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Audio Overview of East Asia Pacific Issues, Wednesday, 6 February 2019

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

Main Issues in East Asia Pacific

Firstly in CHINA

  • The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has warned that there will be “massive” implications for the global economy if the trade war escalates between the US and China.
  • The US and China have a deadline of 1 March to strike a deal, or the US has said it will increase tariff rates on USD 200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10% to 25%.
  • An increase in the cost of US-China trade is likely to prompt businesses to move away from the current East Asian supply chains. UNCTAD’s report estimates that $160 billion contraction in the East Asian region’s exports.

In THAILAND

  • Yesterday a police officer was injured and a civilian was killed in an ambush in the Sungai Kolok district of southern Narathiwat Province. Unidentified gunmen opened fire at the officer in the Tambon Pasemat area, near a police outpost at Ban Kawa Lorseera.
  • Investigators found nine 5.56 mm shells. Police suspect separatist insurgents were behind the attack and confirmed that there were two groups involved in the attack. One fired the shots and the other scattered nail spikes on the road to deter a police pursuit.
  • Clients are advised to employ extreme caution while traveling in the southern provinces of Thailand where fatal incidents are a daily occurrence.

In INDONESIA

  • The Jakarta Corruption Court has sentenced a former member of the House of Representatives Amin Santoso to eight years in prison and fined him Rp 300 million (USD 21,947) for bribery. He was barred from politics for 3 years.
  • Amin was found guilty of receiving Rp 3.3 billion in bribes from the Regent of Central Lampung and a director of Iwan Binangkit construction company.
  • The bribes were paid for favors to receive an allocation of additional funds in the 2018 state budget.

In TAIWAN

  • President Tsai Ing-wen received a death threat yesterday on her official Facebook page. The threat was made by an alleged pro-China activist in a message reading: “New Year’s wish: Behead Tsai Ing-Wen, unify China.”
  • In response to the threat, the Criminal Investigation Bureau said the threat may have violated the Criminal Code and police have launched an investigation to identify the culprit.
  • The threat comes after an increase in rhetoric from China this month concerning the reintegration of Taiwan into the People’s Republic of China.

Also in TAIWAN

  • Negotiations between a pilot’s union and the Taiwanese carrier ‘China Airlines’ aiming to avoid a strike have broken down. The dates of the strike are yet to be decided.
  • The strike is likely to disrupt air travel during the busy Lunar New Year in Taiwan.
  • Clients are advised to monitor the developments on the strike to avoid travel disruptions.

In PAPUA NEW GUINEA

  • Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has avoided a no-confidence vote this month as the Parliament was adjourned until May.
  • The government has asked for clarification on parliamentary procedures and powers over a vote for no-confidence against the Prime Minister.
  • The opposition conducted a rally at Goroka in the Eastern Highlands this week. Another rally is being planned at Madang.

 

Main Issues in South Asia

Firstly in INDIA

  • Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee has called off her sit-in protest on the third day yesterday. The protest was called off after a directive from the Supreme Court to the Kolkata Police Commissioner, Rajeev Kumar to appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for questioning.
  • Mamata began her protest on Sunday evening after the CBI attempted to question Rajeev Kumar in an investigation on a financial scam. The CBI and the central government approached the Supreme Court alleging that Rajeev Kumar has destroyed evidence in an investigation on a financial scam. They accused the state government of blocking them and detaining their officers when they tried to question Rajeev Kumar.
  • Tensions between the central and state government of West Bengal has been escalating after the rally on January 19 by Mamata at Kolkata with other opposition leaders.

In SRI LANKA

  • Yesterday more than 110 kilograms of heroin with a street value of USD 62,000 were seized at Wellawatta and Piliyandala areas of Colombo. Officers of the Excise Department’s Narcotics Unit raided multiple residential properties and arrested three suspects with a large cache of drugs. Excise officers suspect the heroin was smuggled into the country through the sea routes.
  • Two of the suspects were residents of Mount Lavinia, they were arrested at Wellawatte with 10 kg of heroin in their possession. The third suspect was arrested from a house at Piliyandala with 100 kgs of heroin in his possession.
  • Clients are advised to be aware of the increased anti-narcotic operations in Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka by the law enforcement agencies. The anti-drug operations can potentially trigger reprisal attacks by the criminal gangs posing a threat to civilians and businesses.
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