People’s Council deputies express concern over construction, online gaming

Ho Chi Minh City People’s Council deputies voiced their stress about the quality of construction planning and the loose control over online gaming at yesterday’s question and answer session of the ongoing 18th meeting of the city People’s Council.

Deputy Vo Van Sen calls on the city People’s Council to organize a symposium to seek solutions on how to eliminate harmful online games (Photo: SGGP)

In response to complaints that some construction projects fail to conform with the city’s overall architectural planning, Nguyen Tan Ben, director of the city Construction Department, reported that out of 114 multistoried buildings to which the department issued licenses between 2008 and the end of June 2010, there were “no approved projects that are inappropriate with the architectural planning.” 

Of these projects, 75 percent are located in the downtown of the city, he added.

Deputy Nguyen Dang Nghia commented that the rate of skyscrapers in the downtown was quite high, and “it is due to this that the congestion there has become more serious recently.”

Meanwhile, deputy Ngo Minh Hong, said: “Many new large buildings are surrounded by tiny roads, leading to frequent blockages of traffic flow.  I wondered if that would happen when granting licenses to such projects, what criteria the department based them on?”

Another deputy, Nguyen The Thanh, said: “You [the department] says it feels secure about the architectural planning for the downtown. But you should review works built along the roadsides of Dong Khoi and Le Duan streets to see the problem. For example, the newly-upgraded Caravelle Hotel does not conform to the nearby city Theatre at all.”

“Such a construction plan is unacceptable. It is incomprehensible to me that the relevant departments insist that there is no problem.”

In response, Mr. Tran Chi Dung, director of the city Planning and Architecture Department, affirmed that his department “has worked in accordance with its authority.”

He admitted that work on Caravelle has exposed some defects in terms of calculations of space for construction that may affect the area immediately surrounding the Theatre, but he said the department has avoided similar mistakes in the process of developing other major works.

Deputy Truong Trong Nghia asks: “Who will be responsible for the tripled increase of the estimated cost of the Ben Thanh – Suoi Tien Metro Project?” (Photo: SGGP)

Pham Phuong Thao, chairperson of the city People’s Council, asked the city Planning and Architecture Department to pay more attention to concerns raised by deputies and the public.

“We must both develop and preserve the city. If we fail to do so, the city will lose its identity.”

Mr. Dung promised that after the session, he would reply in writing to queries posed by deputies.

Many deputies also raised their concern about the increase of capital of some ODA projects, asking for a clear explanation.

Tran Trong Nghia asked who would be held responsible for the tripled increase of the initial estimated costs of the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro project.

Mr. Nghia asked: “Who will bear the expense of hundreds of VND billion on repairing Nguyen Huu Canh Street, or will the city budget have to pay for it?”

Regarding the fact that the city budget had paid VND142 billion in advance for repairing the Van Thanh 2 Bridge, he asked: “Has the amount been paid by those organizations that were held responsible for their faults leading to the repair?”

Replying, Tran Quang Phuong, director of the city Transport Department, admitted the department had had some shortcomings in the management of its construction projects, leading to tardy in progress and increased of capital required to complete some projects.

The city authorities has assigned the department to set up an inter-department team to determine which organizations ought to make up the VND142 billion difference between the originally estimated cost and the reality which exists now, Mr. Phuong said.

Director of the HCMC Department of Information and Communications, Le Manh Ha, demands that online games be regarded as one of the factors that pollute the cultural environment (Photo: SGGP)

Regarding the aforementioned subway project, he said the high increase in capital was due to many changes to the project in the past 4 years, claiming that such an increase was inevitable.

Many online games cause “pollution”

Le Manh Ha, director of the HCMC Department of Information and Communications, said many harmful online games, including violent games, have been existent in Vietnam for the past 5 years and that the responsibility for licensing online games belonged to the Ministry of Information and Communications.

Of the 65 online games circulating throughout the city, 43 contain violent content, he said.
 
However, the ministry has not done enough to improve the situation and has not considered the department’s proposals, including the proposal to set up criteria for assessing levels of violence and harmfulness of online games, he said,

Another proposal was for the department to directly take part in assessment of the content of new online games, he added.

“It is unacceptable to serve the benefit online games company and harm the development of peoples’ personalities, especially children and youth,” said deputy Nguyen Van Bach.

Deputy Vo Van Sen proposed that after this session, the city people’s Council should open a symposium to seek solutions to eliminate harmful online games.

Mr. Ha said: “We should treat the online game trade as a sector that may cause “pollution” to the cultural environment. Any ‘polluting’ games must be suspended.” 

Regarding this issue, the City People’s Committee chairman Le Hoang Quan said: “Within the month, the city will take measures to stop the circulation of the said 43 violent online games.”

He also asked the Information and Communications Department to set up a plan to manage online games in the city.

By staff writers – Translated by Quang Thinh

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