Category Archives: breaking news

Max Mara vs Laos’ Oma: Alleged Fashion Design Theft Dispute Pushes Petition To 5,000

Max Mara vs Laos' Oma petition approaches 5,000

The ongoing design-related dispute involving Italian-based fashion house Max Mara, Laos’ ethnic Oma people Luang Prabang’s Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre over the alleged unauthorized use of traditional ethnic textile motifs from the remote ethnic community in the firm’s fashion offerings is heating up with an online petition reaching 5,000 signatures.

The petition entitled “Urge Max Mara to pull plagiarised ethnic Oma designs from their stores”  was posted on the popular site

The Laotian Times reported on the dispute earlier this month in the article “Max Mara vs Laos’ Oma Ethnic Group: Fashion Chain Facing Claims of Textile Plagiarism, Design Theft“.

Now, an online petition via to the owner of the Fashion Chain Max Mara was approaching 5,000 signatures as of 10 am Monday April 22 in Laos (UTC+7).

Max Mara has gone silent. It’s been over a week since we sent our last letter, and since then, our petition…

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນອາທິດ ທີ 21 ເມສາ 2019

“Clearly, consumers and the general public feel that harvesting and profiting from the creative work of others, particularly ethnic minority groups in developing countries, is wrong, and allowing it to go unchecked sets a dangerous precedent,” the letter from TAEC to Luigi Maramotti, Chairman of Max Mara, states.

“As the chairman of your privately-owned company, we are now reaching out to you directly. Please demonstrate ethical and moral leadership in the fashion and textile industry.”

“We ask that you pull this line from your stores, online shop, and resellers, issue a public statement committing to not plagiarise in the future, and lastly, donate the proceeds earned from the sales of these designs to an organisation of your choice that works to the protect the rights of ethnic artisans around the world.”

     VS  Max Mara

Efforts to raise awareness to the plight of the intellectual property of some of Laos most remote communities is being spearheaded by the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre of Luang Prabang.

The Petition started by TAEC and addressed to Max Mara Chairman Luigi Maramotti and Designer Director Laura Lusuardi states:

“Max Mara, a billion dollar Italian fashion house, plagiarised traditional designs of the Oma ethnic minority group from Laos.

“This is not the first time that a fashion brand has copied or appropriated designs of an ethnic group from developing countries, and past experience has shown that these companies are only likely to respond when faced with public pressure and negative press.

“Max Mara digitally duplicated and printed the designs onto fabric, reducing painstaking, traditional motifs to factory-produced patterns.

“The colors, composition, shapes, and even placement are identical to the original Oma designs. The company has not acknowledged the Oma in marketing, labeling, or display of the collection in its stores and online shop, nor has compensation been paid.

Max Mara vs Laos' Oma petition approaches 5,000

Max Mara vs Laos’ Oma petition approaches 5,000

“The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre is calling for Max Mara to (1) pull the clothing line from its stores and online, (2) publicly commit to not plagiarising designs again, and (3) donate 100% of the proceeds already earned from the sale of these garments to an organisation of its choice that advocates for the intellectual property rights of ethnic minorities. More information can be found on TAEC’s Facebook page.

“A largely agrarian community, the Oma live in the remote mountains northern Laos, northwestern Vietnam and southern China.

“Their exact population and number of villages is difficult to establish, as they are often grouped as part of the larger Akha ethnic group. However, it is estimated that in Laos there are fewer than 2,000 Oma across seven villages.

“Traditional clothing is still a vital part of the identity and pride of Oma people — handspun, indigo-dyed garments with vibrant red embroidery and applique is distinctive and unique to their group.

“In recent years, Oma women have begun to earn income through the sale of their distinctive crafts. In remote communities with few economic opportunities, these earnings are vital, and used towards improved nutrition, health, and education for their families.

“Founded in 1951 by Italian Achille Maramotti, Max Mara Fashion Group has grown into an international fashion powerhouse with over 2,200 stores in 105 countries and an online shop.

