Archive for ‘Lao PDR’

October 18, 2014

Communist Vietnam’s Neo-Colonizing Policies Must Be Stopped to Prevent the Destabilization of Southeast Asia and the Continuing Human Rights Violations of the Indigenous Populations.

Sys-Con

Communist Vietnam’s Neo-Colonizing Policies Must Be Stopped to Prevent the Destabilization of Southeast Asia and the Continuing Human Rights Violations of the Indigenous Populations.

Communist Vietnam’s policies and practices were observed to be the major source of destabilization of Southeast Asia, if allowed to stay the current course.

By PR Newswire

October 17, 2014 10:21 AM EDT

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.sys-con.com/node/3213085

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A Southeast Asia Conference was recently held in Washington, D.C., featuring diverse, local and international, speakers from Hawaii, Thailand and France as well as Laotians, Khmers, Montagnards and Americans with related expertise and experiences from academic institutions, business communities, and Law firm and past US government involvements. There were also screenings of interviews with Mr. Sovan Pen, the very first Prime Minister of Cambodia during the Vietnamese occupation and former prisoner in Hanoi on the Vietnamese government true objectives on Cambodia, and Dr. Mong Hay Lao on geopolitics of Southeast Asia. Vietnam neo-colonization of Cambodia and Laos had been further explored by the audience’s questions & answers session and open discussions. The conference participants were very actively engaged in drawing up the conference 14-point Resolutions, of which an unsigned copy is as follows:

Resolutions of the Southeast Asia Conference 2014
Washington, DC October 4 & 5, 2014

This document contains the resolutions of the Southeast Asia Conference 2014, organized by the Khmer People Network for Cambodia (KPNC) and Laotian Human Rights Council (LHRC). The conference was held in Washington, DC on October 4th through 5th, 2014 entitled “Vietnam’s Destabilization of Southeast Asia and Tragic Human Rights Violations.” The conference working group presents these resolutions to the US government for implementation. This is the work of civil society from Cambodian and Laotian Americans concerned for the stabilization and security of the people of Southeast Asia.  As Americans, we are concerned for US self-interests in the area and present these recommendations to our government holding in all seriousness the best interests of our beloved country the United States of America.

These are presented to the Foreign Relations Committees of both the Senate and the House with the hope that along with the administration, you will incorporate them into US policy. We hope that our government will work with civil society to improve our relations with the governments of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and to avoid more violence which has claimed the lives of Americans, Cambodians, Laotians and Vietnamese in the last 50 years.

The participants stand ready to dialog with our government and request that a commission be established to further that dialog and implement these resolutions. The resolutions will come alive as we work through this commission. Dialog is the way of Peace that replaces the current deafening silence. The dialog with civil society and implementation of its resolutions places the welfare of all the people involved in high esteem.

Resolutions presented to the US Government

We ask that the US government:

  1. For the sake of stability and security of the entire Southeast Asia region, put pressure on communist Vietnam to stop Crimea-like colonization of Laos and Cambodia. Urge the governments of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam to terminate permanently the so-called “Special Lao-Vietnamese Friendship Treaty” of 1977 and to nullify the 2005 Supplementary Cambodia-Vietnam treaties.
  2. Deny communist Vietnam the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) membership until it makes dramatic improvements in its human rights practices, reforms its laws to meet international labor standards and demonstrates a clear commitment to the rule of law as per the July 29, 2014 letter to President Obama from 33 members of Congress.
  3. Call for the reconvening of the 1991 Paris Peace Conference on Cambodia and nullify all later agreements and treaties contrary to the spirit of the Paris Peace Agreements of 1991, especially those contrary to territorial integrity, national sovereignty, freedom from foreign interference, and the respect for human rights.
  4. Call for the reconvening of the 1973 Paris Peace Conference on Vietnam.
  5. Reinstate the arms embargo to Vietnam, until we can be assured that it is not being used for expansionist purposes and for the repression of civilians.
  6. Provide technical assistance to develop an independent and more accurate estimate of the numbers of Vietnamese immigrant population in Cambodia and Laos.
  7. Urge Vietnam to end the intrusion in Laos and Cambodia’s internal affairs.
  8. Place Cambodia and reinstate Vietnam as “countries of particular concern (CPC)” until they respect religious rights and human rights especially with regards to their indigenous people.
  9. Create a special commission on US policy and relations towards Cambodia and Laos.
  10. Call upon the US Government to treat and deal with Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam individually, not to lump all three together as Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam are distinct and independent states.
  11. The governments of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam must open space for civil society, release all political prisoners, and abide by the international human rights covenants to which they are signatories.
  12. Pressure the Cambodian and Laotian governments to allow their people the rights to freedom of speech, press, and assembly.
  13. Urge the US government to reinforce the US Lacey Act of 2008, prohibiting the importation of illegal wildlife and logging.
  14. Stress mutual respect of freedom, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity between Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

