Category Archives: Sports

Malaysian NGOs Donate Relief Aid For Flood Victims In Attapeu

Malaysia’s Non-Government Organisations have provided as relief aid for the victims of the collapse of one of the five saddle dams of the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower project in Attapeu province.

Since 26 July 2018, MERCY Malaysia, under the supervision of its Assistant Honorary Secretary, Mr. Ahmad Faezal Mohamed has been providing humanitarian assistance to the victims of the manmade disaster.

Established in June 1999, MERCY Malaysia is a non-profit organisation which aims to provide humanitarian services in crisis and non-crisis situations irrespective of race, religion, culture and boundary.

Soon after the dam collapse, members of MERCY Malaysia with the assistance of Mr. Chee Seng Tee, General Manager of the Special Economic Zone, Savan Park sent a consignment of humanitarian supplies to Attapeu province from Savannakhet.

In addition, MERCY Malaysia had also set up mobile clinic to render medical assistance to the victims of the dam collapse in the province.

Another Malaysian Non-Government Organisation, Lions Club International Jementah, together with officials from the Embassy of Malaysia in Vientiane and the Malaysian Business Chambers Laos handed over ten units of first aid kits and 6,800 utensils to Mrs. Baykham Khattiya, Vice Minister of Labour and Social Welfare on Aug 18.

Each first aid kit consists of 23 medical sets, in which each set could be used to treat more than 100 victims seeking outpatient treatments.

Source: Lao News Agency

Developers Press Ahead With Dams, Despite Lao Order to Halt New Hydropower Projects

Developers of two proposed hydropower projects in Laos are pressing ahead with plans to build the mega-dams on the Mekong River, despite a recent order by the government to halt new dam investments following a deadly breach in July that killed 35 people and displaced thousands.

A developer working on plans for the 770-megawatt Pak Lay hydropower project in northwestern Laos’ Xayaburi province told RFA’s Lao Service that developers are in the process of conducting a feasibility study and have not been informed by provincial authorities that they should stop their work.

There have been surveys [conducted], but not too much progress has been made, said the official who declined to be named.

Though there was a press conference held by the prime minister to halt dam projects in Laos, local authorities have not come down to tell us to stop this project, he said.

On Aug. 8, the Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) Joint Committee Working Group (JCWG) for the procedures for notification, prior consultation, and agreement decided to begin a six-month prior consultation process for the Pak Lay dam the same day.

The MRC is an intergovernmental organization that works directly with the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam to jointly manage shared water resources and the sustainable development of the Mekong River.

Though the members consult each other and reach agreements on the construction of large dams, and perform research and planning on the environmental and social impacts of projects, the MRC lacks the authority to force members to delay or halt dam-building activities.

The prior consultation will afford the notified countries, the affected communities, and related stakeholders an opportunity to review the project and raise their legitimate concerns on adverse cross-border impacts on the environment and people, said JCWG chair Te Navuth in a statement issued by the MRC on Aug. 10.

It also allows the country proposing the project to better understand such concerns and to identify measures to address them, he said.

Developers of the estimated U.S. $2.4 billion, 912-megawatt Pak Beng hydropower project in northwestern Laos’ Oudomxay Province also have not received an order from provincial authorities to halt or to review construction plans, said a developer who declined to be named.

The Pak Beng project has not been ordered for review, he told RFA. They [provincial authorities] have ordered reviews other dam projects build of clay that would be affected by heavy rain, but for this dam, rain won’t be a problem.

Everything is proceeding as usual, and nothing has changed, he said.

Equal or greater power

On Aug. 7, Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith ordered hydropower developers to suspend consideration of new investments in dam projects pending review of the government’s hydropower development strategy and plans, and ordered all existing and future dam operators to submit regular safety reports.

The move was prompted by the collapse of a saddle dam that was part of the U.S. $1 billion Xe Pian Xe Namnoy hydropower project in southwestern Laos’ Champassak province on July 23. The breach displaced about 7,000 people in Champassak and neighboring Attapeu province, with scores still missing.

The operators of the project, which was nearing completion, planned to sell most of the 1,880 gigawatt hours of electricity per year the dam was expected to generate to Thailand.

