Thursday, December 22, 2011

National Assembly represents the people, members reminded

Mass organisations in Laos have urged National Assembly members to work harder in representing the benefits of multi-ethnic people at the NA, acting on their behalf to address their concerns.

Vice President of the Lao Front for National Construction Mr Tong Yerthor, on behalf of various public organisations in Laos, reported the observations and opinions of many Lao people at the ongoing NA session about the performance of NA members.

This is the first time the Lao Front has been given the opportunity to report on the performance of NA members, and it encouraged them to work harder in their role as representatives of the people.

Mr Tong said some NA members have neglected to report the difficulties encountered by ethnic peoples, while others do not meet their constituents regularly as they did during the election campaign.

“Villagers in some rural areas see only a photo of their representatives at the village office after the election, but they are rarely there in person,” he said. He also urged NA members to monitor the compensation process for villagers who are negatively affected by development projects.

Some projects related to mining, hydropower and rubber plantations have encroached on natural forest areas and villagers' farmland, but the compensation awarded has been insufficient to enable them to relocate, get the same amount of land or benefit from the project in any way.

Mr Tong explained that some government officials abused their power of authority over local people for their own benefit and urged the NA to monitor their conduct and give warnings to those officials to change their ways.

He also spoke about the hardship of communities who relocated but did not receive enough facilities to make a living.

The Lao Front for National Construction observed that the establishment of development village clusters has seen some success but often too few land plots were allocated to enable villagers to sustain their livelihood.

Some families moved to a new village as part of a development village cluster, but often had little choice but to return to farm in their former village due to a lack of productive land near their new home.

Mr Tong said villagers affected by flooding this year commented that they saw a lot of stories in the media about donations being given, but not all of the donations actually reached the people they were intended for – those worst hit by the flooding.

He asked NA members to help monitor projects concerning large land concessions and the use of natural resources, as in past years these kinds of projects had created a lot of problems for villagers, as well as causing deforestation.

He said many villagers were also concerned about forestry management in Laos. Despite the fact that laws to protect forests have been legislated, they are not being sufficiently enforced.

Mr Tong also touched upon education issues that have been brought to his attention, saying that many university graduates are unable to find employment.

He talked about the weakness in terms of cooperation and coordination between the relevant sectors in Vientiane and the provinces in working to address problems affecting the people and the country as a whole.

Many Lao people reported their problems not only to NA members but also to an NA telephone hotline established for the duration of the debate session. Members of the public were left wondering whether the problems they had reported to government sectors have been or will be resolved.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update December 21, 2011)