Audio Overview of East Asia Pacific Issues, Thursday, 21 February 2019

APAC Assistance Operations Assistant Bhargav Reddy discusses Main Issues in East Asia Pacific.

Main Issues in East Asia Pacific

Firstly in the PHILIPPINES

  • Yesterday a fire has destroyed a large forest area in the Itogon and Tuba administrative districts in the northern province of Benguet. The fire has killed at least five people when blaze spread to a storage area of the Office of Forestry.
  • The fire continues to burn in the Eastern Saddle area of Itogon. Authorities and firefighters have launched a massive fire fighting operation and they are trying to ascertain the cause of fire.
  • Clients are advised to avoid Itogon and Tuba municipalities. Expect travel delays on major highways in the Benguet province.


  • President Rodrigo Duterte signed the universal healthcare bill into law yesterday. The law mandates automatic enrollment of all Filipinos into the National Healthcare Insurance Corporation, as either direct or indirect contributors.
  • Under the healthcare bill, basic accommodations at public hospitals, consultations, lab tests, and basic medicines will be covered.


  • Police are seeking the prosecution of Thanathorn and his two senior colleagues of the Future Forward Party over his speech posted on social media in June last year. In the speech, Thanathorn allegedly criticized the National Council for Peace and Order.
  • The politicians can be jailed for five years under the Computer Crime Act for “uploading false information”. Police said the case will be referred to state prosecutors next week, who will decide whether to take it to court.
  • Clients are advised to avoid all political events before the general elections. Avoid engaging with political posts on social media.


  • An explosion at a food court in the Taman Anggrek Mall yesterday in West Jakarta has injured six people and damaged 40 food counters. According to police, the explosion happened due to the gas leak on the 4th
  • Witnesses have reported gas leak from Soto Betawi food counter where the explosion might have occurred. Police have cordoned off the area for further investigation.
  • Clients are advised to avoid Taman Anggrek Mall and expect traffic delays in the area due to the presence of emergency services after the blast.



Main Issues in South Asia


  • Forty-four people have been killed and more than a hundred others were injured in a massive fire that engulfed several buildings at Nanda Kumar Lane in the Chawkbazar area of Dhaka. The fire reportedly started on a building situated on the intersection of roads leading in the Chawkbazar area yesterday.
  • Confirming the death toll, Fire Service and Civil Defence Deputy Director has said that the bodies were sent to Dhaka Medical College morgue for autopsy. There have been conflicting reports about the cause of the fire.
  • Clients are advised to avoid traffic delays in Old Dhaka due to the presence of numerous emergency services and the roads have been blocked towards Chawkbazar Churihatta area.


  • The National Accountability Bureau yesterday arrested the Speaker of Sindh Assembly, Agha Siraj Durrani from a hotel in Islamabad. Durrani is being investigated for allegedly accumulating assets beyond his known sources of income and embezzlement of opublic funds.
  • The anti-corruption agency also conducted a search of Durrani’s house last night located in Karachi’s Defence Housing Authority area. Supporters of Durrani and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) accused the government of disrespecting democracy and threatened to protest the arrest.
  • Clients are advised to avoid the areas with the government offices in the Sindh province where protests are likely to be held by the PPP supporters.


  • Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has signed several agreements with the Government of India during his ongoing visit. India has agreed to extend the e-Visa facilities to Saudi nationals.
  • Prince Mohammed has approved the release of 850 prisoners from Saudi jail. Saudi Arabia also joined the International Solar Alliance led by India.
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