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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

 

Ministry Renews Registration for Illegal foreign workers

Authorities have extended registration for illegal foreign expatriates who are working in Laos illegally, the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare has said.

The extension was made after the last registration period from January to September this year was phased out, which has registered 24,000 foreigners working illegally in provinces across Laos.

The minister, Dr Khampheng Saysompheng, told local media recently that local workplaces in Laos still need additional labour thus utilising foreigners is still necessary.

He stated that some workplaces or projects in some localities suffered from labour shortages when foreign expatriates who had no work permits were prohibited from work or sent back to their countries of origin.

This impacted the production levels of enterprises or project operations.

Thus, he said, “We decided to continue registering foreign workers [who are still working illegally],” adding that he has told provincial departments to continue carrying out the registration and inspection of the issue.

The 24,000 foreign workers registered during the last phase are mostly Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai nationals respectively, according to information from the Labour Management Department of the ministry.

These foreigners entered Laos as workers with development projects but did not return home after the projects was phased out and their visas became invalid; instead they sought work illegally. Some came in as visitors but sought employment or engaged in trading activities illegally.

The registered alien expatriates whose conditions meet the required criteria were given six months to apply for and obtain legal documents comprising a residence permit, visa and work permit so that they are entitled to work legally in Laos.

To meet the conditions, the foreigners are required to have a workplace to certify their employment. Those foreigners such as hawkers and nail cutters or painters are given three months to clear all things and return hto their home countries afterward.

In a move to supply a larger workforce to meet the growing demand for labour in domestic workplaces, the ministry has set a target to produce 658,000 labourers by 2020 while this year it has provided 132,000 workers.

Source: Vientiane Times

Ministry, Room to Read Laos Extend Support for Rural Education

The Ministry of Education and Sports and Room to Read Laos are teaming up for the fourth phase of the Enhancing the Education of Lao Children project in six provinces.

The project is funded by the Room to Read Global Office at a cost of US$9 million, or over 72 billion kip. The project will be implemented in Vientiane, Oudomxay, Xayaboury, Saravan, Savannakhet, and Champassak provinces from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2020.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Vientiane on Tuesday between the Director General of the Department of External Relations of the Ministry of Education and Sports, Ms Chanthavone Phandamnong, and Country Director of Room to Read Laos Ms Norkham Souphanouvong.

The main activities of the project are to increase access to relevant, appropriate, and quality reading materials by publishing approximately 32 children’s books, the establishment of reading rooms or libraries in 132 schools, and equipping them with approximately 144,000 age-appropriate reading books.

Training and on-going coaching will be provided to 132 primary school directors and 264 Grade One and Grade Two teachers and 132 librarians on the effective teaching of Lao language, library management and reading activities.

The project will also design and implement supplementary teaching materials to boost non-native Lao speaking students’ Lao language skills to enhance learning outcomes.

Another objective is to create school environments that are conducive to learning. To this end, some 30 school buildings and libraries will be built with community participation.

The project aims to engage families and communities to increase their awareness and support of reading. It will also increase collaboration with the government and other NGOs to support policies and programmes to effectively and sustainably impact students’ independent reading abilities. This includes continuing to pilot Grade One and Grade Two Lao language textbooks and providing inputs to the Ministry of Education and Sports in developing the new textbooks and related materials.

Also planned are ongoing research, monitoring and evaluation activities to ensure programme quality and improvements. Imported donated equipment such as computers, books and other educational materials will be use to support the Literacy Programme once or twice a year based on the donations received.

The project aims to continue to support about 1,695 secondary school girls at existing target schools in Oudomxay, Xayaboury and Saravan provinces until they complete upper secondary education or vocational education equivalent to upper secondary education level.

Some materials will be provided for participating girls who qu alify under the project’s assessment criteria. In addition, the project will continue to support approximately 16 secondary school directors and 80 teachers with life skills and monitoring and mentoring techniques in Oudomxay, Xayaboury and Saravan provinces.

Source: Vientiane Times

Ministry Expected to Reveal Info Soon about Xekaman 3 Tunnel Burst

The Ministry of Energy and Mines is expected to reveal in the near future details about the penstock rupture incident of the Xekaman 3 hydropower project in Dak Chung in the southern province of Xekong.

The tunnel (sluice gate) that channels water into the powerhouse of the Xekaman 3 hydropower project ruptured in the morning of Dec 16 but no severe damage has been reported.

