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Audio Overview of South Asia Issues, Thursday, 3 January 2019

APAC Assistance Director Paul Quaglia discusses security issues for South Asia and East Asia Pacific.

Main Issues in South Asia

SRI LANKA

  • More than 95,000 suspects were arrested by Sri Lanka police for drug possession during countrywide raids in 2018. The suspects were arrested for possession of toxic drugs such as heroin, cocaine, hashish, cannabis, and methamphetamine. Over 736 kg of heroin with an approximate street value of USD 4.5 million were seized during the raids.
  • Drug trafficking by criminal gangs is a major concern for law enforcement agencies in Sri Lanka. More than 200 people very killed in gang-related murders in 2018.
  • Clients are advised to be vigilant in Colombo and other major cities. Avoid traveling around Colombo at night when the gangs are known to be active.

INDIA

  • Violent protests were reported across the south-Indian state of Kerala yesterday after two women in their forties entered the Sabarimala (sa-ba-ri-mala) temple. One supporter of Bharatiya Janata Party was killed in clashes during the protest in Pandalam (pan-da-lum). The supporters of Communists Party of India – Marxist who are in support of entry of wemon of all ages inside the temple allegedly attacked the protest.
  • Several people were injured in such clashes across the state and several buses were stoned in Thiruvananthapuram (tri-van-drum), Kollam (ko-lum), and Kochi. The protesters forced shops to close in many towns and blocked traffic.
  • Clients are advised to avoid prominent landmarks expected to host further protests. Monitor alerts and advisories from APAC assistance for further updates.

Main Issues in East Asia Pacific

THAILAND

Yesterday, high profile politician Suthep Thaugsuban, campaigned in the red stronghold of the Northeast to seek voter support.

  • He is co-founder of the action coalition for Thailand party
  • Though he is not running for a position is supporting the party with his significant presence.

Why is this significant?

Firstly, some background on Suthep:

  • Suthep came from Surat Thani province in the South. Until 2011, he was secretary-general of the democrat party and a deputy prime minister under Abhisit Vejjajiva.
  • Interestingly he became vice president of the Democratic Party
  • Suthep won the Asia Society’s Person of the Year in 2013,
  • His claim to fame was for ridding Thailand of corruption is fairly radical: toppling the existent elected ruling party and installing a council of wise leaders to purify Thailand. (earning him 112,000 votes)
  • Note this was a year before the 2014 coup, or what I describe more correctly without any functioning civil or political entities, as a necessary military intervention
  • When Suthep won he achieved 10 times more votes than the 2012 winner, Imran Khan in Pakistan.
  • The runner up behind Suthep was Itmalala Yousafzai, the female education rights activist from Pakistan, with 12,000 votes
  • Suthep resigned from parliament in November 2013
  • He became Secretary-General of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, which was conducting mass protests trying to unseat the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
  • After the military coup of May 22, 2014, Suthep was temporarily detained and placed under arrest by the Military Government
  • Entered a Monkhood
  • In 2016 Suthep backed the Military Government’s constitution which had been put to a National Referendum on 7 august 2016.
  • In a country where pluralism and changes of mind are non-existent Suthep is a rare free thinker and has shown pluralistic traits

Why is this campaign in the Northeast significant?

  • A man from Suraththani that supported the military getting a warm greeting in Thailand may well indicate that Thais are accepting of the upcoming elections and therefore the new constitution
  • Perhaps 30 years of abuses of power by politicians has created a yearning for stability

ALSO, IN THALAND

  • Tropical Cyclone Pabuk
  • All Southern provinces
  • Three to five metre waves
  • Heavy wind and rain and floods
  • Power outages can be expected and should be planned for

PHILIPPINES AND INDONESIA also experienced fatal mudslides

  • The disasters occurred in the central Philippines following the Usman cyclone and in Sukabhumi Western Java
  • There have scores of fatalities and others remain missing in the incidents

 

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