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Audio Overview of East Asia Pacific Issues, THURSDAY, 28 March 2019

Bhargav Reddy – APAC Assistance Operations Assistant

Major Issues In EAST ASIA PACIFIC

THURSDAY, 28 March 2019

 

THAILAND

The Palang Pracharat Party adamant on forming a government. The pro-military Palang Pracharat Party said it is confident it can form a government. The party has not named its allies in its coalition. The Palang Prachart Party won the most votes in the election and, together with the military-appointed 250-member Senate, the party is expected to muster the majority of the entire 750-member parliament. Yesterday, seven political parties, led by the Pheu Thai party and the Future Forward party, announced that they have formed a coalition with the support of 255 members in the 500-member House of Representatives. With the support of seven parties, the coalition will have a majority in the lower house but fall short of the 376 required seats to nominate the prime minister. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said the parties cannot form a new government until the official results of the election have been announced on May 9 and the King’s coronation ceremonies have been completed.  It remains uncertain which political parties will form Thailand’s governing coalition. The insistence of both the Pheu Thai-led coalition and the Palang Pracharat party puts Thailand at a political standoff. The Palang Pracharat Party with its allies and the Senate can choose Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha to stay on as premier. However, Prayut could face parliamentary deadlock if the Pheu Thai-led coalition controls the lower house and he would be vulnerable to a confidence vote.

Meanwhile, the military will reportedly explain its post-election stance today. The chief of the Defense Forces has reportedly called a special meeting with leaders of the three armed forces and the national police chief to discuss Thailand’s situation. The security forces are concerned about the unfolding political standoff between the Pheu Thai-led coalition of seven anti-military political parties and the pro-military the Palang Pracharat Party. Prior to the election, Thailand’s military chief did not rule out the possibility of intervening if the situation calls for it.

 

INDONESIA

Minister of Home Affairs seeks to suppress abstention votes. Indonesian Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo ordered regional leaders and village leaders across the country to help suppress the number of possible abstainers in the April 17 presidential and legislative elections. The order was made after several pre-election surveys showed a high level of abstention in the upcoming election. Indonesia Study Circle Denny JA has predicted that voters’ participation will reach only 65.2% of voters. The General Election Commission data show that voters’ participation was 77% in 2009 and 70% in 2014. The Indonesia Ulema Council have also called on Muslims to vote in the upcoming elections, maintaining that voting a leader is a national and religious obligation. Leaders who are backing or sympathetic to President Joko Widodo are the ones urging Indonesians to vote. Widodo camp could be concerned that a big election abstention is likely to reduce votes for Widodo. Student and separatist leaders in Papua and West Papua have called for a boycott of the elections. There may also be voters who are not keen to vote on April 17 either because they are not inspired by the choices or they think their choice, the incumbent, is winning anyway.

 

 MYANMAR

Deputy chief warns against the constitutional reforms. Deputy Chief of the military Vice Senior General Soe Win warned that ongoing attempts to reform the Constitution must be constitutional to avoid “unnecessary political hardships and its spillover effects.” Soe Win aired the warning in a speech to mark Myanmar’s 74th Armed Forces Day yesterday. He said that simply implementing the wishes of the majority, without considering whether it is correct or not, is illegal. The statement highlights the military’s strong opposition to the ongoing efforts to change the military-scripted Constitution. It signals that the military will prevent any substantial changing of the Constitution. The Constitution reserves 25% of parliamentary seats and the control of three security and defense ministries is retained with the military. Clients in Myanmar are advised to avoid events related to amending the Constitution or all political and religious events.

 

CHINA

Former Interpol chief to be prosecuted. China’s anti-corruption watchdog said the communist state will prosecute former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei for graft. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said it found that Meng took bribes, spent lavish amounts of state funds, abused his power and refused to follow the Communist Party’s decisions. Meng was detained by China in September last year and was expelled from the Communist Party. Meng is the latest Chinese Communist Party official targeted by the anti-corruption crackdown under President Xi Jinping. Analysts believe the anti-corruption crackdown consists of efforts to crush threats to the leadership of President Xi.

 

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