In 2017, Max Mara Fashion Group recorded global sales of €1.558 billion, across all brands. Unlike most couture houses which are publicly traded or held by multinational corporations, Max Mara Fashion Group is privately-held and helmed by Luigi Maramotti, CEO and a member of the original founding family.

“This is not an example of simple cultural appropriation, where designers utilize ‘ethnic-inspired’ elements, colors, materials, or styling, toeing the murky line between appreciation and appropriation.

“This is stealing the work of artisans who do not have the tools to fight it on their own,” states Tara Gujadhur, Co-Founder of the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC), a social enterprise founded to celebrate and promote Laos’ ethnic cultural heritage and support rural artisans.

“TAEC’s small team based in Luang Prabang, Laos, is working to draw attention to Max Mara Fashion Group’s negligent behavior. Upon discovering the company’s plagiarism purely by chance on 2 April 2019, they sent repeated emails and messages to Max Mara’s headquarters, with no response.

“As a result, TAEC took to social media to amplify their message. The company finally responded on 10 April, but has not issued any apology or admitted their mistake, simply demanding the campaign cease, and then threatening potential legal action.

“A design is intellectual property, whether it’s sketched in a notebook by an illustrator, mocked up by a graphic designer on a computer, or embroidered on indigo-dyed cotton in a remote village in Laos.

“If it’s generally understood that using someone’s photography or written work without acknowledgment or permission is wrong, why would a handcrafted textile design be any different?” states Gujadhur.

“For this behavior to go unchecked is dangerous, as it sends the message that creative work that is traditional and shared by a community and culture in the developing world does not deserve the same kind of protections given to contemporary designs by individual ‘artists’ in the West. Companies can harvest motifs, materials, and ideas freely from communities that lack the educational, financial, and technological resources to have their rights recognized,” elaborates Gujadhur.

TAEC began working with the Oma in Nanam Village in 2010, when the organization was hired by a German development agency to survey their crafts and identify potential income-generating opportunities for the community. Since then, TAEC has helped Nanam to create more market-oriented products, such as pouches, cuffs, and wine bottle sleeves, generating much-needed cash for the women artisans and their families.

“The handicrafts are sold in TAEC’s museum shops in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Laos’ few cities that draws significant international tourism. Currently, TAEC works with over 30 communities across Laos, with fifty percent of the proceeds from their shops flowing directly to artisans.

TAEC has spoken to Khampheng Loma, the headman of Nanam Village, and not surprisingly, he was somewhat unclear about the issue. “The artisans we work with live in a very remote community, so their life experience is completely removed from issues of intellectual property rights. However, we will continue to discuss it with them, as we recognise this as an important, long-term process,” according to Thongkhoun Soutthivilay, TAEC’s Co-Director, who works closely with the Oma women on handicraft production.

“Each motif has a special meaning,” Loma shared. “Our tradition of embroidery makes us who we are. In our culture, you have to know how to embroider to be able to call yourself Oma.”


Laos Criminalizes Animal Abuse in Updated Penal Code

Laos ​Penal Code Criminalizes Animal Abuse

Laos has added a new section to its penal code that criminalizes animal abuse.

This section appears in the latest version of the country’s penal code, which was promulgated by the Lao Government on November 18, 2018.

Article 353 of the updated penal code states that individuals who abuse or mistreat animals, including acts such as ​incarceration without food or water, use of animals for labor without adequate rest, severe beatings, transportation in substandard conditions, cruel slaughter of animals, or the use of poison against animals, will face imprisonment or fines of between 500,000 kip to 3,000,000 kip.

Repeat offenders will face imprisonment from three months to one year, and be fined up to 10,000,000 kip.

The new addition to the penal code demonstrates a shift in attitudes toward animals, and will assist in ensuring the protection of animals against abuse.

