Burma’s New Port Project Continues but Faces Problems

August 16, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. port (n.)
[pawrt, pohrt] – a place beside a large body of water where ships can transfer people and supplies from the ship to the land, or from the land to the ship
Example: Yokohama opened Japan’s first international port in 1854.

2. beset (v.) [bih-set– to be surrounded or attacked by difficulties
Example: Ever since the project began, it has been beset with financial and management issues.

3. industrial (adj.) [in-duhs-tree-uhl] – relating to the making of products and goods for an economy
Example: The government believes industrial development will increase the country’s exports and income.

4. route (n.) [root, rout] – a way or path which is usually taken by someone or something that is travelling
Example: Delivery trucks had to take a different road after the floods blocked their route.

5. put one’s back into something (idiom) [poot wuhns bak in-too suhm-thing] – work really hard to accomplish something
Example: The government is putting its back into raising public trust.

Read the text below.

Leaders of Thailand and Burma are currently discussing the construction of an $8.6-billion port in eastern Burma. The project, however, has been beset by several problems.

The Dawei Port and Industrial Zone is an infrastructure project that hopes to strengthen the relationship of the two nations. It will supposedly deliver great benefits in industries and transportation in the surrounding regions.

Dawei Port will shorten trade routes and sailing time of ships by three days, as ships will no longer need to pass through the Malacca strait. The 250-square-kilometer Dawei Port will also include power plants, steel factories, petrochemical buildings, and a fertilizer plant. The port will supply oil and industrial products to the rest of Southeast Asia.

Italian Thai Development Company, the Thai construction company in charge of building the Dawei project, aims to complete the project by 2016.

However, environmentalists have put their backs into slowing the progress of the project’s development. They say its political, environmental, and social impact must be carefully considered.

Environmentalists warn developers and investors that Burma still has a weak legal system and a troubled political situation. For instance, the government remains to be in conflict with Karen tribes, who are natives of the Dawei area, making it problematic for developers to buy these people’s land.

Already, environmentalists have succeeded in delaying the construction of a coal plant in Dawei. One investor has withdrawn from the Dawei development project, while another requested a further study of the project’s social and environmental impact.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         In what ways can fast industrial development harm the environment or local culture?
·         What do you think is more important, a country’s economic growth or the protection of a country’s culture and environment? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         Do you believe your country’s culture and environment are well-protected by your government? What makes you say so?
·         How can citizens be more involved in caring for their country’s culture or environment?

August 16, 2012