But in Laos, local authorities have equal or greater power than does the central government, allowing them to override a central order by the prime minister, including the recent one to stop new dam projects. Local authorities can also approve or reject proposals for new dams and order investigations and reviews of hydropower projects.

Officials said they will conduct reviews of the plans for the Pak Beng and Pak Lay projects, but that they believe the Chinese-backed mega-dams will be built because Chinese companies to date have always received approval for such projects.

When they are built, the Pak Beng and Pak Lay dams will be the third and fourth largest hydropower projects on the Mekong mainstream.

The Lao government hopes that its mega-dams will help it become the battery of Southeast Asia and turn it from being one of the region’s poorest nations into a middle-income country through sales of most of the hydroelectricity they produce to Thailand, Vietnam, and China.

Laos plans to eventually have about 140 dams with roughly 30 percent of them already completed, though many of these are located on tributaries of the Mekong.

Environmental NGOs want the Lao government to halt dam construction along waterways in the country, warning that existing hydropower projects are having significant detrimental effects on the environment and on people’s livelihoods. They also fear that dam inspections by Lao officials will not be transparent.

Copyright (copyright) 19982016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036

Lao Cosmetic ‘Apple CC Body Lotion’ Launched

Local cosmetic producer Chaleurnsouk Group launched last Saturday a new line of skin care and body care products for local fair skin lovers.

Apple CC Body Lotion is of good quality and its safety has been approved by the Food and Drug Department, Ministry of Health. The product is produced for people who love to have a healthy skin, said Ms Bounying Bounhaksa, the owner of Apple CC Body Lotion product.

The lotion is extracted from natural ingredients such as green apples, vitamin B3, vitamin C, which are wellknown for skin regeneration and whitening abilities.

Over 40,000 tubes have been tested with people in Vientiane Capital and they like it, so that I decided to expand to other provinces across the country, explained Ms Bounying.

Haru Mask product, a quality product imported from Japan, was also introduced at the event. The product is made for fair skin lovers. Around 100,000 Haru Mask pieces have been sold within three days after launched.

The launching event also saw the presence of Ms. Chansouk Silivongsa, President of the Chaleurnsouk Group, and a wellknown Thai singer Ja RSiam and relevant offciails.

Source: Lao News Agency

Interview: Lao Dam Disaster ‘Has Not Been Well Captured at This Moment’

The four-nation Mekong River Commission�Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand�was established with the April 5, 1995 Agreement on Cooperation for Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin that established the MRC as a platform for regional cooperation among countries along the region’s major river. As Laos continued to dig itself out from the July 23 failure of a dam in the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy hydropower project in Champassak province, Sidney Khotpanya conducted an interview by e-mail with Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS), asking what caused the catastrophe which has killed more than 30 people and left 117 missing.

RFA: What you think was the cause of the dam break in Laos? Did the dam break incident cause any transboundary impact [downstream]?

MRCS: According to the official information we have received from the Government of Laos, we don’t know yet what caused the dam to fail or break. The incident has not been well captured at this moment, although there has been speculation out there that it was because of this and that.

But officially, no, we don’t have the information yet.

Further analysis based on the information taken from or provided by the site should be taken into account as this will shed some light on the cause. The Lao government has formed a national committee, one of whose tasks is to investigate the cause. The MRCS has offered assistance in this regard, especially in providing technical assistance through human resources to assist the investigation that is due to take place after the rescue and recovery process.

But we wish to bring to your attention the recent Typhoon called ‘Son Tinh’ which, from July 19-22, hit Vietnam and then caused extreme rainfall in Laos on July 22. This in turn created, according to our analysis of water levels on the Mekong mainstream, flooding in both Laos and the downstream countries of Cambodia and Viet Nam.

So, in the case of flooding in Laos and Cambodia, our analysis using the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)[1] satellite imagery shows inundated areas and its situation caused by the collapsed saddle dam and flooded villages downstream as of 25 July 2018.

In terms of water level rise, our monitoring station in Siem Pang district (in Stung Treng province of Cambodia) on the Sekong River, using the observed water level recorded automatically in 15-min interval, showed an increase by approximately more than four meters from 8.39 meters at 3:15 PM on 22 July to 12.47 meters at 2:00 PM on 27 July 2018. The increase happened due to heavy rain and later by large amount of water released from Saddle dam D.

