This post is a collection of notes and thoughts on a roundtable on nuclear power and safety in ASEAN held as part of Singapore International Energy Week 2016.
Nuclear power. The first thing that came to mind was images of that iconic mushroom cloud and the prospect of living in a Mad Max world. But then I remembered we’re in Southeast Asia, which has been declared a nuclear-weapon-free zone since 1995. Although ASEAN has declared itself to be free from nukes, the charm of harnessing atomic energy for civilian purposes is too hard to resist. I honestly did not know that Vietnam is planning to have up to 10 reactors in 15-30 years, and that the Philippines has the first nuclear power plant in Southeast Asia, but was never fuelled.
Despite knowing the destructive power of nuclear energy, I am also a firm believer that nuclear power is the way to power the future. As Asimov has shown in Foundation and Gipsy Danger in Pacific Rim, nuclear power is indeed the source of energy that people need to thrust themselves into the future.
The roundtable featured a variety of experts on nuclear power, such as Dr Olli Heinonen, Dr Tatsujiro Suzuki, Shah Nawaz Ahmad, Sabar Mohd Hashim, Siriratana Biramontri, and Dr Hoang Sy Than, who talked about the need to establish robust institutions to promote regional cooperation and information-sharing as a way to harness nuclear power in ASEAN.