From 29 May to 3 June, APHR led a delegation of current and former parliamentarians from Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand on fact-finding mission to Cambodia to explore regional approaches to issues surrounding the social, environmental, and human rights impacts of large-scale investments in Southeast Asia.
The trip included a visit to Stung Treng province, where two controversial hydropower projects are impacting local communities and threatening to unleash negative environmental consequences. Parliamentarians visited the site of the Lower Sesan 2 dam in Stung Treng and had the opportunity to meet with local communities affected by the project. They also met with community members feeling the downstream impacts of initial construction on the Don Sahong dam, located just across the border in Laos.
MPs also met with representatives from local organizations, who have worked with communities and conducted independent research on the impacts of both projects, as well as the Governor of Stung Treng Province, to whom they relayed the concerns voiced by local community members.
In Phnom Penh, participating MPs met with Environment Minister Say Samal, as well as a number of NGOs and staff from the UN Human Rights Office. Through these meetings, parliamentarians learned more about the impacts of other types of investment projects, including economic land concessions and mining developments, on the population and environment of Cambodia.
All of the cases explored on the mission are examples of a broader trend throughout Southeast Asia of increased investment, which is impacting populations and the environment in myriad ways. As ASEAN moves toward becoming a unified “Economic Community,” the mission provided MPs with more detailed information and exposure to the issues at stake.
Participants included Daw Aye Mya Mya Myo (MP, Myanmar), Kraisak Choonhavan (Former MP, Thailand), Rachada Dhnadirek (Former MP, Thailand), and Ramakrishnan Suppiah (Former MP, Malaysia).