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Audio Overview of East Asia Pacific Issues, Wednesday, 27 February 2019

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

Main Issues in East Asia Pacific

Firstly in THAILAND

  • One ranger was killed, and another ranger and a civilian were injured by a roadside bomb explosion in the Banang Sata district of Yala province in southern Thailand yesterday. Police have blamed the separatist insurgents active in the region.
  • Bomb disposal officers safely destroyed a second bomb found nearby.
  • Clients are advised to employ extreme caution in the southern provinces of Thailand.

Also in THAILAND

  • General Prawit Wongsuwon, the deputy chief of the National Council for Peace and Order, was appointed as head the selection committee of senators by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Prayut declined to comment on why he appointed General Prawit to head the senator selection committee.
  • General Prawit said he will select 194 senators from different professions, but he will not select active soldiers. He did not rule out retired military officers being included in the Senate. The opposition parties have claimed that this is an unfair move, especially after General Prayut was accepted as prime minister candidate of Palang Pracharath Party and they alleged that 250 senators will be chosen either directly or indirectly by General Prayut.
  • As per the constitution of 2017, the Thai parliament consists of 750 members. Five hundred members are elected by the people for four years to the House of Representatives. The Senate consists of 250 members with a five-year term. Of the 250 seats, 194 are selected by the ruling National Council for Peace and Order. Six seats are reserved for the armed forces including, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, the defense permanent secretary, and the national police chief. The remaining 50 members represent 10 professional and social groups including bureaucrats, teachers, judges, farmers and private companies. They are elected by panels representing these groups approved by the Election Commission.

In The PHILIPPINES

  • The Chief Minister of the Autonomous region of Bangsamoro Murad Ebrahim said he will not intervene on the dispute over the Sabah province between the Philippines and Malaysia on the northern part of the Borneo Island. The dispute has been a contentious issue since the Sixties.
  • In 2018, a constitutional committee was formed by President Rodrigo Duterte which came up with a draft federal charter that included Sabah as part of a Philippine territory basing it on a historical belief that the Sultan of Sulu received Sabah from the Sultan of Brunei for helping to stop a rebellion in the seventeenth century. Malaysia included Sabah into its territory in the 1960s and it has been paying USD 13,446 to the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu as “cession money”.

In CHINA

  • China has protested after two United States Navy warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait yesterday. Chinese has opposed the passage and blamed the US for taking provocative actions.
  • China has repeatedly demanded US cut all ties with Taiwan, which China regards as a breakaway province, and stated it will be taken back by force if necessary.
  • The ship movement can be seen as a show of force reiterating the US commitment to defend Taiwan as committed to in the USA’s Taiwan Relations Act passed in 1979, which says the USA is bound by law to help defend Taiwan against any forceful takeover.

VIETNAM

  • The United States President Donald Trump arrived at Hanoi yesterday for the second round of talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. They will meet today at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi at 6.30pm and have a twenty-minute one-on-one discussion.
  • The US will seek to convince North Korea to disband its nuclear weapons and North Korea seeks a relaxation of economic sanctions with a formal declaration ending the Korean War which began in 1950.
  • Hundreds of police and army personnel have been deployed in Hanoi as part of the security arrangements for the Summit. Clients are advised to be aware of the traffic restrictions in several parts of the city.

In PAPUA NEW GUINEA

  • A major anti-corruption drive is being conducted by the Forest Authority to identify and sack rogue officers. High ranking officers have been sidelined from investigations to keep the investigations impartial.
  • Major allegations were received against senior officials prompting the investigation. Papua New Guinea has rich forest resources and a multi-million timber industry which attracts illegal trading.
  • The Minister of Forestry said that the General Orders and the Forestry Act are very explicit and if anyone has breached the rules then they have terminated.

INDONESIA

  • Indonesia’s disaster agency said rescuers are searching for survivors after the collapse of an illegal gold mine in the Bolaang Mongondow jurisdiction area of the island of North Sulawesi yesterday.
  • Rescuers fear that there are more than sixty people trapped in the mine. One person has been found dead and thirteen people have been rescued.
  • Though banned by the central government, small-scale illegal gold mining is present throughout Indonesia due to poor enforcement of laws by local authorities and due to rampant corruption.

 

Main Issues in South Asia

Firstly in  Bangladesh

  • The Dhaka North City Corporation by-elections will be conducted today. Approximately, three million voters will elect a new mayor and councilors.
  • Polling for mayoral elections will be held in 54 wards out of which 18 are new wards. The voting will be conducted from 8 am until 4 pm.
  • Motorcycles will be banned in the polling areas from today till Friday 6am. Except emergency services other vehicles will be banned from today. Restrictions on vehicle traffic will be implemented on main roads and highways connecting Dhaka.

SRI LANKA

  • Four policemen were injured during a protest by the Higher National Diploma in Accountancy students at Lotus Road in Colombo yesterday. Students were demanding an increase in the Mahapola scholarship from USD 27 to USD 305 given to university students.
  • Police had to use water cannons and teargas to disperse the protestors leading to several injuries. The Lotus Road leading to the Presidential Secretariat was blocked.
  • Every year more than 1000 students get the Mahapola scholarship. More protests by the students can be expected in Colombo this week.

INDIA

  • The government has issued a high alert across the states bordering Pakistan including Jammu and Kashmir after India carried out pre-emptive air strikes across the Line of Control in the Pakistan Administered Kashmir.
  • The Indian Air Force carried out the air strikes targeting Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camps and eliminated more than 300 terrorists. The armed forces of Pakistan dismissed the claims by the Indian government and said there was no damage to infrastructure and no casualties were reported.
  • Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsible for the attack on a convoy of paramilitary personnel in Pulwama which killed 44 soldiers on February 14 in Jammu And Kashmir. Jaish-e-Mohammed has been banned by UN and several countries.
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