Posts Tagged ‘Lao’
28-01-2013 VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times / ANN) – Mekong River Commission (MRC) member countries are not urging Laos to halt construction of the Xayaboury dam in northern Laos as has been reported in some foreign media outlets.
At meetings of MRC members held in Luang Prabang province, Laos, last week, none of the three members who are Laos’ immediate neighbours voiced opposition to the Xayaboury hydropower project, which is now under construction in Xayaboury province.
Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam agreed that Laos should continue to improve the design of the run-of-river dam with a special focus on minimising the impacts on sediment flows and fish migration.
They also called for a comprehensive study of all development activity along the Mekong River, closer monitoring of development projects, and wider dissemination of information regarding development.
According to a statement by the Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Dr Nguyen Thai Lai, provided to the MRC meetings, Vietnam expressed concern about the possible adverse impacts of the Xayaboury project and other developments on the Mekong.
He called on all four countries, and MRC development partners, to support implementation of the Study on Sustainable Management and Development of the Mekong River.
The study will assess the relationship of six impacts on the use of Mekong River water: irrigation, agriculture and land use, domestic and industrial use, flood protection structures, hydropower and transport.
Permanent Vice-Chairman of the Cambodian National Mekong Committee, Mr Sin Niny, said in a statement that Cambodia encourages MRC members and donors to mobilise all resources and efforts to support the implementation of the study.
He told donors he would ensure that sound Mekong River Basin development planning and management could be done jointly and in a sustainable way, for the sake of the riparian countries.
Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Mr Viraphonh Viravong said the Lao government joins other MRC countries in wanting to accelerate the comprehensive study “so that all the impacts – not only hydropower – will be assessed in order to help ensure sustainable development on the Mekong River.”
He added that Laos also wants a flow of information and data to be established for more effective monitoring of development in the Basin.
“There is a mountain of information with us and we want to make sure that we can hand over the relevant information to the concerned organisations,” he said.
Mr Viraphonh, who is Vice Chairman of the Lao National Mekong Committee, questioned the motives of those in media and international organisations who continue to suggest that some MRC member countries are calling for a halt to the Xayaboury project.
“We don’t understand why the foreign media and some NGOs insist on pitting MRC member countries against each other when the facts, the minutes and the proceedings of meetings clearly show that the member countries are not opposed. The Lao government has a responsibility to develop national hydropower resources in a sustainable manner for the benefit of our people, but those who continue to voice opposition have no responsibility to the Lao people.”
Wednesday, Jun 27, 2012
BANGKOK – Laos has held its first ever gay pride event in what supporters hope is a sign of softening social values in the small communist country.
Although homosexuality is legal in Laos, it is frowned upon by many among the socially conservative nation of around six million people, and event organisers decided against holding a parade as is common at global pride events.
Instead around 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people gathered on a US embassy sports field in the capital Vientiane to watch performances relating to their marginalised position in society and sip beers provided by the capital’s handful of gay-friendly bars.
Organised by the embassy and local activists, the June 25 “Proud to be Us!” event also drew a senior government health representative, the US embassy said – a positive sign in one of the world’s few remaining communist countries.
“I think everyone involved realised that this event was just a first step, so there was no big agenda or set of specific issues we wanted to focus on,” Mike Pryor, the US embassy’s deputy public affairs officer, told AFP from Vientiane.
“The goal was to spread the message that LGBT people are valued and loved, and regardless of sexual orientation everyone should be treated with dignity and respect and be allowed to contribute fully to society,” he said.
Although they are rarely victims of violence, gay and transgender people in Laos face widespread discrimination and find it hard to find work in government or other high status sectors, leaving many in poorly paid jobs and the sex industry.
The US wants gay rights to be recognised as basic human rights, Pryor said, adding that the issue is high on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s agenda.
Laos is a land-locked mountainous nation where a bloody civil war ended in 1975, thrusting a communist government to power that has kept strict control over the country despite taking some steps towards economic liberalisation.
Homosexuality is widely accepted over the border in Thailand, although it is still taboo in neighbouring Myanmar which held its first gay pride event in May.
