16 FEBRUARY 2017
Little Laos tackles big corruption
In line with its communist neighbors China and Vietnam, Laos has launched an anti-corruption campaign to purge the ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party of corrupt members
11 FEBRUARY 2017
Despite the risks, Laos goes ahead with Pak Beng dam
With construction likely to start within months, the people most affected still have little information on the hydropower project
10 DECEMBER 2016
Laos long march forward
With the World Bank’s assistance, Laos has set specific targets in its Five-Year National Socio-Economic Development Plans. Under Lao’s eighth plan, approved in April 2016, goals to be achieved by 2020
12 SEPTEMBER 2016
Can Laos create a startup economy?
While there has been much attention on the diplomatic and economic fronts during the Asean summit, Vientiane was also subject to scrutiny from a different group of people: international angel investors
6 SEPTEMBER 2016
US gives Laos US$90m for bomb clearance
The United States announced on Tuesday it would provide an additional US$90 million over the next three years to help Laos, heavily bombed during the Vietnam War, clear unexploded ordnance that has killed or injured more than 20,000 people
21 APRIL 2016
Laos elects new president and PM during inaugural National Assembly meeting
The meeting named 78-year-old Bounnhang Vorachit for the nation’s top post while Tongloun Sisoulith, 70, will take on the prime ministerial role.
27 FEBRUARY 2016
China’s expanding influence in Laos
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.
16 FEBRUARY 2016
New opportunities for US–Laos relations
Leadership changes announced at the 10th Congress of the ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party will give the United States an opportunity to boost ties with Laos when President Barack Obama visits Vientiane in September 2016. This will be the first visit ever to Laos by a sitting US president.
Laos assures US it will help counter Chinese assertiveness
The prime minister of communist Laos assured U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday that his small nation will help counter China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.
24 JANUARY 2016
Kerry arrives in Laos as US reaches out to wartime foe
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Laos late Sunday (Jan 24) in a rare high-level visit by an American diplomat to Washington’s former wartime foe
22 JANUARY 2016
Ruling communists in Laos promote VP Bounnhang Vorachit as country’s new leader
The ruling communist party of Laos elected a new leader Friday, putting Bounnhang Vorachit in charge of the single-party country as it takes its turn as the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
15 DECEMBER 2015
3 years on, rights groups demand answers on Sombath Somphone disappearance
On the eve of the third anniversary of acclaimed community development leader Sombath Somphone’s forced disappearance, human rights groups on Monday in Bangkok urged the Lao government to provide information regarding Mr. Sombath’s whereabouts and fate.
12 DECEMBER 2015
Curfew imposed in Lao province after deadly violence
Lao authorities have imposed a curfew in north-central Xaysomboun Province after a spate of violence in which three government soldiers and three civilians were killed, police and other sources said Friday
2 DECEMBER 2015
Laos Touts 40 Years of Stability, but Critics Decry Debt, Corruption and Poverty
President Choummaly Sayasone marked 40 years of communist rule in Laos on Wednesday touting the stability and security of his landlocked Southeast Asian nation, but some Laotians lamented their country’s corruption, rising debt and dependence on China and Vietnam
26 OCTOBER 2015
Report reveals plunder of Lao forests
A leaked report has revealed near epic-scale illegal logging in Laos, with virtually no law enforcement In 2013 for instance, Laos exported 1.4 million cubic metres of timber to Vietnam and China, or more than 10 times its official harvest
8 SEPTEMBER 2015
Laos Approaches the World Stage
Laos’s profile in Southeast Asia has become more prominent over the past several years. Today external powers compete for influence there, with Vietnam and Japan seeking to limit China’s expanding presence in Laos. Thailand, South Korea, and other states also have significant stakes there. The United States’ involvement in Laos has been minimal since 1975, when the communist government assumed power
5 JUNE 2015
Laos and China to Set Up Joint Company for High-Speed Railway
Laos is setting up a joint company with China to oversee the construction and financing of a multibillion-dollar, high-speed railway project that will link the two neighboring countries and extend to Thailand, according to a transport ministry official
5 MAY 2015
Laos expects economy to grow 7.6 pct this year
Laos expects its economy to expand by 7.6 percent this year despite headwinds slowing the pace of growth, Deputy Finance Minister Thipphakone Chanthavongsa said Monday.In a statement to the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank
23 APRIL 2015
Laotian government pressures activists not to raise human rights issue at ASEAN meeting
Laotian NGOs planning to attend the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum are the target of government threats. Many of these have been scared off and will not participate. The Sombath case is still wrapped in silence after the activist disappeared more than two years ago
26 JANUARY 2015
Human rights groups demand UN action on abuses in Laos
The Laos government is moving backward on human rights, says Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division. HRW issued a submission to the United Nations ahead of Laos’ Periodic Review last week, urging it to emphasize the need for reform related to enforced disappearances, freedom of speech, association, and assembly, the treatment of detainees in drug detention centers, and labor rights.