While animal abuse is commonplace in some sectors of society, the inclusion of animal protection in the penal code will give law enforcement officers the authority to punish those who abuse animals, or those who overwork animals used for labor.

If adequately enforced, the new law could affect popular cultural pastimes such as cock fighting, or the abuse of animals for tourism purposes. Meanwhile, the law may be used as further ammunition against the trade in dog meat or that of wild animals. 

According to an official at the People’s Supreme Court contacted by the Laotian Times, any act of animal abuse may be reported directly to the Criminal Investigation Division of the relevant district.


Photo: Captured Abroad

Travel Plans? Laos Set to Provide eVisa From June 2019

Laos EVisa Program Planned for June Implementation

Laos has announced it will begin offering electronic visas (eVisa) to foreign tourists and travelers from June this year.

Establishment of the eVisa program will commence in mid-2019, according to a Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs notice issued earlier this month dated March 11.

Laos' eVisa plans announced in note issued via Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Laos’ eVisa plans announced in note issued via Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The move comes as the government takes steps to modernize and ensure visa procedures are faster and more convenient for tourist visa applicants, according to the notice.

It is also another means by which the government hopes to attract more tourism to the country.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs consular office is working with all other ministries and departments to ensure the comprehensive and timely development of the eVisa program.

The eVisa program, it is hoped, will allow foreign visitors greater access to information and more convenience in visa processing, and will assist in making the country more widely known among tourists.

It comes as policymakers and the private sector seek to capitalize on the benefits of improved connectivity and widen the range of offerings to attract valuable tourism and travel-related income and investment.

© The Laotian Times


Haze of Smog Hovers over Laos’ Capital, Citizens Concerned about Health Risks

Smog Descends upon Laos

An unhealthy haze of smog has descended upon the capital city of Vientiane and air pollution has been noted in several other provinces around Laos.

Concerned local and international residents have been monitoring the situation, posting online their own amateur updates on the local levels of atmospheric particulate matter (PM) using measuring devices.

These measurements tell a similar tale. Air quality in the past few days appears to have reached dangerous levels for human health.

While the Lao government has not yet made any announcement regarding the smog, the Laotian Times office was able to contact the Pollution Management Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

According to officials at the department, unhealthy levels of pollution have been detected. However,  they state it is expected that within two or three days the situation will have improved.

Condominiums at That Luang Marsh SEZ almost invisible due to smog

Condominiums at That Luang Marsh SEZ almost invisible due to smog

The major source of the smog is said to be a forest fire in Sangthong District, Vientiane Capital, which has now been extinguished.

Lao citizens and foreign residents alike have voiced concerns about the smog, and social media has been flooded with information of varying reliability.

Many have taken to purchasing their own air quality reading devices, and many have looked to Thai websites for information on how best to deal with the problem at home.

It follows a famous case of dangerous smog that was reported in Bangkok this February, with schools closing and workplaces shut down due to particulate matter levels at PM2.5 (referring to particularly dangerous particulates measuring 2.5 micron in diameter or less).

Thailand’s Chiang Mai has also been hit with smog this month and was forced to ground flights, and was believed to be world’s most polluted city in terms of air quality for three days running.

This situation was monitored closely by people in Laos, who have raised questions as to why schools and workplaces have not been given any instructions by the authorities here.

Meanwhile, the possibility of rain over the next few days could provide some respite for the capital, if not the other provinces depending on where it falls.

Photo: Aleqs Log

Snakes on A Pier! Smuggled Serpents Intercepted En Route from Thailand to Laos in Their Thousands

Snakes Seized in Mukdahan, Thailand (The Nation)

Bound for a liquor-infused finale of serpentine-inspired, aphrodisian fantasies (fallacies?), the disruption of a criminal smuggling racket in Thailand’s Mukdahan Province has led to a lucky escape for more than 2,700 snakes all set to be smuggled cross-border bound for Laos and apparently some horny drinkers and all-too-hopeful Cassanovas beyond.  

