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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        14 January 2011

Ground broken for new Cambodian dam

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Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday presided over the groundbreaking of the Stung Tatay hydroelectric dam project in Koh Kong province, describing Koh Kong as "a battery province" that could help the country's rising energy needs.

In his speech, the premier appealed to the private sector to invest in transmission lines to connect Stung Tatay and other dams to the power grid in Koh Kong province, encouraging involvement from both local and Chinese companies.

"We appeal to Chinese companies to invest in electric transmission lines, so that electricity can be connected to every place [nationwide]," Hun Sen said.

"We have electricity, so we need transmission lines."

He said private investment was necessary because it is difficult for the government to secure loans from other countries.

The 246-megawatt Stung Tatay dam, which is being built by China National Heavy Machinery Co Ltd at a cost of US$540 million, is the second of four hydropower dams planned for the province to begin construction.

On December 28, Hun Sen presided over the groundbreaking of the 338-megawatt Stung Russey Chrum Krom project in Koh Kong, which is being built by China Huadian Corporation.

The projects have drawn criticism from environmentalists, who have raised concerns about the impact the dams could have on Southern Cardamom's Protected Forest and the livelihoods of local residents.

Ame Trandem, Mekong Campaigner for the NGO International Rivers, said yesterday that the dams pose a major risk to "more than 2,000 hectares of evergreen forest and animal habitat which are expected to be inundated by the dam's reservoir". She added that the "natural flow of the river will be significantly disturbed".

Trandem said there has already been disruption and water pollution from the influx of construction workers to the area and called for construction to stop "until a proper environmental mitigation plan is developed and carefully implemented".


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ASEAN  ANALYSIS

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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