Monday, March 29, 2010

Vietnam to expel foreigners without work permit

Thanhniennews had an article in the weekly print edition saying that Vietnam is planning to expel foreigners who don't have a work permit but do work. Although it is officially targeted on cheap construction workers, it effects everybody.

34/ND-CP on recruitment and management of foreign laborers working in Vietnam, expelling those without working licenses.

The draft decree stipulates that the Government will refuse the issuance of a visa and temporary residence permit at the same time as expelling illegal foreign laborers, who work in Vietnam for more than three months without applying for working licenses.

Six months after the effective date of the new decree, all illegal foreign workers will be expelled if they still do not acquire the licenses.

Foreign workers - who specialize in production operation and management, and do not hold any professional certificates, but want to continue working in Vietnam - must acquire written papers issued by Vietnamese investors certifying that they have at least five years of working experience.

Mr. Le Quang Trung, deputy director of the Employment Department under the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, said that Decree 34/ND-CP only covers conditions for foreign laborers to apply for working licenses. It does not draw any penalty for non-licensed foreign workers.

The new decree, however, will empower appropriate agencies to legally expel non-compliant foreign laborers, the Director continued.

Moreover, project contractors and investors will have to present reports on their employment of foreign laborers to local authorities.

The new decree will be effective on July 1, 2010.

I am not questioning the right of a country to expel illegal workers. I am not questioning the need of a work permit. But I am questioning the obstacles of getting one. For most foreigners it's not only a month long process, it is sometimes not possible, since the requested qualifications are often not clear. Just to notarize certificates is just a pain, and nobody in Vietnam can estimates what the certificate really means. But there is such an bureaucratic process in place, that I really think it's on purpose. At least it's not made for an easy way to attract foreign workers.

Every country needs foreign workers, for several reasons. One might is certain language skills, like Japanese people in a company on Vietnam that exports mainly to Japan. But it's also just important to get people with more knowledge in this country, because you can simply learn from them. It doesn't seem that this is really what the new regulations are targeting.

Vietnam is not a the easiest place to make business for foreign companies. High personal income tax, too many regulations and no real path of how to walk through this jungle, corruption, and visa regulations are on top of the list. Yes, you can make (fast) money in Vietnam, but this system will not last for long.

Education is culture, not business

I just came back form Singapore and on the plane I was thinking about what is the difference between Singapore and Vietnam. Of course, Singapore is way more developed. But what's the reason for that? I think at least on reason is education.
In Vietnam, education is a business and it's business driven. People are focussing on certificates and degrees, no matter what it is about. The curriculums are outdated, teacher's are clueless, and parents as well. Kids have to go to a international schools, but nobody cares about what they learn. So it's all about business and impress neighbors with the kids school uniform. (Doesn't mean by the way that this is not also reality in western countries).

But education is more, and that really makes the difference. It's culture. You not only learn, you have to learn THINKING. It's not so much about the result of the test, it's about your approach. It's about think different, be curious, think out if the box. Look for alternatives, try a different way. Learn from others, research information, share your knowledge. This is the fundament of good and successful education, but it lacks in Vietnam.

The state of the country is quite obvious when you look on women's fashion. It tells you a lot about the current status of development. The average middle class woman in Vietnam buys clothes because of famous brand names (although it's a fake) and try to be dressed sexy (although she looks like a prostitute). There is no real sense of how to combine colors and materials. Even better is the way people dressed on the motobike. No problem with sun protection, but why the hell everyone is just wearing what was available at the next corner? Because there is no sense of it.
Fashion is deeply connected to education and culture. The better you education, the more you understand (the need of) culture. The better you are dressed. and i am not talking of be dressed in western style. Actually there is nothing more attractive than asian women in traditional clothes. Transform the old patterns, fabrics and use of colors and you would have a nice local, but high level fashion trend.
Instead, its all about money. Look at average interior design of houses. I have seen only a few where you felt comfortable in - one was an ancient Vietnamese house from 18something somewhere n=in the Mekong Delta.

