Audio Overview of South Asia Issues, Monday, 4 March 2019

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


Main Issues in South Asia


  • The Bangldesh Awami League Party backed the Bangladesh Chhatra League president has allegedly forced at least five independent candidates to withdraw from the Dhaka University’s Central Student Union and hall union polls. The polls are scheduled on March 11.
  • According to Section 9(c) of the Dhaka University’s polls code of conduct, no candidate or any other person on his behalf can force a competing candidate or bar any voter from voting. Dhaka University Proctor said the complaints will be accepted if it’s received in writing.
  • Poll related violence are likely to increase in the Dhaka University area. Clients are advised to employ extreme caution in Dhaka.


  • Domestic and International flight operations have resumed partially in major airports. Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered the national carrier Pakistan International Airlines to give priority to the passengers stranded in Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries as the passengers might be facing a shortage of funds and expiry of their visas.
  • Flights to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Beijing are still suspended. According to Pakistan International Airline officials, more than four hundred flights and twenty-five thousand passengers were affected. The flights were cancelled due to the closure of airspace in Pakistan after India allegedly conducted airstrikes into Pakistan on February 26.
  • It is still unclear when there will be a complete restoration of air traffic in Pakistan. Clients are advised to avoid travelling on flights to Europe and South East Asia which passes through Pakistan airspace to avoid delays and cancellations.


  • Emergency has been declared due to floods in the Qila Abdullah district north-west of Balochistan province. Heavy snowfall has also been reported in various parts of Balochistan leading to disruption in services and travel.
  • According the Army, around fifteen hundred families have been airlifted and Army has been deployed to search and rescue the stranded. Floodwaters have submerged Quetta-Sibi highway and reached Quetta-Karachi National Highway.
  • Clients are advised to avoid travelling to Balochistan and be aware of the long travel delays in train and road services.


  • Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera will present Budget 2019 in the Parliament tomorrow. It was delayed by four months due to the constitutional crisis in Sri Lanka last year.
  • Total expenditure for the year 2019 is predicted to be at USD 24.8 billion. The highest share of the budget is likely to be given to Ministry of Defence at USD 2.1 billion. The budget deficit is estimated to be at 4.8% of the GDP.
  • More than USD 12 billion is likely to be allocated for Debt Servicing in 2019 which is the highest amount so far by any Government. The final vote to pass the Budget is scheduled for April 5 after a month of discussion and debate in the Parliament.


  • Deadline for international bidders to counter a proposal by South Korean firm SK E&S Company Ltd. has been extended to April 2, 2019. The bidding is for an offshore floating storage and regasification unit, and pipeline and liquified natural gas.
  • The bid was first advertised in October 2018 with the deadline of December 12, 2018, later it was extended till January 31, 2019. However, under the pressure of the Ceylon Electricity Board, the deadline was delayed to February 28. It has led to resignation of three members from the technical evaluation committee protesting against the imposition of procedures by the Power and Energy Ministry.
  • The current revised bid will be put up in separate contracts for the gas supply and infrastructure development. The contract is stipulated to last for twenty years.


Main Issues in East Asia Pacific

Firstly, in INDONESIA

  • Indonesia’s Deputy Chief of Police has raised concern about the increase in fights between supporters of presidential candidates before the election in April this year. There have been various election-related crimes.
  • Different social media platforms are being monitored to prevent hate speech. Arrests have been made for violations of the Electronic Information and Transactions Law for misuse of social media. Police are collaborating with different NGOs, Civil Society Organizations and local mosques to raise awareness against misinformation among the public.
  • Non-Indonesian clients are advised to avoid all political events and clients are advised to be aware of misinformation being spread on social media.


  • The Election Commission made the decision to allow Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to campaign. However, Prayut said he has no interest in campaigning and considers it a waste of time. Prayuth is the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Palang Pracharat Party.


  • Soldiers clashed with a group of armed insurgents in Chanae district of Narathiwat Province in Southern Thailand yesterday. No casualties have been reported so far.
  • Armed insurgents retreated into the jungle, leaving behind a pistol, hammocks, backpacks and food supplies.

The Philippines

  • Soldiers discovered a hospital allegedly run by the New People’s Army in the mountains of Buenavista town in Agusan del Sur in southern Mindanao province.
  • After the discovery of the hospital twenty-five cadres of the New People’s Army surrendered in Negros Occidental in Western Visayas province.
  • Clients are advised to be aware of frequent clashes between the communist rebels and the security forces in the southern and central provinces of the Philippines.


  • The Philippine National Police has increased its patrols along the coastlines to curb illegal drug trafficking and other criminal activities. More than USD 19 million has been allocated to upgrade the operational capability of the police.
  • Under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, more than five thousand people have been killed in drug-related raids since July 2016. However, this figure is contested by human rights groups who say, the number is between 12,000 to 20,000.
  • Clients are advised to avoid impoverished areas of major cities and smaller towns in the Philippines.  Armed encounters between the police and drug dealers along the seaports.


  • A referendum seeking either independence or a stronger autonomy for Bougainville Island from Papua New Guinea has been postponed from June to October 17, 2019. A shortfall in funds and concerns about the accuracy of the voter list are said to be the main reason for the delay.
  • The referendum is essential to maintain peace after a bloody civil war ended in 2001 which killed more than twenty thousand people in Bougainville.
  • Armed violence can potentially increase on Bougainville Island due to the postponement of the referendum.
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