Tag Archives: cooperation

Japan x Sabai: Sounds, Sights, Tastes, Smiles, Friendship a Feast at Tokyo’s Laos Festival ’19

Laos Festival 2019 Celebrated in Tokyo, Japan May 25-26, 2019

Dancing, Friendship, Frivolity & Unmistakable Sound of World Heritage Listed Bamboo-Piped Khaen Among the Greetings to Tokyo’s Famous Yoyogi Park for Japan’s Laos Festival 2019, The Laotian Times reports.

Max Mara vs Laos’ Oma Ethnic Group: Fashion Chain Facing Claims of Textile Plagiarism, Design Theft

Oma People of Laos versus Max Mara in Plagiarism, Design Theft Claim

The Laotian Times looks at the plagiarism accusations lodged against fashion chain Max Mara by the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre. In doing so, we also welcome the chance to publish Max Mara’s response to these claims as soon as they become available.

Alleged plagiarism of traditional designs of ethnic minority groups has hit the headlines in Laos with Italian born private fashion chain being accused of pilfering the property of the Oma people, an ethnic group who reside in the mountainous north and north-east of South East Asia’s multiethnic Laos.

No mention of origin. Products promoted on Max Mara Weekend Zagreb Instagram. #MaxOma Direct link:https://www.instagram.com/p/BvqktKiHM6A/(update: Max Mara has taken down this social media post!)

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

Weekend MaxMara Zagreb

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

Social media shares have hit the thousands for the underdog story of the year as the diminutive cultural community of a small number of villages goes into bat against global fashion giant Max Mara after the discovery of the alleged design theft in Croatia.

The campaign calls 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 that advocates for the intellectual property rights of ethnic minorities.

Side by side comparison. #MaxOma

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

Multi-million dollar fashion brand Max Mara is exploiting cultural designs and heritage of the Oma, an isolated ethnic minority group in northern Laos, without any acknowledgment or compensation, Luang Prabang’s Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre alleges.

No mention of origin of the "ethnic print" or the Oma on their website. #MaxOma

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

“Our grandparents passed down these traditions to our parents, and our parents to us. We are the Oma people, and we preserve our culture by making and wearing our traditional clothes. We need them especially for funeral rites, out of respect to our ancestors.” – Khampheng Loma, Head of Nanam Village

Campaigning alongside Laos’ Oma people is the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre in UNESCO World Heritage Listed Luang Prabang.

In fact, it was the discovery of the alleged examples of appropriation by the centre’s staff in far-away Croatia that has led to the accusations against the fashion giant.Lauren Ellis, former employee of Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre and current museums curator based in Melbourne.

Side by side comparison. #MaxOma

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

Her reaction when she discovered the Max Mara collection in one of the brand’s stores in Zagreb, Croatia?

“I had to do a double take. It was only because I had worked in Laos that I immediately recognized the designs as Oma. They had copied the patterns exactly. I couldn’t believe that this major brand would sell such blatantly stolen designs.” 

Now, together the Oma and the TAEC are highlighting appropriation of the owners’ intellectual property following alleged Infringements by the Italian-founded fashion chain Max Mara.



Working with embroidery and applique is very challenging. Each motif is difficult and time-consuming to make. But, this is our tradition. Now, we can make products to sell to help support our families.” – Khampheng Loma, Head of Nanam Village

Side by side comparison. #MaxOma

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

The handmade textiles of the Oma are incredibly detailed, taking a huge amount of time, skill, and patience. To see them reduced to a printed pattern on a mass-produced garment is heartbreaking.” – Tara Gujadhur, TAEC Co-Director

Side by side comparison. #MaxOma

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

“The issue here is not the integration of Oma motifs in a more globalized world through the collection of Max Mara,” Dr. Lissoir said.

Cultures are fluid. Communities and their traditions and handicrafts are in constant change. They adapt themselves and get inspired by other cultures. Always have, always will.

However, Max Mara didn’t get inspired by Oma motifs and reinterpret them. They simply scanned a handmade piece and printed it on clothes without even mentioning the existence of Oma community.

This is not cultural appreciation. This is not creative interpretation. This is plagiarism.”

 

TAEC’s full statement reads:

“ITALIAN FASHION BRAND MAX MARA PLAGIARISES DESIGNS OF ETHNIC MINORITY GROUP IN LAOS”

“Multi-million dollar fashion brand Max Mara is exploiting cultural designs and heritage of the Oma, an isolated ethnic minority group in northern Laos, without any acknowledgement or compensation, Luang Prabang’s Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre alleges.