 

October 4, 2014

Laos extends yield curve to the Thai bond market for a third time

IFRAsia

Laos extends yield curve

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.ifrasia.com/laos-extends-yield-curve/21167139.article

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Laos extends yield curveThe Lao People’s Democratic Republic is to return to the Thai bond market for a third time, extending its sovereign yield curve and setting the pace for more South-East Asian issuers to raise funds in baht.

Laos will open on Monday a three-day subscription to a Bt6bn (US$185m) three-tranche issue, its largest on record. It also includes a seven-year tranche, the sovereign’s longest-dated paper to build out its benchmark yield curve.

The offering comes just as the Thai regulatory agencies are finalising plans to encourage more issuance in Thailand from sovereigns and corporations in frontier markets of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The Thai Public Debt Management Office is believed to be encouraging foreign issuers from to seek local Thai ratings, and is looking at various options to help credits to gain investment-grade ratings of at least BBB– from local ratings agencies Tris and Fitch.

The Asian Development Bank’s Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility could be one of these sources. Singapore-based Noble Group used a CGIF guarantee to obtain a local AAA rating from Fitch for its Bt2.85bn three-year bond in April last year, a move that other corporate issuers could emulate as ADB and South-East Asian countries work towards an integrated ASEAN economc community.

Ratings will help expand the Thai institutional investor base as some investor houses are unable to buy unrated bonds. The Ministry of Finance of the Lao PDR obtained a waiver on the rating requirement from the Thai Government, but the lack of a rating narrowed the investor base for the country’s baht bonds to mainly high-net worth investors.

Economic ties

There is growing interest in the neighbouring countries as Thailand switches from a low-cost manufacturing base to a high-tech one and companies move low-cost labour-intensive activities into Laos and Cambodia, creating an economic synergy among the countries.

Thai companies are also keen to move into the growing economies of Myanmar and Vietnam. That generates a natural need for baht-denominated funds. The Thai baht is also used as legal tender in Laos.

The latest bond from Laos will pry open the door to corporate issuers from Laos, in particular hydropower producers, which sell electricity to state-owned Egat and are exploring the possibilities of raising funds in Thailand to refinance project bank loans.

“The baht bond market has a role to play in meeting the funding needs of borrowers in the CMLV region,” said Adisorn V Singhsacha, founding partner and managing director of Twin Pine Consulting, referring to Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. Twin Pine advised the Laos Government on all three of its bond issues in Thailand.

Sovereign bonds from Laos have only been issued in the Thai bond market. The previous two issues, a Bt1.5bn 4.5% three-year bond in May last year and a Bt3bn dual-tranche bond last November, found healthy appetite among Thai high-net worth investors.

However, there is negligible loose paper available in the secondary markets as the high-net worth investors typically buy and hold.

There is still good demand for the Laos paper, prompting the sovereign to emerge again. It priced a three-year bond to yield 4.76%, a five-year to yield 5.2% and a seven-year to yield 5.5%.

To ensure the larger size is achieved, issuer Ministry of Finance of the Lao PDR mandated six joint lead managers, namely sole bookrunner Bank of Ayudhya, Bangkok Bank, Kasikornbank, Krung Thai Bank, Standard Chartered and Thanachart Bank.

Proceeds from the bonds, which will settle on October 10, will be used for the government’s financial budget and for projects that will have positive economic returns. Laos is likely to swap the proceeds into US dollars for its hard currency obligations, as it did for the previous two deals.

 

September 26, 2014

New Laos web decree bans criticism of government policy: media

Reuters_US1

New Laos web decree bans criticism of government policy: media

Tue Sep 23, 2014 6:28am EDT

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/23/us-laos-internet-idUSKCN0HI0WT20140923

(Reuters) – Communist Laos has issued a decree outlawing online criticism of policies of the ruling party or government, state media reported, the latest Southeast Asian country to enact strict internet controls.

