APAC Assistance Director Paul Quaglia discusses Main Issues in East Asia Pacific
Main Issues in East Asia Pacific
- Residents of Marawi City in Lanao del Sur on the southern island of Mindanao have overwhelmingly voted in favor of the Bangsamoro Organic Law in the plebiscite held this morning. Over 58,688 people voted “Yes” and 112 people voted against the creation of a new Muslim autonomous region.
- The referendum is expected to bring a peaceful resolution to the long-drawn conflict in Mindanao between the government forces and Islamist insurgents. The Bangsamoro Organic Law will create Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in place of the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Results of the referendum from other regions of the island will be finalized this week.
- Clients are advised to monitor the results of the referendum which is likely to result in major changes in the legal system and local administration. Changes in the security paradigm are not yet guaranteed because many of the issues have a local business and tribalism edge that are not related to purely political autonomy.
- The presidential and legislative elections in Indonesia are scheduled to be held on April 8 this year. President Widodo is contesting the elections for a second term in office with the nomination from Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan party and its allies. Prabowo Subianto is contesting against Widodo with the nomination from Gerindra party and its allies.
- Most credible polls show that President Widodo has an unassailable lead over Subianto. Religion and the economy are the two most decisive election issues. Widodo’s selection of the highly influential Muslim cleric Ma’ruf Amin as his running mate is perceived as a move to enhance his support base amongst influential religious groups.
- Yesterday Prime Minister Prayut said that a royal decree calling for the election will soon be published in the Royal Gazette.
- A pro-election group calling itself the “People Who Want Elections” plans to hold a rally on Saturday if a royal decree calling for the election is not issued by Thursday this week.
- Last week the Election Commission said that they are considering March 10 as the election Rival groups held demonstrations in Bangkok last week, the pro-democracy groups demanded swift elections to end military rule meanwhile a much smaller group of pro-junta supporters claimed it was too soon for a vote.
- President Lu-Olu has approved a government request to increase access to its petroleum fund for a $650 million buyout of ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell’s holdings in the Greater Sunrise gas project.
- He had vetoed the amendment and disapproved of the buyout plan in December. President Lu-Olo enacted amendments to the country’s Petroleum Activities Law last week. The amendment allows the government access to the petroleum fund.
- The president can veto an amendment bill only once. The vetoed bill will be enacted if the parliament passes it the second time without the consent of the president.
Main Issues in South Asia
Firstly in PAKISTAN
- Yesterday the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party has filed a disqualification petition against the former president and member of the National Assembly Asif Ali Zardari in the Supreme Court. The petition alleges that Zardari has illegally concealed properties he owns in other countries from the tax authorities and from the Election Commission.
- Politicians in Pakistan are required to declare their income and assets to be eligible to contest elections. The government has launched investigations and filed corruption charges on politicians of opposition parties including the Pakistan Muslim League and the Pakistan People’s Party. Opposition parties have staged protests against the corruption charges against their leaders. More protests by the Pakistan People’s Party are likely if Zardari is disqualified by the Supreme Court.
- Clients are advised to monitor the developments in the corruption cases in Pakistan which may cause nationwide unrest.
- Yesterday, a former member of the Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE) was arrested with four firearms and a stock of ammunition by the Terrorism Investigation Division in Palei near Kilinochchi in northern Sri Lanka. A shotgun, a pistol, two home-made firearms, two swords, and multiple bullets were recovered from the suspect.
- The LTTE rebels in the northern region of Sri Lanka were defeated by the Sri Lankan forces in 2009 after a protracted battle that killed more than 27,000 LTTE rebels and 28,000 soldiers. Former members of the LTTE have been reportedly active and armed, they are engaged in criminal activities like extortion and smuggling in northern Sri Lanka.
- Clients are advised to avoid traveling to remote areas in the northern region of Sri Lanka.