Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Don Sahong dam ‘no problem’, says premier

Don Sahong dam ‘no problem’, says premier

Laos' Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith (left) shakes hands with Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday in Siem Reap. Facebook
Laos' Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith (left) shakes hands with Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday in Siem Reap. Facebook

Don Sahong dam ‘no problem’, says premier

Just weeks after Laos announced its plans to begin constructing a third mainstream dam in the Lower Mekong River region, Prime Minister Hun Sen used a bilateral meeting with his Laotian counterpart to signal that the controversial Don Sahong dam will no longer receive opposition from Phnom Penh.

“After Cambodia inspected the situation, it does not have a problem with this development project,” Hun Sen wrote on his Facebook page, thanking Laos for its pledge to sell low-cost electricity to Cambodian provinces located near the dam.

Laos first announced its plans to build the controversial 260-megawatt dam in 2015. According to a 1995 Mekong River Commission agreement, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam must engage in joint discussions before big development projects are launched.

But critics say downstream countries have no real power to impact the plans, since Laos began constructing two controversial dams, the Xayaburi and Don Sahong, despite concerns from Cambodia and Vietnam.

Cambodia’s about-face shows the consultation process has failed to ensure concerns from downstream countries are addressed, said Maureen Harris, Southeast Asia program director for NGO International Rivers.

“Thousands of people in the Mekong Basin rely directly on the river system’s rich fisheries and agricultural productivity for basic food security. With two dams underway on the Mekong mainstream, the impacts of each new project, particularly on fisheries and sediment flows, will be cumulative,” Harris said in an email.

Laos submitted plans to the Mekong River Commission earlier this month to begin constructing the Pak Beng dam, launching another round of discussions in which Cambodia will participate. Laos has previously said it hopes to be the “battery” of the region, and has floated ideas for 11 mainstream dams.

Tek Vannara, executive director of the NGO Forum, said civil society remains concerned about the potential environmental impact of mainstream dams, and called on Laos to complete an environmental impact assessment for the Don Sahong.

“The experts of Laos have not revealed transparent scientific information relating to the impacts and solution mechanisms yet,” Vannara said. “We want government leaders to make a decision based on the technical conditions rather than on politics and economics.”

The World Wide Fund for Nature Cambodia has said that the Don Sahong is a risky project that could affect the food security of millions of people.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Siem Reap’s Angkor Botanical Garden opens

    The Angkor Botanical Garden was officially opened on May 19 with free entry for both local and international visitors for the first six weeks. The garden was established on a nearly 15ha plot of land in Siem Reap. “After the first six weeks, Angkor Botanical Garden

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen invites US president to attend summit in Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen personally invited US President Joe Biden to attend the ASEAN-US Summit which is set to be held in Cambodia in November, as ASEAN and the US are expected to upgrade their strategic partnership to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’, according to Prime

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub