NGOs urge PM to raise dam issue on Laos trip

Source: The Phnom Penh Post / Fri, 11 March 2016 by

Prime Minister Hun Sen will lead a delegation to Laos over the weekend to meet his counterpart Thongsing Thammavong, although officials yesterday were silent on whether concerns surrounding the controversial Don Sahong hydropower dam would be raised.

“On Saturday and Sunday, I will lead a senior delegation to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the visit will focus on the discussion of strengthening bilateral ties,” Hun Sen wrote on his Facebook page yesterday.

Asked whether Don Sahong was on the agenda, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry said: “I have no detailed information about the bilateral meeting.”

Further calls to the Prime Minister’s spokesmen went unanswered yesterday.

In October of last year, Laos Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad and Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong discussed the Don Sahong in a meeting.

According to Namhong, Lengsavad cited studies which found the dam would have “no environmental impact” to which Namhong said he would push for more research into the matter.

Tek Vannara, executive director of the NGO Forum, said the project being built by Malaysian developer Mega First will harm the Mekong’s hydrology and ecology, and affect the livelihood of millions of Cambodian people.

“We hope that this is an opportunity for Prime Minister Hun Sen to set a clear agenda for discussion about the hydro dam with his Lao counterpart,” Vannara said.

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