Paul Quaglia – APAC Assistance Director
Major Issues In EAST ASIA PACIFIC
TUESDAY, 19 March 2019
President Widodo extends lead. The latest pre-poll survey by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting shows that President Joko Widodo has widened his lead over Prabowo Subianto to 26 points. Widodo and his running mate, Ma’ruf Amin, garnered 57.6% up from 54.9% in January. The survey included 2,820 respondents from Feb. 24 to March 5. Subianto and Sandiaga Uno secured 31.8%, down from 32.1%. The undecided voters declined from 13% to 10.6%. The survey predicts that Widodo is set for comfortable re-election on April 17.
Jamaah Ansharut Daulah leader sentenced to prison. The chief negotiator behind last year’s suicide bombings in Surabaya, East Java was sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday. Abu Umar was the provincial leader of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) in East Java. He held regular motivational meetings reportedly attended by some of Indonesia’s most extreme militants. Indonesia’s fight against terrorism continues with the arrests, prosecution, and conviction of suspected terrorists. Nevertheless, clients in Indonesia are advised to employ caution and avoid political and religious gatherings before the elections in April.
Filipino militants detained in Sabah. Malaysian authorities have detained 12 Filipinos and one Malaysian in Sabah on suspicion of being members or supporters of terrorist groups. Six of the suspects were believed to be members of the Maute Group or Abu Sayyaf who were allegedly involved in the attack of Marawi City in the southern Philippines in 2017. Five others were suspected of protecting the terrorists. The remaining two were believed to be members of the Royal Sulu Force that attacked Sabah in 2013. The suspects were arrested in the districts of Semporna and Tambunan in a two-day operation on March 11 and 12. The arrests indicate increasing infiltration of Sabah by pro-Islamic State Filipino militants. Militants could be turning Sabah into a new terrorist training ground. Filipino militants are being driven into Sabah as the security forces intensify their operations against them elsewhere. Clients are advised to avoid nonessential travel to eastern Sabah and employ appropriate high-risk security measures for critical business missions.
Fighting continues between the Arakan Army and military. Fighting between Myanmar’s soldiers and the rebel group Arakan Army has reached the ancient town of Mrauk-U in Rakhine, which is home to many ancient temples. More than 20,000 locals have been displaced, including 3,000 from Mrauk-U. The Arakan Army is among seven rebel groups that have not signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. The Arakan Army’s engagement in the peace negotiations is unlikely. The National League for Democracy-led civilian government is struggling with the military in pushing for the amendment of Myanmar’s military-scripted Constitution. Clients are advised to avoid Rakhine and its neighboring states as fighting between the military and ethnic rebels continue.