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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

Thai Embassy Confirms New Visa Policies

The Royal Thai Embassy in Vientiane has issued a notice confirming the Kingdom’s new visa policies. The official notice serves to clarify the rumor of new policies after a draft notice surfaced on the internet last week.

The official notice issued by the Royal Thai Embassy in Vientiane stipulates the following three points:

“1. From 1 December 2016 – 28 February 2017, foreigners of all nationalities could submit application for a Single Entry (60 days) Tourist Visa to Thailand without visa fee at the Consular Section of the Royal Thai Embassy.

2. Foreigners who work or reside permanently in the Lao PDR are eligble for applying for the Multiple Entries Tourist Visa (METV) to Thailand. METV costs 5,000 baht, valid for 6 months and foreigners would be able to stay in Thailand up to 60 days per journey. Rules and regulations apply.

3. For those nationalities that are currently under the the 30 day visa waiving scheme, 2 journeys to Thailand per year would be granted under the scheme through any international land boundary checkpoint to Thailand. Please inquire with immigration officers at the checkpoint for further information.”


French Embassy Announces Research Week, with Focus on Public Health

The Embassy of France to Laos and partners held a joint press conference on Thursday to announce the programme for the 6th edition of “Research Week for Development”.

Research Week will take place in Vientiane from November 16-18, with the theme “Public health challenges in Laos” and featuring contributions from health research and regional perspectives.

The event will take place at the Francophone Institute for Tropical Medicine and the University of Heath Sciences, with participation by researchers and stakeholders from Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar.

Speaking at the press conference, French Ambassador, Mrs Claudine Ledoux said the focus of Research Week will be identifying and addressing emerging health risks linked with environmental and economic practices through an integrated approach known as One Health.

Researchers will illustrate the contributions of research in the field of surveillance and infectious disease fighting in Laos and the region.

A diversity of health professionals and researchers will share their experiences and work with Lao youth, highlighting the opportunities of research for public policy and career development.

Since the first edition held in 2009, the Research Week for Development has pursued a three-pronged ambition: feed into scientific debates for the Lao PDR’s and the sub-region’s development; support decisions and policy makers; and attract young students to scientific careers.

Proving the international dimension of this symposium, talks will be given in French, English and Lao with simultaneous translations.

Scientific presentations and high-level panels will bring together policy makers and scientific experts. There will also be interactive events for a wider audience (workshops, stalls, competitions, tours, screenings and exhibitions).

Quality training, sustainable practices in agriculture, and optimised national strategies are three key levers for public health development in Laos.

Laos is characterised by high biodiversity and a multifaceted society, and is a crossroads for cultural, human and economic exchange. Laos is subject to many challenges in a dynamic region prone to environmental, human, and climatic changes.

More than any other public action, the role of scientific research is fundamental in public health. In addition, current economic development allows authorities to consider an ambitious policy for the development of the health and wellbeing of the population.


Source: Vientiane Times