Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dawei impact ‘not fault of Thai govt’

Bangkok Post 22 October 2014

“The Burmese [Myanmar] government and the private company must take responsibility for the impacts caused by the project’s construction,”

The Myanmar government and the private firm that handled the Dawei project, rather than the Thai government, should take responsibility for any repercussions the mega-industrial project may have on locals, Thai officials told the National Human Rights Commission yesterday.

Perames Vudthitornetiraks, vice-president of the Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency, told the commission any problems that arose at the project site in southeastern Myanmar occurred before current attempts backed by the Thai government to revive the deep-sea port and petrochemical complex project.

A representative of the National Economics and Social Development Board also told the commission the concession for the Dawei Special Economic Development Zone has not yet been granted, and so the Thai government does not bear any responsibility for it.
Italthai Industrial Group scrapped its contract with the Myanmar Port Authority to develop the Dawei Special Economic Zone in November last year citing a shortage of funds. The Thai and Myanmar governments later set up a special purpose vehicle, a joint-venture partnership between the two governments, to get the project back on track.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has also been trying to get Japan and India to invest in the project.
Local groups have protested that the project which is under construction uprooted them from their homes. They estimated around 30,000 people have been relocated to make way for the 200,000-rai industrial estate, which is 10 times bigger than the Map Tha Phut industrial estate.

“The Burmese [Myanmar] government and the private company must take responsibility for the impacts caused by the project’s construction,” Mr Perames said.

He was speaking at a commission hearing which heard a report from local groups called “Voices From the Ground: Concerns Over the Dawei Special Economic Zone and Related Projects.” About a dozen villagers from Dawei also turned up to testify at the Office of the National Human Rights Commission.

U Aung Myint, a 67-year-old villager from Mudu, one of 36 villages relocated for the project, said compensation means nothing to him as his traditional way of life is more important.

He said the Thai government should reconsider the project as it has had a major impact on locals. “We want you [the Thai government] to take into account our livelihoods. We are poor and have no money. Since you forced us to leave our homes, we have nothing left,” U Aung Myint said.
Bangkok Post