Category Archives: opinion

Vientiane Hosts Vietnam’s Leader in Laos Ahead of US-DPRK Trump-Kim 2nd Nuclear Summit in Hanoi

Vietnam & Laos leaders meet in Vientiane ahead of US-DPRK Trump-Kim Nuclear Summit in Hanoi

The second US-DPRK summit on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula to be held between US president Donald Trump and North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un may be just days away in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi, yet the neighboring country’s top leader has taken the time to visit close neighbor Laos and its capital Vientiane.

Laos’ President and Party Secretary-General Bounnhang Vorachit played host to his Vietnamese counterpart Vietnam President Nguyen Phu Trong from Feb 24-25 ahead of what promises to be another momentous occasion for diplomacy, this time on the other side of the Annamite range.

According to many angles and the official statements, visit itself reflected the latest reaffirmation of the tight links between the two nations, administrations and ruling parties and chances to ink more bilateral deals. The visit also comes following the death in office of Vietnam’s Tran Dai Quang from a viral illness in September 2018.

As was expected, the pair witnessed the signing of nine agreements with the aim of fostering more effective cooperation in economics, culture, education, public health, science and technology, defense and security and to prevent illegal border trade.

Key themes included financial cooperation, construction of the Vientiane-Vung Ang railway, and electricity and mines development, according to a joint statement.

Amid the efforts to strengthen the two nations’ famed “special solidarity,” there is no doubt that discussed behind closed doors was this week’s momentous second so-called Trump-Kim summit and its ramifications for both countries, the region and the world.

The Second Summit sees ASEAN member Vietnam playing a pivotal role in the hosting of the summit following the initial meeting in Singapore.

Following on from the previous meet in Singapore, the strategic choice of Hanoi provides an example of Vietnams increasingly deep economic links to the US while maintaining its Marxist-Leninist single-party political institutions.

Playing host just a few days in advance in Vientiane, Lao leaders and senior officials could have expected to be briefed on the preparations for the summit which have also serve as the latest step in rapprochement between Hanoi and Washington, whose bilateral relationship has been on a long and steady improve despite the weight of war history.

With diplomats professionally tight-lipped and precious little being made public about the insights shared by Lao and Vietnamese sides on the topic, one is left to speculate on what was discussed about the prospects for Trump and Kim’s second big meeting.

The move comes after US State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told a news briefing that US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said US-Vietnamese history “reflects the possibility for peace and prosperity.”

“We moved past conflict and division towards the thriving partnership we enjoy today,” Mr Palladino said.

Naturally, a similar thing could be same about US-Laos relations.

So with Vietnam being held out by the US as exemplar-in-chief of the potential benefits for a single-party state like the DPRK to embrace the market and a locally-acceptable form of state-led capitalism, the time appears ripe for Laos neighbor to capture some long sought for concessions as the recently awarded granting of permission to Vietnam Airlines to access the US.

How could Vietnam (and the US) help Laos to benefit too? Or do we wait patiently for the announcement of a Trump-Kim Summit Mk III, with Air Force One and the DPRK’s most famous train passenger finding a timely connection to VTE, LPB, ZVK, PKZ or perhaps in the tubing in VV?

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

Journey From Resource Exploitation To Knowledge Economy A Long, Necessary Road in Laos

Development of Knowledge Economy A Must in Laos.

OPINION: What are you going to do when you grow up? It’s a question relevant to socio-economics as well as people as policymakers discuss “Vision 2020-2025”. 

It is a question many if not all of us will remember parents or elders asking when were kids.

“What are you gonna be when you grow up?”

Some of us knew already. Others had barely a clue.

A few see their future dreams come true. Others not so much. Even more just muddled through.

When it comes to posing this question, many of us of a certain age or older may well have reciprocated with the younger generations.

Perhaps, the need to make future considerations is one of the few constants in a rapidly changing world in some ways radically changed from that experienced by our ancestors just a few generations ago.

Yet one difference is that these days, it’s not only children that are being asked this question.

It’s a question being asked of entire countries.

