Regional Round-up for Week of 5.31.19


EXSE FOCUS

Experts Agree With IEP Report: PNPC Dam Collapsed Due to Faulty Construction-Radio Free Asia Several outside experts and the Lao government say a South Korean construction firm is shirking liability for poorly building the hydropower dam that collapsed last year, causing a disaster that has been described as the country’s worst flooding in decades.//Project management along with project planning of hydropower dams must be placed under higher scrutiny to mitigate impacts. According to the IEP report, this collapse was a preventable incident. The Lao Government should further investigate the extent of the South Korean constructor’s responsibility.

Related: Lao Dam Collapse Due to Use of Soil: Water Experts-Radio Free Asia

What is the future of energy for Myanmar’s rural population?-Eco-Business To deliver on its goal of 100 per cent energy access by 2030, Myanmar will need to shake up its energy market. With hydropower facing increasing objection from society, how will the former hermit nation power its people for a more sustainable future?//As Myanmar moves forward in pursuing its energy demand, incorporating solar into its energy mix is inevitable. Renewables such as solar and wind can assist in addressing rural electrification needs and the nation’s plans to reach 100% energy access by 2030.

REGIONAL RELATIONS

Vietnam on track to overtake Singapore in decade: DBS-Nikkei Asian Review Vietnam’s economy could grow as much as 6.5% a year over the next ten years and exceed Singapore in size by 2029, according to DBS Bank.

Toyota to build its first assembly plant in Myanmar-Nikkei Asian Review Suppliers expected to follow automaker as Suu Kyi seeks local investment.

Int’l road transport launched in Greater Mekong Subregion-Xinhua Net The international road transport (China-Laos-Vietnam) in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) has been launched as two Chinese logistics firms obtained GMS temporary entry documents for motor vehicles on Wednesday.

Vietnam set to import more electricity from China, Laos-Xinhua Net Vietnam plans to import more electricity from China and Laos in the coming years as its power supply is running out, Vietnam News Agency reported on Wednesday.

SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Malaysia’s Department of Environment gets tough on polluting e-waste-Strait Times The Malaysian government wants to make it mandatory for consumers to send certain unwanted electrical and electronic items to places licensed to handle e-waste.

1,300 Villages to Receive Solar-Generated Electricity in FY2019-20-Irrawaddy Over 1,300 villages in rural areas of five regions will get access to electricity through solar power in fiscal 2019-20 as part of the National Electrification Project (NEP), according to the Ministry of Electricity and Energy.

‘Baaaaaaaaa bye’: Manila sends back thousands of tonnes of garbage to Canada-Strait Times he Philippines on Friday (May 31) sent back truckloads of garbage exported by Canada, a festering issue that eroded ties between Manila and Ottawa for years, even as environmental activists called for a wider, permanent ban on such imports following reports of other trash shipments from Australia and Hong Kong.

Fish outta water: Reservoir giants killed by Thailand’s drought-Coconuts Bangkok A graphic video showing dozens of gigantic catfish carcasses being pulled out of a dried-out reservoir then lugged away from its muddy banks does not bode well for Thailand’s climate situation.

CHINA

Southeast Asia gains new leverage as China and US battle for influence-Nikkei Asian Review  Funding pours in as US allies seek to counter Belt and Road.

Gov’t Spells Out Conditions for Signing BRI Deals with China-Irrawaddy A senior Myanmar official revealed that the government has drawn up a set of conditions for signing memorandums of understanding (MOUs) related to Beijing’s grand infrastructure projects in the country in order to avoid falling into a “debt trap” with China and to ensure the projects benefit both countries.

Related: Making a multilateral Belt and Road – East Asia Forum A former Australian Foreign Minister argues about multiraterisation of China’s BRI and AIIB.

Cambodia’s Hun Sen quashes fears of Chinese ‘debt trap’-Nikkei Asian Review  Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday dismissed fears that his country is at risk of falling into a Chinese “debt trap” and said massive financial support from Beijing is not compromising Phnom Penh’s independence.

Cambodian Authorities Close Polluting Chinese Casino-Radio Free Asia Authorities in southwestern Cambodia’s Sihanoukville province have shut down a Chinese-owned casino accused of polluting an adjacent beach following the casino’s defiance of orders to cease operations, sources said on Friday.

Indonesian Village Reels from Plastic Pollution as Waste Imports Soar-Radio Free Asia Endi Sudiana, a community organizer in Taman Mekar, a village in Indonesia’s West Java province, is fed up with plastic trash that blankets the roadside next to his house but says there’s little he can do about it.

Malaysia will use Huawei tech ‘as much as possible,’ says Mahathir-Nikkei Asian Review  Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Thursday that Malaysia would continue to welcome Huawei Technologies, even as others shy away from working with the Chinese tech juggernaut.

