told the media this week that his workers had seen another giant creature surfacing at different places.

“Thinking that there is another [giant turtle] in the lake is just wishful thinking,” said Douglas Hendrie, an American technical advisor from Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV), the country’s largest conservation group. “Some people may want to believe so badly that there is another… in the lake, that they actually convince themselves there is.”

“If there is another animal there [in Hoan Kiem Lake], my first question is: how did it get in the lake?” said Timothy McCormack, a coordinator with the Asian Turtle Program. McCormack said that the turtle rescued last Sunday has been photographed for a number of years and it is quite easy to distinguish it because of many injuries found on its head, legs, and elsewhere.


Hoan Kiem Turtle to take its status to the grave
Turtle hurdle

“If there is a new animal in there, I find it very hard to believe it has been hiding for ten, twenty or forty years and just shows itself now. It is more likely that [it] was just recently put in the lake.”

Under treatment

Last Sunday, it took at least 50 people, including members of special forces, two hours to net the turtle which was later put in a cage and pulled to a small island in Hoan Kiem Lake. Veterinarians have carried tests to ascertain what is ailing the creature at a makeshift hospital in the lake that was recently expanded and equipped with a small holding tank.

A steering committee has been set up to make decisions about the turtle, believed to be more than a hundred years old, and which weighs around 200kg. The results of the examination are not known.

“Overall, the turtle is doing very well now,” said KAT’s Khoi.

“I think we’ll have to wait and see how serious the injuries are. It looks like a lot of treatment has dealt with the external and visible injuries,” McCormack said. “It would be interesting to know if there are any other internal infections.”

In recent months the giant creature has made both international and local headlines by surfacing almost twice as frequently as in previous years. Injuries and lesions on its carapace, neck, and legs have been photographed and experts have blamed the lingering pollution and illegal fishing at the lake for the turtle’s ailments.

“I really hope that [the treatment] is successful. I hope they will find exactly what is wrong with the turtle,” said McCormack.

Both McCormack and ENV’s Hendrie concurred that the Hoan Kiem turtle, whose sex is yet to be determined, was too sacred for any kind of breeding program. They pointed instead to the male turtle of the same species living in Dong Mo Lake west of Hanoi.

“Looking at the international breeding program, the animal from Dong Mo would be a perfect candidate. It’s quite strong,” said McCormack. “Of course people wouldn’t want the legend to leave the [Hoan Kiem] lake.”

The legend goes that in the 15th century, the turtle handed Emperor Le Loi a magic sword that he used to repel a Chinese invasion. After his victory, Le Loi returned the weapon to the turtle that dived back into the lake with the blade clutched in his mouth. Hoan Kiem literally translates as the “Lake of the Returned Sword.”

“For people of older generations like us, the cultural and historical significance of the Hoan Kiem turtle is irrefutable,” said Le Chuc, a prominent Hanoian actor and stage director. Chuc said since the turtle was captured, he has dropped by the Hoan Kiem Lake between three to four times everyday to check on it.

“I cannot imagine the day the turtle is not there anymore. Hoan Kiem would be just a lake with water,” Chuc said.

“As the world goes through tough times, I pray for the wellbeing of the turtle that is a shining light in this material world.”

Radioactivity soars inside Japanese reactor 

Reactors No. 1 to 4 are seen at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant in Fukushima in this satellite file image, taken and released by DigitalGlobe March 18, 2011

Japanese authorities evacuated workers on Sunday from a reactor building they were working in after radiation in water at the crippled nuclear power plant reached potentially lethal levels, the plant’s operator said.

Tokyo Electric Power Co said radiation in the water of the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was measured at more than 1,000 millisieverts an hour. That compares with a national safety standard of 250 millisieverts over a year. The US Environmental Protection Agency says a dose of 1,000 millisieverts is enough to cause hemorrhaging.

Japanese nuclear regulators said the water contained 10 million times the amount of radioactive iodine than is normal in the reactor, but noted the substance had a half life of less than an hour, meaning it would disappear within a day.

A Tokyo Electric official said workers were evacuated from the No. 2 reactor’s turbine housing unit to prevent them from being exposed to harmful doses of radiation. They had been trying to pump radioactive water out of the power station after it was found in buildings housing three of the six reactors.

Tokyo Electric engineers have struggled the past two weeks to prevent a catastrophic meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi, after an unprecedented earthquake and tsunami knocked out the backup power system needed to cool the reactors.

The work has had to be suspended several times due to explosions and spiking radiation levels inside the reactors, in a crisis that has become the worst nuclear emergency since Chernobyl a quarter-century ago.

