The Amazon of Asia (Laos)

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Sociopolitical Documentary hosted by Zoe Daniel, published by ABC broadcasted as part of ABC Foreign Correspondent series in 2010 - English narration

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Image: The-Amazon-of-Asia-Laos-Cover.jpg

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The Amazon of Asia Broadcast: 05/10/2010 Reporter: Zoe Daniel

Giant catfish the size of family refrigerators hide in the depths with 1200 other species of exotic wildlife. Further downstream there are rare and mysterious freshwater dolphins. People frame their lives around what the river can bring - food, jobs, transport … or if you’re a bunch of giggling kids – a skylarking dip in the backyard splash pool.

By the time the Amazon of Asia - the mighty Mekong River - reaches Laos it’s already been put to serious use by the Chinese and now the little landlocked communist nation wants to do the same. Big-time.

“Most of the Lao people in particular those still living in the country are still living under the poverty line. I mean that having income of less than $US2 per day.” XAYPASEUTH PHOMSOUPHA, MINES AND ENERGY DIRECTOR-GENERAL, LAOS

It's planning to plug in for its part in Asia’s economic boom by building dozens of dams on the Mekong and its tributaries. They’d drive hydro power stations making electricity for export and that that would transform a struggling minnow into The Battery of Asia.

But can the Mekong sustain the scale of the development underway and on the drawing board?

“If I were in Australia I’d say that this is something that I was vehemently against, but when you look at the contribution that this project makes to Lao GDP , for the benefits that come to the local community and the fact that Laos has few natural resources to bring it out of poverty one has to balance these conflicting issue.” STEPHEN DUTHY, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTIST

There are arguments and imagery familiar to Australians via the Murray/Darling debate – how does a nation aiming to grow, sustainably exploit its natural resources while climate change and the demands of population growth simmer in the background? What will these dams do to the life in, on and around the Mekong and what will be the impact for nations like Thailand and Vietnam further downstream that also depend on the Mekong?

South East Asia Correspondent Zoe Daniel takes a slow boat or three down Laos’ stretch of the meandering Mekong on a stunning journey of discovery. A magnificent wild watercourse that has sustained people for eons, that’s rich in spiritual history but that’s feeling the pressure of development. Will the mighty Mekong be overwhelmed?

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Duration: 26mn 13s
  • Filesize: 362 MiB
  • Format: Matroska
  • Video Codec: x264 core 93 r1542 5b86182
  • Video Bitrate: 1 800 Kbps
  • Video Resolution: 1024 x 576
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Frames Per Second: 25.000
  • Bits-(Pixel*Frame) 0.122
  • Audio Codec: AAC
  • Audio Bitrate: 128 kb/s 48KHz
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • Audio language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Source: DVB-T
  • Capture: DVBViewer
  • Demuxer: ProjectX
  • Encoder: Avidemux 2.5.3
  • SubMux: MKVMerge

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