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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        12  April 2011

Change comes to Laos village

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The residents of Bopiat have particular reason to resent the Chinese workmen drilling in the centre of their village in the mountainous far north of Laos.

Around a thousand of them have been told to move because their homes lie in the path of a planned high-speed railway line, funded by Beijing, that will cut across Southeast Asia's smallest economy from the Chinese border to Vientiane.

It will be the third time in six years they have uprooted their lives, after they had to sacrifice their first village to make way for a Chinese casino in 2005.

“Now the train will come here. We are angry. We don't want to move again,” said 58-year-old Mai Phu.

The Boten-Vientiane line will be the first railway in landlocked Laos, apart from a short stretch of track near the Thai border, and just one link in a vast network set to connect the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming with Singapore.

Workmen are busily preparing the ground for the tracks, but local people still have no idea where they should move to, or how much they will be compensated for the loss of their homes.

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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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