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Asean Affairs   18 April 2011

Odds are Xayaburi dam to proceed

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     18 April 2011

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Although Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam meet tomorrow in Ventiane, under the auspices of the Mekong River Commission, to decide the fate of the proposed Xayaburi Dam, the three-day meeting appears to be a formality.

The Bangkok Post has already let the “cat out of the bag” when it published a story complete with photos showing that Karnchang, the Thai construction company charged with building the controversial dam, proceeding with preliminary work on the dam’s construction. The newspaper also interviewed area residents who are to be displaced. The story appeared on Sunday.

The Mekong River Commission is an advisory body and it has advised a 10-year moratorium on the dam’s construction. Laos is the site of the dam and Thailand will be the main purchaser of the hydroelectric power the dam will generate. Cambodia and Vietnam oppose the dam with Vietnam particularly vehement over the consequences to the Mekong River delta, a major rice-producing area in the country.

Laos can proceed with construction without approval from anyone or any governmental body in spite of the recent earthquakes in the region and the claim by environmental groups that building dams on tributary streams in Laos that feed into the Mekong River would be more effective.

Laos is the most impoverished country in Asean and plans to supply power to its impoverished neighbors so that it can become more prosperous. The Xayaburi is the first of a total of 12 dams to be built on the Mekong River along the Laos-Cambodia border.

The Mekong River is a tremendous inland fishery and the dams on the Mekong are likely to have a severe impact on the residents of the Greater Mekong Subregion. It covers 2.6 million square kilometers and has a combined population of around 326 million. Their lives will change forever with the coming of the dams.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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