Max Mara Fashion Group, a multi-billion dollar Italian couture fashion house plagiarised traditional designs of the Oma ethnic minority group in their Spring/Summer 2019 collection.

The patterns appeared in dresses, skirts and blouses presented in the collection’s “Max Mara Weekend” resort line.

The Oma, a small ethnic community living in the hills of Phongsaly Province in northern Laos, embroider, stitch, and appliqué these colorful designs onto their traditional clothing, including head scarves, jackets, and leg wraps.

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

The colours, composition, shapes, and even placement, are identical to the original Oma designs. Max Mara’s design and marketing team has not acknowledged or compensated the Oma in marketing, labeling, or display of the collection in their stores and online shop, nor have they responded to urgent enquiries on the issue.

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 million, 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.

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, is Tara Gujadhur.

“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,” Gujadhur said.

“This is stealing the work of artisans who do not have the tools to fight it on their own,”

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, they sent repeated emails and messages to Max Mara’s headquarters, with no response.

As a result, TAEC is now taking to social media to amplify their message and enlist the public’s support.

A call for action is being shared from TAEC’s Facebook and Instagram page (@taeclaos), where photo comparisons of the products can be found, as well.

“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?,” Gujadhur said.

“Over the past three decades, protecting the intellectual property rights of the third world and indigenous peoples has become recognized as crucial, although how this should be done is much more debatable. We are looking at ways to assist the communities we work with to tackle this issue.”

“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.”

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 recognize 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 said.

“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.”

TAEC’s campaign to draw attention to this issue is now live, using Facebook, Instagram, and influencers across platforms to call out Max Mara’s plagiarism.

The campaign calls 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 that advocates for the intellectual property rights of ethnic minorities.

The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC) is a local social enterprise founded in 2006 to promote the appreciation and transmission of Laos’ ethnic cultural heritage and livelihoods based on traditional skills.

The Centre’s primary activities are two-fold: a museum, and fair-trade handicrafts shops directly linked with artisan communities. The Centre’s work includes school outreach activities, craft workshops, lectures, research, and a non-profit foundation.

What did Max Mara do?

Max Mara used traditional designs of the Oma ethnic minority group in their Spring/Summer 2019 collection for the “Max Mara Weekend” clothing line, without acknowledgment, and likely without permission or compensation. Oma women embroider, stitch, and appliqué these designs onto their traditional clothing, including head scarves, jackets, and leg wraps. Max Mara had these designs digitally duplicated and printed onto fabric, reducing painstaking, traditional motifs to factory-produced patterns. The colors, composition, shapes, and even placement are identical to the Oma designs.

Who are the Oma?

The Oma are a small ethnic group living in mainland Southeast Asia. They speak a language belonging to the Sino-Tibetan ethnolinguistic family, like the Akha – a community more numerous and widely recognized by the general public. While Oma are often described as a sub-group of Akha ethnic group (and called “Akha Oma”), many consider themselves a distinct community. This association with the Akha makes the exact population and number of villages of the Oma difficult to pin down. However, it is estimated that there are fewer than 2,000 Oma in Laos, inhabiting seven villages in Phongsaly province. Small Oma communities may also exist in neighboring southern China, northwest Vietnam, and Myanmar.


Can copying a design be considered “plagiarism?”

Absolutely. 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 is 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? Over the past three decades, protecting the intellectual property (IP) rights of third-world and indigenous peoples has become recognized as essential, though how it should be done is much more debatable.

TAEC Co-Director, Tara, working with the Oma artisans in 2017 to understand the time involved in creating their clothing.Photo credit: Radium Tam

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

If the designs have no patent, how can Max Mara be held accountable?

Public opinion. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for traditional knowledge, artwork, design, and ideas to be co-opted by multinational corporations who have the power and financial clout to either ignore IP claims or drag them out in court. However, we have seen that a public outcry, negative press, and boycotting of brands can pressure companies to admit wrongdoing and improve their practices.

 

What should Max Mara have done if they wanted to feature the Oma’s designs?

They had many options. They could have approached the Oma community or artisans directly, and ordered their handmade work for a fair price to incorporate into their clothing, generating income for the community. There are organizations, like Nest, that work with brands to help link them to artisan groups and social enterprises in developing countries to collaborate. These partnerships can result in wonderfully creative products that also generate great visibility and earnings for both the brand and the communities. At the very least, Max Mara should have attributed the designs to the Oma (avoiding the generic “ethnic” term) and committed a certain percentage of profit to go towards education, rural development, or advocacy work with Oma communities.

