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  • Why silt is so important for the Mekong

    09/15/2016

    Just as forests are more than only trees, rivers are more than water. The Mekong river carries massive loads of sediment and nutrients from upstream to downstream and across national borders, replenishing and enriching the land as it goes. This process is key to sustaining the ecological integrity of the river and surrounding landscapes, which in turn supports the economy.

    However, a boom in sand mining and hydropower development on the Mekong is transforming the river’s sediment flows, with profound consequences for the region if left unchecked. For a prosperous, sustainable future for the region, all Mekong countries must come together now and adopt international standards for managing transboundary river resources.

  • Get your face masks out for ‘coal tourism’

    08/31/2016

    My trip to Songkhla in the south of Thailand earlier this week was not a typical sightseeing jaunt, but it was certainly worthwhile.

    My destination was not Muang district which is famous for its old-town quarters or Hat Yai, the well-known shopping district of the southern region, but a pristine beach in Thepa’s tambon Pak Bang which is the designated site for a controversial coal-fired power plant.

  • A responsible press can help empower Myanmar’s young, growing democracy

    08/04/2016

    As a voracious consumer of Myanmar journalism over some time, I am fascinated by how the country’s transition to freedom of the press takes root and prospers.

    Progress toward press freedom has occurred very rapidly in Myanmar since 2012, but we still see too many instances of journalists being detained and even charged over what they have published.

  • China-Asean Economic Ties

    07/21/2016

    East Asia’s economy is entering a new phase of uncertainties and challenges stemming from complex geopolitics, a weakened European Union (EU) after Brexit, domestic political unpredictability in the US and an economic slowdown in China.

    To maintain economic dynamics, regional countries need to deepen and speed up social, economic and financial reforms. The region needs to continue promoting an open and inclusive regionalism.

  • “Lean, clean and green”? The AIIB’s first weigh-in

    07/12/2016

    Representatives from 57 countries, journalists, industry experts and civil society leaders gathered in Beijing on 25-26 June for the first annual meeting of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

    This was the bank’s first weigh-in, where its first six months of progress since launching in January would be judged by stakeholders and engaged parties. Of keen interest to many were the AIIB’s green credentials.

  • No more coal power plants needed

    07/06/2016

    Last Thursday, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) confirmed that it will construct six new coal-fired power plants by 2025. On many levels, building these new power plants seems not to be a well thought-out plan.

    At the local level, coal-fired power plants would adversely affect communities in these areas. Where such plants have been constructed in southern Thailand, they have polluted waters, reduced fish stocks, damaged crops, and contributed to a high concentration of respiratory disease. Nonetheless, Egat has yet to conduct comprehensive environmental impact assessments (EIAs) in areas which would be affected by these new plants.

  • Aung San Suu Kyi visit is chance to rethink investments

    06/24/2016

    This week’s visit by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to Thailand appears to hold out hope for Thai state and private investors to revitalise their plans for key investments in Myanmar. Among these projects, the most prominent are the Dawei special economic zone and a cascade of hydroelectric dams on the Thanlwin River.

  • The road to Dawei is paved with empty promises

    06/23/2016

    Burma’s State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi will meet with Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to discuss bilateral issues focused on trade and economic cooperation during her visit to Thailand on 23-25 June. Meanwhile, the Thai government has announced yet again plans to put the long-delayed Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project higher on its agenda.

    In 2012, Suu Kyi visited Thailand on her first trip outside of Burma in 24 years. She met with Burmese migrant workers in Mahachai, Samut Sakhon province, which has the largest migrant community in Thailand. At that time, she promised to do her best to improve the country’s economy so that migrant workers would have jobs to return home to in Burma.

  • Mekong River in danger, but MRC is ‘weak’

    05/23/2016

    Dams and water diversion projects along the Mekong River threaten to overwhelm an ecosystem that supports 60 million people and thousands of species, according to a consensus of scientists, NGOs and governments. But amidst this pending crisis, the main mechanism set up to protect the river is becoming all but irrelevant.

    The Mekong now needs more protection than ever, experts say, but the Mekong River Commission (MRC) – an international body that manages Mekong development and water resource use – has been steadily losing power for years, say current and former employees who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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