The sizeable seizure of snakes worth about a million baht (US32,000 or 275 million Lao Kip) reportedly netted some 182 baskets containing 2,730 rat snakes and cobras headed to Laos from Thailand via a long tail boat.

The smuggling operation was intercepted as the illicit slithering cargo was about to be shipped across the river from Thailand into Laos.

Thailand’s The Nation reported that checkpoint head Sathit Pisaisawat led the snake seizure effort that included his own officers plus those of Surasakmontree Military Camp’s task force and the Navy’s Mukdahan’s Mekong Patrol Operation Command at 8.30pm on Sunday evening.

The seizure on Thailand’s side of the shared border occurred at Ban Bang Sai Noi pier in Mukdahan’s Wan Yai district.

The successful disruption reportedly followed a tip-off regarding the planned smuggling operation.

It was reported that from surveillance, some 3-4 persons were seen to be moving what appeared to be plastic baskets with closed lids from a pick-up truck onto the pier for transport by long-tail boat. The persons scattered upon the approach of authorities.

Some 15 live snakes were found inside a net sack in each basket.

These were seized as evidence as the search for those involved continues. Should they be caught, suspects should expect to be charged with having wildlife in their possession without permission and importing wildlife without permission under Thailand’s Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act 1992, it was reported.

In Laos, the snakes could be expected to be on-sold to Chinese intermediaries in order to make alcoholic beverages produced by infusing whole snakes in grain liquor.

The product is believed to be sold to those who believe it may cure what ails them (or their beloved).

Wildlife Crime

Wildlife Crime is not a Victimless Venture

Frivolity aside, cross-border wildlife smuggling is a serious crime in the region, as Laotian Times reported in February 2018.

Those with information of such incidences are encouraged to report any suspicious activities to authorities.

Organizations like IUCN, WWF and WCS and more are also engaged on the issues and welcome reports of suspected crimes.

Those on Facebook can engage with the issue via the Campaign to Abolish the Illegal Wildlife Trade in Laos.

Everytime you buy... Nature pays
Every time you buy... Nature pays

Every time you buy… Nature pays!

The Vientiane Village Chief Stamping Out Garbage Fires

Village Chief of Sangveuy Stamps out Garbage Fires

Each and every morning, the loudspeakers in Vientiane’s Sangveuy Village, of Sisattanak District, can be heard sending out a special message from the Village Chief, Mr Oudomxay Sisomphone.  His message is clear and concise: stop burning garbage, and stop littering. A breath of fresh air to some, and a stern warning to others.

Mr Oudomxay, who gave an interview to the Lao Post, says he decided to take real action against the problem of garbage fires in order to clean up the air in his local area, and encourage villagers to take care of their health.  And he says the law is on his side.

Regulations against the practice have been issued, including Instruction by the Mayor of Vientiane, No. 002/MV, and several notices issued by the Head of Sisattanak District, as well as the official village regulations. According to these regulations, the burning of household waste is prohibited across Vientiane Capital. But many villages are unwilling or unable to deal with the problem.

“I like to keep my village clean. And the village authorities in my village take air pollution very seriously,” says Mr Oudomxay.

“This problem is only getting worse. Fumes from garbage fires are one factor contributing to pollution, and are a nuisance for people nearby who may experience difficulty breathing. This is also a major fire risk.”

Sangveuy village holds regular clean-up sessions on Saturday mornings, when residents gather together to pick up garbage and clean the village.  Areas of dense scrub are also cleared to make the village more attractive.

“We’ve had many foreign residents coming to our office to lodge complaints because these fires are harmful to their health, especially to children. I want all residents of Sangveuy, whether foreign or local, to live in a healthy and sanitary environment,” said Mr Oudomxay.

Mr Oudomxay says his village has also commenced an inspection and education program for offenses related to littering or burning waste. He has put measures in place to punish those found guilty, including monetary fines, and regularly checks for villagers flouting the rules.

