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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     14-15 November  2011

Xayaburi dam controversy continues

 A consulting firm commissioned by the Lao government to prepare a report on the controversial US$3.8 billion Xayaburi dam project has rejected claims by environmentalists that their assessment was “biased” due partly to existing ties with a project backer.

On Wednesday, conservation group International Rivers claimed that the report by P?yry Energy AG – whose parent company is based in Finland – recommended that the proposed Xayaburi dam in northern Laos proceed despite gaps in scientific and technical studies and an incomplete regional decision-making process.

The report by P?yry was commissioned by the Lao government in May, following concerns raised by Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam in April about the transboundary impacts of the dam throughout the Mekong Basin.

In particular, International Rivers highlighted P?yry’s consultancy for the Nam Ngum 2 dam in Laos, of which one shareholder is Thailand’s Ch Karnchang – one of the backers of the proposed Xayaburi dam.

A representative of P?yry told the Phnom Penh Post via email that the company had “no partnership or special relationship with CH. Karnchang [sic]” and that Ch Karnchang was only a “minority shareholder” in the Nam Ngum 2 project.

“We would like to stress that P?yry has no conflict of interest in the Xayaburi project,” the representative said. “Our report is based on comprehensive technical analysis supported by our company’s extensive experience in the field.”

The representative also said that P?yry’s services for the project did not include “any feasibility study or environmental and social impact assessments”.

Representatives from the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Lao embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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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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