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Asean Affairs                                                                                                                                                           9  November  2011

Xayaburi Dam debate flares up 

  By David Swartzentruber

 AseanAffairs     9  November 2011

A decision on whether  the Xayaburi Dam is to be built is expected to be made at the upcoming MRC Council meeting, scheduled for December 7 - 9 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Opponents of the dam, led by the International Rivers, claim that a report commissioned by Swiss company, Poyry Energy, “sidesteps science and relies instead on guesswork, making it an unsuitable basis for decision-making on the Xayaburi Dam.”

Poyry  was commissioned by Laos in 2011 to prepare a report on whether the proposed dam complies with the guidelines of the Mekong River Commission.

Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia Program Director for International Rivers says, “P?yry claims that the project complies with MRC guidelines, despite listing over 40 major scientific and technical studies that still need to be completed. It would be irresponsible of Laos and other Mekong countries to support the Xayaburi Dam based on the false claims of this report.”

International Rivers has identified at least 15 fundamental MRC requirements with which the Xayaburi Dam still does not comply. The report concludes the dam project should proceed.

The main shortcoming according to opponents is that the report does not effectively answer concerns about the impact on fisheries. Fishery experts from around the world have concluded that no technology exists to effectively mitigate the impacts mainstream dams would have on the world’s largest inland fishery.

More than 40 million people, or two-thirds of the population in the Lower Mekong Basin, are involved in the Mekong’s fisheries at least part-time or seasonally. The fishery is a major source of protein for the Mekong people, especially in Cambodia.

International Rivers notes that no regional decision has been made and a transboundary impact assessment has not been done as requested by the neighboring countries.
Expect more  debate and news stories ahead of Next month’s meeting.

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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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