He encourages all residents of Vientiane to take a stand against air pollution, and report incidents to local authorities.

Photo: Lao Post

Laos’ First Real Estate Expo Expecting To Draw 40+ Firms To 2-Day Fiesta

via & LNCCI. Laotian Times, Lao Post, Champa Meuang Lao among the media partners.

The first real estate investment expo in Laos is set to open eyes, hearts, dreams, and pocketbooks at Don Chan Palace Hotel on Friday & Saturday, March 1-2 2019.

Open to attendance from the public with free entry, Patrons will not only have a chance to eye off some the nation’s best property deals, but go in the draw to win international flight packages and a host of other prizes., in partnership with the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) and Laos’ leading online marketplace,, is excited to announce it will be hosting the event.

The Expo 2019 is set to bring together Laos’ top property developers, architects, builders, real estate agencies, plot land vendors, banks offering home loans, insurance companies, law firms, and even international property investments.

The Laotian Times, Lao Post and Champa Meuang Lao magazine were among media partners in attendance at the launch.

More than 40 firms will exhibit in one room, for two days only, and the event is expecting over 3000 local and international attendees. Laos’ best luxury car brands and related businesses will also exhibit at the entrance of the event.

On top of a variety of property offerings, the Expo will also offer attendees access to a dedicated free seminar room with over 20 seminars from Laos’ leading real estate agents, property development experts, economists, lawyers, financiers, and Government officials.

Various international guests will present in the seminar room, to take a look at Laos’ real estate market in a regional context.

Seminars are focussed on educating buyers and sellers on the Lao investment climate, regulation, pitfalls, and upsides of the sector, and advice for first both first home and experienced buyers.

A special guest confirmed for the event is Dr. Somchai Charoenvarakiet, a Thai Feng Shui Real Estate consultant of over 20 years.

Dr. Somchai is set to offer his insights on how to maximize the positive energy of their home or office through Feng Shui design techniques.

All seminars will be translated via headsets in Lao, English and Chinese languages.

For the first time in the country’s history, all the big names from the Lao real estate industry will be together under one roof.

This presents a perfect opportunity for local buyers and international investors to survey the country’s best property opportunities.

Property sellers and financiers will also bring special expo-only promotions to guests.

 “The LNCCI is proud to be a partner of the first ever specialised real estate investment expo in Laos,” Vice President of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), Mr. Daovone Phachanthavong, told the media gathered at the launch.

“Ultimately, events such these will develop the whole sector and the wider economy, sharing information, best practices, business connections and generating a wider consumer base for exhibitors and sponsors, across both local and international networks.”

“This exciting event will provide the perfect platform to celebrate Laos’ real estate industry and to showcase the opportunities this market has to offer to both end-buyers and investors,” Mr Dominick Williams, Chief Executive Officer of APA Insurance Laos (Phongsavanh Insurance (APA) Co., Ltd), the main sponsor and key partner of the Expo 19 alongside the LNCCI, and, told the gathering.

“Ultimately this will support the progress of the Laos real estate sector and the economy as a whole. As a leading local provider of property and construction insurance, as well as mortgage protection insurance, APA Insurance is delighted to support Expo as partner and main sponsor, and we very much look forward to welcoming guests to Don Chan on March 1st and 2nd, 2019”.

“The 2019 Expo is a great platform for property related businesses to generate leads and increase sales, it also represents a chance to celebrate the local real estate industry and give businesses an opportunity to strengthen their brand.” Mr. James Whitehead, CEO of &, said.

“For our attendees, we are offering a unique opportunity to view a range of property investment options in one room, over 2 days; ranging from plot land options, houses, villas, condos, construction firms, architectural designers, and property services and advice.

“First home buyers will also benefit from a range of home loan options, and specific legal and insurance advice.

“Those seeking international investment, travel, immigration and education options will also benefit from a range of exhibitors advertising opportunities in destinations such as Australia, USA, Europe, Malaysia, and Thailand – to name a few.