Our initial and preliminary analysis on the extent of the water level rise in Stung Treng due to the dam break indicates an approximately 20-cm incase compared to a normal condition. This is because water flows at Stung Treng are dominated by: The inflows from upstream of the Mekong River from Pakse of Laos; the inflows from the 3S area of Se Kong, Sesan and Srepok Rivers; and the catchment rainfall.

Since the Stung Treng station is dominated by the upstream Mekong inflow, the direct inflow from Paske has a strong connection with its downstream part. If normal condition flow at Stung Treng was based on the actual flows at Pakse, the correlation between Pakse and Stung Treng was developed, and the increased volume during the dam break (critical condition) was calculated based on this correlation.

RFA: Can the MRC do anything to prevent dam breaks from happening in the future? Does the MRC have any rules to protect dam break in the future?

MRCS: There are two situations here for water infrastructure projects on (1) the mainstream of the Mekong River and (2) tributaries of the river.

Under the 1995 Mekong Agreement, any member countries who wish to propose (large) projects on the Mekong mainstream must go through the MRC’s prior consultation process. The prior consultation is part of the MRC’s procedural rules on cooperation on water use of the Mekong mainstream: Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA). Under the Procedures, any infrastructural project using the mainstream water during the dry season within the same basin, as well as during the wet season between two basins, must undergo the prior consultation process. Applicable projects include large-scale irrigation and hydropower development which may cause significant impacts on the environment, water flow and quality of the Mekong mainstream.

In the prior consultation process, with technical and administrative support from the MRC Secretariat, the notified Member Countries will review technical aspects of the project, assess any potential transboundary impact on the environment and livelihoods along the riparian communities, and suggest measures to address those concerns. The Member Countries aim to come to an agreement on how the consulted case should proceed. It is not meant to approve or disapprove the proposed project. This process normally lasts six months, but it could be extended further by the Joint Committee (implementing body of the organization) of the MRC.

However, notified projects on Mekong tributaries, such as the Xe-Nam Noy Hydropower dam, are not required to undergo MRC’s prior consultation process, including assessments. Projects on tributaries follow national laws and regulations.

On top of that, the MRC has put in place a Preliminary Design Guidance for Proposed Mainstream Dam in the Lower Mekong Basin (PDG), which is to provide direction on performance targets, design and operating principles for mitigation measures, as well as compliance monitoring and adaptive management. One of the most important aspects is the dam safety measure that the PDG provides/recommends to developers.

Although the PDG is advisory in nature, the intention is to provide developers of proposed dams on the lower Mekong mainstream with an overview of the issues that the MRC will be considering during the process of prior consultation under the 1995 Mekong Agreement. Responsibility for ensuring compliance with national standards and provisions of the 1995 Mekong Agreement remains with the project developers, though.

With the PDG and PNPCA, developers and owners of dams can design them in a way that corresponds to and complies with dam safety standards. But gaps remain as these are applicable only to the projects on the mainstream, not on the tributaries.

Copyright (copyright) 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036

The U.S. Department of State Announces Expansion of Program To Promote U.S. Study

The U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce the addition of five new U.S. host campuses to the Department’s EducationUSA Academy network. Boston University, St. Cloud State University, St. John’s University, University of Tennessee Knoxville, and University of Wisconsin-Madison will join eleven other institutions which have been selected through a competitive application process to host EducationUSA Academy participants across the United States in summer 2019.

The EducationUSA Academy offers two-to-four-week academic programs for self-funded international students who range in age from 15 to 17 and reside outside the United States. It provides students with a rewarding summer study and cultural experience in the United States, allowing them to develop their English language skills while pursuing specialized and academic writing courses, tours of diverse college and university campuses, and cultural activities. The Academy creates a pathway for international high school students who may not otherwise have considered attending university in the United States by providing them with the information and skills necessary to become successful students at U.S. higher education institutions.

