APAC Assistance Director Paul Quaglia discusses Main Issues in East Asia Pacific.
Main Issues in East Asia Pacific
Firstly, in INDONESIA
- Prabowo’s running mate, Vice-Presidential candidate Sandiaga Uno said that he wants to change the free trade agreement deal with Australia if his team wins April 19 elections. He claimed that the deal was unfair to Indonesia and wants to abolish special treatment to Australian beef imports. This type of inward only focus and a lack of International awareness is a reason Probowo is trailing the outward looking Widodo 59-31% according to the latest credible poll by the Survey Network LSI.
- Both countries signed the free trade agreement on March 4, 2019. Under the agreement 99% of Australian imports to Indonesia will be tariff-free by 2020.
- Trade between the two countries stands at USD 11.2 billion. Indonesia is Australia’s eight largest source of imports, while Australia is Indonesia’s 14th largest export destination.
Also, in INDONESIA
- Police have arrested two suspects alleged to be members of domestic pro-Islamic State terror group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah. The suspects were arrested from the Lampung province, South Sumatra Island and the West Kalimatan province of Borneo Island.
- Police said both suspects wanted to attack non-believers of Islam and had plans to attack the police. Suspicious materials used to make a homemade bomb were also found during the arrest.
- Jamaah Ansharut Daulah is a banned organization in Indonesia since 2018. The group has been accused of multiple deadly bombings in East and West Java Island in 2018. The leader of the group Aman Abdurrahman, was sentenced to death in 2018 for his alleged role in committing terror attacks in Indonesia.
- The Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said that he would not support General Prayut Chan-o-Cha’s bid for getting re-elected as prime minister. Prayut is the sole prime ministerial candidate for Palang Pracharath Party.
- Abhisit claimed that under General Prayut Thailand’s economy has slowed down and it’s against its party ideology. Abhisit’s statement comes days before March 24 elections which is likely to become a race between pro-democracy parties and the pro-regime party.
- However, there has been no official statement made by the Democrat party on Abhisit’s statement.
Also, in THAILAND
- A soldier was injured by a roadside bomb in Cho Airong district of the southern Narathiwat province yesterday. The injured soldier has been sent to hospital for treatment.
- The incident occurred near a political campaign poster of a Member of Parliament candidate of the Phue Khon Thai Party. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon who is also defence minister said yesterday that due to increase in security measure in the southern provinces, the insurgents are setting off bombs outside the four southern provinces. This statement is of course quite unusual in admitting there was no plan for adjoining provincial security that could defend the people or stop attacks there.
- Intelligence officials have issued a warning of expanding bombing acts by insurgents and recommend tight security until the March 24 election to avoid creating panic among the general public. The statement being somewhat unusual given the post election period will be as tenuous or perhaps even more tenuous than the existent security paradigm.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
- A fight broke out between youths from different ethnic groups in the Kokopo town of the southern East New Britain province. The fight involved knives and other weapons.
- Local villagers attacked a settlement burning down houses and other properties. One person was hospitalized.
- Situation is still tense, amid fears of another fight between the different ethnic groups. Clients are advised to employ extreme caution while traveling in the East New Britain province.
- Five militants who are alleged members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters have been killed by air and artillery attacks this week.
- According to Police, the members belonged to a faction led by Abu Toraife. He is the leader of one of the three factions in the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
- The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters have declared its allegiance to Islamic State. The group has been blamed for recent bombings on the Mindanao Island.
- South Korea’s military yesterday said that it was closely monitoring North Korean facilities for a possible long-range missile or space launch. The statement came after there was increase in activity in two launch sites including the Samundong missile research facility near Pyongyang and Sohae rocket-testing facility in the North Pyongan province.
- The increased activity comes after the United States and North Korea failed to reach an agreement last month during their bilateral summit in Hanoi. The United States National Security Adviser John Bolton said that President Donald Trump would be very disappointed if there is a new missile test by North Korea.
- After the failed summit, President Trump has remained positive about North Korea saying that the deal between the two nations is still possible.