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Old June 11th, 2005, 12:28 AM   #1
Jaroslaw
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Viet Kieu topics

[It seems that it would be good to have this kind of thread...]

VIR 300505


Property & Construction
NA divided over housing rights bill

National Assembly (NA) deputies remained divided over Viet Kieu housing rights during debate on the draft Housing Law at the NA session last week.

Home to stay: Some deputies fear a flood of Viet Kieu house purchases will hit Vietnam hard

One of the most controversial issues is the provision allowing Viet Kieu who remain in Vietnam for three consecutive months to purchase a home. Some have called for the abolition of this article, while others agreed to its provisions but asked for stricter regulations.

Viet Kieu housing rights are detailed in chapter six of the housing bill, which also covers house ownership for foreigners in Vietnam.

Vinh Long province’s representative Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai asked law-makers to treat the provision carefully as “it can be abused, leading to housing difficulties for Vietnamese, particularly low-income earners”.

“I think overseas Vietnamese who come back for long-term investment, or are eligible to live in Vietnam, should be allowed to own houses. However, overseas Vietnamese who only regularly visit Vietnam for three months or more should just be allowed to lease houses,” said Mai.

She called for the removal from the housing bill of the provision permitting Viet Kieu who stay for more than three months to purchase houses in Vietnam.

Hanoi representative Nguyen Ngoc Dao requested clearer provisions in article 116 of the draft Housing Law that governs Viet Kieu housing rights.
The article stipulates that overseas Vietnamese who return for long-term investment and contribute to the country, and others such as scientists and cultural researchers who visit the country regularly, are eligible to purchase houses in Vietnam.

However, Dao asked for the law to define clearly what ‘long-term’, ‘regular’ and ‘contribution’ mean, otherwise loopholes in the article may be abused.
He cited an example where 10 members of a family return to Vietnam and if each is allowed to buy a house or an apartment, the family could purchase a total of 10 properties. After three months, nine family members could go abroad and leave inheritance rights to the remaining member, meaning this person could own 10 houses.

Hau Giang province’s representative Tran Hong Viet said there should be no discrimination in housing rights between Viet Kieu and Vietnamese.
Viet said housing and land prices in Vietnam are similar to those in developed countries, therefore he questioned how many houses Viet Kieu could afford to purchase.

“We should not be afraid that they [Viet Kieu] would buy all land and houses at current market values,” said Viet. “For low-income people, we should have a separate policy to create a transparent market.”
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Old June 11th, 2005, 12:32 AM   #2
Jaroslaw
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Earlier article from the same source:

Viet Kieu may receive more housing rights

A draft law submitted to the NA for approval gives Viet Kieu and foreigners the right to purchase or develop housing in Vietnam. However, Ngoc Son reports that the Legal Commission is still divided on the issue.

Housing estates like this one in HCM City may be developed and fully owned by foreigners in the future

A draft Housing Law has been submitted to the National Assembly, the country’s legislative agency, for discussion and approval with the aim of creating a legal framework for residential developments and property transactions.

The bill provides rules on housing ownership, development, management, and transaction, as well as rights of foreigners and Overseas Vietnamese (Viet Kieu) in housing development.

One of the changes to the current rules is the right of Viet Kieu to purchase houses in Vietnam. The bill stated that those Viet Kieu who stay in Vietnam for a consecutive 3-month period are allowed to purchase and own a house or an apartment.
Under current regulations only four categories of Viet Kieu are permitted to purchase a house, including those who make a contribution to the country, culturalists, scientists who work regularly and those who are allowed to live permanently in Vietnam.
Construction minister Nguyen Hong Quan said the changes aim to create favourable conditions for Viet Kieu and foreigners to come to Vietnam for investment and business.

However, Vu Duc Khien, chairman of the Legal Commission of the National Assembly asked for careful consideration of rules on Viet Kieu’s rights to purchase houses.
Khien said current rules allow several categories of Viet Kieu to purchase houses but they are permitted to own just a single house for residence. However, under the housing bill, there are no limits on the number of houses that Viet Kieu are allowed to own.

He said the decision to allow more categories of Viet Kieu to purchase housing should be carefully considered since housing accommodation demand for local residents is pressing.

Khien asked for stricter regulations to be added to the draft law since the article that allows Viet Kieu who stay in Vietnam for a consecutive three-month period eligibility to purchase houses was a loophole that could be abused.

Article 115 of the bill states that foreign individuals and organisations who build houses for lease in Vietnam will be granted house ownership certificates for the floor area they build.

