Monday, November 07, 2011

Laos News of the Week

Laos gets its first airbus after Libya cancels their order. They have had a bit of a windfall after Libya's order fell through. These 142-seat planes will be used for the Vientiane, Bangkok, Hanoi and Kunming routes, just in time for 2012: Visit Laos Year (and Year of the Nak!)

5NPlus is taking over the last remaining shares of Lao Industrial Resources in Vientiane. The plant specialized in tellurium refining. Tellurium is used in solar panels, semiconductors, coloring ceramics, cds, Blu-Ray discs, and phase change chips, among other purposes.

Lao farmers need an alternative to opium according to Irin News. Antinarcotics efforts slashed opium production from 26,800 hectares to 1,500 hectares between 1998 and 2006. Since 2007 opium farming has doubled to 3,000 hectares and the upward trend is still continuing, according to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Sychan Vakongxiong, a Hmong opium farmer is interviewed, as is Edna Legaspi and Khamen Phomally, deputy district governor of Xay District in Oudomxay and chairman of the local committee on drug control.

Over 3,500 mail order brides were rescued from China, including women from Laos who were victims of human trafficking.

Bombs to Bracelets: Jewelry that Aids Vietnam War Stricken Laos looks at the work of Article 22, a company that has been making efforts to raise awareness of unexploded ordnance left over from the war for Laos.

In a stranger turn, Lao are apparently involved in smuggling exotic animal parts. Members of an international syndicate allegedly use Thai prostitutes to 'hunt' and export South African rhino horn and also lion bones to supply the "Vichai Company" which it turns out is actually Xaysavang Trading Export/Import and its owner in Laos is said to be a man known as Vixay Keosavang. It's stuff like this that seriously makes me want to start rumors that other things besides animal parts are effective "natural viagra."


Lydia Laube's Lost in Laos just got panned in New Zealand as a crappy travelogue. It's an encouraging sign that people now are expecting a lot more out of stories by falang trampling all over Muang Lao.

And finally, back in September, the Chronicle of Higher Education ran an interesting article on the notion of the anarchy-prone Zomia, which is essentially most of Laos and Southeast Asia. While there are many points of contention, it's definitely an important read to consider.

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