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Stories on “Society & Community“

  • Holding back the sun: Thailand, solar energy and the “base load myth”

    04/11/2016

    Thailand’s Energy policymakers recently announced plans to allow the private sector more access to promote solar power in the Kingdom. But restricting the program to just 100 MW of roof-top installations runs counter to emerging advice from within and experience from abroad, that solar power, and renewables generally are the way forward— not the large, unnecessary energy projects at home and in neighboring countries now driving Thailand’s energy policy.

    At the core of this transition is debunking the myth of what’s known as base load: managing that minimal amount of power that is needed 24 hours a day to meet demand. Since electricity demand fluctuates hourly, with peak production in the afternoon when offices, air conditioners, and factories are in full operation, versus the wee hours of the morning when things are more cool and quiet, some power plants run all day long and others just supplement supply when electricity needs rise. Traditional fossil fuel plants have longtime been advanced to service this base load, and Thailand is no different. But techniques in demand management and the ability of solar in particular to meet the high demands during the day can reduce the need for these plants.

  • Concern over big power projects on exemption list

    04/04/2016

    POWER-PLANT projects that could generate up to 30,778 megawatts, proposed in the Power Development Plan 2015, have shown up in the city-planning exemption list announced by the National Energy Policy Council, raising concern among environmental activists over unregulated development.

    Thursday’s announcement also includes alternative power projects under the Alternative Energy Development Plan 2015 and LNG (liquefied natural gas) station and receiving-terminal projects under the Gas Plan 2015.

    The controversial Mae Wong Dam in Nakhon Sawan is also on the list appended to the announcement.

    Surachai Trongngam, secretary-general of the Environmental Litigation and Advocacy for the Wants Foundation, said the announcement was clarification of a previous National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) order, 4/2559, and gave more specific information on which projects were being included in the city-law exemption list.

  • Vietnamese campaign warns of nightmarish coal future

    04/03/2016

    A future built on coal is a dark and dystopian nightmare, according to a new anti-coal campaign launched by environmental groups in Vietnam.

    The new photo campaign is called “I Can’t” and it features popular Vietnamese actors, musicians and artists wearing gas masks, performing before a devastating backdrop of smog, societal breakdown and climate change devastation.

  • Land Conflict Victims Call for a Stop to Lake Filling

    04/01/2016

    More than 300 protesters from about 40 communities affected by land disputes throughout the country launched the Free the Lakes campaign yesterday, marching through the capital to the National Assembly accompanied by monks before submitting a petition to the governing body. The protesters gathered on a large swathe of sand-filled area that was formerly Boeung […]

  • Daw Suu’s in-tray piles up as CSOs raise their voice

    03/31/2016

    Civil society organisations, in general steadfast supporters of the National League for Democracy and its leader, have not been idle in pressing their demands, many in critical areas combining overlapping aspects of her multiple ministerial posts.

    Yesterday the NLD received an appeal by three prominent CSOs in Shan State calling for the immediate halt of construction work that has already begun on the controversial Upper Yeywa dam on the Myitnge (Namtu) River, as well as plans to build three others.

  • Dam-affected villagers make case to UN envoy

    03/30/2016

    The UN special rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia met with Stung Treng Governor Mom Saroen yesterday to discuss the plight of ethnic minorities in the province affected by the Lower Sesan 2 dam project.

    Special rapporteur Rhona Smith is in Cambodia on a 10-day visit focusing on women’s and indigenous people’s rights, and on Sunday met with villagers in Sesan district’s Kbal Romea commune.

    According to indigenous rights activist Ngach Samin, who was at Sunday’s meeting, the villagers revealed a litany of complaints, primarily focused on their scheduled resettlement to make way for the Lower Sesan 2 dam.

  • Tenasserim Chief Minister Lei Lei Maw: ‘We Will Rebuild Our Country’

    03/30/2016

    Lei Lei Maw, a sitting lawmaker in the regional legislature for Tenasserim Division, was appointed chief minister of the division on Monday, becoming one of Burma’s first females to hold the position.

    Burma’s state and divisional parliaments this week announced the incoming regional heads, appointed by President-elect Htin Kyaw, and the list included two women—Lei Lei Maw and Karen State’s Nang Khin Htwe Myint. Despite pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s prominence in Burma, women have been largely excluded from top political posts in her incoming National League for Democracy (NLD) government.

    Lei Lei Maw, 51, is a medical doctor who joined the NLD in 2012 and ran in the November 2015 general election, representing Thayetchaung constituency. The ethnic Karen-Burman, Christian, and mother of four has run a private clinic for more than 20 years and has delivered free health care in remote villages.

    She will succeed the Union Solidarity and Development Party’s (USDP) Myat Ko, who sought re-election in 2015 but was defeated. The ceremonial transfer of power will occur on Wednesday night in Naypyidaw.

    The Irrawaddy spoke with Lei Lei Maw following her parliamentary appointment on Monday.

  • Drowning in generosity

    03/29/2016

    Again?” Chai Tamuen, 42, thought when he saw Mekong water rising at the riverbank of Chiang Khan district in Loei eight days ago.

    Overnight, water had engulfed the sandy shore of Kaeng Khut Khu, a tourist spot popular for swimming and recreation, leaving stalls stranded on an “island” now surrounded by water.

    As a vendor, Mr Chai was forced to leave his kiosk four days later when water submerged half of the island.

    “This is not the first time that the bank has been flooded in dry season. It’s happened like this for the last five years,” he said.

    “We can’t predict water. Our income has not been stable since Chinese dams have taken control over the water upstream.”

    China announced on March 14 it would discharge a massive quantity of water from one of its dams, claiming it would help communities in the Mekong region facing severe drought.

  • Water management center for Mekong River to be established

    03/28/2016

    The Prime Minister has revealed a water management center will be set up under the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) to manage water levels in the Mekong River more effectively.

    Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said after returning from the first MLC meeting in China that the water management center will alert countries in the Mekong River Basin to be prepared whenever China discharges water into the river.

  • NEO-Esaan Movement order to stop NCPO’s order no. 3, 4, 9/2559

    03/28/2016

    NEO-Essan Movement released statement which results in the deprivation of citizens’ rights in a number of areas in the Northeast as well as other areas around the country. From the statement, it was claimed that the NCPO’s orders destroyed the public participation rights instead of protecting it, undisclosed the information to public instead of promoting public freedom of expression which is a fundamental rights of every citizen.

  • Struggling with riverbank erosion by Nam Theun 2 dam

    03/25/2016

    Since 2010 the river banks in Phuk Pheua village in Savannakhet province have started to rapidly erode, causing hardship for the village people. The extent of the erosion has increased every year, and each year the rate of erosion seems to be getting worse. This rapid erosion has been caused by the Nam Theun 2 dam, which discharges water into the river upstream of the river.

  • Laying down the ‘dictator law’ for money

    03/24/2016

    The prime minister, who seized power in May 2014, wants all Thais to have a better life and increased income, despite looming economic problems.

    But to achieve his goal, there’s one condition. Gen Prayut has to use Section 44 of the interim charter, the so-called dictator law, which allows him to bypass checks and balances to fast-track development projects.

    The hope is that as a result of the orders, 12 new SEZs and dozens of mega projects will pump trillions of baht into the economy by the end of the year.

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