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AEC Shamed by Toxic Haze and Laos Dams

Published on Nov 1, 2015 by Luke Hunt

A grand entrance by the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), when it launches in less than nine weeks, onto the world stage was supposed to herald the dawning of a prosperous new age for the more than 600 million people who live within the region.But the political realities are already delivering a different, unwanted take. Bad? Even Southeast Asia’s harshest critics are trying hard not to crow over the latest debacles, for fear of tempting fate with the region’s notoriously thin-skinned leaders.Most telling is the toxic smog which has been allowed to escalate for 20 years. A Wall Street Journal report quoting Greenpeace says 110,000 people die annually from haze-related illnesses.Read more from Luke Hunt in The Diplomat..

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Is Modern History Biggest Resource Heist in Myanmar?

Published on Oct 24, 2015 by Luke Hunt

Global Witness has staked its reputation on significant investigations and reports into corruption by corporates and governments on a grand scale, particularly in Southeast Asia where objectivity and honest appraisals about the state of the environment are in short supply.Its work in the East Malaysian state of Sarawak – where long serving chief minister Taib Mahmud retired with a family fortune worth an estimated at US$20 billion – was widely applauded, as were investigations into land grabbing across Cambodia by Vietnamese rubber companies.Now the London-based environmental watchdog has set its sights on Myanmar, where it has revised the value of the illegal gem trade substantially higher, at US$31 billion in 2014 alone, almost half of the country’s entire GDP and....

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