(L-R) Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Laos’ Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung attend a joint press conference following the fourth Japan-Mekong summit in Tokyo, Japan, on April 21, 2012. Japan on Saturday pledged to provide about 600 billion yen (about 7.37 billion U.S. dollars) in official assistance to five Mekong basin nations in the next three years to boost the region’s development. (Xinhua)
TOKYO, April 21 (Xinhua) — Japan on Saturday pledged to provide about 600 billion yen (about 7.37 billion U.S. dollars) in official assistance to five Mekong basin nations in the next three years to boost the region’s development.
The pledge was made during a summit in Tokyo between Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his counterparts from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
“Development and progress of the Mekong region is the key to development and stability in East Asia,” Noda said at the fourth Japan-Mekong summit.
Japanese media said, “Japan wants to bolster its profile in the resource-rich Mekong region as China, which borders the region and shares the Mekong River, continues to raise its presence there.”
The visiting leaders are Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, Myanmar President Thein Sein, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
YANGON, March 17 (Xinhua) — Myanmar and Laos have held talks on building Mekong River-crossing Bridge, which will improve the efficiency of commodity flow between the two countries, official media reported Saturday.
The talks took place between Myanmar delegation, led by Minister of Construction U Khin Maung Myint, and visiting Lao delegation, headed by Minister of Public Works and Transport Sommad Pholsena in Nay Pyi Taw Friday, said the New Light of Myanmar.
Myanmar and Laos had sought the possibility of constructing the friendship bridge across the Mekong River in order to facilitate and enhance road connectivity between the two countries on the occasion of a visit to Myanmar of Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong in July 2011.
To promote security in the Mekong River, both sides agreed to enhance cooperation on safeguarding the navigation in the Mekong River, assuring to prevent undesirable incidents from taking place in the future along the Mekong River through timely and effective exchange of information between the security forces of the two countries.
On the same day, Myanmar President U Thein Sein met with Pholsena in the capital and their discussions focused on further deepening the amity, cooperation in construction projects and increased implementation of regional transport contributory works, the report said.
Meanwhile, U Thein Sein is due to pay a state visit to Laos next week as part of his three-country tours — Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos at the invitation of Lao President Choummaly Sayasone.
VIENTIANE, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) — Laos and Thailand have agreed to consolidate cooperative relations between the two countries, Lao state-owned KPL News reported on Monday.
The consensus was reached during Thailand’s new Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s whirlwind visit to Laos on Sept. 16, before returning to Thailand.
During bilateral talks at the Lao government office in Vientiane, Yingluck reaffirmed her desire to strengthen trade cooperation, investment and tourism links between the two countries, and to continue to buy electricity from Laos as agreed by the two governments in previous years.
Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong said the Lao government will continue to work closely with Thailand to address issues related to the illegal migration of Lao people to Thailand, and to survey and demarcate the two countries’ shared border.
Thongsing also expressed appreciation to the Thai government and people for their kind assistance to Laos in the past, which has contributed considerably to the country’s socio-economic development and improvements to the living conditions of the Lao people.
Yingluck also used the occasion to present 2.5 billion baht ( around 75 million U.S. dollars) on behalf of the Thai government to assist Laos’ recent flood victims, and two million baht (around 6,000 U.S. dollars) to renovate secondary schools in Laos’ eastern province of Houaphan in order to boost human resource development.
Thongsing invited Yingluck to attend the Ninth Asia-Europe Meeting and the Fifth Ayeyawady-chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy Meeting, which will both be hosted by Laos next year.
On the same day, Yingluck visited Laos’ President Choummaly Sayasone and President of the Lao National Assembly Pany Yathortou.
Thailand is one of the major foreign investors in Laos, having invested in 276 projects worth 2.68 billion U.S. dollars over the past decade, according to the state-owned Vientiane Times.
Bilateral trade between Laos and Thailand reached 2.1 billion U. S. dollars in 2009, which rose to 2.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2010.
Yingluck’s one-day visit to Laos came at the invitation of Thongsing and was the fourth stop on her tour to Southeast Asian nations after being elected as the first Thai female Prime Minister in July.
HANOI, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) — An international conference on tourism promotion themed “Four countries One Destination” was held in Vietnam’s southern Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) on Tuesday.
The forum was attended by four tourism ministers of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, and more than 200 delegates from related ministries and organizations in the region.
