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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        16  March 2011

Malaysia calm on nuclear crisis

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In Malaysia, public reaction has been relatively calm on the Japanese nuclear crisis.. Plans are just at the initial stage for building two nuclear power plants in Malaysia with capacity of 1,000 MW each - the first plant will be ready by 2021 and the second, a year later.

But those in top nuclear-producing countries are beginning to question if they should press ahead with plans to expand or build more plants.

In the post-Chernobyl lull, the nuclear renaissance has been rekindled as one of the "solutions'' to climate change and environmental pollution concerns.

It is estimated that 62 new reactors are currently under construction, 158 being planned and 324 proposed, according to a report by Anne Applebaum on Slate.

The World Nuclear Association said the United States has 104 nuclear power plants producing 805 billion kWh which was about 20 percent of the total electric energy consumption in 2009; France has 58 reactors producing 78 percent of the country's electricity; China has 13 nuclear power reactors in operations, more than 25 under construction and many are about to start construction soon; South Korea has 21 reactors supplying 40 percent of its electricity.

India has 20 nuclear reactors with a capacity of 4,780 MW, media report.

As of June last year, Germany has 17 nuclear plants with gross output of 21,507MW, according to the European Nuclear Society. Germany has postponed plans for extension of some of its nuclear power plants while Britain has asked for a review of nuclear safety.

The problem in Japan's nuclear plants at Fukushima, which were built to withstand strong seimsmic activities, was exacerbated by the tsunami that soon followed the massive 9.0 earthquake.

Experts tried to assure the public that it was an entirely unprecedented event that occurred as a double whammy, and was not likely to surface elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the shock waves triggered by this unusual phenomenon have sent ripples of fear throughout the world.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

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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