3 JANUARY 2015
Business support is crucial for Laos to join the AEC and lock in growth
The accession of Laos to the World Trade Organization in 2013 was the latest in a series of steps towards achieving economic integration. The next milestone in its integration agenda is the establishment of the ASEAN economic community at the end of 2015
13 DECEMBER 2014
Wife of missing activist Sombath Somphone keeps his case alive
Almost two years after the disappearance of prominent Lao civil society figure Sombath Somphone in Vientiane, his Singaporean wife Ng Shui Meng, 67, says « the anxiety and despair grows with each passing day »
17 SEPTEMBER 2014
Laos follows China’s example to curb NGOs
Like mainland China, Laos plans to restrict foreign donations and place non-governmental organisations under Foreign Ministry control, raising concerns among NGOs and Western diplomats.
8 AUGUST 2014
Laos Freezes Salary Increase For Civil Servants
The cash-strapped government in Laos has imposed a freeze on salary increases for civil servants during the new fiscal year beginning October, reports say, as the country reels from shrinking revenues
28 JULY 2014
Laos: Investment Potential and Economic Challenges
The accession of Laos to the World Trade Organization last year was the latest in a series of milestones in the country’s global economic integration, stretching back to the launching of economic reforms by the ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party in 1986
5 JUNE 2014
Industrialization Hits Laos
Laos ‘land grabs’ drive subsistence farmers into deeper poverty
17 MAY 2014
Lao Defense Chief Among Plane Crash Victims
Defense Minister Major General Douangchay Phichit, who was also a deputy prime minister and member of the powerful inner circle politburo of the Lao Communist Party is among the 17 dead. Other senior officials to perish include the minister of public security and the mayor of Vientiane, as well as family members who were traveling to attend a ceremony and reception
7 MARCH 2014
The urban-rural divide for safe water, sanitation in Laos
Laos has been growing at 8 percent a year over the past decade but rural areas, where most people still live, are being left behind in terms of access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, health experts warn
12 DECEMBER 2013
Wife’s fears for missing Lao activist
The wife of a missing Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone has pleaded with the media to stop idolising him, saying the attention could be doing more harm than good.
11 DECEMBER 2013
Fourth Thai-Lao bridge officially opens
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on Wednesday officially opened the Fourth Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River, linking Chiang Rai province with Bokaeo in Laos.
9 DECEMBER 2013
Budget blowout blamed on Laos’ govt infrastructure overspend
The Laos government has overspent on infrastructure investments with slow returns and spent too little on promoting commercial production ventures with faster returns, the National Assembly (NA) declared on Monday. 9
30 OCTOBER 2013
Laos, China sign six cooperation agreement documents
The signed agreements are related to economic and technical cooperation with China providing grant aid worth 100 million yuan (about US$16.4 million); the revision of the plan to build an International Convention Centre; and the resurfacing of Road No.13 north.