According to Vietnam News Agency, the event was held to lure more investment in tourist infrastructure and promote tourism for sustainable development for the benefit of both investors and peoples in the four countries.
Delegates shared with one another the updated information of their respective country’s tourism policies to attract more investment and discussed measures to provide favorable conditions for tourism investors and managers, all aimed at highlighting images of the four countries as attractive destinations to both tourists and investors.
Over the recent years, the tourism sectors of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar have strongly developed, becoming an important spearhead to boost social and economic development in each country. The average growth rate in these countries is always higher than the average one of the ASEAN bloc and the world as well. Despite the global economic crisis, the four countries welcomed about 10.9 million tourists in 2010, a year-on-year increase of 25 percent, said the report.
Potentials in tourism of the four countries were also shared among participants, who shared a common view that promoting tourism in their countries as one common destination with attractive and diverse forms of sites and services would help in building a firm foundation for cooperation and development in the Mekong sub-region, and for cooperation and friendship among regional countries.
Addressing the conference, Vietnamese minister of culture, sports and tourism Hoang Tuan Anh said, the Vietnamese government always provides favorable conditions for, and encourages domestic and foreign travel businesses and investors to join hands together in developing tourism.
Vietnam welcomed more than five million foreign visitors in 2010, a year-on-year increase of 34.8 percent. The country sets targets to receive 10.3 million foreign visitors, plus 47.5 million domestic tourists, by 2020, and 18 million foreign visitors and 71 million domestic tourists by 2030, Anh said.
More than 94.2 billion U.S. dollars will be invested to develop 39 national tourist areas, 30 national tourist sites and 10 tourist urban quarters in Vietnam, Anh reported.
HANOI, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) — Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will pay an official visit to Laos on Sept. 9-10, at the invitation of his Lao counterpart Thongsing Thammavong, and will co-chair the Vietnam-Laos conference on cooperation and investment, reported Vietnam News Agency on Wednesday.
The visit, the first overseas trip by Dung since he has been re- elected by the Vietnamese National Assembly as the government prime minister this July, re-confirms Vietnam’s consistent policy to attach importance to and develop the special and comprehensive relations with Laos, said the report.
Vietnam-Laos traditional and comprehensive relationship has been finely developed. The two sides maintain regular exchange of high-ranking visits, with the most recent ones to Laos by Vietnamese Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in June 2011, and to Vietnam by Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong in March 2011, Lao Party General Secretary and President Choummaly Sayasone in August 2011, and Lao National Assembly President Pany Yathotu in late August 2011.
Vietnam is among the leading foreign investors in Laos, to date having 252 projects worth 3.2 billion U.S. dollars.
Vietnam is Laos’ third biggest trade partner after Thailand and China. Two-way trade turnover reached 490 million U.S. dollars in 2010, and 402.3 million U.S. dollars in the first seven months of 2011. Both sides agreed to reach a trade turnover of two billion U. S. dollars by 2015.
The two countries have also close coordination at international forums, including exchange of information about international issues of mutual concern, joint activities in the ASEAN community and the Mekong sub-region. Vietnam shares with Laos experience in hosting international events and preparing for the latter’s access to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Leaders of the two countries agreed to make 2012 as the ” Vietnam-Laos friendship and solidarity year”.
AP—BANGKOK – Despite an export ban, Vietnamese companies are smuggling logs from the once rich forests of Laos to feed a billion-dollar wood industry that turns timber into furniture for export to the Europe and the United States, an environmental group said on Thursday.
The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency alleged that the Vietnamese military was heavily involved in bribing Lao officials and then trafficking the timber on a massive scale to wood processing factories in neighbouring Vietnam. This was denied by the government and military.
Laos, with some of the last intact tropical forests in the region, in 1999 slapped a ban on the export of raw timber and says it is expanding its forest cover. But there are widespread reports of rampant logging, often associated with the country’s mushrooming dam projects and agricultural plantations.
‘Vietnam is almost annexing areas of Laos to feed its own industries. The only winners in Laos are corrupt government officials and well-connected businessmen,’ Julian Newman, an EIA staffer, said at a news conference. The group focuses on environmental crime worldwide.
Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga denied the allegations.