Mongabay 18 October 2017: On Sept. 25, amid a continuing crackdown on media, political opposition and civil society described by commentators as “a slide into dictatorship,” Prime Minister Hun Sen officially launched Cambodia’s biggest hydropower project.
At the ceremony the gates were closed on the $800 million Lower Sesan 2 dam, a joint venture between China’s Hydrolancang International Energy, Cambodia’s Royal Group and Vietnamese state power company EVN. The project has been described by scientists as potentially the single most destructive tributary dam in the Mekong River system – where 200 medium- to large-scale dams are already built, planned or under construction.
Cambodia’s strongman spoke for an hour at the opening about the country’s need for electricity and development and its achievement in securing its own energy supply. He defiantly dismissed concerns about the dam’s impacts on the river system, fish and food security, and criticized NGOs who have campaigned against it.