The increasingly rapid,  landscape-shifting developments in technology and their positive and negative externalities at a time of increasing connectivity have a multitude of economic and social development implications for all nations of the world.

This is particularly relevant for a least developed country (LDC) such as Laos, still dealing with long-lasting legacies of colonialism and war plus persistent corruption issues while pushing toward an aspiration of lower-middle-income status.

This comes at a time of rapid automation and emergence of Artificial Intelligence that promises to upend employment globally in both East and West, North and South.

So in Laos as elsewhere, the nation’s policymakers and entrepreneurs alike look ahead in both anticipation and trepidation to a future of potential opportunity as well as challenges as the public and private sectors seek to manage risk and increased prosperity in an unknown world.

In the case of resource-abundant and sparsely populated Laos, natural resource exploitation to feed the demand of foreign markets has long been a necessity to raise funds for necessary imports.

Over time, mining and power development have provided steady yet fluctuating rivers of revenue that have long helped to float the nation’s budget that has also helped to pave more than a few roads, paid the modest salary of civil servants, teachers and medics and other necessary services as well as funding the construction of buildings and purchase of vehicles and their fuel.

Yet with natural limits in mind and with an eye to the longer term future of a still young populace, policymakers are increasingly cognizant that moves to an increasingly knowledge-based economy promise greater long term sustainability than banking on continued returns from natural resource exploitation.

A more human development focused strategy should also go some way toward more judicious use of the country’s remaining natural resources in the long term,  a welcome consideration considering the finite and already depleting extent of the country’s natural endowments of minerals, forests and river catchments.

Such topics are among those being aired in Vision 2020-25. Reported upon by state-run English language daily Vientiane Times recently, it is believed the document accompanied the latest 2019 installment of the nation’s socio-economic development plan that is being circulated among the policymaking fraternity for discussion.

It involves measures to continually improve the climate for doing business so as to facilitate quality investment from domestic and international sources.

A knowledge economy is one that draws on insights from the crowd, so Laotian Times looks forward to reporting more upon the contents of the Vision 2020-2025 as they are released.

Such moves come as the country’s PM Thongloun Sisoulith has urged improvements to Lao workforce skills, advising labor and social welfare authorities to deliver on the country’s labor skill development policy to help more Lao employees to benefit as their skills meet the needs of the job market.

The comments were made at the national labor and social welfare sector meeting that took place in late January at the National Convention Centre in Vientiane.

It also comes as the country moves to codify areas for investment in controlled sectors, laying out in a clear way the procedures and permissions necessary to invest.

The recent development of a civil code in the country, with the help of Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is also encouraging.

Such developments should all have a positive influence towards improving Laos scores on various international indices including the Ease of Doing business and Transparency International’s Corruption index.

When it comes to making a better and safer country, another area for major improvement remains road safety.

Laos’ young population has taken to the wheel, but the danger of the roads is very real as many do not have training, licenses or insurance.

Air quality is another area in which improvement is needed.

While the parlous state of air pollution neighboring nations has hit global headlines, Laos’ own capital and its many dusty rural towns can also undertake various measures to make the air better, including increased efforts to prevent and control the burning of household, garden, plastic and other wastes as prosperity grows.

Meanwhile, progress is being made on several indicators in health and education.

Of course, challenges remain abundant. Disparities are more than evident. Natural disasters are testing resilience. Accidents, whether on road or at Xe Pian Xe Namnoy, cause death and demoralization. Compensation, where available, is still no replacement for life and livelihood.

With such challenges, it might seem churlish to raise less life-threatening yet still very serious issues.

One such area so critical to the future of Laos like anywhere is as that of internet access, reliability and speed, as the data in World Bank’s February 4, 2019 report Digital Connectivity in Lao PDR: Lagging Behind Peers reveals.

How well will Laos be able to prioritise, optimise and engage on all these many challenges and make the most of opportunities to create a better future for its population together?

This will be important in achieving any of the goals the nation has set for itself.

When it comes to human financial and environmental capital, we can all do our part to move to a future where the country uses its limited resources and boost its human resources and knowledge capacity for the benefit of all of her people.