If foreigners build a house for sale, they will not have to clear procedures to obtain house ownership certificates. Authorised state agencies will grant the certificates to the purchasers.

The bill provides that foreigners staying in Vietnam for more than three months will be allowed to lease houses.

Eligible foreign organisations must have a licence to set up representative offices, investment licence or business cooperation contracts and individuals should have legal passports and a visa allowing more than three-month stay.

The housing bill has is large part dedicated to housing development. Minister Quan said the state’s policy is to eradicate subsidising housing accommodation and encourage individuals and organisations to develop houses.

Houses will be developed through three main resources. Businesses will develop commercial houses for sale and lease, the state will build houses for social purposes and individuals build houses and their own residence.

Quan said the draft law allows local and foreign businesses to develop commercial houses on an equal and fair basis.

Developers will be allocated land through land auctions, project tenders or land lease, a case applicable to foreign developers.

Quan said commercial housing projects that have more than two businesses registered to develop should be tendered to select developers.

The bill also stipulates that commercial house developers are allowed to mobilise capital through joint ventures, borrowing or up-front deposits from purchasers or lessees.

However, the bill only permits developers to take deposits when they have finished building the foundation of the house and the total up-front mobilised capital should not exceed 70 per cent of the contractual value.

Khien said many members of the Legal Commission have asked for increased responsibilities of commercial house developers, including making financial contributions or taking part in construction of shared infrastructure.

Currently, developers of houses for sale or lease are obliged to earmark a piece of land for building infrastructure that will be managed by local authorities.

Vu Duc Khien said two different opinions of commercial houses have emerged within the Legal Commission. The first agreed with the bill, claiming that the state should not interfere in the pricing of commercial houses because this is a civil transaction.
The second claimed in several cases that the state should manipulate commercial house transactions by setting price frames in order to prevent speculation, an issue that will be further discussed by the on-going National Assembly meeting.

The bill provides that the state is responsible for building houses for social purposes. Quan said the state should have 10 to 15 per cent of a housing fund in urban areas to meet the demand of purchasing and leasing from state employees and low-income earners.

Quan said the bill regulates the floor area of a social apartment should not exceed 60 square metres and it should be high-rise apartments in big urban areas or low-rise houses in other areas.

Arguments have also been raised in the Legal Commission over the ruling on whether or not a house or apartment should be granted a house ownership certificate, a contentious issue that has been discussed for a long time.

Khien said the first opinion supported the scheme that would grant only one certificate for both land use right and house ownership.

The supporters of this rule said land use right and house ownership are one-and-the-same, since transferring house ownership also means the shifting of land use rights. In addition, the rule will simplify administrative procedures for owners.
However, opponents to this rule claimed that there should be two separate certificates for land use rights and house ownership, claiming that land is owned by all people and individuals and households are only allowed to own the land use right. Meanwhile, houses are an asset on land and house ownership only emerges after land use right is established.

Supporters of this opinion said house ownership certificates have various technical criteria concerning the types of houses and scale that a land use right certificate cannot cover.

Moreover, development of hi-rise apartments and houses built on leased land is getting more common and these types of houses can not be granted one certificate for house ownership and land use right.

Minister Quan said a house ownership certificate was an important legal basis for the state to protect ownership rights as well as create favourable conditions for owners to take part in property transactions.

The third opinion claimed that the granting of one or two certificates should depend on specific cases.

For example, houses built on land allocated to individuals could be issued one certificate while houses on leased land should have two certificates.

A circular issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment last month provided that house ownership can be temporarily registered in the land use right certificate.

Officials from the ministry claimed that in the long term, house ownership should be regulated by a Property Registration Law, which is under consideration by the Ministry of Justice.

However, the government recently concluded that house ownership should be allocated a separate certificate and the Ministry of Construction is preparing a decree governing this issue for the government’s approval.
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Old June 18th, 2005, 01:35 PM   #3
Saigoneseguy
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Well,not really Viet kieu involved but this is somehow interesting:

Vietnam Babylift adoptees welcomed home 30 years on.

HO CHI MINH CITY (Reuters) - Most of them left Vietnam when they were too young to grasp the significance of the flight across the Pacific Ocean in the dying days of the Vietnam War, but this trip they will remember forever.
"I am so overwhelmed and none of us ever thought it would be like this," said Wendy Greene, who was just 3 weeks old when "Operation Babylift" caught the world's imagination in the dying days of the Vietnam War.