How has the Oma community reacted to this issue?

The Oma artisans TAEC works 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 recognize this as an important, long-term process.

If they don’t understand the issue, why does it matter?

Plagiarism is wrong, whether the plagiarised feel wronged or not. Letting this kind of corporate behavior 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.

How did TAEC get involved?

TAEC has worked with the Oma since 2010 when we were hired to survey their crafts and identify potential income-generating opportunities for their artisans. Most recently, we have worked with them on documenting their traditional music and new year’s celebrations. Nanam Village is an approximately 9-hour drive from Luang Prabang, part of it unpaved, and is by far the most remote village (of 30 across Laos) that TAEC works with.

On Tuesday, 2 April 2019, a friend and former colleague was in Zagreb, Croatia, and saw the designs through a Max Mara shop window. She immediately shared pictures with us. Amazed, we initially thought it might be actual handcrafted work from the Oma that was incorporated into the clothing. Upon further examination, it became clear that not only were the Oma not credited in the name of the garment, on tags, or online, but the motifs were simply digitally reproduced and mass-printed. TAEC immediately reached out to Max Mara’s headquarters through various e-mail addresses and social media channels. After a week with no response, TAEC feels it’s important to make this issue public.

What should Max Mara do now to right this?

Max Mara should: (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 organization that advocates for the intellectual property rights of ethnic minorities.”

 

Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, Luang Prabang, Laos

Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, Luang Prabang, Laos

 

Climate Change: Taming the Waters in Laos’ Xayaboury Province

Villages work with UNDP in Xayaboury for the SDGs on Hunger and Climate Change

Helping farmers in their efforts to adjust to climate change in Laos’ Xayaboury Province alongside Lao government partners, The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was active back in 2015. Now, almost four years later, a return to one of the villages revealed how they have managed to cope with changing weather conditions.

 

The UNDP writes:

Vientiane –
The Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the global community in 2015,  compels us at UNDP Lao PDR to take even more responsibility to ensure that our projects do not only offer a temporary sigh of relief to struggling communities in Lao PDR, but that they serve as an enduring foundation on which they can begin to build a more sustainable future for themselves.

That is why in February 2019, UNDP, along with members of the Green Climate Fund and representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, took a trip to Nasom Village in Xayaboury Province to catch up with some old friends made during a project entitled “Improving the Resilience of the Agricultural Sector to Climate Change”, which was implemented between 2011-2015.

In the early 2000s, the farming population of Nasom had difficulties in adjusting to a phenomenon most of them had probably never even heard of: climate change. Although the small village nestled in a modest valley between the lush hillsides of northern Laos had occasionally suffered from floods, the usual predictability of seasons had become a thing of the past.

While the rainy seasons seemed to gradually get more intense, the dry seasons were getting hotter and drier, barely offering a shower for the rice fields of the village, which resulted in bad harvests. As rice was the primary ingredient of the rather stoic daily diet of the villagers, a bad harvest often marked a serious menace of malnutrition. Even if the farmers could feed themselves with stocks in case of a bad harvest, not being able to sell any surplus at the local market meant a significant dip in their yearly incomes.

Either too much or too little water for irrigating the paddy fields was the biggest challenge for the villagers. The project, implemented by UNDP, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, wanted to devise a way in which they could manage and utilize the dramatically varying rates of rainfall as efficiently as possible.

The project laid out a plan to dig numerous reservoirs in the village in which the rain could be stored throughout the year. Irrigation canals were built through which the villagers could regulate the flow of the standing water to their paddy fields during different seasons.

The ponds were filled with fish to give villagers an additional source of protein. As fish like to indulge in the mosquito larvae that breed particularly in standing waters, they would also protect the villagers from the deathly threat of malaria.

When the project ended in 2014, the results were fantastic. Villagers no longer went hungry and they could once again plan their harvests despite the changing weather patterns. However, it is not uncommon in development work that such achievements slowly fade away as years pass by and the community’s lack of resources or expertise for maintenance take a toll them.

In this case, the concern proved unfounded. Even after four years, the ponds were filled with water, teeming with fish. Even the devastating floods of 2018 that ravaged each province of Lao PDR had not caused the reservoirs to overflow.

“After the project, we have lived much better. Because we have enough water to irrigate the rice fields, we are producing much more food than before”, says Mr. Khamsao, one of the beneficiaries of the project as he takes us around the reservoirs.