Authentic, Natural, Charming, Chill As Bloggers, New Media Explore Unpretentious, Indelible Mekong Moments in Southern Laos

Nature and Culture prove Timeless as Southern Laos Charms With Mekong Moments from Visit Laos Year 2018 and Beyond

Southern Laos: Could there be a more adventurous yet chilled, charming and unpretentious place in SE Asia for genuine, authentic, relaxing and inspiring #MekongMoments?

Like a rustic riverboat floating down the river around the bend into sight, the boatman and passengers sardonic smile a nod of recognition before continuing on its way, this part of multiethnic and deeply cultural Laos is at once revealing and elusive, genuine and intriguing, practical, straightforward and beguiling.

If you have spent time in this extraordinary country, you may well know exactly what I am talking about. It may go double for the easygoing south, home to a multitude of ethnic of whom the Katu are counted.

It may be just a murmur like a bubble of a brook, or a discovery waiting around the corner like a stunning waterfall.

For this writer, at least one foot has been firmly rooted in Laos’ capital Vientiane’s news media scene for the past few years.

The other? Always ready to set off on adventure north, south, east or west, of course!

On behalf of Laotian Times and my own media blog Laos Briefly, I’d be bringing our audience on a ride by joining a group of bloggers and new media to be Charmed by Nature, Southern Laos style.

So, it was with both anticipation that one prepared to take a leap of faith and flight via Lao Airlines from Vientiane’s Wattay Airport’s brand new domestic terminal to the charms of Pakse to meet the folk and reacquaint myself with the place I would be spending quality time with. Sabaideeeee!

It was already the business end of #VisitLaosYear 2018 festivities, an effort to attract more folk to experience one of South East Asia’s most authentic and allowing its chilled destinations to capture more hearts.

Now, I was back deep in Laos Simply Beautiful’s South with a smile on my face.

There was also a bit of trepidation. How would one’s musings gel with this group of funky adventurers from Australia, Canada, Nepal, Thailand, Pakistan, Switzerland, UK, and US and based in Bangkok and beyond?

Needless to say, there was a lot to learn and more fun to have as we all jumped in the deep end to experience the delights and adventures that await visitors to southern Laos.

If there was any doubt, sharing such experiences over a week was always gonna be fun with those behind blogs with titles like the Chow Traveller, The Roaming Cook, This is Mick, StellaBalcony, Anna Sherchand, Dose of Life, Gerber Photography and The Travelerz alongside local brethren We Are Lao.

Ancient and inclusive traditional VIP welcomes with garlands wandering around the ancient and historic pre-Angkorian temples of Vat Phou to trying to climb up a date palm like a sprightly 70-year-old sugar farmer.

 

Buddha at Vat Phu Champasak Temple Complex, UNESCO World Heritage Site #SouthernLaos #MekongMoments

Buddha at Vat Phu Champasak Temple Complex, UNESCO World Heritage Site #SouthernLaos #MekongMoments

Candles lit, luck wished and bonds created with gathering by proud provincial authorities.

Vice-Gubernatorial Welcome to Bloggers at in Champasak Grand Hotel

Vice-Gubernatorial Welcome to Bloggers at in Champasak Grand Hotel

Sipping coffee to get the heart started to blowing your mind ziplining across the face of a 220-metre waterfall.

Nodding off on a relaxing riverboat ride before being awoken to see a rare living treasure in the form of an endangered Irrawaddy dolphin.

These are just some of the extraordinary experiences and adventures that visitors to Southern Laos can experience and enjoy, and so we were!

From the elevated reaches, rich volcanic soils fueling the growth of coffee, tea and cascades of the Bolaven Plateau to the slow flow of the river around the 4000 islands, mighty rapids and calm dolphin pool of the Mekong’s lowest reach in Laos, the natural attractions abound in Southern Laos.

Fresh air and unbounded beauty await those whose lives are spent more in concrete jungles than rainforest canopies and sparsely inhabited tropical islands.

Speaking of flavor, the food! “Extraordinary!”

