Mekong Eye

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  • ‘Economic Growth Is Not the Best Way to Solve Economic Problems’: Policy Advocate

    03/01/2016

    A public seminar entitled “Myanmar’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs): Opportunities or Threats to Local Communities” attracted regional development specialists to Rangoon this week, including Penchom Saetang, Director of Ecological Alert and Recovery Thailand (EARTH).

    In her work as a community and policy advocate, Saetang fights for corporate and government accountability concerning health and environmental problems from industrial pollution.

    As Burma is developing three SEZs in Arakan State and Rangoon and Tenasserim divisions, respectively, problems have been highlighted concerning land confiscation, a lack of public consultation and forced relocation.

    The Irrawaddy’s Yen Snaing spoke with Saetang about Thailand’s experience promoting industrialization, and what experiences Burma might be able to draw upon from its neighbor.

  • Prospects for Regional Cooperation on Environmental Impact Assessment in Mainland Southeast Asia

    03/01/2016

    Pact inquired with ministries and other actors about the prospects for more effective environmental impact assessment (EIA) policy and practice and the role of multi-stakeholder cooperation at the regional level to improve EIAs in the five Lower Mekong countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam). A team of country experts analyzed the relationships and interests involved in improving the state of EIA. Pact’s analysis indicates that there is strong support among government and non-governmental stakeholders alike for reform of national EIA procedures, increased public participation, and development of a regional EIA standard. Pact hopes this research encourages continued dialogue across boundaries and stakeholder groups in order to tackle the pressing development challenges facing the Mekong region.

  • Laos starts off as Asean chair with ministers’ retreat

    03/01/2016

    Laos kicks off its Asean chairmanship Friday with an agenda-setting foreign ministers’ retreat in Vientiane, its capital on the east bank of the Mekong River.

    Analysts say this year could be a coming of age for the “lower-middle income economy”, where poverty continues to be widespread, but which is one of the fastest-growing economies in the region.

    Laos last chaired Asean in 2004. Its economy grew by an average of 7 per cent annually in recent years, mostly on the back of its natural resources, a construction boom in Vientiane and rising tourism.

  • Climate change, dams and risk on the Mekong

    03/01/2016

    Climate change is threatening the economic and political future of the Mekong region. Excessive dam building is accelerating these risks. Failure to act will significantly impact growth in the region.

  • China’s expanding influence in Laos

    02/29/2016

    The recently signed Joint General Scheme of Mohan–Boten Economic Cooperation Zone is the first cross-border economic cooperation zone that China has established in Laos and, for that matter, in the whole of Southeast Asia. The deal hints at the Asian giant’s goal to expand its economic ties with its southern neighbours.

  • Hydro standards ‘below par’, study finds

    02/29/2016

    Chinese money accounts for the overwhelming majority of investment in Cambodia’s anaemic energy sector, but while the government has been happy to take Beijing’s loans for the construction of hydroelectric plants, a study published last month found that such investment came with both ecological and economic consequences.

  • Dawei road start faces delays

    02/28/2016

    Construction of a road linking the Dawei deep-sea port in Myanmar with Kanchanaburi will be delayed after Japan determined that 15-degree inclines along seven stretches of the road would be unsafe for lorries.

    Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said on Friday construction of the 138km road from the Dawei deep-sea port to Ban Phu Nam Ron in Kanchanaburi must be postponed.

    The project was due to start in March.

    The delay comes following an inspection by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).

  • PM Pledges 1M Hectares of ELC Land to Poor

    02/26/2016

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday declared an end to the government’s review of Cambodia’s economic land concessions (ELCs), pledging that nearly 1 million hec­tares of reappropriated property would be handed over to poor families. He also announced a major reorganization of the two ministries involved in granting ELCs.

    Environmental and human rights groups have identified ELCs as a cause of some of Cambodia’s most pressing problems in recent years, from rampant deforestation to forced evictions across the country.

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