Heavy-handed actions crushing villagers

The intensified crackdown on encroachment and logging by the military regime has dealt a heavy blow to villagers who live in harmony with nature in protected forest areas, while leaving most influential big timber businesses unscratched.

The suppression followed two orders issued in 2014 by the National Council for Peace and Order designed to protect and reclaim the forests and which impose harsh punishment for encroachment on protected areas and for illegal logging.

Community rights clause not fooling anyone

The right of citizens and communities to protect the environment against harmful development projects is now back in the draft constitution, thanks to fierce pressure by civil society nationwide. So people can relax now, right? Not a chance.

Face it. The military regime is in it for the long haul. Their diktats are the ultimate rules of the land. The community rights clause in the draft will be of no help because it has also been heavily diluted, turning active citizens and communities into state vassals.

Megaprojects 'will go ahead'

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith has assured investors the ministry's 20 infrastructure projects will go ahead as planned following the military regime's latest order to allow state authorities to "fast-track" mandatory environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for state projects.

Mr Arkhom said he has reassured the participating investors that all 20 megaprojects worth 1.796 trillion baht will be implemented by the government.

Govt defends NCPO’s order no. 9/2559

BANGKOK, 13 March 2016 (NNT) – The government has defended order no. 9/2559 recently issued by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), saying that it will boost the country’s economy.

Government spokesman Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the NCPO’s order no. 9/2559 was actually meant to promote the well-being of the public through government mega-projects and a revamp of disaster prevention and mitigation.

Myanmar races ahead as we back-pedal

All eyes have been on Myanmar this week as it finally voted a new president, Htin Kyaw, into office, in so doing becoming the latest debutante into the democratic club. A close aide (for many he is a proxy) of democracy icon Aug San Suu Kyi, who is blocked from taking up the role due to constitutional hurdles, Htin Kyaw is the first civilian leader of the country since 1962.

The new Myanmar government faces high expectations. We know the multi-ethnic country of 60 million, with chronic problems of ethnic tensions, will not turn into a fully fledged democratic society overnight.

Revoke Article 44, say NGOs

A MASSIVE coalition of 60 civil society groups have urged the government to refrain from exercising special powers under Article 44 of the interim charter, which recently allowed major development projects to bypass proper Environme-ntal Impact Assessments (EIAs).

At yesterday's panel discussion on the issue, non-government organisations (NGOs) also warned that conflicts with affected communities could result in violence.

NCPO dead wrong in ignoring the EIA process

LAST WEEK Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as the head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), issued an order that will result in cutting lengthy development procedures for some state projects so preparations for construction can be controversially carried out parallel to environmental impact assessments (EIA’s).

That practice contradicts what is stated in the Environmental Promotion and Protection Act.

The preparation for a project before it has received an EIA could proceed with Cabinet endorsement.