According to legislation approved by Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong last week, web users will face criminal action for spreading “false” information aimed at discrediting the government, the official KPL news agency said.

It added users must also use their real names when setting up social media accounts.

Internet service providers could face action for making “available conditions” for any individual or group that had intentions of “tarnishing the party and government’s guidelines and policy”, KPL said.

The decree comes as cellphone and internet usage climbs in tandem with economic growth, a reduced poverty rate and greater electricity access in the country of 6.4 million people.

The new laws bear similarities to those of its Communist neighbor Vietnam, which commands strong influence over Laos and has a near identical political system.

Vietnam announced a cyber decree last year that drew condemnation from a coalition of internet firms, among them eBay, Facebook, Google and Yahoo.

Vietnam has taken a tough stand on government critics, jailing dozens of bloggers and activists for spreading “anti-state propaganda” on the internet in what rights groups say are fear tactics aimed at discouraging dissent.

Thailand has closed hundreds of thousands of websites and jailed people who have used the internet to post critical comments about its monarchy under its 2007 Computer Crimes Act.

The Lao decree bans “disseminating or circulating untrue information for negative purposes against the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and the Lao government, undermining peace, independence, sovereignty, unity and prosperity of the country,” according to KPL.

It also banned uploading of pornography or “inappropriate” photographs and said pseudonyms must not be used.

Punishments range from warnings to fines and unspecified criminal action.

(Reporting by Martin Petty in Hanoi; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

 

 

September 11, 2014

Cambodians oppose Lao dam

Cambodians oppose Lao dam

  • Published: 11 Sep 2014 at 20.03
  • Writer: Kyodo News Service

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.bangkokpost.com/most-recent/431752/cambodians-oppose-don-sahong-dam-in-laos

PHNOM PENH – Cambodians staged a protest Thursday to share the concerns of more than a quarter of a million people who are calling on Laos to suspend construction of the Don Sahong hydropower project on the Mekong River.

Cambodian activists hold placards and banners on a boat during the handover of petition signatures against the Don Sahong dam, in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (AFP photo)

At the protest Chhith Sam Ath, country director of the World Wide Fund for Nature, said Don Sahong Dam, a 260-megawatt hydropower project, could bring about the demise of important fisheries and critically endangered Mekong dolphins.

Chhith Sam Ath said around 85 dolphins are now restricted to a 190 kilometre stretch of the river between southern Laos and northeast Cambodia, with the dam project in southern Laos just 1 kilometre upstream of the dolphins’ core habitat.

In June, Laos announced its decision to have the Don Sahong project undergo a Mekong River Commission consultation process.

The process requires Laos to hold intergovernmental consultations before proceeding with the dam and conduct and share studies on the project’s environmental and social impact.

The process will take at least six months to complete.

The WWF said since May this year, 12,404 concerned Cambodians have added their names to a WWF public petition opposing the dam.

The local action, supported by members of the River Coalition in Cambodia under facilitation of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, was bolstered by a global online petition signed by 255,596 people representing more than 200 countries.

Chhith Sam Ath said, “more than a quarter of a million people around the world are sending a strong and clear message to Mega First. Stop Don Sahong Dam or risk the dubious ‘honor’ of precipitating the extinction of a species. Don Sahong Dam is a dangerous experiment and Mega First is gambling with the livelihoods of millions.”

Mega First is a Malaysian utility conglomerate.

The Stop Don Sahong event, organised by the WWF, included 25 community members from the Mekong and Tonle Sap, 50 youths from Phnom Penh, NGO representatives and Buddhist monks working on conservation awareness along the river.

As part of the event, boats travelled along the Mekong displaying banners calling on Mega First to respond to the huge public opposition to their project.

WWF said the dam builders intend to excavate millions of tonnes of rock using explosives, creating strong sound waves that could potentially kill dolphins who have highly sensitive hearing structures.

Increased boat traffic, changes in water quality and habitat degradation represent other risks.

It added that the dam will block the only channel available for dry-season fish migration, putting at risk the world’s most productive inland fisheries and the livelihoods of 60 million people living in the Lower Mekong Basin.

An Hou, chief of Community Fishery Network in the Sambor district of Kratie province in Cambodia, said, “Without fish and dolphins, our livelihoods will be destroyed.”