Drawing on a rich tapestry of ingredients found at various elevations, Lao cuisine has been emerging into the spotlight in recent years alongside its more famous neighbors, the trip’s keenest foodies gushed.

Like the cuisine, dance and music added flavor and color and sound to the experiences that are now fond memories.

Watching participants been drawn up and into the dance as full participants was another reminder of the inclusive strengths of Lao culture that adds another layer to the country’s experience on offer to travelers.

Picture wise, Southern Laos is also a photographer and videographers dream.

Early light Alms Giving to Monks and Bustle of the Markets.

Golden Buddhas.

Shimmering sunrises and sunsets.

Ever-evolving cloud formations over the Mekong.

All create scenes that make the heart flutter and prove a snappers dream come true.

Checking out blogs of aforementioned fellow adventurers and I have been transported way back to southern Laos once again!

#VisitLaosYear2018 #MekongMoments #SouthernLaos #CharmingByNatureOnline and in person, I would encourage you, dear reader, to do the very same whenever you get the chance in Southern Laos!

Nature and Culture prove Timeless as Southern Laos Charms With Mekong Moments from Visit Laos Year 2018 and Beyond

Nature and Culture prove Timeless as Southern Laos Charms With Mekong Moments from Visit Laos Year 2018 and Beyond

ULUVUS Simply Beautiful: Falang Lao Legends Breathe In, Rock Out In Time for Visit Laos Year 2018

Once more with Luv: ULUVUS for one night only Saturday 22 December 2018 at WINd-WEST

What can you say about ULUVUS?
A few years less ancient than Vat Phu (Wat Phou) Champassak;
Probably not as well preserved as the olde towne of Luang Prabang,
Mysterious and curious though somewhat less
 so than the Plain of Jars;
Beguiling like a tune from a secret admirer, yet not quite a Khaen.

Such aims, like a UNESCO World Heritage Listing, may lie somewhere between old news, overdue recognition, aspirational daydreams and due any moment, but in any case, how could you fault the ambition of these relative titans of the (admittedly diminutive) Falang Lao musical landscape, known collectively as ULUVUS.

ULUVUS: Like an Old Hand Back From A Distant BBQ, Ready to Rock!

Like Seasoned BBQ Hands Back From A Distant Char Grill, ULUVUS Ready to Rock!

What can be said with relative certainty is few more pallid a phalanx of menfolk have flown as true in the worthy attempt to give the invisible bamboo ceiling of popular culture success in Laos a real shake.

Performing in the Lao language inspired by the wit and guile of troubadours past, the oft uniformed gents gathered a following among local and international fans alike.

Now, they are back from distant points of the globe to the epicenter of Vientiane evening amusement known and loved by generations; WINd-WEST Pub.

Inscribed on the Indee Records imprint, the lads spent a few well-spent years of the late 00’s and early to mid 10’s in Laos, lighting up the stage more than a fair few times and put out more than a couple of music videos if Youtube is anything to go by.

ULUVUS – Ma dort ma den ma man ມາໂດດມາເຕັ້ນມາມັນ

LUV, Like, Share with your friends der! the new ULUVUS video!

Posted by ULUVUS on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 15 ກັນຍາ 2014

Gone but hardly forgotten and with a facebook page boasting no less than 36,000 likers (FB existed back then?!) they and their legions of aficionados call on fellow diehard fans and newbies alike, particularly those that fulfill the following criteria:

a) still alive in the physical sense;
b) of sound mind and body;
c) geographically proximate to WINd West Pub

to come out of the woodwork forthwith for this fully renovated if not reincarnated performance.

ULUVUS

ULUVUS perform boat racing festival way back in 2011

Like a flashback to another lifetime, you will be boasting old-time reminiscences with tall tales and rock hand signs to be to be hoist anew at the endless metaphorical BBQ of rock and roll.

Wao pasa lao bor dai ເວົ້າພາສາລາວບໍ່ໄດ້

ເວົ້າພາສາລາວບໍ່ໄດ້

Posted by ULUVUS on ວັນອາທິດ ທີ 5 ຕຸລາ 2014

Inequality, Disasters Risks to Development as Progress Pushed in Laos: UNDP

Tackling inequalities essential to Laos' Least Developed Country graduation.

