Bhargav Reddy – APAC Assistance Operations Assistant
Major Issues In EAST ASIA PACIFIC
FRIDAY, April 5, 2019
Terror suspects arrested. The anti-terrorism Special Detachment 88 arrested a suspected leader of terror group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) in Karawang, West Java on April 3. The suspect was allegedly involved in several terror acts last year, including the bombings in Surabaya. He is now detained in East Karawang, West Java. The anti-terror arrests are indicative of persistent terror threat, and Indonesian authorities are likely to step up such operations to ensure a trouble-free election this coming April 17. There is no certainty that all terrorists with a plan to disrupt the upcoming elections have been arrested. Clients are advised to employ extra caution for the entire election season. As much as possible, avoid political campaign rallies and religious events. Be alert and cautious near polling stations.
Election Commission orders recount. The Election Commission ordered the recounting of votes at two polling stations in Khon Kaen province and re-voting at six polling units in Bangkok, Lampang, Phetchabun, Phitsanulok, and Yasothon. The commission said recounts are needed for the Khon Kaen polling stations because the first counts were inconsistent with the number of voters and marked ballots. New voting is needed in polling stations where the number of voters who turned up on March 24 did not match the number of marked ballot papers. The Election Commission’s order of recount and re-voting gives credence to allegations of election-related anomalies. However, the recount and re-voting in the eight polling units are not expected to significantly affect the outcome of the elections.
Duterte rebukes China. President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted China to keep away from Thitu Island, an island in the Spratly archipelago held by the Philippines. He said he would send troops to defend the island if necessary. Yesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying the presence of Chinese boats near Thitu Island is “illegal” and a “clear violation” of national sovereignty. The Philippine Navy has said it had spotted almost 300 Chinese vessels, suspected to be militia boats, near Thitu Island from January to March. Duterte’s statement was a rare rebuke of China. The president has chosen to be friendly with China in exchange for Chinese investments and aid. He has publicly said several times that the Philippines cannot go to war with China because the country is no match to the Asian superpower. China is yet to respond to Duterte’s latest statement.
Opposition leader calls for Hun Sen’s ouster. Exiled acting Cambodia National Rescue Party chief Sam Rainsy has called on the Cambodian public to oust Prime Minister Hun Sen like the Algerians recently did to their ruler. He said he would throw his support behind Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng if he were to stage a coup. Hun Sen has been Cambodia’s PM since 1985 and is expected not to transfer power until his dying days or until one of his sons is ready to assume leadership of Cambodia. The chances of a successful coup against him in the foreseeable future remain uncertain.
Fire triggers an evacuation. An enormous fire in the South Korean border town of Goseong left at least one person dead, injured at least 11 others, destroyed about 120 houses, and forced the evacuation of more than 3,000 people. The blaze broke out yesterday in the northeastern province of Gangwon near the frontier with North Korea. It is now subdued after South Korea mobilized about 200 firetrucks and 2,700 emergency personnel and firefighters to battle the inferno.