APAC Assistance Director Paul Quaglia discusses Main Issues in South Asia
Main Issues in South Asia
Firstly in INDIA
- Security will be tightened in Delhi and other major cities for the Republic Day celebrations tomorrow. More than 25000 security personnel from the Delhi Police and other paramilitary agencies including the National Security Group and the Central Industrial Security Force have been deployed across the National Capital Region of Delhi.
- Services on the Delhi Metro will be disrupted. Some lines of the metro network will be entirely suspended. Parking facilities will be closed at all metro stations. Traffic movement will be restricted in central Delhi and more security checkpoints are already in place and will be active in areas near major landmarks.
- Clients are advised to be aware of the disruptions expected to road and rail commutes in Delhi due to the additional security arrangements. Avoid the areas around Rajpath and Connaught Place in central Delhi.
- Yesterday the Supreme Court announced that a review petition will be heard over the acquittal of Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case last year. The hearing has been scheduled for January 29. The blasphemy case was controversial in Pakistan, Aasia Bibi’s acquittal triggered nationwide protests by right-wing Islamist groups.
- On October 30, 2018, the supreme court acquitted Aasia Bibi of blasphemy charges and dismissed the death sentence given by a lower court. The Islamist group Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan led the nationwide protests. The government of Pakistan negotiated with the Islamist groups to end the protest and agreed not to oppose the review petition against the acquittal.
- Clients are advised to monitor the developments in this blasphemy case. Rejection of the review petition by the Supreme Court is likely to trigger more protests by the Islamist group.
Main Issues in East Asia Pacific
Firstly in Cambodia
- Yesterday Prime Minister Hun Sen called on the military to “destroy” opponents if the government comes under threat and he described himself as the “the one who steers the wheel of the army”. He was addressing the soldiers to mark the 20th anniversary of the infantry which is headed by his son Hun Manet. He asked the military to destroy the revolutions that attempt to topple his legitimate government.
- Hun Sen has increased the rhetoric against the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, the European Union and other critics of his government in recent weeks. He was re-elected in the general elections last year which was alleged to be a sham The European Union has warned it may withdraw its ‘Everything But Arms’ scheme which allows Cambodia’s garment sector a duty-free access to its market.
- Clients are advised to note the increasing animosity between Cambodia and the west. Western businesses in the country can be potentially targeted by the government if the tensions continue to rise.
- Chusak Sirinil of the Pheu Thai party said that the party wants Prayut, in his capacity as the leader of the National Council for Peace and Order, to refrain from using his power under Section 44 of the constitution. The section gives Prayut absolute power to issue orders. He insisted that the government must serve as an interim government and must not initiate new projects which impose budget spending obligations on future governments.
- Chusak urged the Election Commission to perform its duties independently and monitor the government’s exercise of power. Leaders of the Democrat Party and the Thai Raksa Chart party also called on the Prime Minister to stop using Section 44 and asserted that Section 44 should now be invoked only to deal with security issues rather than election-related matters.
- The statements from the political parties come after the elections were scheduled by the Election Commission for March 24.
- Poland is set to exclude Huawei from its 5G network in favor of European players following the arrest of an employee of Huawei on suspicion of spying this month. Poland’s President Andrzej Duda also suggested that Huawei is likely to be excluded by saying he is definitely closer to cooperating with European firms or with those from the U.S. than with producers from Asia.
- The Polish government is deliberating with their allies in the European Union and North American on the further actions but haven’t determined which telecom equipment maker may replace Huawei.
- The possible exclusion follows the diplomatic fall out between China, Canada, and the US over the arrest of Huawei’s vice-president. Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson are the two leading European competitors who could replace Huawei.
- Pahang’s Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah was elected as the new Malaysian king yesterday by members of the country’s royal families. Perak’s Sultan Nazrin Shah has been elected deputy king.
- Functions of the king are largely ceremonial. The king serves as the nominal head of the country, and his assent is needed for the appointment of a prime minister and various senior officials.
- Former king, Sultan Muhammad V abdicated on Jan 6, after two years on the throne.