On Thursday, three workers were taken to hospital from reactor No. 3 after stepping in water with radiation levels 10,000 times higher than usually found in a reactor.

The latest radiation scare was confined to inside the reactor. Radiation levels in the air beyond the evacuation zone around the plant and in Tokyo have been in normal ranges.

Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), cautioned that the nuclear emergency could go on for weeks, if not months more.

"This is a very serious accident by all standards," he told the New York Times. "And it is not yet over."

Radiation levels in the sea off the Fukushima Daiichi plant rose on Sunday to 1,850 times normal just over two weeks after the disaster struck, from 1,250 on Saturday, Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.

"Ocean currents will disperse radiation particles and so it will be very diluted by the time it gets consumed by fish and seaweed," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a senior agency official.

Several countries have banned produce and milk from Japan’s nuclear crisis zone and are monitoring Japanese seafood over fears of radioactive contamination.

Overshadowing relief effort

The crisis at the plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, has overshadowed a relief and recovery effort from the magnitude 9.0 quake and the huge tsunami it triggered on March 11 that left more than 27,100 people dead or missing in northeast Japan.

The Japanese government estimated last week the material damage from the catastrophe could top $300 billion, making it the world’s costliest natural disaster.

In addition, power cuts have disrupted production while the drawn-out battle to prevent a meltdown at the 40-year-old plant has hurt consumer confidence and spread contamination fears well beyond Japan.

Amano, a former Japanese diplomat who made a trip to Japan after the quake, said authorities were still unsure about whether the plant’s reactor cores and spent fuel were covered with the water needed to cool them.

He told the newspaper he saw a few "positive signs" with the restoration of some electric power to the plant, adding: "More efforts should be done to put an end to the accident."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it was time to reassess the international atomic safety regime.

Japan’s nuclear crisis also looks set to claim its first, and unlikely, political casualty. In far away Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party faces a defeat in a key state on Sunday, largely because of her policy U-turns on nuclear power.

Not worsening

A Tokyo Electric official told a news conference on Saturday experts were still trying to figure out where to put the contaminated water they’re trying to pump out of the reactors.

They also are not sure where the radiation is leaking from – whether it’s from the spent fuel rod pools or elsewhere in the reactors.

"That’s the problem they have right now, is trying to figure out where this comes from," said Murray Jennex, associate professor at San Diego State University.

"You let (radioactive) stuff accumulate because you don’t have a place to put it. It stays down in the bottom of the plant. If nothing happens, when it comes time to shut it down you clean it up and take care of it. But if something like this happens, that stuff now becomes loose sometimes."

Two of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors are now seen as safe but the other four are volatile, occasionally emitting steam and smoke.

"We are preventing the situation from worsening," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference on Saturday. "We’ve restored power and pumped in fresh water, and are making basic steps toward improvement, but there is still no room for complacency."

At Chernobyl in Ukraine, the worst nuclear accident in the world, it took weeks to "stabilize" what remained of the reactor that exploded and months to clean up radioactive materials and cover the site with a concrete and steel sarcophagus.

In Tokyo, a metropolis of 13 million, a Reuters reading on Sunday morning showed ambient radiation of 0.06 microsieverts per hour, well within the global average of naturally occurring background radiation of 0.17-0.39 microsieverts per hour, a range given by the World Nuclear Association.

US halts Japan food imports, Tokyo water contaminated 

A Japanese tsunami survivor stands in front of messages displayed on the wall of a relief center in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture.

Japanese authorities advised against allowing infants to drink tap water in Tokyo due to raised radiation levels and the United States became the first nation to block some food imports from Japan.

The crisis at the tsunami-smashed nuclear power plant, 250 km (150 miles) north of the Japanese capital, appeared far from over with workers attempting to gain control ordered to leave the site after black smoke began rising from one of its six reactors.

The plant was crippled by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11. Some 23,000 people have been left dead or missing.

Tokyo authorities said water at a purification plant for the capital of 13 million people had 210 becquerels of radioactive iodine – more than twice the safety level for infants.

"This is without doubt, an effect of the Fukushima Daiichi plant," a Tokyo metropolitan government official said, referring to the nuclear power station.

Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, however, said the radiation level posed no immediate health risk and water could still be used.

"But for infants under age one, I would like them to refrain from using tap water to dilute baby formula," he said.

International concerns about food safety are growing, with the United States the latest to impose controls. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it was stopping imports of milk, vegetable and fruit from four prefectures in the vicinity of the crippled nuclear plant.