“We are helpless and we do not know what to do if the dam goes ahead. We ask Mega First’s executive chairman, Mr Goh (Nan Kioh), to stop the dam construction and rethink this project, and consider carefully the lives of millions of people who depend on the Mekong River,” he added.

The WWF called for an immediate halt to any further development of the Don Sahong project until the developers have addressed significant gaps identified in the project documents, such as the feasibility studies and the Environmental Impact Assessment.

Additionally, an independent and sound assessment of the Don Sahong project against more sustainable alternatives must be conducted.

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August 31, 2014

Lao Activist Defies Authorities And Builds Home on Disputed Land

Lao Activist Defies Authorities And Builds Home on Disputed Land

2014-8-24

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/activist-08252014183142.html

Undeterred by a three-month detention and defying warnings from the authorities, a Lao activist is refusing to vacate land she had occupied for years and which has been identified for a government road expansion project.

Ms. Sivanxay Phommarath

Sivanxay Phommarath said she has begun construction of her house on the contentious plot of land in Khammouane province’s Nhommalath district despite being notified by the government that the area would have to be vacated for expansion of a road near the Nam Theun 2—the country’s largest hydroelectric dam.

Sivanxay, who was detained in 2012 after leading efforts to discuss adequate compensation for villagers affected by the road project, said she will not vacate her land unless the government gives her a comparable plot on which to build a home or a shop to support her family.

Most of her neighbors who have “good connections” with the authorities have left the area after receiving alternative plots of land and financial compensation, she said.

Sivanxay told RFA’s Lao Service that since her release from detention in February last year, the government has yet to respond to her demand, so she decided to build a new home in defiance of an official announcement that the adjacent road would be expanded by 25 meters (80 feet).

“I am building a new house on the lot because the hut I currently live in [often becomes] flooded,” she said, adding that she decided to build close to the road so that she can also run a small shop, despite the fact that the structure lies within the zone earmarked in 2012 for the road project.

“I am still confident that this land is mine because I pay property taxes every year. If I am asked to leave again, I will do so as long as I am compensated according to my previous demand.”

All of the area’s other residents have accepted compensation offers from the government and either moved or say they are ready to do so when the project begins, according to local officials.

It is unclear when the project will break ground, and it may have been stalled due to budget problems, residents say.

Sivanxay said she is confident the authorities are aware that she is building her new home within the project zone “because they drive to work past my house every day.”

She said no one from the local government has spoken to her about taking down the structure, other than to warn her that it is being built too close to the road and needs to be situated more than 25 meters away.

A Nhommalath official told RFA recently that the majority of villagers in the area had already moved and that those who hadn’t were “prepared to move as soon as authorities ask,” except for Sivanxay.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said that if Sivanxay refuses to vacate she will lose 25 meters of her land to the road project, and that the remaining plot would provide her, her husband, and their two-year-old child with little room to live.

But Sivanxay said she will hold out because she has not been promised anything better as part of a relocation package.

“Yes, many villagers have moved because they have good connections with the authorities, so they have received good compensation and land,” she said.

“But me? I don’t have a good relationship with the officials, so I won’t get anything as good.”

Seeking compensation

Authorities released Phommarath from detention after she paid a 700,000 kip (U.S. $88) fine and promised that she and her husband Soukphaouane Phommarath would refrain from taking part in any “unlawful” actions.

Sivanxay was detained in October 2012 after she led more than 20 people from Nhommalath district to meet with an unknown person in Savannakhet province the group believed would help them get better compensation for land being taken over by the road expansion.

After finding no one at the planned meeting spot—on a bridge over the Mekong River on the Thai-Lao border—the villagers returned home to Nhommalath but were taken into custody for questioning from authorities on the reason for their trip.

When Sivanxay refused to divulge information about the person she was supposed to meet, she was charged with inciting social disorder and taken to the Khammouane provincial prison on Nov. 19, 2012.

Authorities gave no explanation for her sudden release after being held incommunicado.

She said at the time that the conditions set by the authorities for her release stipulated that she and her husband “will not make any propaganda, incite groups of people to carry out unlawful acts in any way, will be good citizens socially and will not break any Lao laws.”

Since all land in Laos is owned by the state, residents can be forced off their land with little or no compensation as they are pushed out to make room for development projects.

Lawmakers have expressed concern that inadequate land surveys ahead of major development projects have led to a rash of complaints over encroachment on villagers’ land and created a range of environmental problems, according to the state-owned Vientiane Times newspaper.

Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Max Avary. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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