23 OCTOBER 2013
Hollande meets Laos president to talk business, not rights
French President François Hollande met Laos’s leader Choummaly Sayasone in Paris on Tuesday in the first visit by a Loatian president since the country’s independence from France some 60 years ago. The visit is distinctly low-profile as several NGOs demand news of disappeared Laotian activist Sombath Somphone.
16 OCTOBER 2013
Laos inflation continues to rise
Higher prices for almost everything, from food to education, are fuelling inflation in Laos. Inflation rate reached 6.87% in September, slightly up from 6.83% in August, The Vientiane Times said on Wednesday, citing a report by the Lao Statistics Bureau.
4 OCTOBER 2013
Debt-Laden Laos Told To Tighten Policies Amid Economic Concerns
An IMF mission held annual consultations recently with the government in the country’s capital Vientiane, raising concerns about its rising inflation, the banking system, public spending, deteriorating current account deficit and falling international reserves, according to the Washington-based Fund’s officials.
22 SEPTEMBER 2013
Laos to accept new mining investment proposals in 2015
The Lao government expects to accept new mining investment proposals in 2015 after suspending the new investment projects few years ago to review the approved mining projects and policy.
14 SEPTEMBER 2013
Laotian authorities take aim at Christian families with threats of expulsion and abuse
Eleven families in a village in the central province of Bolikhamsai risk expulsion because they converted to Christianity. Their village chief told them to return to their traditional religion, but they refused, choosing instead to continue to worship as they wish. A struggle for religious freedom is underway in a country where this principle has been often violated.
28 AUGUST 2013
Laos accused of lying over Sombath Somphone abduction
European parliamentarians have accused the Lao authorities of telling them « ridiculous lies » in relation to the disappearance of leading civil society figure Sombath Somphone.
7 AUGUST 2013
Labor Shortages Loom Large for Laos
Laos has reaped tremendous benefits since its economic opening 15 years ago. The economy grew an average of 7.1 percent a year from 2001 to 2010, making Laos one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia. The government has forged bilateral trade agreements with the United States and other partners, and joined the World Trade Organization in February 2013.
30 JULY 2013
Laos Friendship Bridge to woo tourists
Laos is hoping that a new bridge will double the number of visitors from Thailand who cross the Mekong River to visit the neighbouring country.
19 JULY 2013
Rising Laos political star dies
Maj-Gen Sanyahak Phomvihane, a fast-rising star in the ruling communist party in Laos, has died aged 45, state media reported Friday.
5 JULY 2013
Border demarcation enhances peace between Laos and Vietnam
The recent success in border demarcation and restoration has enhanced peace and orderliness along the Laos-Vietnam border, according to Lao Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bounkeut Sangsomsak.
22 JUNE 2013
Xayaburi dam threatens survival of the giant catfish
The alarm sounded by WWF scientists, the species can measure up to three meters and 300 kg in weight. Less than two hundred specimens remain. The dam is an « insurmountable barrier », which blocks the migration for reproduction. Health of Mekong River worsens. http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Xayaburi-dam-threatens-survival-of-the-giant-catfish-28272.html
14 JUNE 2013
Mystery Over Lao Civil Society Leader’s Disappearance Deepens
The mystery behind the disappearance of respected civil society leader Sombath Somphone in Laos has deepened amid claims by rights group Amnesty International that a gunshot was fired as he was taken away from a police post in a pickup truck by unidentified men six months ago http://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/sombath-06142013201448.html
2 JUNE 2013
Laos assailed for sending young defectors back to North Korea
Laos is coming under increasing international criticism for its unusual decision to turn over to the North Korean government nine defectors, most of them homeless teenagers. http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-laos-defectors-north-korea-20130602,0,7718252.story?track=rss
22 APRIL 2013
On Path to Political Opening, Laos Stumbles
When Laos joined the World Trade Organization in October 2012, many applauded. The move was expected not only to integrate the long-isolated country into the global economy, but into global political norms and rule of law as well. http://cogitasia.com/on-path-to-political-opening-laos-stumbles/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+cogitasia%2FZCwV+%28cogitASIA+Posts%29&goback=%2Egde_134242_member_234903079
16 MARCH 2013
Will Laos bend over EU pressure on Sombath?
