Laos Reviews 39 Years of Remarkable Progress

Political stability, security, social order and economic growth, all of which have been successfully maintained, have been the outstanding achievements of the Lao government and people under the guidance of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party over the past year.

Party and government leaders, and representatives of the diplomatic corps and international organisations, all cited these highlights in the speeches they made to mark the 39th anniversary of the founding of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

A ceremony to accept the good wishes of the diplomatic corps and international organisations took place at the Presidential Palace on Monday.

“We are delighted to witness that Laos continues to enjoy firm political stability, security and social order, and has achieved a relatively high GDP growth rate of 7.5 percent compared to 2013,” President Choummaly said.

President Choummaly also highlighted the achievements made in the areas of education, social and cultural development, and the overall well-being of the people, which he said has also improved.

In addition, he noted that the current GDP per capita has reached US$1,692, while poverty reduction efforts have reduced the percentage of poor households to 8.11 percent.

“All this has laid a solid foundation for us to continue realising the objectives of the current Seventh Five-Year Plan in its final stage,” he said.

On behalf of the Party, government, and Lao people of all ethnicities, President Choummaly thanked the diplomatic corps and representatives of international organisations, the government and people of their respective countries and heads of organisations for the continued support and assistance rendered to Laos over the past years.

Malaysian Ambassador to Laos and Dean of the diplomatic corps, Laos Dato’ Than Tai Hing, made special mention of Laos’ economic growth, saying it is considered to be highest in the region in terms of GDP growth, and faster than the average growth rate of developing Asian countries.

He also emphasised the government’s success in maintaining political stability, security and social order, ensuring that Lao people of all ethnic groups can enjoy their legitimate rights and freedom and actively participate in national development.

Dato’ Than Tai Hing represented other members of the diplomatic corps in expressing their confidence that Laos, as a least developed and landlocked country, through the wise guidance of its leaders, will realise its ambition to transform the country into a hub of connectivity.

This will enable integration of the economy with those of neighbouring countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion and the world.

Referring to the efforts of the Lao government and people to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and graduate from Least Developed Country status, the ambassador also expressed his confidence that Laos would graduate from that status by 2020.

The ambassador also underlined the success of Laos in terms of its pragmatic foreign policy, which has accelerated diplomatic relations with its neighbours and the international community.

This was underscored by the increase in the number of countries with which Laos has diplomatic relations, which has now reached 136.


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Notable success in Laos-Belarus cooperation

July 6, 2013

After an official visit to Belarus, President Choummaly Sayasone and his delegation arrived in Vientiane yesterday after notable diplomatic achievements which set the path for greater cooperation between the two countries in the future.

Among the significant successes are the fact that the president and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko reaffirmed their willingness to expand cooperation in economic and trade matters based on each other’s potential, according to the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In this regard, both sides agreed to work together to bolster cooperation in investment, the machinery industry, agricultural processing, crude oil, pharmacy and chemistry, as well as science and technology.

To stimulate greater cooperation, the respective parties aim to bring about conditions to facilitate economic and trade relations and explore joint-venture production operations. In practical support, 10 agreements were signed following talks between the two heads-of-state.

The documents signed included agreements on visa-free travel for diplomats and official passport holders, on promotion and mutual protection of investments, on the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and property. Other agreements pertain to cooperation in research and development and education, according to the Belarusian Telegraph Agency (BTA).

The leaders agreed on the mutual participation of Belarusian and Lao enterprises in the state programmes of the two countries. They will also make use of the newly-established Laos-Belarus Joint Cooperation Commission to boost bilateral relations.

The two leaders highly value their countries’ traditionally friendly relations. They also reached consensus to extend mutual support to one another in regional and international arenas.

In the legislative field, the leaders shared a commitment to increase cooperation between legislative bodies through exchange visits by delegations from their respective national assemblies.

During the visit to Belarus, the Lao president and his entourage toured some important places in the country including the Minsk Automobile Plant and a military academy.

President Choummaly also had meetings with Belarusian Prime Minster Mikhail Myasnikovich as well as high-level congressmen of the Belarusian parliament. On this occasion, President Choummaly invited President Lukashenko and Prime Minister Myasnikovich to visit Laos in the future.

