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Audio Overview of East Asia Pacific Issues, Wednesday, 16 January 2019

APAC Assistance Director Paul Quaglia discusses Main Issues in East Asia Pacific

Main Issues in East Asia Pacific

Firstly in THAILAND

  • The Army chief Gen Apirat has warned the pro-democracy activists not to cross the line when they hold a rally this Saturday, January 19. He has claimed that the rally will adversely affect business operators around the rally site and hurt tourism. He said it is necessary to deploy security forces to maintain peace and order during the rally.
  • A group of activists calling themselves “People Who Want Elections” has threatened to hold a rally at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok if a royal decree announcing the election is not published by Friday. They have demanded that a general election should be held by March 10 before the constitutional deadline of 150 days to conduct elections.
  • Clients are advised to avoid the Democracy Monument on Saturday and to avoid all political events before the elections. Expect a large “show of force’ security presence in Bangkok on Saturday.

The Philippines

  • An earthquake of 5.9 magnitude was reported on the southern island of Mindanao this morning. The earthquake is an aftershock of a 7.2 strong quake that hit Mindanao_last month.
  • Moderately strong tremors were recorded in Davao City and Santa Josefa.
  • Clients should be aware that the Philippines is prone to frequent earthquakes and cyclonic storms. The Philippines gets an average of 20 tropical cyclones per year. Monitor alert and advisories from APAC Assistance for further updates.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

  • Attorney-General Dr Eric Kwa has said that there is no proper data and statistics of crimes in the country reaching his office because of a lack of coordination. Dr Kwa pointed out the lack of coordination between the police and defense departments to provide detailed reports on how crimes happened.
  • Dr Kwa stated bluntly that Police Commissioner Gari Baki gets his crime reports weekly from the provinces but they do not come to his department. The lack of coordination and comprehensive crime data makes it challenging for law enforcement agencies to fight crime.
  • Violent crime remains a major concern in the country, clients should employ extreme caution while operating in or traveling to Papua New Guinea.

Also in PAPUA NEW GUINEA

  • More than 30 police officers in the National Capital District have been arrested and charged by a task force for various offenses. The majority of the cases were about police brutality and police aiding prisoners to escape.
  • Authorities have claimed that the number of brutality cases hasdropped since the introduction of the task force.
  • Meanwhile, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and Energy Sam Basil has condemned the forced suspension of work at the Wafi-Golpu mining project last week by a group claiming to be “landowner executives”.
  • He claimed that the threats and subsequent shutdown forced by the so-called Wafi-Golpu Landowners Association is illegal and uncalled for. Mining is an important industry for the country and such forcible closures are likely to have an adverse impact on other companies engaged in the mining sector or looking to invest in PNG.

Drug Trafficking

  • Yesterday an Indonesian task force comprising officers of the National Narcotics Agency and customs agency foiled an attempt to smuggle drugs into Indonesia through Lhoksukon in northern Aceh, the westernmost province of Indonesia.
  • The task force intercepted a boat carrying 70 packets of crystal methamphetamine and two packets of ecstasy pills that allegedly came from a drug syndicate based in Malaysia. Three members of the smuggling crew were arrested during the raid.
  • In Australia, two international airline staff are among eight people arrested over drug trafficking operations into Melbourne and Sydney.
  • A Malindo Air cabin crew employee and another airline staffer allegedly smuggled the drugs as part of their involvement in a Melbourne-based Vietnamese organized crime syndicate.
  • They were among eight people arrested in Melbourne over the past fortnight, as part of a police operation targeting the syndicate. The crime syndicate allegedly imported more than $20 million of illicit drugs into Australia from Malaysia.

 

Main Issues in South Asia

First up in SRI LANKA

  • Yesterday Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Minister Harsha de Silva said that the government had prepaid the USD 1 billion borrowed by the previous regime in January 2014 through international sovereign bonds. Sri Lanka is in an economic crisis with a debt of USD 21 billion and a depleted foreign exchange reserve of USD 8 billion.
  • The finance minister and the governor of the Central Bank are visiting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washinton DC this week. They are expected to negotiate resumption of the economic assistance program which was suspended last year during the political crisis in the country. Prior to a deal, the IMF is expected to insist on major economic reforms to ensure a faster economic recovery and a more stable economy.
  • Clients are advised to monitor the economic situation and be aware of the possible tax reforms if the economic assistance resumes from the IMF. It could also lead to anti-austerity protests.

PAKISTAN

  • Yesterday Prime minister Imran Khan said that the chaos in the National Assembly sessions this week are due to the ongoing anti-corruption operations by the National Accountability Bureau.
  • The corruption cases against prominent politicians of the opposition parties have caused protests by their supporters across the country. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League party was convicted and several cases against his family are ongoing. Opposition parties have accused the government of using law enforcement agencies to further their own political interests.
  • Clients are advised to monitor political developments in Pakistan. Conviction of prominent politicians may cause protests and demonstrations in major cities. Monitor APAC Assistance alerts and advisories for further updates.

 

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