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April 06 2012

Laos: Creative Minds Come Together to Produce Children's Programming

Through a workshop on Innovative Communication for Early Childhood Development, creative minds in Lao People’s Democratic Republic came together with UNICEF to  generate quality media for children, as can be seen on video in Young People's Media Network's post. 

March 25 2012

Southeast Asia Digital Library

The Southeast Asia Digital Library provides educators and students with materials published in Southeast Asia. The online library contains digital facsimiles of books and manuscripts, as well as multimedia materials and searchable indexes of additional Southeast Asian resources.

Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle: From Opium to Casinos

Tan Kai Swee presents a video on EngageMedia about the opening of new casinos in Southeast Asia's infamous Golden Triangle in Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos which used to be the center of opium production in the region.

March 05 2012

Haze in Indochina

Thomas Wanhoff links to a satellite image showing the extent of smog and haze in Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos.

February 21 2012

Southeast Asia’s Three-Wheeled Vehicles

Tuktuk, Beca, Kuliglig, Trishaw, Pedicab, Becak, Tricycle. These are the famous three-wheeled vehicles common in the Southeast Asian region. They can be seen in the streets of urban centers, but governments are trying to ban these ubiquitous pedicabs and motorized rickshaws in major throughfares.

Tuktuk outfitted with anti-bag snatching netting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo from Casey Nelson

Tuktuk outfitted with anti-bag snatching netting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo from Casey Nelson

Cow in Tuktuk in Kampot, Camdodia. Photo from Tales from an Expat

Cow in Tuktuk in Kampot, Camdodia. Photo from Tales from an Expat

Tuktuk protective gear during rains. Photo from Flickr page of anuradhac used under CC License

Tuktuk protective gear during rains. Photo from Flickr page of anuradhac used under CC License

Tuktuk in Thailand. Photo from Flickr page of Blue Funnies used under CC License/

Tuktuk in Thailand. Photo from Flickr page of Blue Funnies used under CC License

Tuktuk in Laos. Photo from Flickr page of Luluk used under CC License

Tuktuk in Laos. Photo from Flickr page of Luluk used under CC License

Kuliglig or motorized pedicabs in Manila. Photo from Flickr page of gino.mempin used under CC License

Kuliglig or motorized pedicabs in Manila. Photo from Flickr page of gino.mempin used under CC License

Manila City government wants Kuligligs removed from the streets. Photo from the Flickr page of Siopao Master used under CC License

Manila City government wants Kuligligs removed from the streets. Photo from the Flickr page of Siopao Master used under CC License

Tricycle in Dumaguete, Philippines. Photo by author

Tricycle in Dumaguete, Philippines. Photo by author

Engineered trike to adopt to the hilly terrain of Pagadian, Philippines. Photo by author

Engineered trike to adopt to the hilly terrain of Pagadian, Philippines. Photo by author

E-Tuktuks whose spare parts were made in Thailand will arrive in Europe soon. Meanwhile, E-Trikes were launched last year in the Philippines. They use lithium ion batteries, commonly used in laptop computers and mobile phones. Below is an E-Trike in Davao City in southern Philippines which is being promoted to reduce use of fossil fuels:

Photo by Karlos Manlupig

Photo by Karlos Manlupig

Jan Shim rode a Beca or rickshaw when he toured Penang, Malaysia:

THERE are many ways to see Penang, and one of the more interesting manners would be on a trishaw. Also known locally as the beca or rickshaw, it is a quaint mode of transport that ferries passengers through the streets of Penang at a leisurely pace. In Malaysia, pedestrian-pulled rickshaws were gradually replaced by cycle rickshaws (beca in Malay). Cycle rickshaws were ubiquitous up to the 1970s in cities. Since then, rapid urbanization has increased demand for more efficient public transport, resulting in dwindling cycle rickshaw numbers. Today, cycle rickshaws are operated mostly as a tourist attraction, with small numbers operating in Malacca, Penang, Kelantan and Terengganu.

