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Audio Overview of South Asia Issues, Friday, 1 March 2019

APAC Assistance Operations Assistant Bhargav Reddy discusses Main Issues in South Asia.

 

Main Issues in South Asia

Firstly in BANGLADESH

  • The Bangladesh Awami League party candidate Atiqul Islam was declared as the Mayor of Dhaka after he won the Dhaka North City Corporation mayoral by-election. He defeated the Jatiya Party candidate Shafin Ahmed.
  • The results were announced yesterday evening, however, the voter turnout was merely 30.05%.
  • Lack of strong opposition candidates has led to the landslide victory of the Awami League. Major opposition parties including the Bangladesh Nationalist Party had decided earlier not to contest any elections claiming that the election as a fraud.

PAKISTAN

  • Prime Minister Imran Khan announced yesterday that Pakistan will release the captured Indian pilot today as a goodwill gesture. The pilot was captured after his plane was shot down on February 26 over Pakistan Administered Kashmir.
  • The escalating situation between India and Pakistan has led to the closure of all major airports in Pakistan and restricted air traffic in northern India. The release of the Indian pilot is mandated under Article 5 and 6 of Geneva Convention, 1929, which states that the captured nation have to release the prisoner of war back to his/her country in seven days.
  • Flights between Europe, South and South East Asia has been affected severely. Clients are advised to avoid flights flying through Pakistan and north and west areas of India and monitor the updates from the carriers.

SRI LANKA

  • A train on the coastal railway line has derailed between Kalutara South and Kalutara North stations. The train was bound for Maradana from Galle in southern Sri Lanka.
  • Railway spokesman said that four compartments of the train were derailed, and restoration work is still ongoing. The derailment has caused delays in train services on the coastal line which connects Colombo and Matara in southern Sri Lanka. It is one of the busiest railway lines in the country.
  • Clients are advised to be aware of delays and disruptions on the coastal railway line and consider alternate modes of transport.

INDIA

  • Jet Airways yesterday said six more aircraft have been grounded due to non-payment of lease rentals bringing the total number of grounded planes to 19.
  • Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal has agreed to step down and to bring his shareholdings below 20% from 51%.
  • Clients are advised to be aware of the disruptions in the Jet Airways services and consider other airlines until the services are restored.

 

Main Issues in East Asia Pacific

Firstly in THAILAND

  • The National Legislative Assembly passed the cybersecurity bill yesterday. The bill gives authorities the right to bypass court orders in “critical” situations.
  • The bill authorizes formation of the National Cybersecurity Commission, chaired by the prime minister. The commission will be monitored by a committee headed by the minister of digital economy and society. The commission will gather evidence for analyzing cyber threats.
  • The bill empowers the secretary-general of the commission to let officials investigate cybersecurity threats without approaching the court. The King needs to sign the bill and it should be published in the Royal Gazette for the bill to be enacted.

The PHILIPPINES

  • A police officer was killed, and another officer was injured in an encounter with the New People’s Army in Gloria, Oriental Mindoro province on the Mindoro Island yesterday.
  • Police officers were patrolling near Premium Megastructures Incorporated when they were attacked by the New People’s Army.
  • Clients are advised to employ extreme caution and be aware of the frequent attacks by the communist rebels on the private corporations and frequent gunfights with police.

INDONESIA

  • Indonesia and Australia are expected to sign a free trade deal in Jakarta on March 4. It will be known as Indonesian-Australian Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
  • The agreement will give 99% of Australian exports to Indonesia either tax free or preferential treatment. It is expected to benefit Australia’s agriculture, education and health sectors. Indonesia will benefit on its exports of petroleum, furniture, wood products and footwear.
  • In 2017-2018, the total trade volume between Indonesia and Australia stood at USD 7.9 billion. In 2017, Australia imported 1.5% of total Indonesian exports while 4.5% of total imports by Indonesia were from Australia.

Also in INDONESIA

  • Eleven members of the Islam Defenders Front were arrested yesterday by police for allegedly causing a commotion during an event of Indonesia’s largest Islamic Organization, the Nahdatul Ulama in Tebing Tinggi in North Sumatra yesterday.
  • Police said that the arrested individuals allegedly violated Article 160 of the Criminal Code on Provocation by shouting misleading statements while demanding the event to be disbanded. With the elections are in April such protests by religious pressure groups are likely to increase.
  • Clients are advised to avoid attending any political rallies or gatherings before the elections in April this year.

CHINA

  • Ford Motor Corporation’ has decided not to renew its contract with China’s Changan Automobile Group to supply workers to its facility in China due to a slowdown in car sales in China. More than 20,000 workers are going to be affected by this decision.
  • Ford’s sales went down 36.9 % in 2018, due to lack of new and redesigned models. Ford is unlikely to regain the sales in 2019.
  • According to China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers, China’s car sales went down 2.8% in 2018, the first since the 1990s due to slow economic growth and also the ongoing U.S-China trade war. The association does not expect growth in car sales in 2019. In January 2019 car sales fell 15.8% year on year.

VIETNAM

  • The U.S and North Korea talks in Hanoi ended without an agreement. It is unclear when the next round talks will be scheduled.
  • The United States President Donald Trump said, the meeting ended over disagreement on North Korea’s demand for removal of all sanctions first to meet U.S. demands on dismantling the main nuclear complex at Yongbyon. The U.S. also wanted other nuclear facilities including covert sites to be disabled as well. Trump added, he is open to meet for third round of talks.
  • The failure of talks will disappoint South Korea as it was expecting an agreement from the talks and reduction of sanctions on North Korea for normalcy in trade. Denuclearization of North Korea is critical for the regional security.
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