Thai CSOs demand for greater responsibility of Thai investors in their investments abroad

Statement of Thai CSOs demanding for greater responsibility of Thai investors in their investments abroad

We, representatives from communities affected by Thai investment abroad, network of river communities, NGOs, Thai foundations (concerning poor human rights practice of Thai investors abroad ), and civil society in ASEAN countries, concerned about the lack of responsibility to provide remedies and compensation. We demand the Thai investor- Ratchaburi Holding Enterprises Ltd to responsible for the damage they caused from operating XeNamNoy dam- including 6000 people who lost their lives, homes, properties, agricultural lands and encountering psychological damage due to the loss.

The recent Xe Nam Noy dam collapse in Attapeu province, Lao PDR has raised high alarm calling for greater responsibility of Thai investors in its outbound investments. The 410 MW Xenamnoy dam is located in Attapeu province; the dam involved Thai investor- Ratchaburi holding PCL (with 25% share), Korean and Singapore investors. The dam will export 90% of electricity to Thailand, said by Mr. Kiatkun Chatprasert, Thailand’s Ambassador to Lao PDR. The dam will start commercialized operation in 2019; Electricity Generation Authority of Thailand (EGAT) is the buyer and big four banks in Thailand provided funding for this project-Krung Thai Bank, Tanachart, Export-Import Bank of Thailand, and Bank of Ayudhaya (Krung- Sri).

The dam collapse on late Monday night, sending flash floods through 6 villages and 6000 people became homeless. Approximately 200 people are missing and 50 people have been reported dead. Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding sent out the notification that “the saddle dam was fractured, after continuous rainstorm. It caused the high volume of water to flow into the project’s reservoir”. The overflow of water from the dam destroys lives, property, agricultural lands of the communities and hundreds are still stranded on their roofs and trees waiting for the rescue operation.

The Saddle dam collapse raised the question of compliance to world best dam standards and dam safety, according to the World Commission on Dam Guidelines. The WCD framework recommend that mechanisms should be developed to provide reparations, or retroactive compensation, for those who are suffering from existing dams, and restore damaged.

We ask Thai investors abroad to draw the learnt from the case of XeNamNoy dam- raising the need to develop dam safety as the first priority in the case of planned dams. In addition, a comprehensive assessment of the existing dam is put in place before building a new one on the Mekong and its tributary rivers.

Several measures must be carried out as soonest to take responsibility according to the international best practice standards and human rights principle.

Recommendation to the Government:

·       We urge the government of Laos to order an investigation- regarding what causes the collapse of the dam and coming up with measures to avoid the same incidence to happen. The assessment should be done by the independent expert or third party

Recommendations to the investors:

·       We demand the company to responsible towards compensation and remedies to the communities due to the loss. The company must engage communities into discussion about compensation and appropriate remedies as soonest.

The statement is calling for a greater responsibility of Thai investors in their investments abroad which is based on the Guiding Principle of Business and Human Rights (UNGP). Thai investor must respect community’s rights to remedies- inclusive participation of the affected communities into compensation discussion, providing fair and just compensation and remedies to the affected communities.

The flood victims (Photo from Lao News Agency)

Endorsement:

1.     Thai People Network along 8 provinces of the Mekong

2.     Rak Chiang Khong

3.     Living Rivers Association

4.     Mekong Butterfly

5.     Extraterritorial Watch Coalition

6.     Foundation of Environment and Natural Resources

7.    Community Resources Centre Foundation

8. Mekong Communities Institute

9.  EarthRights International