Entertainment

Lao People’s Revolutionary Youth Union’s Secretary’s Cup tournament underway

July 1, 2013

INTRO: More than 70 amateur badminton players from clubs and ministries across Vientiane are battling it out in the Lao People’s Revolutionary Youth Union’s Secretary’s Cup tournament.

STORY: The union held an opening ceremony for the mixed doubles event on Wednesday at their indoor stadium in Vientiane, attended by Union Secretary General, Dr Vilayvong Boutdhakham, senior officials and key sponsors.

Those in the top three places at the end of the tournament can look forward to cash prizes and trophies.

Youth Union Deputy Secretary General, Dr. Sonethanou Thammavong, said the group wanted to encourage young people to play sport for friendship, good health and to promote an anti-drug message.

Last week, the union held a similar national-level petanque event in Vientiane.

The events offer a chance to develop younger players into national or regional level athletes, and are an opportunity to prepare for the 10th National Games in Oudomxay province next year.

Each year, the youth union holds a number of sporting events for young people in Vientiane.

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Laos, Cuba hold talks on bilateral ties

Lao leaders and the visiting Vice President of Cuba’s Council of State have reaffirmed both sides will work together to deepen the traditionally friendly relations and cooperation between Laos and Cuba.

The Lao leaders told Mr Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, 53, that the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) and the government will continue to nurture close bilateral relations and cooperation with Cuba.

Mr Bermudez, who is also First Vice President of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba and a politburo member of the Communist Party of Cuba, arrived in Vientiane yesterday for a two-day official visit to Laos. His visit was made in response to an invitation from Lao Vice President and politburo member, Mr Bounnhang Vorachit.

Following an official welcoming ceremony on Saturday at the Presidential Office, Mr Bermudez and the Lao vice president held talks on bilateral ties. Mr Bermudez also paid a courtesy visit to President Choummaly Sayasone and called on Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong.

“At the talks, the Lao leaders reaffirmed the consistent guidelines of the Lao Party and government to enhance the traditional friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries,” a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The Lao leaders expressed their heartfelt thanks to the government, people and Communist Party of Cuba (CPC), for the valuable support and assistance they extended to the struggle for liberation in Laos and the current effort for national development and defence.

For his part, Mr Bermudez reaffirmed the guidelines of the government and Communist Party of Cuba to continue deepening the traditional friendly relations and cooperation between the two parties, governments and peoples.

He pledged that Cuba will continue to assist Laos in relation to human resource development and provide assistance in the health and sports sectors, according to the press release.

At the talks, both sides informed each other about the socio-economic situations in their respective countries, reviewed past collaboration and discussed future cooperation in addition to exchanging views on regional and international issues of mutual interest.

On this occasion, Mr Bermudez conveyed the invitation from the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba’s Central Committee, Mr Raúl Castro to President Choummaly, who is also Secretary General of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, to pay an official visit to Cuba at some point in the future.

Mr Castro is also President of the Council of State and the President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba.

The Lao Foreign Ministry described the official visit of Mr Bermudez to Laos as ‘one of the important events in Laos-Cuba relations,’ developing the traditionally friendly relations between the two countries and peoples to ‘a new height’ for the mutual benefit of both parties.

The Cuban delegation also toured various cultural attractions in Vientiane and met with local diplomatic staff before departing Laos for Cuba yesterday.

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First female parachutist in Laos shows women they can fly

By Xayxana Leukai
March 9, 2013

Lieutenant Souphavanh Kilachanh

Thousands of people in Xayaboury province had their eyes turned skywards to focus on an army helicopter, as a team of parachutists jumped out when the door opened.

The crowd had gathered for the opening ceremony of the Elephant Festival last month, and feasted their eyes on the daring actions of the team of army experts.

The team was led by Lieutenant Souphavanh Kilachanh, 36, and their exploits earned the congratulations on the onlookers after they landed smoothly and safely. The jump brought Souphavanh’s tally to more than the 1,000 since she joined the army in 1995.

