Audio Overview of South Asia Issues, Friday, 1 February 2019

APAC Assistance Director Paul Quaglia discusses Main Issues in South Asia

Main Issues in South Asia

Firstly in INDIA

  • Yesterday the opposition parties in the eastern state of West Bengal appealed to the Election Commission to deploy central police forces in the state during the upcoming general elections in April this year. The objective being to ensure the conduct of a free and fair election. The general elections coincide with the state elections in April. Representatives of the Bha-ra-ti-ya Janata Party, the Congress Party, and other left-wing parties demanded that central forces should be deployed under the control of the election commission and not under the control of state police officials.
  • Election-related violence in the state poses a major threat to the security of civilians and businesses in the state. The Opposition parties pressed for their demand by citing the violence that plagued the state last year during local elections. The ruling Trinamool Congress party has however accused the opposition of orchestrating the clashes.
  • Clients are advised to avoid all political events in the state ahead of the general elections.


  • Two people were arrested with 3kgs of heroin worth USD 200,000 in Kiribathgoda town, east of Colombo yesterday. The suspects were arrested during a raid carried out by the Terrorism Investigation Division.
  • In another raid by the Police Narcotics Bureau, two people were arrested for smuggling cannabis in Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka last night. Police seized 42Kg of cannabis from the suspects.
  • Drug trafficking is a major concern for law enforcement agencies in Sri Lanka. Recent raids indicate this as a rising problem. More than 200 people were killed in gang-related murders last year most of which were drug-related.
  • Clients are advised to be aware of the drug-related violence in Colombo and other major cities. Avoid nightlife areas where the drug gangs are known to be active.


Main Issues in East Asia Pacific

Firstly in the THAILAND

  • Yesterday the Pheu Thai party announced that they have chosen their three prime ministerial candidates. The three candidates are former agriculture minister Khun-ying Su-da-rat Ke-yur-a-phan, the former transport minister Chadchart Sitti-punt, and a former justice minister Chaik-asem Niti-siri.
  • Meanwhile, Uttama Sava-nayana, leader of the Palang Pracharath party, will meet Prime Minister Prayut today to formally invite him to be the party’s prime ministerial candidate. Somkid Jatu-sri-pitak and Uttama are the two other two candidates from the party.
  • Somkid is a former deputy prime ministers and a civilian member of the ruling military government. He is also one of the co-founders of the Thai Rak Thai party though now he is with the Palang Pracharath party. He is a well-known economist. He was the minister of commerce and finance in the Thaksin government.
  • Uttama was the Minister of Information and Communication Technology in the military government and resigned recently to contest in the elections. He was also the president of Bangkok University and of the Thai Future foundation.
  • Last week, the Democrat party announced former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as its only prime ministerial candidate.


  • More than 220 troopers of the Philippine Army have deployed to the central island of Negros to strengthen internal security operations.
  • The commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade said that he welcomes the arrival of the additional troops to boost their campaign against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.
  • The New People’s Army has been fighting the government forces for more than three decades attempting to overthrow the democratic government of the Philippines and establish a communist state.


  • The US special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun laid out an extensive list of demands for North Korean denuclearization yesterday. He called for disclosure of all nuclear and missile programs by North Korea and warned that Washington had “contingencies” if the diplomatic process failed.
  •  The perhaps, unnecessarily antagonistic demands, are likely to anger Pyongyang, despite President Donald Trump saying that the date and place for a second summit were set and hailed “tremendous progress” in talks.
  • Biegun also said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has committed to the dismantlement and destruction of North Korea’s plutonium and uranium enrichment facilities.
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