Officials of both sides will also organise activities to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Laos and Belarus.

There has been considerable diplomatic activity between the two countries in recent times. Early last month, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Thongloun Sisoulith led a delegation paying an official visit to Belarus.

On that occasion, both sides signed a memorandum of understanding to establish the Joint Cooperation Commission between Laos and Belarus. Late last month, Belarusian Economy Minister, Mr Mikalay Snapkow, led a delegation to visit Laos.


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Good Neighbors helps boost quality of education in Laos

By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
March 1, 2013

Ms Sungwon Moon (left) and Ms Chanpheng Viphavanh exchange documents after the signing ceremony.

Good Neighbors International yesterday offered over US$1.5 million for a community-based education project to improve the education system and communities’ livelihoods in the provinces of Vientiane and Xieng Khuang.

The Ministry of Education and Sports signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Good Neighbors in Vientiane on Thursday to launch the project, which will take place over a period of three years from 2013 to 2015.

A representative of Good Neighbors International, Ms Sungwon Moon, said the project would emphasise integrated community-based education and water supply support. The initiative will also provide non-food items to the poorest and most vulnerable children and families.

“This is truly an honorable opportunity for us as we want more and more children to be able to receive better quality education services through our projects,” she said.

Through this project, Good Neighbors will provide children with learning opportunities and support them in continuing their studies in a safe educational environment.

The scheme will adopt a strategy that increases the inclusive participation of local communities and children to enhance the ownership and effectiveness of their schools.

Good Neighbors is an international NGO based in the Republic of Korea, whose aims and principles are based on the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

Director of the Vientiane provincial Education and Sports Department, Ms Chanpheng Viphavanh, said that in the past these provinces have received other forms of support from Good Neighbors such as mosquito nets, shoes, pajamas, and clothing for children and women worth almost US$250,000.

These were given to over 7,300 students at 32 schools in Vientiane and Xieng Khuang provinces.

The second goal of the organisation is to achieve universal primary education. The NGO is working in 29 countries to help more than 100,000 children worldwide.

Good Neighbors is an international, humanitarian and development organisation in general consultation status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC). It strives to improve lives, especially children’s lives, through the provision of education, food, shelter, community development, medical care, advocacy, and emergency relief.

Committed to solving the problems of underprivileged and marginalised people by helping them build their own futures free of poverty and discrimination, it mobilises, manages, and uses local resources to maximise effective and efficient work.

In 2010, the organisation mobilised US$59.4 million across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Good Neighbors began implementing development projects in the education and community development sectors in Laos in 2012. After the approval of its operation permit, it proudly became a cooperating partner of the Ministry of Education and Sports.


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Core cadres equipped with knowledge of laws in the Lao PDR

February 16, 2013

The People's Supreme Court in Lao PDR

The People’s Supreme Court in Lao PDR

A 45-member training course, designed to equip core cadres in Savannakhet province with knowledge of laws, was opened earlier this week.

An opening ceremony for the training course was held on Feb 11 at the provincial service of justice of Savannakhet and attended by Minister of Justice Chaleun Yiapaoher, Savannakhet Governor Souphanh Keomisay, and his deputy Kaysone Khounlatsouvannavong. Curriculum taught in the training course has been devised by the Ministry of Justice.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Mr. Souphanh said “the training is so meaningful. It creates favourable conditions for the implementation of the resolution of the 9th party congress that partly states the establishment of a rule of law state that belongs to the people, is founded by the people, and serves the interest of people in the country. Translating into reality the national master plan on rule of law state development, which was approved by 2009 and the party politburo resolution on Sam Sang policy (decentralization policy). This helps enrich knowledge of law of the grassroots core cadres, ensuring they are increasingly able to lead their organisations.”

The training is designed to equip the trainees with knowledge of the constitution, public administration law, people’s court law, people’s prosecutor office law, nationality law, civil law, inheritance law, family law, state budget law, civil procedure law, environmental law, mining law and land law.


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Families adjust to new life after losing homes to Theun-Hinboun dam expansion

January 20, 2013

Theun-Hinboun dam

“It’s more than two years since my family moved to make way for the Theun-Hinboun hydropower expansion project to this new location in Keosaenkham village. We are currently enjoying life here,” a village resident, Mr Xiengtay Xayphasy, told local media during a visit made to the site last week.

