Foreign banks in Vietnam


There is an interesting article on iht today about the difficulties that foreign banks face when doing business in Vietnam. It points out: "Foreign banks trying to gain a foothold in booming Vietnam face a tough cultural barrier: Most people do not use banks and many do not trust them."
Here is the example: "

As the competition heats up, they will be searching for ways to attract customers such as Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, 31, an accountant who just borrowed $28,000 from friends and family to build a house in Hanoi.

Even though she already has a bank account and an ATM card, Mai did not even think about going to a bank for a loan. Instead, she and her husband borrowed money from five family members and five friends, none of whom will charge them interest.

"I trust banks," Mai said. "But my first choice is always to borrow from friends and family. It's more comfortable, more personal."

And unlike a bank lending officer, Mai said, her family members would never turn down her loan application.

"It's their responsibility to support me," Mai said. "I have the same responsibility to them."

And here is the reason: "

Many Vietnamese, especially those who live in the countryside, have developed lending networks known as "phuongs," informal banks made up of family and friends.

Members of these groups contribute a few hundred dollars to a pool, then take turns borrowing the money, usually enough for a motorbike or some home renovations.

They gather twice a year for tea and conversation and to decide who will borrow the money and how much interest they will pay.

The phuong system is built on long-term relationships and mutual trust. People do not default on their payments because if they did, they would be ostracized from the village.

"If you cheat, you could never come home," said Dong, the housekeeper, whose phuong includes 17 people from her rural hometown. "You would have no roots, no family."

While such networks continue to flourish, foreign banks are betting that Vietnamese consumers will rely more on modern financial institutions as their incomes grow."

Personally, I think it's an interesting article. The reporter seems to understand Vietnamese people rather well. "Phuong", "ho" or "hui", as it's sometimes called, are common in Vietnam.

However, I do think that bank services in Vietnam is not good enough to gain the trust of the people. ATM often run out of money at weekends and mistakes in doing the withdraw are quite common. POSs that accept credit cards are not common, even in big cities like Hanoi and HCM City. ATM serves as an electronic pulse only. They still have to withdraw money for making the purchase!

To read the complete article, visit here!

Vietnam becomes a UN Security Council member


According to the first round voting result released by Srgjan Kerim, at 22.35 Tuesday (Hanoi time), Vietnam won 183 votes to become the non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Also winning in the first round voting was Burkina Faso and Libya, who replace African representatives Congo and Ghana, respectively.

After the second voting, no running candidates for East Europe and Latin American won enough two-third majority of the voting for the seats.

However, Costa Rica and Croatia eventually gained the seats after their competitors - the Dominican Republic and the Czech Republic - withdrew.

It is the first time Vietnam becomes the member of the most important Council of the UN.
Vietnam will replace Quata, an Asian representative whose term ends on December 31st this year. As the result, the two-year term of Vietnam will begin on January, 1st 2008. Six weeks before the new term begins, new members are allowed to attend all Council meetings as observers.

The UNSC, the most powerful organization of the UN, including 15 members, of which 5 permanent members, who hold the right to veto, are Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. Ten other non-permanent members serve for two-year terms. Each year, five are replaced by five others from the same regions.

After the voting result was released, Vietnam representative at UN Le Minh Luong received quite a few warmly congratulations from other countries.

In Hanoi, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung welcomed the result and expressed Vietnam commitment to do its utmost to fulfill the role. In an interview with the National News Agency (VNA), Dung said, "Becoming one of the 15 members of the most powerful organ of the UN is a great honor. However, it also means heavy responsibilities."

Oliver Stone to Make Another Film on Vietnam War


This article appeared on Ohmynews on 2007-09-07

Hollywood director and Oscar winner Oliver Stone returned to Vietnam Wednesday in preparation for "Pinkville," a new film on the 1968 My Lai massacre.

Stone arrived in Danang on Wednesday after a 20-hour flight and went straight to Quang Ngai to visit My Lai, where the massacre happened 40 years ago. Stone is the director of such Vietnam War films as "Platoon," "Born on the Fourth of July" and "Heaven and Earth."

This time it will be "Pinkville," the nickname that American soldiers used to refer My Lai, a hamlet in the central province of Quang Ngai in which U.S. soldiers killed hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese civilians -- at least 367, including women, children and the elderly in 1968.

When the news broke out in late 1969, it sparked a strong condemnation of the war and led to quite a few anti-war demonstrations in the U.S.

In late 2006, the Paramount said Stone planned to make a film about the American attack on Afghanistan and the hunt of Osama Bin Laden. However, he changed his mind and decided to film "Pinkville" after a talk with Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner from United Artists.

According to Stone, he decided to make a film about My Lai after news of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke out and in light of the fact American audiences are now ready to acknowledge the truth that American soldiers might act violently, including killing innocent civilians.

Now he is negotiating the budget for the new project with United Artists, which plans to spend up to US$40 million on the film. The two sides are to reach final agreement this week and the film might be shot next year.

Mikko Alanne will write the script of the film and Bruce Willis and Channing Tatum, who are known for their roles in "Die Hard" and "Step Up," respectively, will star.

Bruce Willis will reportedly play William R. Peers, a general who witnessed American soldiers killing My Lai civilians. While Channing Tatum will star as Hugh Thompson, the pilot who rescued some of the survivors.

It is unclear if "Pinkville" will be shot at My Lai or not.