The following U.S. university campuses will host EducationUSA Academy sessions in 2019: Diablo Valley College (California), Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Florida), Johns Hopkins University (Maryland), Montana State University (Montana), Northwestern University (Illinois), Syracuse University (New York), Temple University (Pennsylvania), University of Alabama-Huntsville (Alabama), University of Colorado Boulder (Colorado), University of Massachusetts Amherst (Massachusetts), University of North Georgia (Georgia), Boston University (Massachusetts), St. Cloud State University (Minnesota), St. John’s University (New York), University of Tennessee-Knoxville (Tennessee), University of Wisconsin-Madison (Wisconsin). Potential applicants can apply directly to the institution of their choice. The EducationUSA Academy website has a brief description of each institution’s program and links to the individual institution websites which contain more details about each program, such as applicable fees, and application procedures and deadlines.

International education prepares students for today’s globalized economy, and develops the relationships between people and communities in the United States and around the world that are necessary to solve shared global challenges. The U.S. Department of State’s EducationUSA advising network includes more than 400 advising centers in over 180 countries around the world that provide prospective international students with accurate, current, and comprehensive information about U.S. higher education. For more information about the EducationUSA network, visit educationusa.state.gov. EducationUSA is working in partnership with World Learning, Inc. to administer this program.

For more information on international exchange programs administered by the U.S. Department of State, please visit: http://exchanges.state.gov. Follow the conversation on Facebook and Twitter at #EdUSAcademy. Interested media should contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at eca-press@state.gov.

Source: U.S. State Department

Cambodia Extends Humanitarian Assistance To Laos

Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary of State Ouch Borith presented US$ 100,000 to Lao Ambassador to Cambodia Prasith Sayasith as relief aid from the government of Cambodia for the victims of the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam disaster in Attapeu, Laos on Jul 30 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen on Jul 26 sent a letter to his Lao counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith expressing his sympathies and condolences over the loss and damages caused by the disastrous incident.

Senior Minister Prak Sokhonn also sent a letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith to express condolences over the loss and damages caused by the disaster in southern Laos.

Source: Lao News Agency

SOUTH KOREA SENDS RELIEF SUPPLIES TO LAOS

SEOUL, S.Korea A South Korean military aircraft carrying relief supplies has left for Laos, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported the foreign ministry as saying on Saturday.

This follows the government’s announcement that it will provide help with recovery from the deadly flooding that resulted from the collapse of a dam that was under construction.

The military jet took off at 8 am from an airport in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The relief supplies include 1,200 blankets, clothing and sanitation items provided by the government, the South Korean Red Cross and SK Engineering & Construction Co, the ministry said.

The government announced Friday it would dispatch a disaster relief team to Laos and provide US$1 million worth of emergency assistance.

The Korea Disaster Relief Team, comprising 15 medics and five support staff, is to leave for Laos on Sunday.

SK Group also has offered to donate US$10 million. Its building unit, SK E&C, has been part of the dam construction with a 26 per cent stake in the US$1.02 billion project to build two main hydroelectric dams and five auxiliary dams.

The government said earlier it plans to provide US$500,000 in cash and US$500,000 worth of materials to assist recovery from the disaster that swept away villages.

Source: NAM News Network

Singapore Donates To Relieve Flood Victims In Laos

The Republic of Singapore has provided humanitarian supplies to Laos to help flood victims in Attapeu, southern Laos.

A Singapore Armed Force (SAF) plane loaded with tents, meal rations, bottled water, medical supplies and rubber dinghies with outboard motors arrived in Laos on Thursday’s evening.

The relief aid is in addition to the US$ 100,000 donated by the Singaporean government to kick-start the fundraising appeal among the Singaporean public coordinated by the Singapore Red Cross.

The aid supplies were handed over to the Lao government representative Ms Baykham Khattiya, Vice Minister of Labour and Social Welfare by the Mr Dominic Goh, Ambassador of the Republic of Singapore to the Lao PDR.

The handover ceremony was witnessed by SAF Mission Commander Col. Mohd Fahmi Bin Aliman, Director of the Changi Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster relief Coordination Center (RHCC), Designate and Mr Phoxay Khaykhamphithoune, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Lao PDR.

This donation from the Singaporean government will contribute to help people who have been affected by the flood in Attapeau Province, said Ambassador Dominic Goh.

As a close friend and fellow ASEAN member state, Singapore stands by Laos during this difficult time. Singapore leaders, including President Halimah Yacob, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Vician Balakrishnan have earlier written to their counterparts to convey their condolences.

Source: Lao News Agency