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Asean Affairs  28 April 2011

Nuclear fears stall Thai nuclear development

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     28 April 2011

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As the nuclear crisis in Japan subsides the more tangible result is that plans for nuclear power development are likely to be delayed in Asia and elsewhere.

The first indication of this comes from Thailand where a decision to implement nuclear power in the country by 2020 has been put off for three years. Thailand’s National Energy Policy Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, made the decision on Wednesday.

Following the decision, Energy Minister Wannarat Channukul said the project could not proceed unless public opinion backed the effort.

The Thai nuclear effort also faced criticism when the International Atomic Energy Agency said the country was lacking in two areas needed to start any serious effort to build nuclear reactors for electricity generation. Thai governments have done a poor job in informing the country about the issue, and have done little to set up transparent laws and regulatory bodies, it said.

Developing nuclear power in Asia remains a controversial and volatile issue, as the recent 4th Save Our Planet Conference, presented by Asean Affairs in Bangkok, revealed.

For many Asian countries, nuclear power is seen as the next logical step as the decline in hydrocarbon resources continues. In most cases, alternative energy (solar, wind and hydro) are also in the mix but nuclear is seen as a primary source.

Japan has urged Asian countries not to use its recent disaster as a reason for not advancing their nuclear power plans. If these plans proceed expect, however, expect more delays and increasing public outcry spurred by the memory of the news videos of the recent Fukushima disaster.

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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