Inequality, disaster risk key factors to overcome in Laos’ aspiration to shed Least Developed Country status by the revised target of 2024, says UNDP.


“Graduation from LDC status can happen by improving the education levels among our people who are healthy, live in a sustainable manner and have the creativity that fuels the innovation process and inclusive economic growth”.

– Dr Kikeo Chanthaboury, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment.

“The risk that unpredictable occurrences like natural disasters impact existing development gains is high. This pertains even to a high growth rate economy like Lao PDR” 

– UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr Balasubramaniam Murali.

Drivers of fancy sports cars in the latest fashion accessories rolling smoothly into the gated garages of elaborately-domed domiciles.
Thatched roofed bamboo shacks dwellers face long walks to everywhere on foot in flip-flops or perhaps a ride on the back of a tractor.
With a lot more in between, Laos’ certainly displays a wide range when it comes to material wealth.

While the gap in terms of goods is too not hard to spot in Laos, economic inequality also plays out critically in access to services including health and education.

The cumulative impact of inequality affects the opportunities available for the less prosperous in Laos.

Inequality is a key factor to overcome in Laos’ aspiration to shed its Least Developed Country Status by the revised target of 2024.

The country’s capacity to graduate from this status depends on the results of the efforts are being made to tackle these issues.

Fortunately, it seems the country is moving in the right direction in terms of better access to essential services.

Providing the latest on its internationally supported efforts to help the government address inequality in Laos, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has published a statement entitled:

As Lao PDR prepares for LDC Graduation, inequality has to be overcome: UNDP’s annual statistical update points out challenges and successes”.

Vientiane, 29 October 2018 – In light of UNDP’s latest statistical update on human development indices and indicators, launched recently, Lao PDR appears to be continuing on its path towards graduation from Least Developed Country status in 2024.

According to the update, Lao PDR’s Human Development Index (HDI) value which is calculated based on the life expectancy, level of education and income per capita of a country’s people, has increased by over 50 per cent since 1990.

In 2017, the country’s life expectancy reached 67 years, while the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita reported in 2018 is US$1996.

In order to graduate from Least Developed Country (LDC) status, Lao PDR needs to pass two of three thresholds.

The country’s GNI per capita and Human Assets Index (HAI) has reached the required eligibility value, whereas the target for the Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI) remains to be met. Lao PDR’s low resilience to shocks and instability remains a concern, particularly during a time, when various parts of the country are suffering from severe flooding.

According to UNDP’s statistics, inequality remains one of the major challenges in Lao PDR. When Lao PDR’s HDI value is adjusted for inequality, it decreases by over 26%.

The average decrease for other countries in the region is slightly over 15%. Vast inequalities are particularly alarming in a disaster situation, as people with low incomes and difficult access to services often struggle the most with recovery.

“The risk that unpredictable occurrences like natural disasters impact existing development gains is high,” UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr Balasubramaniam Murali said.

“This pertains even to a high growth rate economy like Lao PDR.”

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dr Kikeo Chanthaboury believes that the data concentrating on more than just economic scales is essential for sustainable and equitable development:

“UNDP’s human development data compilation and analysis helps us to forecast and plan a better future, especially when it comes to the quality of development,” Dr Kikeo said.

“If Lao PDR is to avoid the middle-income trap, among others, we have to find diversified avenues for growth, design strategies for continued economic transformation right from the start, and invest in transforming education and health systems in a way that will equip the labour force and whole population to continuously adapt.

“In particular, the graduation from LDC status can happen by improving the education levels among our people who are healthy, live in a sustainable manner and have the creativity that fuels the innovation process and inclusive economic growth”.

Currently, the inequality in education in Lao PDR is at 34%, which is close to the worldwide average for LDCs.

Lao PDR has, along with most of the developing world, taken major strides forward in almost all categories of human development over the past three decades.  

Remaining gaps in opportunities, achievements and empowerment are a key source of inequality in many developing countries.

