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Audio Overview of East Asia Issues, TUESDAY, 2 April 2019

Paul Quaglia  – APAC Assistance Director

Major Issues In EAST ASIA PACIFIC

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

 

INDONESIA 

Prabowo’s team complains of irregularities. The Prabowo Subianto campaign team complained to the Election Commission (KPU) that it has uncovered irregularities affecting 9% of voters affecting 17 and a half million voters in the election rolls. The anomalies include errors in dates of birth or duplication in identity card numbers. Hashim Djojohadikusumo, media director of the opposition campaign team, said “We demand that this be resolved as quickly as possible. Unless we obtain satisfactory answers, there is a clear possibility that we will go to the constitutional court.” The Election Commission is expected to address the Prabowo camp’s concerns quickly. Indonesia’s voters list issues have been problematic for some time due partly to dysfunction between different authorities overseeing the data. The opposition camp’s concerns raise the likelihood that the legitimacy of the outcome of the April 17 elections will be questioned by the opposition. In 2014, the Constitutional Court rejected an attempt by Prabowo to overturn his loss in the election over claims that the elections were tainted by cheating.              Pre-election surveys show Widodo commands a comfortable lead over his rival. Probowo’s actions may be laying a platform for his actions as a loss in the election becomes more likely.

 

THAILAND 

Prayuth defends the Election Commission. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha defended the Election Commission yesterday and said quote “there should be no more disorder. The Election Commission has already given explanations. Please listen to them.” End quote. Prayut defended the Election Commission after campaigns were launched to impeach its commissioners over alleged election irregularities. Yesterday in a worrying sign for peace and order a motorcyclist torched a car owned by an activist campaigning for the impeachment of the Election Commission. At present, protests against the Election Commission remain minimal, but they could gain ground should major personalities or parties increase efforts to promote the rallies. The commission is set to announce the official full results of the March 24 general election on May 9.

 

PHILIPPINES

Tensions persist over disputed islands. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed yesterday that over 600 Chinese vessels were seen near the Manila-held Thitu Island part of the Spratly archipelago between January and March this year. Philippine soldiers have been repairing the runway on the island. Panelo said a diplomatic protest has been filed with the Chinese embassy. The announcement came on the same day that the 35th annual Balikatan US-Philippines-Australian military exercises started. The presence of Chinese ships near Thitu Island is likely to continue, if not increase. President Duterte has chosen to downplay the Philippines’ maritime dispute with China as it pursues improved economic ties with the regional power, the world’s second-largest economy.

 

Tensions persist over disputed islands. A Philippine Army soldier was injured after soldiers clashed with about more than 20 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Barangay  (village) Quintin Remo, Moises Padilla town in the Negros Occidental province in the central Philippines. The army is still verifying information that about 14 of the communist rebels were either killed or injured. More than 17 hundred people in the area were also evacuated after the gunfight.            Clashes with the NPA rebels are likely to increase after President Duterte ended the peace talks and quote “with finality” end quote with the Communist rebels.         Clients in the Philippines are advised to exercise high caution in communist hotbeds in the Philippines. These hotbeds include the Cagayan region in Northern Luzon, the Bicol region in Southern Luzon, the Negros island and Samar island in the Visayas, and parts of northern, central and southern Mindanao island.

 

CHINA 

Forest fire in southwest China. At least 30 firefighters died battling a forest fire in remote mountains in southwest China’s Sichuan province on March 31. Authorities deployed almost more than 700 firefighters to tackle the fire on March 30. A separate forest fire that lasted two days in the northern province of Shanxi was brought under control also on March 31. Almost More than 3,000 firefighters doused another forest fire in the outskirts of Beijing on the same day. Authorities have warned that warmer temperatures have raised the risk of forest fires in the north of China. A forest fire in northeast Heilongjiang province killed 119 people, injured 102 others and left 51,000 people homeless in May 1987.

 

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