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Tom Fawthrop

Tom Fawthrop

Tom Fawthrop, based in Southeast Asia, has been a regular contributor to the Guardian, Economist, South China Morning Post, and The Diplomat for many years.

He has been reporting from Phnom Penh, Manila, Chiang Mai, and Dili since the 1980s. He has also produced features for BBC and Al Jazeera TV.

A film-maker, he has directed documentaries including Killing the Mekong, Dam by Dam; The Last Undammed River (The Salween); and Swimming against the Tide (about the Cuban health system).

He is also co-author of the book Getting Away with Genocide? about the long struggle to bring about the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Posts by Tom Fawthrop
February 29, 2024

Where Have All the Mekong River’s Fish Gone?

By Tom Fawthrop
Policymakers have clung to the fiction that damage to fish populations from hydropower projects can be avoided – with devastating consequences.

March 24, 2023

The Last Days of Beautiful Luang Prabang  

By Tom Fawthrop
UNESCO experts insist that a huge dam would destroy the “authenticity and integrity” of the World Heritage Site in Laos.
December 28, 2022

Cambodia Seeks UNESCO World Heritage Status to Protect a Mekong Biodiversity Hotspot 

By Tom Fawthrop
This potentially spectacular success story for global conservation could be derailed if a huge dam project gets the green light.

May 04, 2022

Shan State Exemplifies China’s Tangled Myanmar Ties

By Tom Fawthrop
China’s endorsement of the junta lays the basis for a boom in trade with the fractious eastern state – or so Beijing hopes.

December 24, 2021

To Fight COVID-19, Asia Increasingly Turns to Traditional Medicine

By Tom Fawthrop
With vaccine access still uneven, many in Thailand, Vietnam, and beyond are looking for herbal treatments.

September 03, 2021

Who Will Win the Battle for Myanmar’s UN Seat?

By Tom Fawthrop
The stakes are high: the U.N. decision will give either the junta or the NUG the imprimatur of international legitimacy.
July 17, 2021

The Threat of a Dam Disaster in Luang Prabang 

By Tom Fawthrop
The dam near Luang Prabang - both a World Heritage site and an seismically active zone - is “an irresponsible gamble,” experts argue.

May 21, 2021

Can Sanctions Work in Myanmar?

By Tom Fawthrop
Sanctions and mass boycotts have hurt the junta and driven investors away. Could stronger steps actually bring down the regime?

April 01, 2021

Can Myanmar’s Protesters Win?

By Tom Fawthrop
They are up against a ruthless, entrenched military. But history tells us not to underestimate the power of the people.

February 27, 2021

Myanmar’s Ethnic Groups Join Together to Reject Military Rule

By Tom Fawthrop
The protest movement is boosted by rare ethnic solidarity as the nation unifies against the coup.

December 23, 2020

Hydropower vs Heritage: Will Laos Lose Luang Prabang?

By Tom Fawthrop
Another Mekong dam project threatens to cost the former royal capital its UNESCO World Heritage status.
October 17, 2020

Myanmar’s High-Risk Election

By Tom Fawthrop
Aung San Suu Kyi’s dangerous gamble to push ahead with a controversial election as a second wave of COVID-19 hits Myanmar hard. 

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