The successful project had created further waves in the village: Some villagers had dug their own reservoirs, carved their own irrigation canals and also filled them with fish. In the spirit of true Lao solidarity, the farmers who had originally benefited from the project had allowed others to direct water from the big reservoirs to newly constructed smaller. This water could then be used to irrigate other farm areas. As with the original project, the results had been excellent.

This kind of creative and cooperative spirit is exactly what is needed to achieve the ambitious goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda. Villagers of Nasom show that innovation not only occurs in Silicon Valley or world-class universities but is something that even deprived communities engage in, as long as they are given the opportunity to do so.


United Nations Development Group

The Laotian Times reports on and supports efforts to address climate change and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in Laos and beyond.

Villages work with UNDP in Xayaboury for the SDGs on Hunger and Climate Change

Villages work with UNDP in Xayaboury for the SDGs on Hunger and Climate Change

 

Honors Aplenty: Lao Trio’s Diverse Contributions At Home, Abroad Attract Gongs from Japan

Laos' trio Madame Chantasone Inthavong, Mr Somphou Douangsavanh and Ms Alexandra Bounxouei

It’s been nothing if not an eventful week or so for three Lao citizens who have made their own very distinctive contributions in diverse efforts and fields, strengthening the cultural links and future prospects for people in landlocked Laos and on the Japanese archipelago alike.

Likely the most well-known of the trio among the general public, popular songstress Alexandra Bounxouei (Sandra) was the first of the three to collect home her recognition.

According to her profile, Sandra has been a regular visitor to Japan and been performing in collaboration with Japanese artists since the early 2000s and acted as a goodwill ambassador for educational projects and organizations such as  JICA (Japan International Corporation Association) and PSI (Population Service International), Unicef, WPO and many more.

The multilingual vocalist, violinist and voice actor, studying a PhD in Media Design at Tokyo’s Keio University took home a Foreign Ministers’ award that was presented in Vientiane by Japan’s Ambassador to Laos, Takeshi Hikihara.

The next in line to be honoured was Madame Chantasone Inthavong, who received a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Award in Tokyo from JICA president Mr Shinichi Kitaoka.

Chantasone Inthavong

Laos’ Madame Chantasone Inthavong receives JICA President Award from Shinichi Kitaoka.

Madame Chantasone is a Japan-based textile expert and founder of the establishment of the Houey Hong Vocational & Training Centre, keeping the skills and spirit of Laos’ valuable textile culture alive in their hands of the up and coming generations.

She is also instrumental in the NGO Action with Lao Children that helps to provide books and educational materials to schools and their students in need in Laos.

Last but not certainly least, the third and final awardee Dr Somphou Douangsavanh, a long-serving representative of Laos’ National Assembly.

The Chairman of the NA’s Cultural and Social Committee, Dr Somphou was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun’s Gold and Silver Stars.

The Gold and Silver Stars are the second highest in the Order of the Rising Sun and is typically conferred upon prominent academics, politicians and military officers from both Japan and abroad.

The Order of the Rising Sun was established following Japan’s modernizing Meiji Era by the famed Emperor himself all the way back in 1875, and was known as the Imperial Order of Meiji before its renaming.

Mr Somphou was born in Xieng Khuang Province in 1954. He served as the President of the Lao-Japan Parliamentary Friendship Association between 2011 and 2016.

During his tenure as President of the Lao-Japan Parliamentary Friendship Association, Mr Somphou Douangsavanh was said to have made “invaluable contributions to the fruitful cooperation between the two countries through, among others, active exchanges with numerous members of the Japanese parliament”.

His award ceremony was attended by current President of the Laos-Japan Friendship Association, Ms Sengdeuane Lachanthaboun, who also serves as Minister of Education and Sports.

Mr Somphou Douangsavanh

Laos’ Mr Somphou Douangsavanh awarded by Japan’s Ambassador to Laos, Mr Takeshi Hikihara.

Mr Somphou Douangsavanh

Mr Somphou Douangsavanh

Laos, Vietnam Enhance Cooperation on Propaganda Affairs

A bilateral meeting between a delegation of the Party Central Committee’s Propaganda and Training Board led by its Head Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune, and their Vietnamese counterparts led by Vo Van Thuong, Chairman of the Central Propaganda and Training Committee of Vietnam was held on Dec 22.

The Vietnamese delegation was on a working visit to Laos on Dec 22-23 to enhance the friendly relations, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between the two Parties, governments and fraternal people of Laos and Vietnam, especially the relations and cooperation between the two propaganda and training committees.

