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Civil Society Organisations on the Path to Sustainability
Civil society involvement has long been an integral part of the Indian landscape providing grassroots response to government and market failures, channelling philanthropic funds towards crucial gaps in the economic, social and environmental fabric of the country. More

pSave Our Planet (IV) a huge success
SOP for Schools:
“Save The Planet For the Children”
By students of Garden International School, Bangkok
Friday, March 18, 2011,
Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

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Weekly NewsLetter
1  August  2011
    Vol.1 No.25

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The Editor's Corner


China crash may impact Asean rail plans
          In China's worst rail accident since 2008, a high-speed train rammed into the back of another in the eastern city of Wenzhou on July 23. The total of those killed is 40 with about 200 injured.

A Chinese railway research institute has already taken responsibility for the accident, which has been blamed on faulty signaling equipment.

However, the accident may have widespread implications for continental Asean countries as China has reached agreements or has plans to export its high-speed rail technology to Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.

The concept behind this is to bolster trade and trade ties with China as well as improving the infrastructure, which needs upgrading, in each of these countries.

The accident has been published in regional news media, but so far government response in each of the Asean countries has been muted. This excludes Japan, the world’s leading developer of high-speed rail.

News reports indicate that Japanese officials warned China that they should proceed slowly and cautiously in the development of high-speed rail to avoid catastrophic accidents like the July 23 incident. China’s pell-mell rush toward high-speed rail development is undoubtedly the underlying factor ion this recent tragedy.

Thailand, of course, is between governments. The cabinet appointments of prime minister-elect Yingluck Shinawatra have not been finalized and the new Parliament is set for its first gathering on Monday, August 1, so any response from the Thais may have to wait.

China’s train makers have already established a presence in the African market and are making attempts to sell trains to other parts of the world. The recent crash may weaken their export push and lower their sales pitches. Edwin Merner, president of Atlantis Investment Research Corp. in Tokyo, made the bold prediction that China’s chances of selling high-speed trains are now “zero,” saying “I don’t think they can ever get confidence back.”

On Monday, the manufacturer of both crashed trains, the CSR Group, had a 14 percent drop in its Hong Kong-traded stocks – the sharpest price drop in the past three years. In Mainland China’s A Share market, the total market value of 33 HSR-related stocks declined by RMB31.6 billion on the same day, bringing huge losses to institutional investors and fund managers who had allocated a significant portion of their capital to those stocks following the opening of the brand-new Beijing-Shanghai HSR line, which was supposed to underline China’s outstanding achievements in its high-speed rail development.


Top News from Southeast Asia

July 31 , 2011


These were the most significant stories published by Asean Affairs during the week of July 23-July 29.

Suu Kyi calls for Myanmar ceasefire
Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday called on the army and ethnic insurgents to end a decades-long civil conflict in her first direct letter to the country's new president.

Malaysian firm to build pipeline to China 
A virtually unknown Malaysian company, PanelPoint Sdn Bhd, plans to build the first natural gas pipeline network between Asean and China worth US$100 billion.

New Jakarta airport building planned 
With an ambitious Rp 11.7 trillion (US $1.4 billion) revamp of Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport planned, state airport operator Angkasa Pura II is looking financing.

Rising prices in Asia 
Rising inflationary pressures in Asian economies are prevalent even as global growth weakens, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said.

Asean navies to cooperate more fully  
Southeast Asian naval chiefs pledged closer cooperation on Wednesday as they held their first formal talks amid regional concern over China's activities in the South China Sea.

Green energy in Indonesia pushes ahead  
Indonesia can’t get enough power to feed its booming economy.

Malaysian FDI to hit US$ 10 billion 
Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to Malaysia rebounded more than six fold last year to US$9.1bil from the US$1.4bil in the preceding year, UN Conference on Trade and Development's (Unctad) annual investment survey reports.

Thai drug companies look at AEC  
Thai drug and medical supplies businesses should pursue new opportunities in Southeast Asia to benefit from the Asean Economic Community that will take effect in 2015, according to Pacific Healthcare (Thailand) Co (PHCG).

SBY warns of subsidy cuts to infrastructure 
Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono vowed on Monday to boost spending on infrastructure next year at the cost of subsidy cuts on programs including fuel and electricity to trim the budget deficit.

Vietnamese inflation rises dramatically  
The consumer price index (CPI) increased 14.61 percent during the first seven months of this year, according to figures released by the General Statistics Office on Saturday.

Accountants leave Malaysia for higher wages  
In spite of continued interest in accountancy courses at Malaysian universities and colleges, mid-tier accounting and auditing firms are finding it difficult to hire and retain their accountants.

New Thai government could lift inflation 
Spending by the new government aimed at stimulating short-term demand could keep inflation "stubbornly high", warns the Bank of Thailand.

Budget tweaking could finance new Thai programs  
The new Thai government should be able to find about 200 billion baht (US$6.6 billion) to support some of its ambitious spending programs by making adjustments to the 2012 fiscal budget, according to Budget Bureau director Valairat Sriaroon.

Yudhoyono has big plans for Indonesia  
Indonesia has immense potential and ambitions as an emerging-market superstar, but is stymied by basic infrastructural potholes. But Indonesia plans to change all that in the next five years.

Indonesia to overtake Thailand in autos  
Indonesia looks set to overtake Thailand with the largest automotive industry in Southeast Asia on the back of its rising middle class, an automotive industry executive said on Friday.

Thai wage hikes may lead to major layoffs  
The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce says that increases in the minimum wage and salaries for new graduates in January next year could lead to layoffs of as many as 500,000 workers and closures of up to 200,000 businesses as a worst case, according to a new survey.

Singapore needs foreign talent  
Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said Singapore would not be able to move forward if it were to depend solely on talent from its own population.

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