South Korea may be next to ban Japanese food after the world’s worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl in 1986. France this week asked the European Commission to look into harmonizing controls on radioactivity in imports from Japan.

Food made up just 0.6 percent of Japan’s total exports last year.

Authorities said above-safety radiation levels had been discovered in 11 types of vegetables from the area, in addition to milk and water.

Officials still insisted, however, that there was no major danger to humans and urged the world not to over react.

"We will explain to countries the facts and we hope they will take logical measures based on them," Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano, who has been the government’s public face during the disaster, told a news conference.

Japan has already halted shipment of some food from the area and told people there to stop eating leafy vegetables. Asian neighbors are inspecting imports for contamination, and Taiwan advised boats to stop fishing in Japanese waters.

At the Fukushima plant, engineers are battling to cool reactors to contain further contamination and avert a meltdown.

But they were ordered out on Wednesday when black smoke began rising from the No.3 reactor, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, said. It said it did not know what was causing the smoke.

The Asian nation’s worst crisis since World War Two may have caused $300 billion damage and has sent shock waves through global financial markets.

More than a quarter of a million people are living in shelters, while rescuers and sniffer dogs comb debris and mud looking for corpses and personal mementoes.

Drama at Fukushima

Technicians working inside an evacuation zone around the plant have successfully attached power cables to all six reactors and started a pump at one to cool overheating fuel rods.

As well as having its workers on the front line in highly dangerous circumstances, TEPCO is also facing accusations of a slow disaster response and questions over why it originally stored more uranium at the plant than it was designed to hold.

Vienna-based U.N. watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), expressed concern about a lack of information from Japanese authorities. It cited missing data on temperatures of spent fuel pools at the facility’s reactors 1, 3 and 4.

"We continue to see radiation coming from the site … and the question is where exactly is that coming from?" said a senior IAEA official, James Lyons.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was concerned about radioactive fallout affecting the U.S. 55,000 troops in and around Japan, many involved in a massive relief operation for Washington’s close ally. "We’re also deeply concerned about the wellbeing of our Japanese allies," he said.

Worsened by widespread ignorance of the technicalities of radiation, public concern is rising around the world and radioactive particles have been found as far away as Iceland.

Experts said tiny traces of radioactive particles, measured by a network of monitoring stations as they spread eastwards from Japan across the Pacific, North America, the Atlantic and to Europe, were far too low to cause any harm to humans.

"It’s only a matter of days before it disperses in the entire northern hemisphere," said Andreas Stohl, a senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research

Global Impact

The Japan crisis has dealt a blow to the nuclear power industry around the world. Italy became the latest nation to re-assess its program, announcing a one-year moratorium on site selection and building of plants.

Crisis in the world’s third-biggest economy – and its key position in global supply chains, especially for the auto and technology sectors – has added to global market jitters, also affected by conflict in Libya and unrest in the Middle East.

Asian shares fell on Wednesday, with Tokyo’s Nikkei ending 1.65 percent down as investors took profits from a two-session bounce. Japanese stocks are about 8 percent below their close on the day the big quake struck.

Toyota said it would delay the launch in Japan of two additions to the Prius line-up, a wagon and a minivan, from the originally planned end-April due to production disruptions.

The tsunami and earthquake are the world’s costliest ever natural disaster, with the government estimating damage at 15-25 trillion yen ($185 billion-$308 billion).

The upper end of that range would equate to about 6 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product.

The official death toll has risen to 9,199, but with 13,786 people still reported missing, it is certain to rise.

There are reports dozens of survivors, mostly elderly, have died in hospitals and evacuation centers due to a lack of proper treatment, or simply because of the cold.

Desperate municipalities are digging mass graves, unthinkable in a nation where the dead are usually cremated and their ashes placed in stone family tombs near Buddhist temples.

"This is a special measure, but there is nothing much else we can do," said Kazuhiko Endo, an official in Kamaishi town, where a mass burial is planned on Friday for 150 unidentified people.

"More than a week has passed since we placed them in morgues and we don’t know if they can be identified."

Lights off as 'Earth Hour' circles the globe 

Lovers sit next to lit candles by Hoan Kiem lake during Earth Hour in Hanoi March 26, 2011.

Lights went off around the world Saturday as landmark buildings and ordinary homes flipped their switches while the annual "Earth Hour" circled the planet in what was dubbed the world’s largest voluntary action for the environment.