Both sides noted that they have maintained exchanges of lessons and information over the past years and agreed to continue to enhance the cooperation between the two commissions over the next five years (2016-2021) in a concrete and constant manner.

Both sides agreed to continue to promote the exchange of visits of senior and retired officials and technical staff so that they can exchange lessons on propaganda affairs.

The Vietnamese side agreed to host short and medium term training courses for Lao propaganda and training staff at central and local levels.

Both sides also agreed to hold several activities in 2017 to commemorate the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the 40th anniversary of the signing of Laos – Vietnam Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.

 

Source: KPL

Cooperation Project to Update Lao Land Management

Land management across the country will become faster and more transparent after the Lao Land Management System and Modernisation Project Cooperation between Laos and China was approved.

A Memorandum of Understanding on the project was signed in Vientiane last week between the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Land Management Department’s Director General, Mr Vongduan Vongsiharath, and Shanghai Huace Navigation Technology Ltd (CHC Navigation) CEO, Mr George Zhao.

Witnessing the signing were UniqTek Company Managing Director Mr Chandavong Southitham, Financial Department Director General Mr Siphandone Sihavong and Planning and Cooperation Department Director General Mr Xaynakhone Inthavong, along with participating ministry officials and company representatives.

The main project objective is to improve land management in Laos using the latest technology and equipment, and to prepare the project’s basic infrastructure for implementation.

It would also enhance human resource development, permanent land management stations or Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS) and other cooperation for project development, Mr Vongduan said.

The MoU will be current for one year then a project proposal will be put to the government for consideration.

The overall cooperation project will run for five years when the government approves its implementation, he explained.

CHC was fortunate to have the opportunity to make a contribution to Laos’ development and construction, and to share the benefits of that development, Mr Zhao said.

CHC is a leading company that researches and manufactures high-quality GPS/Beidou receiver systems. Altogether we have 10 product lines and 153 application solutions. We will pass on our extensive experience, first-class technology, plus excellent support and service to our partners, he said.

CHC will also be a bridge between Laos and China as we would like to seek and supply more resources from China, including financing and capital, Mr Zhao said.

The project is a good start and we could have more projects to undertake together and more opportunities to closely cooperate with each other in the future, he added.

The project would help improve land management systems so they’ll be up to date, faster and increase transparency for the public and government in order to contribute to socio-economic development, Mr Chandavong said.

The UniqTek Company had cooperated with the Land Management Department for two years in equipment supply, training, technical assistance and closely followed land surveying in the field, he said.

After the department trialled equipment supplied by the company, it showed that it was faster and more effective.

He strong believed the MoU would offer new equipment and better cooperation in land management assisting the issuing of land titles along with infrastructure development, technical training and human resource development through experience exchange between Laos and China.

On the same occasion, UniqTek Company handed over CORS equipment and computer servers worth 219 million kip to the Land Management Department.

Source: Vientiane Times

Lao, Vietnamese, German Cooperation Conserving Siamese Crocodile

Lao-Vietnamese-German cooperation is currently initiating the creation of a new conservation area for the endangered Siamese Crocodile in Laos.

Based on a joint Memorandum of Understanding, the National University of Laos (NUoL), Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources (IEBR) in Hanoi (Vietnam), and the Cologne Zoo, Cologne (Germany), have been engaging in biodiversity research and conservation in Laos for six years.

Among the most spectacular discoveries by the working team led by NUoL’s senior official Assoc. Prof. Dr Sengdeuane Wayakone, IEBR’s representative Dr Truong Quang Nguyen, and Prof. Dr Thomas Ziegler (Cologne Zoo) was the rediscovery of the Siamese Crocodile (Crocodylussiamensis) in Khammuan province. The endangered crocodile species was believed to be already extinct in the province.

A small population of Siamese crocodiles was discovered in Khammuan’s Ban Soc lakes during recent field research by a team member, Dr Vinh Quang Luu from Hanoi, together with Mr Sisomphone Soudthichak from the provincial conservation authority in Khammuan in spring 2015. Since then, the international team has engaged in the creation of a new conservation area for the rediscovered population.

The Siamese crocodile is listed in the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered with decreasing population trends, and in the CITES Appendix I, which accords it the highest international protection status.

In Laos, the species is classified At Risk, the highest national threat ranking. The Siamese crocodile was abundant in some parts of Laos until at least the early 1900s. Small breeding populations still persist, but a severe decline in range and abundance has occurred over the past century and now the species is rare or locally extinct at many sites in Laos.

