Newspapers in Laos
The spread of newspapers in Laos is very small (4 newspaper excl. Per 1,000 residents, 2000). The two largest newspapers are Paxaxon (‘The People’), published by the Central Committee of the Communist Party, with an edition of 28,000 copies, and Viangchan May (‘New Vientiane’, about 2,500 copies). Other newspapers and magazines are also controlled by the party.
Radio and television are state-owned. Lao National Radio (founded in 1951) broadcasts on, among other things. Lao, French, Thai and Khmer. Television began broadcasting in 1983 and since 1988 has two channels. Since 1994, there is also the cable TV channel IBC Channel 3, which is owned by the state and a Thai company. There are 148 radio and just under 10 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).
According to ANIMALERTS, Buddhism permeates much of life in Laos and comes to clear expression in art and architecture. The Communist regime is committed to defending and preserving the uniqueness of the country’s culture, not least as a counterbalance to the growing foreign – especially Thai – influence.
The many Buddhist buildings are covered with frescoes and ornaments that tell stories of Buddha’s life. Famous is the temple (stupan) Pha That Luang from the 16th century in the capital Vientiane. In Thai architecture, a Thai influence can also be traced.
Modern Laotian literature emerged in connection with nationalist trends during the 1940s, when the art of letterpress was introduced in the country. The main examples of Laotian poetry are proverbs on rhyme, phagna souphasite, and narrative ballads, lambs. Popular literature is often made up of lambs. The classic literature consists, among other things, of medical and astrological texts with roots in the Indian thought world.
After the communist takeover of 1975, literature became the foremost task of paying homage to socialism. Since the start of economic liberalization in the mid-1980s, short stories with personal feelings and some regime criticism have been published.
Although a few feature films have been produced in Laos in recent decades, most have been patriotic propaganda films. In 2008, the first privately funded film, the romantic drama Sabaidee Luang Prabang (Good Morning Luang Prabang), was allowed to be filmed in the country – albeit under strict supervision by the authorities. The government’s hope is that film recordings will contribute to the country’s economy. But when Australian film director Kim Mordaunt recorded the movie The Rocket (La Rocket) with Laotian actors in Laos in 2013, it was forbidden to appear in Laos (it should have been shown at the Luang Prabang film festival). The film, which has won several international awards, is about how a controversial dam construction forces people to move against their will (see Natural Resources, Energy and Environment).
Laotian music, song and dance have much in common with the Thai counterparts. The national instrument is kaan, a mouth organ that is often accompanied by xylophone and cymbals and is often used when dancing the popular ring dance lam wong. The rhythm is important, and solo and alternate songs occupy a central place. The element of religious and ritual music is great.
For a long time, modern pop was forbidden, but Laotian youth nevertheless listened to such music from Thailand. Nowadays, Laotian groups can be formed, some have even made a career in Thailand.
Many decision makers die in a plane crash
A number of high-ranking politicians and decision-makers die in an air crash 50 miles north of Vientiane. The victims include Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Douangchay Phichith, Security Minister Thongbanh Sengaphone, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and Vientiane Mayor Soukanh Mahalath.
New finance minister will reduce budget deficit
As part of efforts to strengthen the state’s financial discipline and curb the growing budget deficit, Phouphet Khamphounvong is replaced by Lien Thikeo, former governor of Sayabouri Province, as finance minister.