No security guards who were stationed at the dam were hurt when the incident took place. Only the dormitory of the staff of the Xekaman 3 Power Company Limited and one pickup truck, one SUV and two motorcycles were damaged. The properties belong to the company and its staff.

The initial investigation conducted by relevant officials revealed on Monday that the penstock of the dam, which seemed to have been improperly welt, ruptured when water pressure increased during an emergency switch off. The rupture point was discovered 150 m away from the powerhouse.

The incident didn’t result in damage to the barrage of the dam, according to Mr Phetsamone Khonepasith, Acting Director, Xekong Provincial Department of Energy and Mines.

Investigation into the damage caused by the incident is being conducted by relevant experts.

Built with an investment of US$273 million by the Vietnamese company Song Da, the hydropower power project was just put into operation in 2014.

The project is equipped with an installed generation capacity of 260 mw. The majority of power generated by the power plant is exported to Vietnam.

 

Source: KPL

Ministry, UN Mark International Migrants’ Day

Over the past five years, more than 120,500 Lao labourers have registered legally through recruitment agencies to work abroad, but many remain impacted by unsafe migration and exploitation, and could become victims of human trafficking.

This information was outlined by Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Dr Khampheng Saysompheng in a meeting on Friday in Vientiane to mark the 16th anniversary of International Migrants’ Day (December 18).

Dr Khampheng said, the migrant labour problem is increasing in many countries with many workers looking for better jobs and income, safe workplaces for health and living standards, as well as some wanting to develop their skills, while others suffer from hunger, poverty, natural disasters and war.

In Laos, some migrant labourers come from remote areas to work in urban centres while others go to work in neighbouring countries, both legally and illegally.

However, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and development partners are paying more attention to migrant labour protection, and have supported some Lao labour to train in agriculture and construction skills abroad every year.

Dr Khampheng said no one alone could prevent the migrant labour problem, but everyone could help by sharing information about labour protection rights, labour laws on safe migration and obtaining the right income and reaching social welfare to alleviate poverty.

The Lao government, local and international organisations have also jointly improved vocational system development and career recruitment.

Currently, there are 18 recruitment agencies in the country, working to arrange jobs for Lao labourers who would like to work in the local region and foreign countries. There are also nine labour recruitment service centres and two information centres for migrant labour.

International Migrants’ Day is held every December 18 to share information with migrant workers. This year the theme was Strengthening employment services to advance the promotion of decent work and safe migration.

The meeting was organised by Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other development partners.

According to statistics, in 2015, a total of 244 million migrant labourers around the globe live in developing countries.

 

Source: Vientiane Times

Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and Microsoft Hosts Government Solution Day

 

VIENTIANE, LAOS – Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MPT) in collaboration with Microsoft hosting Government Solution day event under the theme Empowering Government. The event was chaired by H.E. Dr.Thansamay Kommasith, Minister of MPT, and attended by key government officials and partners from public and private sectors, the event has demonstrated how the government can leverage technology to digitally transform and support social and economic development. The conference was co-chaired by Michelle Simmons, General Manager, Southeast Asia New Markets, Microsoft Asia Pacific.

The initiative is in line with the 8th National Social and Economic Plan, ICT Vision 2030, MPT 5 years strategic ICT development plan, as well as Microsoft’s National Empowerment Plan, which aims to advance the adoption of emerging ICT for sustainable development, to have smart government and generate new business development opportunities, to Industrialize and modernize ICT as tools to drive sustainable social and economic development, be centre for regional and international integration and fostering people engagement.

“Embracing trusted technology, particularly the power of emerging ICT, will be key to enabling Laos’ growing economy to take a giant leap forward, propelling our nation into digital enable community and economy,” said H.E. Dr. Thansamay Kommasith, Minister of Post and Telecommunications of Lao PDR. he further informed that “Government Solution Day affirms our vision to drive inclusive growth, to have smart government, and transforming the way both public and private sectors operate – not only by ensuring accessibility of tools, but also by establishing the right processes and building the digital skills of our citizens.”

Speaking at the Government Solution Day event, Vivek Puthucode, General Manager, Public Sector, Microsoft Asia Pacific, said: “Today, the benefits of the digital economy remains out of reach for many in emerging markets despite the enormous untapped opportunities across various industry sectors. Our approach is to work closely with governments and public sector agencies to support them in overcoming challenges and building more cloud-enabling environments to accelerate their competitiveness, productivity and modernization of operations through trusted technology.”