The recent rediscovery in Khammuan province highlights the special biodiversity value of Laos. Further research will be crucial for identifying existing populations of endangered wildlife and for establishing subsequent conservation measures.

The engagement of the Lao-Vietnamese-German team, funded by the Rufford Foundation and Cologne Zoo, finally led to the approval by Khammuan provincial authorities of a Species Conservation Area for the Siamese Crocodile. This was reported to Sengdeuane Wayakone, Sisomphone Soudthichak, Truong Quang Nguyen and Thomas Ziegler during a recent team meeting in Khammuan province this month. The newly established reserve is called Khammuan Siamese Crocodile Conservation Area Ban Soc.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sengdeuane Wayakone said The National University of Laos is very happy that we could help and contribute within the framework of our diverse international cooperation to create a new conservation area for endangered wildlife in our country.

Meanwhile, Dr Truong Quang Nguyen said In recent times of diversity decline and habitat degradation, which is in particular topical in Vietnam and Laos, it is important that we put together our expertise and efforts to improve the conservation of threatened wildlife and its habitat. There still remain a lot of research and conservation activities to be done.

But this was not the end of the story, according to Prof. Dr Thomas Ziegler, Cologne Zoo’s Biodiversity Research and Conservation Projects Coordinator for Vietnam and Laos as well as Regional Chairman of the IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group for Europe.

We already have started with Hanoi National University’s expert, Dr Minh D. Le, to genetically test captive crocodiles in Saigon and Hanoi Zoological Gardens in Vietnam as well as in th e Lao Zoo. Unfortunately, there are many hybrid individuals kept among farms and also in zoos, so it will be crucial to identify pure ones. This is a prerequisite for conservation breeding and subsequent restocking measures of captive individuals to the wild to support the last remaining, strongly diminished Siamese crocodile populations in nature. It further underlines the important role which zoos can play today in wildlife conservation, he said.

Acting President of the National University of Laos, Prof. Dr Somsy Gnophanxay, said This is a wonderful example of how research engagement and international cooperation can contribute to substantially improved species conservation in the tropics, where diversity is highest but also most severely threatened.

Source: Vientiane Times

ASEAN Strengthens Cooperation on Disaster Response

Military officers from ASEAN countries and dialogue partners met in Vientiane yesterday to discuss ways forward in their cooperation for more effective humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR).

The officers were gathered for the 9th ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus Experts Working Group on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Meeting as the last meeting for this second phase of cooperation under the Laos-Japan co-chairmanship from 2014 to 2016.

ASEAN is a region at risk of various types of disasters and different levels of severity. Numerous storms hit the Philippines every year, which causes loss of lives and properties.

The 2006 earthquake in the Indian Ocean killed hundreds of thousands of people in Indonesia and Thailand. Similar losses also occurred with Japan in 2011 from strong earthquakes and the consequent enormous tsunami.

Myanmar faced a huge loss from Cyclone Nargis hitting the Irrawaddy River Delta in 2008, while flash floods have also caused deaths and loss of properties in Laos in recent years. The threats of natural disasters have continued with the recent earthquake significantly affected Indonesia’s Aceh province. In his welcoming remarks at yesterday’s meeting, Deputy Minister of Defence, Major General Onesy Senesouk said, “Even though this meeting is the last meeting for this phase of cooperation, this does not mean the end of humanitarian assistance and disaster response.”

“We have to continue the development of our existing cooperation mechanisms and enhance our capacity for more effective and efficient response to emergencies and minimise the loss of lives and properties,” he added.

At the meeting, participants discussed the achievements of cooperation made by the EWG in the past three years, learned about the results of the joint training exercise of the EWGs on HADR and military medicines. They also considered the basic principles of the multinational coordination centre and passed the declaration by affected countries.

Chapter 6 of the Standard Operating Procedure for Regional Standby Arrangements and Coordination of Joint Disaster Relief and Emergency Response Operations was also tabled to the discussion for final agreement.

ASEAN established the Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) in 2006 as a platform that allows for open and constructive dialogue on regional security issues of mutual interest at the ministerial level and promotes practical operations among the ASEAN armed forces.

All ASEAN member states are members of the ADMM. The ADMM also engages eight key extra regional partners, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States through the ADMM-Plus.

At their meeting in Vientiane in May, ASEAN defence ministers agreed on the concept of founding an ASEAN dignitaries readiness group to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Major General Onesy said the continued cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief reflected the joint efforts in realising the task agreed by ASEAN defence ministers.

 

Source: Vientiane Times