It has been more than three months since the activist and sustainable development campaigner Sombath Somphone was last seen on a busy road in Vientiane. http://asiancorrespondent.com/102159/will-laos-bend-over-eu-pressure-on-sombath/
11 FEBRUARY 2013
Laos lauded for human rights record
A high-ranking European Union (EU) official has congratulated Laos on the achievements it has made in promoting and protecting human rights, a press release has said. These achievements are reflected in particular by Laos’ accession to many human rights conventions of the United Nations, the press release quoted Human Rights and Democracy Director of the European External Action Service, Véronique Arnault, as saying. http://www.asianewsnet.net/-Laos-lauded-for-human-rights-record–42582.html
6 FEBRUARY 2013
Sombath Case a ‘Blow’ to ASEAN
The “forced disappearance” of Lao activist Sombath Somphone is a blow to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), rights groups said Tuesday, as members of parliament across Asia and Europe urged the Laotian Prime minister to order an “urgent” investigation into his case http://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/sombath-02062013164521.html
18 JANUARY 2013
Vietnam and Cambodia tell Laos to stop $3.5bn Mekong River dam project
Food security issues lead to disagreement over concerns that dam will hit livelihood of tens of millions http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/18/vietnam-cambodia-laos-mekong-dam
10 JANUARY 2013
Thai govt ‘obliged to find Lao activist’
Not only Laotian authorities, but also Thailand must take responsibility for the disappearance of Lao activist and Magsaysay Award winner Sombath Somphone, who is widely believed by civic groups to have been abducted for his role in fighting a Thai-Lao development project on the Mekong River. http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Thai-govt-obliged-to-find-Lao-lawyer-30197613.html
21 NOVEMBER 2012
Laos’ Hydropower Boom Attracts Regional Attention
The recent decision by the government of Laos to green light the long delayed construction of the massive Xayaburi Dam made headlines across the world. Most analysts and commentators agree the move is controversial, as the dam will likely have significant negative environmental effects within Laos as well as in Cambodia and Vietnam, which lie further down the Mekong.
17 NOVEMBER 2012
Laos “Different Face” of Poverty
While Laos has been the beneficiary of rapid economic growth, not all are seeing its benefits.
5 NOVEMBER 2012
Laos approves Xayaburi ‘mega’ dam on Mekong
Laos has given the go-ahead to build a massive dam on the lower Mekong river, despite opposition from neighbouring countries and environmentalists
26 OCTOBER 2012
The World Trade Organization approves Laos membership
The World Trade Organization (WTO) General Council, which includes representatives from all member governments, formally approved Laos’s membership at its October 26 meeting. Laos first applied for WTO membership in 1997 and, 15 years later, will be the last member of ASEAN to join the multilateral trading syste
5 OCTOBER 2012
Is the Party over in Laos ?
A crackdown on bars in northern Laos reveals deeper problems with tourism in this small, landlocked country.
2 OCTOBER 2012
Land Dispute Task Force Formed
The Lao government has set up a task force to investigate a long-running dispute with villagers affected by the development of a rubber plantation by a Vietnamese company in southern Laos’s remote Sekong province.
11 JULY 2012
Clinton visits Laos, country US pummeled with bombs during Vietnam War
Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Laos in more than five decades, gauging whether a place the United States pummeled with bombs during the Vietnam War could evolve into a new foothold of American influence in Asia.
6 JULY 2012
Vietnam Joins Cambodia on Xayaburi Opposition
Cambodia and Vietnam will jointly urge Laos to suspend the controversial Xayaburi dam, a Cambodian official said Tuesday, following reports that the project’s construction is moving ahead despite government pledges to wait for further study.