“We are happy to have electricity, new roads, a school, a health office and piped water. This is very different to our original village where we lived for so long.”

He said that children in particular have benefited because they now have more education opportunities and enjoy better health thanks to improved sanitation.

Women in the village also have the opportunity to access better health care and earn extra income from weaving and livestock breeding thanks to loans provided by the project .

Most of the people are slash-and-burn farmers who also raise livestock such as buffalo, cattle and poultry to make a living.

However, they still need more land on which to grow rice to ensure they can live comfortably and have sufficient rice for their future needs.

“After going through several training sessions and observing practices in other provinces supported by the hydropower project, I can now raise animals both for my family’s needs and to sell,” Mr Xiengtay said.

He has two daughters living with him, one of whom is benefiting by doing weaving after the project gave her a loan, while the other is a teacher at the local lower secondary school.

The first daughter, Ms Khamkeo Xayphasy 27, said weaving allows her to make enough money to pay for her children’s education and for the family to have some spending money.

As electricity provides light, she can weave at nighttime and, with good road access to the village, it is easy for traders to visit and buy her products at the house.

The other daughter, Ms Khao Xayphasy, 18, a village youth leader and teacher, said she will try to ensure that the children in the village get a better education than their parents so they can progress further and perhaps move from working on the land into some kind of business. She believes this will bring them a brighter future.

One elderly man, Mr Thone, 77, said that if his family were still living in their former village, his nephew and niece might never have the opportunity to study as they lived far from the nearest school.

But despite the new village having many facilities, the inhabitants are still limited in their cultivation of wet season rice and suffer from a shortage of water to grow vegetables in the dry season.

Construction of the Nam Gnouang dam has necessitated the relocation of 12 villages containing about 4,000 people in the Nam Gnouang valley. Keosaenkham village in Xaychamphone district, Borikhamxay province, has absorbed four of them, involving about 1,080 people in 181 households.

The Theun-Hinboun Hydropower Project Company says resettled families will have a better standard of living and sustainable livelihoods.

An entitlement policy outlines these obligations, which include improved housing on plots of 1,000 square metres for a vegetable garden, fruit trees, a small plot on which to raise livestock, one hectare of rice fields and half a hectare of upland fields on which to grow cash crops and trees.

Also mentioned in the policy are access to communal forests, grazing areas, a river and fish ponds, improved health and education services, all year road access to markets, and technical assistance, tools and equipment.

“For the first three years, the company provides rice for the relocated households to eat and gives them various varieties of rice seeds to plant, along with seeds to grow cash crops,” said Social and Environment Division Deputy Manager, Ms Surapha Viravong.

“After that we will continue to help them by promoting activities such as growing rice and cash crops, raising livestock for sale and consumption, and a conservation area programme to encourage sustainable development,” she added.

She expects that from now until 2017, the company will be instrumental in driving up family incomes to more than 17 million kip a year.

The company plans to relocate 13 more villages of over 1,000 families from the central area of the Nam Hinboun from 2013 to 2017.

From 2010 to 2012 it has relocated 11 villages of about 600 families, from the powerhouse area downstream and part of the Nam Hinboun.

The Theun-Hinboun Power Company has invested US$60 million into community resettlement, improving the environment and contributing to the development of education, public health and other facilities.

In addition, it has built village access roads and created jobs for many local people.


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Premier Thongsing hands over newly-built Xieng Ngeun school

By Vinnaly
January 16, 2013

Newly built Xieng Nguen school

Newly built Xieng Nguen school

Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong took part in a handover ceremony of a newly-built Xieng Nguen secondary school building in Luang Prabang province on 15 January.

Present at the event were also Luang Prabang Governor Khampheng Saysompheng and representatives from Ministry of Education and Sports and Italian-Thai Development Co., Ltd, Mr. Anan Adilaklabwong, Xieng Nguen District Chief, relevant officials and Xieng Nguen residents.

Mr. Somphone expressed thanks to the Party and government for paying attention, especially Prime Minister Thongsing who explored and mobilised the financial support for construction of the school building.