In Paris a minute’s silence was observed for Japan as the city of light went dark, with illuminations switched off at the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame cathedral, City Hall, opera houses and many bridges, fountains and public places.

Sydney’s Opera House was the first of many global landmarks to go dark as the event got under way, as hundreds of millions of people prepared to follow suit to enhance awareness of energy use and climate change.

Others in their turn included Beijing’s "Bird’s Nest" stadium that hosted the 2008 Olympics, the London Eye ferris wheel, Times Square in New York and Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue.

Many switched off their floodlighting, advertising signs and other illuminations for an hour from 8:30 p.m. local time.

"The amount of power that’s saved during that time is not really what it’s about," Earth Hour co-founder and executive director Andy Ridley told AFP in Sydney, where the movement began in 2007.

"What it is meant to be about is showing what can happen when people come together."

Ridley said a record 134 countries or territories were on board for this year’s event.

Organizers also asked people to commit to an action, large or small, that they will carry through the year to help the planet.

Ridley said Earth Hour, organized by global environment group WWF, this year would also focus on connecting people online so they could inspire each other to make commitments to help protect the environment.

In Australia, organizers said an estimated 10 million people, nearly half the population, took part, with Sydney Harbour Bridge another of the landmarks to go dark.

Hong Kong’s neon waterfront dimmed, while in Singapore all decorative lights were switched off and non-critical operational lights lowered at Changi Airport for an hour.

In Japan, which is reeling from a huge earthquake and tsunami that struck this month, several thousand people and a hotel-turned-evacuation center in the northeast marked Earth Hour.

In Russia some 30 cities joined in, from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the most easterly city on the Kamchatka peninsula, through Moscow to Murmansk in the far north.

Moscow turned off floodlighting on more than 70 buildings and bridges, including the 540-meter (1,780-foot) television tower and the 32-storey Moscow State University building.

In Athens monuments being darkened included the Acropolis, the parliament building, the presidential palace and the temple of Poseidon near the city.

In Italy, more than 200 towns and cities took part. The Ponte Vecchio in Florence, the Tower of Pisa and the Colosseum in Rome all turned off their lights for an hour.

Lights went out in 52 Romanian cities, where concerts and candle-light marches were organized. In Bucharest, dozens of people cycled through the city center before gathering in George Enescu square.

In the United States, parts of Boston’s and Chicago’s skyline turned dark as many buildings joined the event.

The participating landmarks in Chicago included the Merchandise Mart, Wrigley Building, NBC tower, Chicago Theater and Navy Pier among others.

At Los Angeles International Airport, tall gateway pylons that glowed solid green just before the event went dark. The pylons now use special light fixtures that consume 75 percent less electricity than the previous lamps.

The historic Long Beach hotel Queen Mary turned off its exterior lights and guests had been asked to turn off their nonessential stateroom lights.

Also dark was the famous Ferris wheel on Santa Monica’s pier.

In Argentina, Buenos Aires switched off the spotlight on its landmark Obelisk.

In South Africa the Grammy award winning group Soweto Gospel choir along with other local musicians treated hundreds of people to a free candlelight concert in the township of Soweto. Music fans waved lit candles while others used their cell phones to light up the stage.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon backed Earth Hour, urging people to celebrate the shared quest to "protect the planet and ensure human well-being."

"Let us use 60 minutes of darkness to help the world see the light," he said.

Ridley said he never expected the Earth Hour movement to become so large.

"We didn’t imagine right at the beginning… it would be on the scale that it is now. And the fact that it is so cross cultural, beyond borders and race and religion," he said.

Minh to skip Hanoi, play in Melbourne 

Vietnam’s badminton ace Nguyen Tien Minh

Vietnam’s badminton ace Nguyen Tien Minh has announced he will compete in a tournament in Melbourne, Australia, skipping one in Hanoi because the former is more challenging.

Minh, ranked eighth in the world, said the Australian Open Grand Prix 2011 held next month (April 5-10) will attract stronger rivals than the International Ciputra Ha Noi-Viet Nam Challenge 2011 (March 29 to April 3).

The winner of the men’s singles championship at the US$120,000 competition in Melbourne will be awarded 7,000 points while the winner of the men’s singles title at the $15,000 contest at home can get only 4,000 points.

The 28-year-old Minh, the only Vietnamese player to enter the world top 100, is seeded second at the event in Melbourne.

On Wednesday March 16, Becamex IDC signed another one year contract to pay Minh VND50 million ($2,395) per month as long he remains within the world’s top 10 and half as much if he is among the top 25.