Becak in Indonesia. Photo from Flickr page of Original Nomad used under CC License

Becak in Indonesia. Photo from Flickr page of Original Nomad used under CC License

M-Explorer writes about the Pedicab Siantar, an antique motorcycle in the city of Siantar in Indonesia. Edwin describes the unique pedicab designs in Indonesia. Enchanting Eden notes that Becaks are being replaced by modern vehicles:

Becaks are fast becoming a rare breed, as City Governments across the Archipelago ban them for their antiquated and inhumane nature, replacing them with motorized versions trikes similar to Thailand’s tuk -tuks. It’s ironic to think that while this is happening in Indonesia, the rest of the world, especially in the progressive countries who are pursuing anything labelled “green alternative everything” are re-introducing pedicabs in one form or another.

February 11 2012

Southeast Asia: Climate Change and Smallholder Farmers

The World Agroforestry Centre has released a study on the climate change adaptation options for small farmers in Southeast Asia.

January 23 2012

Fourth Friendship Lao-Thai Bridge

This youtube video gives an overview of the fourth Friendship Bridge which was designed to link Laos and Thailand across the Mekong River

December 16 2011

Cambodia: How to Cook in a Bamboo Tube

Dorothy blogs about a unique cooking practice using bamboo tubes in Bunong village of Mondulkiri province in Cambodia. This was also common in Laos

October 03 2011

Flood Forecasting in Mekong River

The Mekong River Commission has a special page on its website that provides flood forecasting information that can help resident in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand

September 30 2011

Laos According to Wikileaks

Wikileaks has released a set of Laos files that confirmed the country’s underdevelopment, endemic corruption in the bureaucracy, and the fragile state of its environment.

Andrew Walker thinks the cables “offer little insight into the upper-level workings of the Lao party-state” but there are other interesting revelations

In recent months several cables have appeared in the Wikileaks files from the US Embassy in Vientiane. They offer little insight into the upper-level workings of the Lao party-state, as one might hope (but hardly expect). But there are other points of interest.

One cable, an assessment of Asian Development Bank’s Country Strategy and Program (2006), offers a stinging rebuke of bilateral and multilateral donors in Laos, particularly their failure to leverage reform in areas of governance. The criticisms (both of Lao governance and foreign aid) are familiar but the frankness is unusual

The frankness of the views expressed in the cables surprised Eisel Mazard

You’ve got to hand it to the diplomatic corps for taking the rhetoric up a notch from the usual feature section of The Economist; I can’t shake the sense that these guys are frustrated authors, yearning for an audience that could appreciate this kind of vitriol.

I really wasn’t expecting the cables to be this catty; it’s almost as if the bureaucratic context encourages them to step it up, in order not to be ignored amidst the pile of such reports that comes and goes with each season.

Here is an excerpt of a cable discussing the unequal economic conditions in the country

Although GoL(GOvernment of Laos) ministers and officials with salaries of less that 75 dollars per month sport villas and cars worthy of Monte Carlo, GDP per capita is still officially less than $400…Unemployment is epidemic, underemployment is endemic, crime is rising, and the investment climate is among the least hospitable in the world.

It's no accident that these economic ills are not addressed. There is almost no rule of law or basic human freedom in Laos, and education is in the hands of a corrupt and ideologically hidebound ministry that uses ADB money to build a grandiose but unnecessary new ministry building while rural children sit on logs and try to remember what a teacher looked like.

But Bill, a resident of Vientiane, criticizes the “relative myopia of the cables”

As a longtime Vientiane resident, I’m mostly struck by the relative myopia of the cables. They cover a period of intense change in the country, and they are mostly saying nothing is changing, besides some material about their own relationships with the Lao government improving. Broadly they are far more about what Washington cares about (Hmong; money laundering; who the Lao government votes for at various UN meetings; limited progress on western style democratization) than what people in this country care about.

Journalist Lao Bumpkin identifies the relevant Laos-related topics in the Wikileaks website

Wikileaks has released it's cache of Laos files. I haven't read any of it yet, when I do I'll add to the end of the post. So far no news of cabinet ministers having falang mia nois or other important happenings.

