ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF 2012)
In Phnom Penh, Cambodia
29 to 31 March 2012-03-22
Today I am going to raise the fundamental problems and Issues plaguing, Laos my motherland.
Government of the Lao People Revolution Party has governed the country since 1975.
Since the establishment of the dictatorial regime In Laos, the Laotian people have become a people ”without rights, without voice and without hope.” Until now Laos has faced to the aggravating political, economic and social situation. The absence of fundamental liberties, human rights violations, and religious suppression and ethnic conflicts are in ebullition, growing insecurity, fear and terror.
In generally overspread from North to South of the country rising growth of the night clubs, prostitutions, human trafficking and drug trafficking and unemployment as well as corruption from top to bottom in Laos.
Many hundreds of thousands of people are illegal working in neighboring countries such as Thailand because they cannot make enough money to feed their families back home in Laos. Many young people are becoming more desperate and sadly, they are involving themselves in drug trafficking and drug addition. They find no opportunity to be creative because the Lao PDR government does not permit creativity. Thus, young people are following the example that is set by those in Government. They see lawlessness and corruption as values and find themselves learning these values instead of learning to honor, to walk righteously, to value others, to have dignity and respect.
37 years of governing the country, Lao PDR Government is still relying on International Aid to support its national budget, and the Infrastructure, the national revenue only 30% per year, Army, Teacher, Nurses, monthly salary always late for 2-3 months. But they cannot raise any voice.
The amount that International organizations give to Laos each year various, the amounts each year run from $100 million to $1000 million.
The Lao Government does not have an effective way to raise money to fund a National Budget. It has a yearly Budget, but tax collection is poor, and it assumes that most of the Budget will come from foreign aid grants. It seems that much of the Budget is ‘lost’ due to Waste and Government corruption.
The way that Lao PDR Government running the country we can see no green light for Lao people to get rich in their own country. But LPDR allows foreigners, is it fair?
Ladies and gentlemen
The Lao PDR government has a responsibility to reconcile these past injustices, and to give appropriate recognition to these significant events that have continued to lay open like a festering wound.
We, the world, were witness to the struggle of South Africa, when an entire country was oppressed, but common sense finally prevailed through truth commissions and reconciliations, and much was done to right the wrongs of the past, so that the people could move forward in peace. So too must it be for Laos.
There are thousands of Laotians who would gladly testify at such truth commissions, men like Dr Bounsang Khamkeo, a brave man who survived the death camps, and like countless others who were forces into exile, like us, and who would benefit personally and spiritually by telling our struggle under this oppressive regime.
Many of course, did not survive. Many thousands perished in the seminar camps. Men like Mr Thongsouk Saysangkhy, but his work for democracy lives in the hearts of Lao people to carry on as the Saysangkhy Foundation in Germany, led by Dr Bounthone Chanthalavong-Wiese). Many advisors, supporters, army generals, army officers, police generals, police officers, students and local administration officers, ordinary citizens, women and children perished in the seminar camps. How do we remember those we loved and lost when there is no acknowledgement that they even perished? There is no memorial to mark their demise, no symbol to remind us of the fragility of freedom. How can be the International community allow the Lao PDR Government to deny Lao’s own holocaust? How can the International Community not seek to encourage the present one-party Government to cultivate a sense of moral responsibility so that Laos can move forward, united, at peace with itself, in order to respond to the monumental challenges that confront our world. The history books ought to reflect our painful past accurately, so that the struggle of those who perished for freedom and democracy is not in vain.
In moving forward, I would like to see a two party system of Government in Laos, the full restoration of rights and equality for all Lao people, the reconciliation of ethnic groups, the restoration of religious freedoms and free elections. Lao people today have no independence.
Majority of Lao people live in poverty despite the fact that Laos is rich in natural resources, and is strongly supported by International Foreign Aid and Foreign Investment. The economic situation in Laos is appalling and has little to do with the current global economic crisis.
Corruption is at the very heart of the problem. The Government has been neglectful and perpetuates widespread corruption, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. No one can deny that this is true. Lao people have became laborers and beggars on their own lands without ownership rights.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that Laos is at a critical point and the current system of government is clearly not working in the best interests of the Country, its people or the International community.
Lao people need leaders who place integrity above all else, who are accountable and not afraid to be held accountable.
Lao people need a willing government that will listen to the needs of the people, to understand their struggle and not condemn them to further hardships but rather, to unite the people in harmony, to encourage open dialogue with the people and to seek ways to improve life for everyone.
The Lao Government not only should, but must, abide by the Constitution and the laws and mandates that it agrees to uphold; such as the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights.
Let US raise our voices and make our ACSC/APF 2012 concerns heard to the leaders of Asian government. Let US call on them today to support the Alliance for democracy in Laos, and to apply pressure on the LPDR Government to change, and to give up its abuse of power over Laos, to instead, encourage the LPDR Government to establish an open dialogue with people all throughout the world and in Laos, to find the way of reconciliation, to head towards true democracy with a multiparty system.
Base on the problems as described above
1. Call upon the ASEAN to pressure the Lao PDR to stop a new form of colonization of Laos through land concessions to China and through large-scale immigration and settlement of Chinese people in Laos and to protect the rights of Laotians to be the owner of their country.
2. Appeal to the ASEAN to help put pressure on the ruling power of Vietnam to cease control of Laos, repeal as a matter of urgency the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation of July 18th, 1977 (respecting the Sovereignty), end the plunder and hijack of Laos’ natural resources towards Vietnam, and let Laotians govern themselves democratically and real independently with Lao sovereignty under free and fair elections under the control of the UN.
3. Urge the ASEAN to review the actual performance of the government of the Lao PDR in applying the human rights standards and norms of the United Nations, to ensure that the requirements of its human rights agreements and conventions are complies with, and to make a resolution giving Amnesty International access into Laos to investigate the fates and conditions of the political prisoners.
4. Urge the ASEAN and the European Union which is hosting the forthcoming ASEM meeting to be held in November 2012 in Vientiane, Lao PDR, to raise the issue of Vietnam’s and China’s control in Laos in order to find solutions which would respect the independence and Integrity of Laos and to use aid as a leverage to pressure for change towards democratization and for effective combat against corruption.
5. Call upon the International organizations concerned to investigate the manufacturing of methamphetamines in the Lao PDR, the large-scale trafficking of young Lao people to Thailand which is enabled by the corruption of the ruling power in the Lao PDR.
6. Appeal to the International community to press the Lao government to halt and terminate the dam projects, particularly the dam in Xayaboury province, which destroy the environment and the livelihood and way of life of the people in the region.
We which for the Asian countries to form a partnership, a democratic community of mutual support so that we can grow together. The promotion of International relations is at the center of our efforts. We wish for peaceful coexistence, freedom and mutual respect for all peoples of Asia.
We are sure one day that light will shine on us so that truth and justice, democracy, freedom and prosperity will prevail in our motherland.
May Buddha bless you all, thank you.