He pledged to maintain the new school as long as possible and use it to its most usefulness for human resource development. The school has two storeys and 12 classrooms equipped with facilities, including electricity and water supply. Its construction was financed by Italian-Thai Development Co,. Ltd in an amount of 3.7 billion kip.

Namkhan 2 and 3 dams construction project of Electricite du Laos also donated 72 million kip for the construction of this school. On the same occasion, PM Thongsing also handed over a number of sport gears and education equipment to the school.


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New indoor firing range opened in Vientiane

January 14, 2013

Lao citizen training at shooting range in Vientiane.

Lao citizen training at shooting range in Vientiane.

Ministry of National Defence opened a new indoor firing range in Vientiane last Friday. The handover ceremony for the facility took place between Head of the construction of Economic Strategy Unit, Lieutenant Colonel Souknilanh Khamphilavong and Chief of the General Staff Department of the Ministry of National Defence Colonel Saichay Kommasith.

The ceremony was attended by Deputy Minister of National Defence, Major General Sayahak Phomvihane and senior officials. The indoor range comprises two buildings. The first is 50 x 72 metres in size and construction cost supported by the Ministry of Defence worth 8.1 billion kip.

The first building has a rifle gallery where marksmen fires from three positions, standing, crouching and prone and 17 lanes of pistol shooting at slow moving targets. It also has 10 lanes with rapidly moving targets.

There are also 20 lanes for practicing with long and short air rifles. Additionally, there is a meeting room, an army museum, a VIP room, a study room, shooting equipment storage and a dining room.

The second building is mainly for shooting equipment storage, a VIP room, a sleeping room and bathroom. A new indoor firing range holds shooting competitions for the Lao shooting team from the ministry and to develop shooting events for the army.

The Lao shooting team will be able to train at the new indoor firing range and the army would also allow interested persons to train there. The construction of the project started in 2011 and was completed by the end of 2012.


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Praise for Vietnamese writings on Laos

January 1, 2013

Vietnam War memorial in Phonsavan, Laos, showing North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao soldiers.

Vietnam’s literary works on Laos are valuable assets that help strengthen the two countries’ friendship and cooperation.

Lao Deputy Prime Minister Asang Laoly made this affirmation while receiving a Vietnam Writers’ Association delegation, led by Chairman Huu Thinh, in Vientiane on December 27.

He thanked Vietnamese writers for their investigations and explorations of the past struggles for national independence and freedom as well as for their documentation of Laos’ new lifestyle development process. He said the writings encourage the peoples of both countries to extend their contributions to national development.

Writer Huu Thinh highlighted the special solidarity and traditional friendship between Vietnam and Laos. He noted a number of his association’s members were comrades of the Lao people in the past revolutionary war, stressing the veracity of their varied accounts.

Thinh said that in 2013 the Vietnam Writers’ Association will cooperate with its Lao partners to compile a collection of writings focused on Laos’ land and people. A number of Vietnamese writers were also officially honoured with prizes during their visit.



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Lao President visits Socialist Republic of Vietnam

December 26, 2012

President Choummaly Sayasone (right) inspects a guard of honor on his arrival in Vietnam.

President Choummaly Sayasone (right) inspects a guard of honor on his arrival in Vietnam.

President Choummaly Sayasone, accompanied by his wife and a high ranking delegation, is visiting Vietnam from December 25 to 28.

Mr Choummaly and his delegation yesterday attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Unknown Soldier’s Monument, paid their respects at the Ho Chi Minh tomb and met with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang and the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong.

At the meeting between the two Party secretaries general, both sides shared their opinions on the traditional ties, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between the two Parties, governments and nations.

They agreed on the direction of future cooperation and strengthening the development of mutual interests.

Both sides shared their points of view on regional and international issues of mutual interest. They highly value and are satisfied with the traditional friendly relations, special solidarity, comprehensive cooperation and mutual trust that have been maintained regardless of changes in the world and the two countries.

Relations in the areas of politics, national defence and public security and foreign affairs have been continuously strengthened in quality and quality in multiple forms.

They noted that this year the countries celebrated two historic dates: the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, and the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation.