Luang Prabang, Laos. Photo by jmhullot used under CC License Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Let’s sample some interesting opinions and observations about Laos. This is how elections are conducted in Laos

By-and-large, Lao citizens took the election seriously, as a matter of national pride. The public announcements broadcast from polling stations played on the patriotism theme; we overheard one announcement telling voters they were demonstrating to a skeptical world that the Lao people cherished their voting rights and were faithful to their government and the Party. Voters were expected to show their regard for the electoral process. Women who showed up to polling stations wearing slacks or “improper” dress were sent home. In spite of the guarantee of a “secret” ballot, election officials were on hand to inspect each ballot to make sure the voters took their responsibility seriously and voted correctly.

Development projects are hurting the poor

Intent on giving an open door to some foreign investors, the government has few compunctions about trampling on its own citizens, ignoring their traditional lands and livelihoods and utter dependence on their environment for their survival. In the near-absence of meaningful rule of law, those affected are at the mercy of sometimes venal, usually uncaring, bureaucrats administering the land use system. As Laos' reputation grows as an “easy” place for investors in sectors like hydropower, plantation forests and mining, more and more of Laos' poorest citizens are likely to find themselves dispossessed of their traditional lands.

In Laos, “government officials are presumed to be corrupt unless proven otherwise.”

In general, there is no sense among Party officials that there is anything significantly wrong with corruption, though a few stalwarts still hold to the socialist ideals of their youth.

A direct consequence of decades of abuse of power is that there is no public trust; government officials are presumed to be corrupt unless proven otherwise.

Opium cultivation is on the decline but communities which once depended on poppy cultivations are starving

From the late 1980's until 2005, Laos was the third largest producer of opium poppy in the world. Significant poppy cultivation took place in about ten of 17 provinces, and authorities took no significant action against it, though they did tax opium until the mid 1990's.

The GOL estimates that half or more of all former poppy growers have yet to receive any significant assistance from any source to establish alternative livelihoods. The World Food Program reports that, in a number of communities formerly dependent on poppy, serious and widespread food security issues have emerged this year…There are grounds for serious concern that farmers might be compelled to revert to poppy cultivation or starve.

Reposted bySigalonscoopit Sigalonscoopit

September 29 2011

Wikileaks Cables on Laos

Wikileaks has released a set of cables that involve Laos. Blogger Lao Bumpkin identifies the relevant topics in the uploaded files.

August 20 2011

Filmcamp Laos 2011

The Filmcamp Laos 2011 will take place on October 1 at Vientiane College. According to the organizer, it will be the first grassroot un-conference for people in the filmbusiness in Laos and neighbouring countries

August 04 2011

Secrets et merveilles de la finance au Laos

Quelle est l'urgence pour un pays dont les habitants gagnent en moyenne deux euros par jour ? La Bourse, bien sûr. Révolution culturelle, le Laos communiste ouvre en fanfare un marché financier. / Asie, Asie du Sud-Est, Laos, Économie, Finance, Spéculation - (...) / Asie, Asie du Sud-Est, Laos, Économie, Finance, Spéculation - 2011/02

July 18 2011

Laos: Vientiane Career Fair

Photos of the Vientiane Career Fair in Laos which took place this month have been uploaded on Facebook.

June 10 2011

Laos: Trade website

The Foreign Trade Department of the Ministry of Commerce of Laos has introduced a new trade website which will provide information to business owners aiming to promote Lao products in the global market

June 09 2011

Rugby in Laos

Maggie Dillon provides a short history of Rugby in Laos. The Lao Rugby Federation reaches out to the public through its website and Facebook page.

May 07 2011

Laos: Mekong Tourism Forum

A new media boot camp will be held later this month a day before the Mekong Tourism Forum in Pakse, Champasak, Laos. The event will gather travel bloggers who are expected to learn more about the tourism potential of the Mekong region.

April 17 2011

Laos: Controversial Xayaburi Dam

Amraapali writes about the planned Xayaburi Dam along the Lower Mekong in Laos. The controversial dam project is opposed by some groups which warned of “reduced fisheries, inundation of riverbank gardens, and loss of nutrients for floodplain agriculture” if the dam becomes operational.

April 08 2011

Laos: Vientiane Vision 2030

Written by Mong Palatino

Sao Darly links to a youtube video about the urban development masterplan for Vientiane, capital of Laos.

February 27 2011

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