Threats against journalists in Cambodia spike

The Club of Cambodian Journalists announced over the weekend that there has been a dramatic rise in threats against journalists this year, with a parallel increase in arrests and legal challenges, The Phnom Penh Post reported.

According to a CCJ statement issued on Saturday, there have so far been 12 cases against journalists this year, compared to four in 2014.

Some journalists were beaten up and arrested and detained, and in some cases equipment including cameras and voice recorders was confiscated, it said. Five journalists were sued this year, compared to just two in 2014, it added.

PARTNERSHIP IN ACTION Regional governments and civil society journey toward improving public participation

The 25 members represent governments and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from across the region. They have tasked themselves with drafting public participation guidelines to ensure communities and citizens have input into development projects such as dams, mines, transportation links or economic zones. Through drafting a regional standard on participation in EIA, the group hopes countries across the region will improve public involvement in the decision-making process.

Getting 10 civil society organisations, five governments and an array of ministries to agree on one set of guidelines will be hard. But the members are up for the challenge. They have a lot to teach each other. And are eager to learn from experiences in other countries and sectors.

We talked to a few members of the RTWG during their first official meeting in Bangkok in September to see how they felt about this challenging but exciting opportunity. Their video interviews are below.

My country, Thailand, hosted this kick-off meeting, and two of Thailand’s five members are Mr. Suphakij Nuntavorakarn, Healthy Public Policy Foundation and Ms. Chanakod Chasidpon, Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) of the Thai government.

Villagers from Bamnetnarong district visited 5 ASEAN Embassies , protesting coal-fired power plant

More than 30 representatives from Bamnetnarong District in Chaiyapoom province submitted a letter to ASEAN diplomatic representative, protesting the coal-fired power plant for Potash mining project. The content of the letter stated that ASEAN Potash Mining Company Limited (Public) is pushing the construction plan of coal power plants for use in the mining operation, informing the villagers that Thailand shortage of energy. And the villagers against the use of coal for electricity generation.

Revenue from Hongsa power plant set to spur development

The government will receive over US$2.3 billion in taxes from the Hongsa Power Company Limited under the 25 year concession agreement running from 2016-2041 for the newly built Hongsa Mine Mouth Power Plant. This revenue will be a huge boost to socio-economic development, especially infrastructure development, and will enable the expansion of trade, services and investment.

This revenue will be a huge boost to socio-economic development, especially infrastructure development, and will enable the expansion of trade, services and investment.

Demand for power up 15%: minister

The country’s demand for power has increased by 15 per cent annually due to the increasing number of factories and workshops and high population density, Khin Maung Soe, union minister for electric power says.

Between the 2011-12 financial year and 2014-15, the ministry built nine hydropower plants with an installed capacity of 626 megawatts and 10 gas-fired power plants with an installed capacity of 877 megawatts.

In addition, the installation of 1,350 miles of power lines and 1,454 sub-power stations have been completed.

Ecological trade-offs

Hydroelectric dams grace bank notes in developing countries, from Mozambique to Laos, Kyrgyzstan to Sri Lanka, a place of honor reflecting their reputation as harbingers of prosperity. That esteem, now enhanced by hydropower’s presumed low-carbon profile, continues to overrule concerns about environmental consequences and displaced people, as evidenced by a surge in dam-building in the developing world.

A recent paper in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests a seemingly obvious, yet novel approach: Bring in aquatic scientists at the beginning so that engineers can consider ecological principles first, not last. The paper came out of meetings organised by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2013. Engineers and aquatic scientists discussed their core requirements for a hypothetical case study of the Iowa River in the United States.

Japan raises stake in Dawei project

The Thai Cabinet today approved the proposed increase in Japan’s stake in the Dawei development project to 33.33 per cent. Under the Finance Ministry’s proposal, the stakes of Thailand and Myanmar will fall from 50:50 to 33.33 per cent. The investment remains capped at Bt100 million per each country.

Sansern Kaewkamnerd, the spokesperson of the Prime Minister’s Officer, said that the change followed Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak’s visit to Japan.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said that the three parties would meet on December 14 with the high-level working group and Dawei Development Co Ltd’s representatives.

Kaeng Sua Ten dam project: three decades of heroic community struggle

After 30 years, community-led anti-Kaeng Sua Ten dam movement is still hailed as a watershed of Thailand’s environmental conservation. Villagers have not only argued for their rights to protect livelihood and natural resources, but also articulate socio-economic losses if the project is to be built. The dam, proposed by the Royal Irrigation Department, would inundate many villages and Thailand’s last teak forest ecosystem in the Mae Yom National Park in northern Thailand. Environmental economic studies find that environmental opportunity losses will be greater than gains from flood control and irrigation as promised by the project.

Report: Economic, Environmental and Social Impacts of Hydropower Development in the Lower Mekong Basin

The Mekong River is the largest freshwater fishery in the world (estimated fish catch 2.1 to 2.5 million tons/year) and the third most bio-diverse river system (with approximately 800 fish species) after the Amazon and the Congo. However, this would change drastically if all proposed hydropower projects are constructed as fish migration routes would be blocked.

This paper focuses on potential economic consequences and is based on the Costanza report which in turn used much of the data, assumptions and projections reported in BDP2 and SEA. The main differences between the Costanza report and BDP2 were the estimated fish value, valuation of ecosystem services and discount rates for natural capital such as capture fisheries and wetlands.