She was the first woman in the whole of Laos to brave the jump down from a helicopter when she was employed with Battalion 702 in Xieng Khuang province 18 years ago.

“Some men and women were afraid to jump from such a height,” she recalls, adding that for her it was different as she really wanted to follow suit when she saw the men jumping.

Souphavanh is frequently invited to lead her team in entertaining spectators during opening ceremonies and other special occasions.

It is a source of great pride to her to know that she can contribute to such events. There are not many women brave enough to jump from a height of more than 1,000 metres and as she has already completed this feat more than 1,000 times it has now become an honour for her rather than a fear.

“It’s the sense of adventure and challenge that attracts me to parachuting. When I joined the army, I always saw men jumping but never women. So I decided to make a jump when the helicopter was at an altitude of about 2,000 metres,” she recalls.

It’s not easy to be a good parachutist, she says, but if you are brave and do a lot of training it’s certainly possible. First she studied the theory involved and learnt how to control a parachute during a jump.

She first practised jumping from a height of just two or three metres.

During her 18 years of jumping, she has never had an accident. She says good preparation is very important if you want to touch down safely. It’s also best to avoid jumping in bad weather, such as strong wind or rain.

Souphavanh says the safest altitude range for a jump is 2,500 to 3,000 metres. However, she decided to jump from 1,500 metres at the Elephant Festival because she wanted the spectators to see her and her teammates actually stepping out of the helicopter.

She became the first woman teacher in the sport three years ago after having joined Battalion 703 in Vientiane back in 1999. Every Thursday morning, she takes trainees out on practice jumps to make sure they learn all the right skills. However, they have a long way to go before they can chalk up more than 1,000 jumps like their teacher.

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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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Lao Short Film “A Little Change” – “ຕົ້ນກ້າ”

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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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Lao and Vietnamese youth solidarity promoted

January 9, 2012

Cultural performance represents the solidarity between Laos and Vietnam.

Cultural performance represents the solidarity between Laos and Vietnam.

A cultural exchange “Vietnam-Laos solidarity, friendship and mutual development” between youths from Vietnam’s Phu Yen province and its twinned province of Savannakhet, Laos, was organized on January 7th at the Phu Yen provincial Museum of Vietnam.

The event included performances of traditional instruments of minority ethnic groups in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, folk songs and dances such as Lamvong dance of Laos, and exchange on the two countries’ culture and history.

The exchange also focused on the history of Vietnam-Laos relations; the special friendship between the two armies, two countries and two peoples, as well as achievements in national construction of the two countries in general and the two provinces in particular.

Addressing the event, the Secretary of the Savannakhet provincial youth union, Dr. Souphaphon Nanthanavon, said that the exchange clearly showed the determination of the Vietnamese and Lao Parties to preserve and promote the long-lasting Vietnam-Laos friendship, solidarity and cooperation, and believed that it would help boost the cooperation between Sanvannakhet’s and Phu Yen’s youths in the coming time.

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Lao PDR opens up wider to the world

January 2, 2013

Hosting a series of major international and regional events, welcoming top-level leaders from the international community, entering the World Trade Organization (WTO) — All this took place in the year 2012 in Laos, one of Southeast Asia’s least developed nations with a population of only 6.5 million.

This manifested that the small landlocked country that shares borders with China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar was opening its doors wider to the outside world.

The Lao people are proud of the country’s remarkable progress in boosting diplomatic and trade ties with other countries in the past year, believing it will bring benefit to their daily life.

On July 11, 2012, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a brief stop on her Asia tour in Laos, the first visit by an American secretary of state since 1955 when the Lao civil war was in full swing and U.S.-backed royalist faction was in power. The current government came to power in 1975.

During her four-hour stay in Laos, Clinton met with Lao Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong. They agreed to further strengthen relations between the two countries.

The leaders pledged to continue the search for the remains of U. S. soldiers missing in action since the Vietnam War and to get rid of millions of unexploded ordinance (UXO) leftover from the war. Four decades later, millions of unexploded bombs still pockmark the impoverished country and still kill.