Myanmar promises level playing field for all — Huawei included-Nikkei Asian Review  Minister says US-China trade war will ‘not really damage us economically.’

Thailand casts wide net for 5G partners amid Huawei concerns-Nikkei Asian Review  Thailand is opening its doors to all global 5G vendors at a time when the leader in the field, China’s Huawei Technologies, is being shut out of other markets as a security risk.

China-Vietnam Military Ties in the Headlines with Defense Ministers Meeting-Diplomat The interaction highlighted the ongoing activity in the security realm between the two sides in spite of significant lingering differences.

China polluting Vietnam’s border rivers, warns military general-VN Express Many rivers and streams along the Vietnam-China border are being polluted by China’s development activities, a senior military officer warned.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

Two big trade pacts offer antidote to tension, Brunei minister says-Nikkei Asian Review Two sweeping multilateral partnership agreements offer hope for furthering Asian economic integration and promoting cooperation amid the trade tensions and inward-looking policies gripping some governments, Brunei’s Second Finance and Economy Minister Amin Liew Abdullah said on Thursday.

What the Asean Single Window means for Cambodia-Southeast Asia Globe The ASEAN Single Window initiative promises to unite Southeast Asia as a truly integrated economic community through seamless cross-border trade and information sharing.

Cambodia’s PM Hun Sen Dismisses Calls For Resignation, Vows to ‘Wage War’ on Opposition-Radio Free Asia Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday brushed aside calls by members of the Cambodian diaspora in Japan to resign, pledging instead to “wage war” against his country’s banned opposition party and vowing to “destroy” its acting president, Sam Rainsy.

ADB To Provide Nearly US$1 Billion Loan to Cambodia-Agence Kampuchea Presse Through Country Operation Business Plan-COBP (2020-2022), ADB is planning to provide Cambodia nearly US$1 billion as loan to help achieve status as an upper-middle income country in 2030 and high-income country in 2050.

Related: US$3 Billion FDI Flowed to Cambodia Last Year+ -Agence Kampuchea Presse

Indonesia aims to attract foreign companies with new tax breaks-Nikkei Asian Review Indonesia is counting on new tax incentives and upgraded infrastructure to lure more global manufacturers to the country, as it strives to become a factory floor for the world amid the simmering U.S.-China trade war.

Indonesia’s Model Election Ends in Belated Violence-Asia Sentinel It was a sad end to a remarkably well run and peaceful election involving  190 million eligible voters spread over 17,000 islands for a multitude of posts ranging from president to legislators and city and local officials.

Malaysia’s New Illegal Fishing Task Force in the Spotlight-Diplomat A closer look at the role of the country’s newly formed task force in tackling a longstanding challenge.

Malaysia to let Lynas continue running rare earth plant: Mahathir-Strait Times Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday (May 30) that Malaysia will allow Australian rare earth producer Lynas Corp to keep operating a processing plant in the country.

Myanmar Army Again Accused of War Crimes in Rakhine State-Radio Free Asia The Myanmar military has committed “war crimes” and other human rights violations against civilians in western Myanmar’s violence-ridden Rakhine state since early January when the government ordered its troops to crush a rebel ethnic armed group in the region, Amnesty International said in a new report released Wednesday.

Pheu Thai to parties: Reject pro-junta coalition offer-Strait Times Thailand’s main opposition Pheu Thai party has urged other parties that contested a March election to reject a coalition offer by a pro-army party seeking to keep the ruling junta chief as prime minister.

Related: Thailand’s Pro-Army Party Seeks Allies to Cement Power-Reuters Two Thai political parties have been invited to join a new government led by military junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister, a pro-army party said on Monday, more than two months after a disputed election.

Thailand ranks higher for competitiveness-Bangkok Post Thailand has moved up five places, from the 25th from the 30th position, in a World Competitiveness ranking due to improved economic performance, government efficiency and infrastructure.

Cabinet gives nod to airport high-speed rail contract-Bangkok Post  The cabinet has given the green light to a draft contract for the 225-billion-baht high-speed rail project linking three major airports.

How Vietnam Plans to Prevent Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing-Diplomat IUU fishing is a pervasive problem in Southeast Asia.

Using Geospatial Technology and Earth Observations to Monitor and Forecast Drought in Vietnam and Address Agricultural Productivity Impacts-AgriLinks Droughts are slow-onset disasters that trigger significant environmental impacts, including loss in agricultural productivity across the globe.

Mekong governance needs community participation-Vietnam News Water officials in the Mekong Delta were facing increasing challenges that required joint efforts from all stakeholders, scientists have said.

This week’s news digest was curated by Anvy Tran.

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