27 JUNE 2012
Laos holds first gay pride event despite taboo
Laos has held its first ever gay pride event in what supporters hope is a sign of softening social values in the small communist country.
Xayaburi Construction Moves Ahead
Work on the Mekong dam in northern Laos has gone beyond preliminary preparations, an environmental group says.
10 MAY 2012
Xayaburi Dam Construction Suspended
Laos has suspended construction on the controversial Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River following an uproar from neighboring Cambodia and environmental groups, a senior Lao government official said Wednesday
2 MAI 2012
Laos closes in on WTO
After almost a decade of major economic transformation, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is on the brink of World Trade Organization (WTO) membership. The small country’s Herculean effort to join the exclusive trade club is a reminder to the 10 other least-developed countries (LDCs) now seeking membership of the cumbersome process involved
21 FEBRUARY 2012
Off the air in Laos
Amid an unprecedented flurry of public debate and critique of government policies and actions, Lao authorities abruptly canceled a popular call-in radio program in late January without any public explanation
23 DECEMBER 2011
Laos to build 41 special economic zones
According to a report from the National Committee for Special and Specific Economic Zone Management Secretariat Office, the government has listed 41 areas as special and specific economic zones, of which 25 will be built over the next 10 years
22 DECEMBER 2011
Human rights group blasts Thailand’s forced return of Lao refugee
Human Rights Watch blasted Thailand Thursday for forcibly repatriating a Hmong refugee to Laos last week in violation of international law
11 DECEMBER 2011
French colonel ‘killed himself in pro-Hmong protest’
A retired French colonel has killed himself to protest against « indifference » to the plight of Laos’s Hmong minority, French
media say. Col Robert Jambon, 86, shot himself in October on the steps of the « Indochina monument » in Dinan in western France
8 DECEMBER 2011
Mekong countries delay Laos dam decision
Energy-starved Laos failed to win approval from Southeast Asian neighbours on Thursday for a proposed hydropower dam on the Mekong River that faces fierce opposition from conservationists. Ministers from Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos postponed a decision on the $3.8 billion Xayaburi dam after meeting in the Cambodian city of Siem Reap, saying more research was needed into the likely effects of such projects
28 APRIL 2011
Laos election takes a feminist tack
There are 190 candidates, 45 of them women, and all from the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, the communist party that has ruled this country since 1975. ‘The government has said it wants 30 per cent of the National Assembly to be women, so you can be pretty sure that 30 per cent of the elected candidates will be women,’ said one western diplomat
25 APRIL 2011
Laos needs 30 million dollars a year to clear US bombs
Since the government set up the Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Programme in 1996, it has received about 7 to 8 million a year from donors, far below the 30 million needed, the state-run Vientiane Times reported
19 APRIL 2011
Following Vietnam protests, Laotian govt puts off Xayaburi dam decision
The four-nation (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand) Mekong River Commission met today. There is “still a difference in views” over the project, which Vietnam vehemently opposes. Environmentalists back a ten-year moratorium. Vientiane gives in and postpones decision
14 APRIL 2011
Decision Looms for Laos Dam, but Impact Is Unclear
13 JULY 2010
The United States and Laos pledge to step up cooperation after their highest level governmental talks since the end of the Vietnam War in the mid-1970s
28 DECEMBER 2009
Thai military authorities begin the forced repatriation of thousands of ethnic Hmong asylum-seekers to Laos, despite international concern that they could face persecution back home
11 MAY 2009
The communist authorities in Laos, one of Asia’s poorest nations, sign a decree to allow local non-governmental organizations for the first time
9 SEPTEMBER 2008
Death of Nouhak Phoumsavanh, former president of Laos (1992-1998), born on April 9, 1910
1 MARCH 2008
After an agreement with Laos, Thailand begins the deportation of around 8,000 Hmong asylum seekers
8 JUNE 2006
Choummaly Sayasone is elected president of Laos