The talks also touched on Laos’ role in regional cooperation led by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the country’s progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of development targets being pursued by the Lao government due by 2015 in efforts to remove the country from its least developed country (LDC) status by 2020.

The eight MDGs target a range of critical areas of development including maternal and infant health and mortality, malnutrition, universal primary education, gender equality, combating infectious diseases and environmental sustainability, while the ninth MDG focuses on reducing the impact of UXO, a problem which hinders the socio-economic development of Laos.

On Nov. 5-6, Vientiane hosted the Ninth Asia-Europe Meeting ( ASEM) Summit, bringing together heads of states and government from the 51 ASEM partners.

The summit, the largest international conference ever hosted by Laos, provided an important occasion for ASEM partners to share their thoughts and explore ways in enhancing better understanding between Asia and Europe and in addressing global challenges, especially economic woes.

To Laos, it is greatly conducive to raising its role and reputation in regional and international arenas.

The summit concluded with the signing of the Vientiane Declaration on Strengthening Partnership for Peace and Development and Chairman’s Statement of Ninth ASEM Summit.

On Oct. 26, 2012, the WTO finally confirmed Laos as its 158th member, the last of the 10 ASEAN countries to join the club after a 15-year quest for the membership.

The country has enjoyed robust economic growth of more than 7 percent a year over the last decade.

To meet the WTO requirements, Laos has enacted and amended over 90 laws and regulations and committed to reducing import tariffs to an average of below 18.8 percent, limiting agriculture subsidies and opening up 10 industries to foreign competition.

Laos has also undertaken additional commitments in bilateral negotiations with interested WTO members, including Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Ukraine.

Entry into the WTO club brings with it the promise of increased trade volume and new trade partners for Laos, as well as the prospect of fresh investment pouring into the country, analysts say.

It has also “provided us the necessary basis to achieve our goal of graduate from the LDC status by 2020,” Lao Industry and Commerce Minister Nam Viyaketh said last year.

It is hoped that the WTO membership will accelerate development, entice greater international investment and boost economic growth in Laos. The country’s bright economic future and continued opening to the outside world hold great promise for its people, the region and the world.

In sports, Laos successfully hosted the 16th ASEAN University Games on Dec.12-20, 2012 with the participation of teams from 10 ASEAN countries.

Ending years of isolation, Laos is embracing the outside world.

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Lao PDR: The cauldron may be extinguished, but the flame still burns bright in our hearts

By Sisay Vilaysack
December 21, 2012

Deputy Prime Minister Asang Laoly declares the Asean University Games closed.

As the flaming cauldron dimmed yesterday it signified the end of the 10-day 16th Asean University Games, and smiling athletes raised their hands in farewell after a joyous time in the Land of a Million Elephants.

The 10 days of competition were packed with emotion – the ecstasy of winning and the pain of losing. But the most important aspect of the event was the sense of friendship and peace that prevailed under the games’ slogan ‘We are Asean Family’.

The goodbyes that take place today need not mean that we are far apart. We will all carry in our hearts the special memories of these past 10 days in the Lao capital Vientiane and remain close to one another forever. Although it may be goodbye to Vientiane, we will all meet again in Indonesia in two years’ time.

Last night we watched enthralled as the delegates and athletes representing 11 countries from Southeast Asia gathered again at the main stadium of the National Sports Complex in Vientiane. But the atmosphere was different compared to the opening ceremony because some competitors had tears in their eyes at the thought of having to part with their friends.

Performers put on a spectacular show at the games’ closing ceremony.

Every participant in the games has benefited from the experience and improved their skills, bringing closer the dream of one day playing for their national team at a higher level.

The student teams from the National University of Laos improved upon their ranking at the previous Asean University Games held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in 2010 when they came sixth. This year their hard work paid off and they moved up to fifth place.

This year’s games saw 240 gold, 240 silver and 320 bronze medals awarded for 240 events in 17 sports.