Lao PDR’s process of moving towards LDC graduation will be strengthened even further when economic growth can be complemented by high-quality human development interventions.

– United Nations Development Programme in Lao PDR

Princess Runs Half Marathon For Kids Hospital in Laos’ Luang Prabang

Princess Beatrice of York in Laos

Once a capital and always a storied cultural centre in Laos, the town of Luang Prabang has long welcomed princesses, but never before in running shoes!

Keen runners and spectators familiar with the UK in the recent Luang Prabang Half Marathon for Children could be forgiven for taking a second glance among the field.

If they did, they might have noticed a royal visitor from England in their midst.

One of the runners raising money for kids’health in Laos’ north was the United Kingdom’s Princess Beatrice of York.

Daughter to Prince Andrew, she is the granddaughter of the long-serving monarch Queen Elizabeth II of England, who is sovereign to the four countries of the United Kingdom and a bevy of historically connected yet independent post-colonial nations including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and more across the Carribean, Pacific and Africa.

Images and insights from her adventures in Laos were shared via a Facebook page dedicated to the Princess.

UK's Princess Beatrice Runs the Luang Prabang Half Marathon

UK’s Princess Beatrice Runs the Luang Prabang Half Marathon

Her visit to Luang Prabang included a trip to the neonatal ward of the Lao Friends Hospital for Children to see the work being done to ensure more of Laos’ children get the very best start to life.

The visit also took in the capital Vientiane. A United Kingdom festival was held at Vientiane Center shopping Mall showcasing the nation’s offerings with a strong focus on the education sector.

UK's Princess Beatrice in Laos at That Luang Stupa

UK’s Princess Beatrice in Laos at That Luang Stupa

Aluna Thavansouk and HRH Princess Beatrice in Laos

Aluna Thavansouk and HRH Princess Beatrice in Laos (Aluna Thavansouk)

UK's Princess Beatrice and Laos' Tot Lina

UK’s Princess Beatrice and Laos’ Tot Lina performer and fashion model Tot Lina

During the trip, Beatrice experienced Laos’ culture including performances from contemporary artists Aluna Thavansouk and Tot Lina.

The extended visit to Laos is expected to provide dividends, raising the profile of the UK in Laos and vice versa to increase trade and investment in services, particularly education and tourism.

While the UK’s royal family is not permitted a participant role in the nation’s boisterous political debates in this modern era, the princess’ high profile yet relaxed visit could well be seen to be in keeping with the UK’s diplomatic efforts as the nation seeks to bolster relationships with the world as it navigates the choppy waters closer to home of United Kingdom’s proposed exit from the EU (commonly known as Brexit).

The UK’s assistance to Laos includes the prestigious Chevening Scholarship program.

 

 

Laos Has Not Restricted Foreign Media in Attapeu

Laos has not restricted foreign media

A little more than a week has passed since the collapse of Saddle Dam D at the Xe-Pian Xe-Nam Noy Dam on July 23, and rescuers continue to search for victims of the disaster, while aid has flooded in both domestically and from abroad.

News of the incident has been widely reported by Lao state media as well as international media, and coverage by Thai news agencies has been particularly extensive.

During the initial confusion following the disaster, some news sources made claims that foreign media were denied access to the site, saying visas were refused or reporters were turned away.

Media visas were initially unable to be issued during the uncertainty following the incident and when the extent of the danger remained unknown. By the 27th of July, however, a registration zone had been set up in Sanamxay District where members of the press, both Lao and foreign, could register and receive a press pass.

 

 

Thai Channel 3 reporter, Ms Thapanee Letsrichai, released a video on YouTube explaining that foreign media had been granted full access to the disaster area in Attapeu, and were being registered on site. In her video, Ms Thapanee mentions a simple registration process involving verification of a press ID and passport. She goes on to say that no fees were required as part of this process.

The Lao PDR offers an M-B2 visa type, which is provided to foreign journalists who wish to cover events in Laos. Applications for the M-B2 visa can be made at a Lao consulate abroad or on arrival in Laos. More information can be found at the Lao Department of Immigration website.