“The dedicated seminar room will offer a perfect and totally free opportunity for potential property buyers to learn about taxes, valuations, land laws, investment considerations, market trends and how to finance a home safely, among many other topics. We will have over 20 local and international speakers in the seminar section, over the two-day event.

“The event is now over 70% sold out for exhibitors and sponsors, thanks to a huge effort from the sales and marketing team, and we have already registered over 1300 local and international guests to join us next month.”

Digital Classified Group (DCG), the Australian-based parent company of &, is bringing the real estate show concept to Laos after having successfully ran similar expos in several other markets internationally, including Cambodia and Papau New Guinea.

It is boasting a track record of well over USD $80 million worth of property sales at those various events, 30,000 attendees and over 200+ exhibitors.

The event will also be supported through a wide array of Lao and international media partners, including major local media channels both on and offline, Lao’s most prominent business chambers, and an array of investor networks across ASEAN and in China.

Digital Classified Lao Sole Co., Ltd., the Lao subsidiary of Digital Classified Group, would like to extend the utmost thanks to our partners of the first ever Expo, namely the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment & APA Insurance.

Those wanting to supercharge their brand and business connections are urged to sign up for a booth.

Lao Real Estate Expo 2019

To become an exhibitor or sponsor and take your real estate brand to the next level, visit or contact: +856 20 55 550 906 |

Attendees are  encouraged to register as soon for event updates and prizes vis to sign up for free entry and RSVP on Facebook:

Sponsors include APA Insurance, provider of property and construction insurance, Archineer Associates, Architecture, Engineering and Consultancy firm; Aristo Developers, Property Developing companies in Cyprus, and Bluegrass Design Group and Guru Group, end-to-end marketing companies.

Additional Partners & Media include American-Lao Business Association, The European Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Laos, Austcham Lao,, Bizgital, ECCIL (The European Business Chamber), The Laotian Times & LaoPost, Talatlao magazine,, Champa Meuanglao Magazine, J&C Services, 108 Jobs, cvConnect, Kiwipay, Silkroad Media and Big Blue.

The Laotian Times reporting on real estate issues and stories can be found here.

via & LNCCI. Laotian Times, Lao Post, Champa Meuang Lao among the media partners.

Lao Real Estate Expo 2019
via & LNCCI. Laotian Times, Lao Post, Champa Meuang Lao among the media partners.

Words + Laotian Times; Images + Laos Briefly

Luang Namtha, Phongsaly Feeling Earth Move As M4+ Quakes Detected

Earth tremors in Laos north have been reported, with another quake of some 4.0 felt in the early hours of January 16 in Luang Namtha Province according to Thailand’s Meteorological Agency.

Earth tremors in Laos north have been reported, with another quake of some 4.0 felt in the early hours of January 16  in Luang Namtha Province.

The data detections come via Thailand’s Meteorological Agency seismologists, with confirmations made by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Laos.

The quake was detected at 21.11 ° N, 101.58 ° E at 0:26 local time.

It followed a smaller 3.0 tremor at 18:38 local time nearby in Luang Namtha’s Ban Tintok (21.15°N , 101.64°E).

These followed a 4.9M quake was detected on January 10 in Ban Nateuy, Luang Namtha.

Another earthquake calculated at Magnitude 4.7 centered under Phongsaly province’s village of Ban Ngay Neua was detected Monday evening of January 14, an official notice confirmed.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment notice, the tremor at 17:54 measured a magnitude of 4.7 on the Richter Scale Ban Ngay Neua Village, Phongsaly Province (21.85N 101.91E) with no reports of damage.


Magnitude 4.9 Quake in Phongsaly

Magnitude 4.9 Quake in Phongsaly

Earth tremors in Laos north have been reported, with another quake of some 4.0 felt in the early hours of January 16 in Luang Namtha Province according to Thailand’s Meteorological Agency.