The Lao teams won 32 gold, 35 silver and 46 bronze medals, placing fifth behind Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. In 2010, Lao managed only 2 gold, 9 silver and 30 bronze medals and placed sixth out of 11 participating countries.

Malaysia topped the medal tally with a haul of 60 gold, 48 silver and 72 bronze, while in second place was Vietnam with 56 gold, 35 silver and 28 bronze medals.

Thailand came third with 45 gold, 52 silver and 56 bronze medals, while Indonesia placed fourth with 41 gold, 52 silver and 61 bronze medals.

The official closing ceremony began at 5:30pm with the parading of the Asean University Games flag followed by a grand procession of all the athletes from the 11 countries taking part.

After the opening parade, the Vice Chairman of the Organising Committee, Prof. Dr Soukkongseng Saignaleuth, who is President of the National University of Laos, summarised the results of the games and thanked all supporters and sponsors.

Then the Organising Committee Chairman, Dr Phankham Viphavanh, who is Minister of Education and Sports, talked about how the competitions had cemented bonds of friendship and peace between the athletes and officials from participating countries. At the same time, he said, the various sports had raised the bar for the students of Asean universities.

The games’ organising committee then thanked all the sub-committees for their hard work, as well as Lao people all around the country, and local and overseas sponsors who had helped to make the games a success. They also thanked the 2,533 delegates, including the 1,625 athletes, for sharing in the games and wished them a safe journey home.

The games were officially closed by Deputy Prime Minister of the Lao PDR, Asang Laoly.

Before the final performances, Indonesian Ambassador to Laos, Kria Fahmi Pasaribu, on behalf of the Indonesian government, received the Asean University Games flag. He also gave a speech to welcome everyone present to Indonesia in two years’ time.

A troupe of Indonesian dancers then gave a colourful performance as a foretaste of their welcome at the 17th Asean University Games in 2014.

This was followed by more presentations from young Lao performers and the ceremony then proceeded to the impressive grand finale as fireworks erupted into the night sky.

And so everyone bid farewell to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, but with their sights firmly set on the next Asean student games in Indonesia.

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Lao women triple petanque team win a gold medal at 16th Asean Univ. Games

December 20, 2012

Lao women triple petanque team and coach (C) take a group photo at the Petanque Court, National University of Laos after bagging a gold medal for Laos.

Lao women triple petanque athletes Noytavanh Paseuth, Kanlaya Vongpaseuth, Chansamone Vongsavath and Linda Keobolabod managed to defeat their Thai opponents 13-6 in the women’s triple final at the Petanque Court, National University of Laos yesterday. The Thai side consisted of Wanida Tespituk, Nattaya Yoothong, Aoyjai Khamvong, and Pacharin Sanjumnai.

“I feel so great. We have trained hard since August. The opponents played relatively well today. They were strong. I would like to thank the Lao people who have come to cheer us on today,” said the medalist student of the Faculty of Laws and Political Sciences Linda Keobalabod.

Yesterday’s petanque competition also saw the victory of Thai petanque triple team defeating their opponents from Malaysia 13-11.

The Thai team was made of Siriyanon Vacharachai, Sukarom Anupong, Kajorndechasak Atthaporn, Jaihao Methawat. Meanwhile the Malaysian team consisted of Abdul Muiz Abdul Razab, Mohamad Syahir Syahmi Hassan, Muhamad Nuzul Azwan Ahmad Temizi, and Mohd Azri Ramli.

Lao football players defend ball against Thai player at final match, km 16 National Stadium, yesterday.

The Lao male football team failed to win a gold medal, losing to Thai rival 2-0 at km 16 National Stadium, yesterday.

At the final match, at km 16 National Stadium was full of Lao football fans yesterday. The bronze medal was Malaysian football team who triumphed Myanmar 3-2.

The rank of Laos was fifth at the medal count table by winning 30 gold medals while the first rank was Malaysia with 60 gold medals, followed by Vietnam with 56 gold medals, Indonesia with 41 gold medals and Thailand with 39 gold medals.

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