It flew nearly 3,000 orphans out of Saigon and on Wednesday, Greene was among 21 of them back in the city now called Ho Chi Minh City and awash with budding entrepreneurs, not panicked people looking for safety in the middle of war.

"This warm welcome is a great, great memory that I will hold for a very very long time," she said as government officials and folk dancers welcomed the group at a red carpet ceremony.

Greene was one of 57 orphans rushed onto a cargo plane of Atlanta-based World Airways during the night of April 2, 1975 and later adopted and brought up in the United States.

Ken Healy, who flew that plane and returned with the group, said he took off from an unlit runway to avoid gunfire from advancing North Vietnamese troops.

"Our effort at the time was on getting out and we didn't think beyond that," he told Reuters Television at Tan Son Nhat Airport.

"We never thought they would be coming back here."

Operation Babylift took an additional 2,547 children out of South Vietnam -- 602 to other countries and 1,945 to the United States. More than 91 percent of these children were under 8.

While many came back to look for their Vietnamese parents and relatives or simply to come to terms with their past, some said they were looking for business opportunities.

"I hope to return and even open a IT business here," said 35-year-old computer scientist Jonathan Groth from Buffalo, New York.

"Our leaders will always create every favorable condition for you to do business here to the benefit of both sides," Lam Van Ba, deputy chief of staff of the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee told the group.






World Airways CEO


HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (AP) -- Thirty years ago, they left as tiny children aboard a desperate flight from war-torn Vietnam. On Wednesday, they returned as 21 grown men and women, visiting their now-peaceful homeland to commemorate the first of the "Operation Babylift" flights that eventually took 3,000 Vietnamese children to the United States.

"It's coming home," said Canh Oxelson of Los Angeles, California, who was just 10 months old when he first left Vietnam.

"Though most of us don't have a lot of memories of Vietnam, for some strange reason it feels very comfortable," he said.

A total of 57 children were on board the hastily converted World Airways cargo DC-8 that took off under cover of night on April 2, 1975. Ho Chi Minh City, then called Saigon, was about to fall to North Vietnamese communist forces and the children, many of mixed Vietnamese-American parentage, were feared as especially vulnerable to the expected privations to follow.

Mostly babies and all of them orphaned or given up by their parents, they grew up as part of American families across the country, often in places where there was little or no Vietnamese community.

Although many have previously returned to Vietnam, they said this weeks' visit was especially poignant because it reunited so many of the original passengers -- along with several members of the original flight crew.

"It feels different this time because I'm coming with all the other adoptees, and we've covered common ground," said Oxelson, who was making his second visit to Vietnam.

The adoptees arrived at Ho Chi Minh City's Airport aboard a World Airways DC-11 painted with the airline's original 1970's red and white livery. Filing past Vietnamese women holding American and Vietnamese flags, they were greeted by local officials in a VIP room dominated by a marble bust of North Vietnam's revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh.

During their two-day stay, they'll visit an orphanage and a center for disadvantaged children, as well as sightsee and shop. Mostly busy professionals, they'll start making the long journey home on Friday.

"Coming back here, it's just a great opportunity to learn more about my culture," said Jared Rehberg of New York City, who composed and recorded a CD, "Waking Up American," dedicated to those involved with "Operation Babylift."

Bill Keating, a pilot on the original flight, recalled taking off without lights to foil North Vietnamese anti-aircraft fire -- and without clearance from the American authorities. The airline initially faced sanctions for defying U.S. officials, but support from the American public ensured the flights continued almost until Saigon's fall on April 30.

For Keating and other crew members, memories remain vivid after all the years. Former flight attendant Janice Wollett also still has pictures from that night, faded images of babies strapped into nylon webbing or playing on the floor of the plane with smiling airline employees.

"The world is too small not for all of us to care for each," said Wollett. "There was so much pain here."

Not all the children survived the trips. One C5-A cargo plane used in a later flight crashed, killing almost half the 330 children and adults on board.

Those who made it became more curious about their past the older they grew, said Timothy Linh Holtan, of Wheaton, Maryland. Coming back to visit helps soothe those yearnings, he said.

Yet for Tanya Dilbeck Bakal of Alpharetta, Georgia, the questions aren't ever answered completely.

"Each time you come you find answers to questions you didn't even think of, or you experience some kind of emotion, or you see something that triggers something down here that all of a sudden you have no control over," said Bakal, 31.

"There's still that part of you that you'll never be able to fill, that you've missed."
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