With the introduction of Microsoft Office 365 business productivity services in Laos, Microsoft also aims to set in motion a reinvention of productivity in enterprises across the nation, transforming employee collaboration and customer engagement through the power of the cloud.

“Besides having access to the right tools, people must also know how to use them,” said Michelle Simmons, General Manager, Southeast Asia New Markets, Microsoft Asia Pacific. “Looking ahead, what will be critical for Laos to thrive is digital literacy. We are working with the government to not only deliver educational programs, but also to support the educators themselves with the right resources to impart science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills to local youth, preparing them for jobs of the future.”

In middle of this year Ministry of Post and Telecommunications had inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Microsoft and Ministry of Education and Sport in Laos to develop a youth online learning platform to leverage technology for education, covering a range of programs that will support the development of 21st century skills and employability of students.

 

###

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

 

For more information, please contact:

Thilanka Abeywardena

Enterprise Marketing Manager, Microsoft SEA New Markets                                                           

Email: a-thabey@microsoft.com

Mobile: +94 769126863

 

Tara Bal

Communications Director, Microsoft Asia Pacific

Email: tabal@microsoft.com

Mobile: +65 9277 5518

 

Jocelyn Ng-Foo

Senior Manager, IN.FOM

Email: jocelyn@infom.asia

Mobile: +65 9431 6141

 

 

 

 

Govt Promotes Human Rights, Foreign Ministry Says

The Lao government has always attached great importance to protecting and promoting human rights and basic rights of its population, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The ministry issued the statement to mark the International Human Right Day, which is observed on December 10.

The political, economic, social, cultural and family rights of the people have been assured and enshrined in the constitution, laws and regulations of Laos, which coincide with Laos’ regional and international obligations and commitments on human rights.

Under the 2015-version of the constitution, in Article 34, the state recognises, respects, protects and assures human rights and basic rights of the population.

Laos has been a state party to the United Nations (UN) seven core treaties on human rights including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

In addition, a number of laws and regulations have been promulgated to protect and promote human rights of the Lao multiethnic people equally without discrimination, the ministry said.

Currently, Laos is drawing up a national action plan to implement 116 recommendations made at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) – a process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States.

The Lao government has formed a national coordinated mechanism to coordinate among the state bodies from the central to the local levels on human rights affairs in order to ensure effective oversight and progression.

The Lao government has attached great importance to educating and disseminating the international conventions on human rights in order to create better understanding on human rights amongst the people. Attention has also been paid to capacity building for state officials including law enforcers so they are capable of implementing and fulfilling the regional and international obligations Laos has committed to, the ministry said.

In regional engagement, Laos has been an active player to cooperate on human rights within the frameworks of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) among others.

In the coming years, the Lao government has committed to continuing to work with the international community to promote and protect human rights based on the principle of equality, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and shared interests, the ministry said.

The government is also striving to make Laos a state ruled by law by 2020 to create conditions for the Lao multiethnic people to enjoy their basic rights in line with the constitution and laws along with pursuing regional and international obligations on human rights that Laos has committed to.

 

Source: Vientiane Times

Ministry of Post and Telecommunications Review Past Year of Work

The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications has developed and expanded information communications technology (ICT) infrastructure over the past year and have accomplished many successes.

The Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Dr Thansamay Khommasith, presented a summary of the past year’s work and the plan for the next year in Vientiane yesterday. The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications is concentrated on development and expansion of ICT infrastructure.

Most of the operations over the past year involved capacity building for the ministry’s officials to use the IT system equipment and management of the business side, especially concerning Laos’ first telecommunications satellite (Lao Sat-1). They also are paying attention to ICT system centre management and social media management.

The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications is concentrating its efforts on a legal campaign for preventing and combating cyber crime toward the government and the public.

Cyber crime is any computer-related offence causing damages to the state, persons, legal entities, organisations and members of the public in accordance with the prescribed offences in Article 8 of the new law.

The Prevention and Combating of Cyber Crime act is designed to curb, eliminate and suppress such crimes.

For next year’s plan, the ministry will continue implement the party policy and social and economic development plan, especially focusing on the post and communications sector.

At the same meeting, the participants also discussed the use of ICT for state management and social and economic development.

The meeting began yesterday at the National Conference Centre and will run until December 15.

Source: Vientiane Times