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Social media ‘a big challenge’ for Lao development

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Lao government spokesman Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher said social media presents problems for Laos via the spread of slanderous material. laogov.gov.la/VIENTIANE TIMES

Social media ‘a big challenge’ for Lao development

The work of gathering people from all ethnic groups together for Laos’ national development effort and disseminating accurate information is becoming more challenging in the social media era, a senior official said late last week.

Government spokesman Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher made the remarks at the Prime Minister’s Office in the Lao capital Vientiane on Friday while speaking to the media about celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the Lao Front for National Development (August 13).

He said social media had become interwoven into modern life and was able to educate users about subjects like scientific knowledge and more, but it also presented problems for the nation via the spread of slanderous material.

“More work needs to be done to educate people about ongoing national development,” he said, adding that the public needed to know to what is real and what are lies.

In addition, the media must respond when someone is slandering Laos via social media about development and other matters.

“Bad actors always find the country’s weak spots and post false material on social media so the official media must explain the facts to the public,” he said.

Dr Chaleun gave a recent example from YouTube, where someone posted a video criticising the poor state of the roads and questioned where the development in Laos was.

“There are many impressive projects underway in the country, including the Laos-China Railway and Vientiane-Vangvieng expressway. Why didn’t he film them?” the government spokesman said.

As a former vice-president of the Lao Front for National Construction in 1979, Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher also gave the media an explanation of the organisation’s history.

After years of battle against the French, Laos declared its independence to the world on October 12, 1945, but the colonial power returned to invade Laos again in 1946.

The founding of the Lao army began on January 20, 1949, at the base of the revolutionary movement within the Mae Cave, located in the Laohoung-Phiengsa area of Xiengkhor district, Huaphan province.

Subsequently, the united people of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam under the Indochinese Communist Party established a Neo Lao Issara (Lao Free Front) on August 13, 1950.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, a good friend and neighbour of Laos, Vietnamese soldiers fought and defeated French forces at Dien Bien Fu. The French were subsequently forced to grant independence to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Following the decisive defeat of the French and the Geneva Accord of 1954, they also acknowledged the army of Laos, which had its base in the two provinces of Huaphan and Phongsaly.

But only a few months later, new aggressors returned to Laos, and the struggle for freedom began for a second time. The US started a campaign of aerial bombardment and Laos once more found itself under attack.

With the growth of the revolutionary forces, on March 22, 1955, the Lao People’s Party, (today called the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party), established their stronghold in the caves and mountains of Huaphan province.

In 1956, the Neo Lao Issara was changed to the Neo Lao Hak Xard (Lao Patriotic Front). In 1964, US bombardment intensified, and in the ensuing nine years, a total of 580,000 bombing missions were conducted over Laos during the Indochina War.

Viengxay in Huaphan province’s history and the crucial role it played in the triumphant liberation of Laos in 1975 is now a great source of interest among both domestic and international visitors.

In 1979, the Neo Lao Hak Xard was changed to the current Neo Lao Sang Xard or Lao Front for National Development.

VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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