“The celebration with meaningful content and abundant form has contributed to educating the two nations on the rare special relations between the two countries,” said President Choummaly, according to the Lao News Agency.

Regarding economics, culture, education, science and technology, cooperation has been strengthened to new levels of effectiveness.

Vietnam is a leader among the countries investing in Laos. Cooperation in human resource development between the two countries is prioritised by the two Parties and governments, and has brought real benefits to both sides.

Regarding future cooperation, both sides will encourage organisations in the two countries to coordinate with related sectors to implement a concrete plan in accordance with the content of the 35th meeting of the Laos-Vietnam Joint Cooperation Committee, and the agreement on economics, culture, education and science and technology for the year 2013.

Implementation will focus on the joint resolution of shortcomings, by improving organisational structures, regulations and cooperation mechanisms.

Both sides will prioritise cooperation in education and human resource development, focusing on improving the quality of education. They will also accelerate the installation of border markers for 2013 as agreed.

They will promote and facilitate enterprises in both countries to invest in agriculture in border areas.

Both sides will continue to share information and coordinate regarding regional and international issues, Asean frameworks and sub-regions.

The two leaders confirmed their commitment to defending the great ties of friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation and agreed on regular visits to each other.

On the same day, President Choummaly met with President Truong Tan Sang. They gave a joint press conference to announce the outcomes of the Laos-Vietnam Friendship Year. The two leaders expressed their satisfaction with the celebrations and activities held, which helped to educate the younger generation on the two nations’ shared history.

President Choummaly also met with Prime Minister Nguyen Tran Dung and National Assembly President Nguyen Sing Hung.

During the visit, the Lao government awarded a National Gold Medal to President Truong Tan Sang and National Assembly President Nguyen Sing Hung, and Class 1 Isara Orders to Vietnamese Politburo members and other leaders for their contribution to promoting the special relationship between the two nations.



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Vietnam builds school in Laos to commemorate 50 year friendship

By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
December 12, 2012

Mr Somsavat Lengsavad (left) and Mr Dinh The Huynh cut a ribbon to release balloons at the opening ceremony.

Xepon district, Savannakhet province: Xepon district has received a new secondary school courtesy of the Vietnam government, as part of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Laos and Vietnam.

Dongsavan Secondary School, which is situated on Road No. 9 in Dong village, opposite the Museum of Lao-Vietnam Legacy of Joint Victory Battle, has been funded by the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), at a cost of more than US$1.1 million.

A handover ceremony took place at the school yesterday to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations (1962-2012) and the 35th anniversary of the signing of the Friendship and Cooperation Treaty (1977-2012).

The ceremony took place the day before Lao and Vietnamese officials were to hold a grand meeting to commemorate the legacy of the two countries’ special solidarity on the battlefield in this area.

Attending the ceremony on behalf of the Vietnamese government were Politburo member and Head of the Commission for Popularisation and Education of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Mr Dinh The Huynh, and former General Secretary of the Vietnam Communist Party, Mr Le Kha Phieu. Also present were former Lao Politburo member Mr Samane Vinhaket, Politburo member and Deputy Prime Minister Mr Somsavat Lengsavad, and Head of the Party Central Committee’s Propaganda and Training Board, Mr Cheuang Sombounkhan.

Dongsavan Secondary School has been bu ilt in the standard design of the Lao Ministry of Education and Sports and has 12 classrooms that can accommodate 500 students. With classes running in both the morning and the afternoon, it is hoped the school will turn out skilled students who can make a positive contribution to the country’s workforce.

The school is not only a useful education facility for local people, but is also an important token of the friendship between Vietnam and Laos – in particular with the people of Savannakhet province.

In addition to funding the building of the school, Vietnam has provided 5,000 books, US$3,000, 15 computers and a television to further facilitate education in the province.

Last year the Vietnamese government also built a secondary school in Viengthong district, Huaphan province, at a cost of US$1 million. The school has 12 classrooms and can accommodate up to 1,000 students.

The BIDV has contributed to social and economic development in Laos on several occasions, including providing US$7 million in funding. The government and people of Laos greatly value these contributions, and hold the special friendship between the citizens of Laos and Vietnam in high regard.


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