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A very interesting and controversial study appeared recently in the U.S. press, comparing the costs of nuclear energy with photovoltaic solar energy. .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
4 April 2011
    Vol.1 No.9

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The Editor's Corner


Thailand’s military attracts headlines
          On Tuesday 19 September 2006, the Thai military staged a coup d'état against the elected caretaker government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, just before Mr. Thaksin was to make an address at the United Nations in New York.

Since the coup the military has enjoyed rather favorable treatment from the Abhisit Vejjajiva government particularly when it comes to the purchase of new weaponry to ward off and intimidate Thailand’s many enemies, of which there are none.

However, the latest proposal by the Thai Navy to purchase six used German submarines at a cost of 7.7 billion baht ( US$ 253.8 million) is drawing fire from the media and the public. The submarines were due to be scuttled by German Navy as their shelf life is down to 10 years. The last naval battle Thailand engaged in was 118 years ago with the French.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban has said that the procurement is "necessary for maritime territory protection", and that "some countries in the region have submarines and could pose a threat to the national interest." Many Thais are not buying these justifications and say the submarine fund could be used for other, more needed purposes.

In a related issue involving the military, Thailand’s Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said he would not attend the General Border Committee meeting in Bogor, Indonesia, to be held April 7-8. The meeting is to help resolve the ongoing Thai-Cambodian border conflict which erupted earlier this year.

General Prawit says the talks should be only bilateral and should be held in Cambodia or Thailand without Indonesia serving as a mediator.

Earlier the Thai general’s counterpart in the negotiations, General Tea Banh of Cambodia told the press that General Prawit had agreed to attend the Indonesia meeting. As the communication between the two generals seems a bit inaccurate, it would seem a mediator would be absolutely required for the two generals to communicate clearly.

With an election slated to arrive in the first part of July, the actions of the Thai military might siphon votes from the Democrat party, as voters could express indignation over the carte blanche that the military seems to get from the Democrats.


Top News from Southeast Asia

April 3, 2011


These were the most important stories published by Asean Affairs during the week of March 26-April 1.

Cambodian-Korean trade increases
The value of bilateral trade between Cambodia and South Korea has risen 38 percent in the first two months of this year, compared to the same period of 2010.

Indonesia to protect industries from Chinese goods  
The Indonesian government will protect the country's manufacturers from a huge influx of Chinese products after the implementation of the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement last year, Industry Minister MS Hidayat said.

Heavy debts put deal at risk  
ArcelorMittal's plan to buy into G Steel Plc might falter and the local steelmaker will be forced to delist from the Stock Exchange of Thailand because of the pending restructuring of US$950 million in debts.

Relocation trend a challenge  
Outward investment by Japanese companies in Thailand is unlikely to abate in the near future, considering the strength of the yen, ageing demographics in Japan and the cost advantages of moving production closer to Asean's growing market of middle-class consumers, particularly as the region moves to deepen economic ties.

Extra meeting on Mekong dam set  
Mekong region countries are to have an extra meeting for the controversial Xayaburi dam. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand have agreed to convene a special session on the prior consultation process for Laos’ controversial proposed Xayaburi hydropower dam on the Mekong River before determining how they should proceed with the proposal, the Mekong River Commission announced.

Philippines investment is not popular 
The Philippines was among the least popular investment destinations in Southeast Asia at a time when many companies in the region are planning to expand their operations, according to a recent survey conducted by the Asean Business Advisory Council (ABAC).

Toyota joins in Cambodian rice scheme  
Toyota Tsusho, the trading arm of Japan's Toyota Motor Corporation, has joined with Thailand's Huay Chuan Rice Co to help develop Cambodia's growing rice industry.

Mekong River Commission discloses proposed dam’s environmental impacts 
The Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat review of trans-boundary social issues related to Laos’ controversial proposed Xayaburi hydropower dam on the Mekong River focuses mainly on the consequences of environmental impacts, the Secretariat said in its latest report.

Thai government advised to drop food price caps 
The Thai government should abandon its policy of food price control, as it causes food shortages and affects farmers' incentives to stay in the industry.

VW to make Malaysia its regional hub 
Volkswagen AG plans to make its plant in Pekan its regional hub and 800 new jobs are expected to be created within the next 2 years.

First zero-carbon store in Asean 
Tesco Lotus is preparing to open its first zero-carbon retail store in Southeast Asia in Thailand in November.

Indonesian banks face difficult year 
Though ratings agencies are bullish about Indonesia’s stability, bankers are worried about a series of hurdles likely to see profitability fall from last year.

Vietnamese FDI disbursements hit peak  
Disbursement of foreign direct investment in March reached US$1.39 billion, the highest level since the beginning of the year, according to the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) of the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Lynas discusses rare earth venture  
Australia-listed Lynas Corp Ltd had received approvals to build a rare earth refinery in Australia and China but picked Malaysia as the “preferred location” given its “proximity to market, access to high quality chemicals, utilities and engineering skills' coupled with its transparent regulatory framework,” said the company.

Vietnam orders SOEs to sell dollars  
The State Bank of Viet Nam has announced its plan to order major state-owned economic groups and corporations to sell US$376 million in US dollar reserves to the commmercial banking system next week to reduce the accumulation of dollars in the economy.

Goldman raises Malaysia’s GDP forecast  
Goldman Sachs has raised Malaysia's 2011 gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast to 5.5 percent from 5.2 percent previously, driven by robust domestic demand.

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