I am not complaining, I try to analyze and give some advise. What is part of education as well. So called soft skills are so important in these days, but I haven't seen any approach to teach this in Vietnam.

Experts are warning about the middle income trap for Vietnam. That actually means the Vietnam will not develop much further. I think that is a real threat. Cheap labor will not last forever, and then? Without having not only young, but creative, well educated people there is no way out.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Saigon Dogs Part III

oday it's the story about a dog that is kept usually in the yard, but mostly on a chain. The owners "take" him out 10 meters, then tie the dog on a tree. They want him to poo and pee there. UPDATE: After I shot the video the owner actually walked with the dog for the first time, around the block, but better then nothing. I told the son again that he should better walk with the dog, and it's seems they start at least thinking about it.

I don't like the Earth Hour, but I like the message

When I was at the Green Drinks Event in Saigon some weeks ago, a woman from WWF was talking about Earth Hour. She said (honestly) that it's a big PR campaign to raise awareness. Yes, that's true. My problem with the Earth Hour is, that it is actually nothing more than PR.

Technically it is ridiculous to shut off the lights for one hour. Light's are not consuming that much energy like a television or even computers. And it will have zero effect on climate change. Actually it can be worst because people using candles instead, they produce CO2 by burning wax and pollute the air.

Ok, so what's the message? It's about saving energy to save the planet. I like that. But I would like to see way more commitment to that goal than to switch off the lights for one hour. It's a bit like donating money for Haiti. Yes, it helps for now, but it's not really sustainable (at least this donation has a effect).
My concern is that many people will support the Earth Hour, will press big red buttons, but after they go back to business as usual. I would like to see announcements for Going Green, installing solar panels, support wind energy (Vietnam has ore than 3000 km coastline). Commitments by companies how they want to save energy.

I will be at Barcamp Singapore for the Earth Hour. What about a computer screens, do they count as a light?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Please vote for me!!!

I am nominated for THE BOBS, an award for Podcasts and Blogs organized by The Deutsche Welle. Please support me by voting for my Podcast Wanhoffs Wunderbare Welt der Wissenschaft

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Saigon Dog Stories Part II

These puppies are around 2 months old. The owners keep them in the yard. It's enough space for them, they share it with a chicken. The mother dog is very protective, but not aggressive, and she can walk around the house. The only problem is that there is a lot of traffic so it's a matter of time when the first accident there happens.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Saigon Dog Stories Part I

Some small reports about the way dogs were treated and kept in Saigon. Some best practise and roles models, but also some very sad stories. Today I show you two dogs that belongs to construction workers. At least in the morning the dogs are allowed to play around.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

English speaking clubs in Saigon

I am wondering if more free English speaking clubs would be helpful for students. My experience so far is that even if students pay up to 250.000 VND fee for English speaking clubs, they don't learn a lot. So I think foreigners have to step in and provide it for free. It's actually just an hour a week and both parties can learn from each other. I know that there are already some clubs, for example every Tuesday and Thursday 7pm to 8:15pm at Tomorrow Cafe locating at M1A That Son, Bac Hai area, Dist 10. Can anyone provide me more information?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

tomato shortage in saigon

Does anyone know why there is a shortage on tomatoes????

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Marketing via Wifi - and how to do not

When you go to a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf shop, you can use the Wifi there for free. What you need is a password. Usually shops say it's 12345 or 22222. Coffee Bean does better. The use their product names, like cafelatte or iceblended. Since many people more likely remember the internet password than a coffeeshop product, its a nice way of marketing.

Totally different does actually the Korean Company Angel-in-us. Ok, the name itself is silly, but their branch at Nguyen Hue Street does even better. See the screenshot of available networks and guess what the Angel-in-us one is.

Piano for 5000 USD or more

Some people in Vietnam still have a lot to learn how to make business.


Originally uploaded by thomaswanhoff

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

The ultimate food lovers map for Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

I created a map with restaurants in Saigon, and you can work on the map as well. Please add your favorite place! This map will be updated frequently

View Restaurants in Saigon in a larger map