Audio Overview of East Asia Pacific Issues, Friday, 8 March 2019

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

Main Issues in East Asia Pacific

Firstly in THAILAND

  • Yesterday, the Constitutional Court ordered the dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart party for nominating Princess Ubolratana as its prime ministerial candidate. Nomination of Princess violated a Law stating that political parties in Thailand should avoid any act which is deemed hostile to the monarchy and affect their political neutrality.
  • The court also decided to ban the Thai Raksa Chart Party’s fourteen executives from running in elections, setting up parties or becoming executives of other parties for ten years.
  • According to an Election Commission official, it is likely that all 282 candidates for the Thai Raksa Chart Party will be disbanded from the upcoming election.


  • A draft amendment which added twenty-two chapters on anti-circumvention to the Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Act of Thailand was vetted by the National Legislative Assembly. It is likely to get enforced by the end of this year.
  • Circumvention is any activity which avoids the payment of anti-dumping or countervailing duties imposed on a particular product made in or exported from other countries. Under the new amendment, if circumvention is found to be taking place, the investigation will be extended to the product being imported and would empower authorities to impose anti-circumvention duties.
  • Vice-Chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries said the new measures can protect local steel producers and protect against the impact of the US-China trade row.


  • One person was killed, and more than 22,000 families have been affected by flooding of the Citarum River in 10 districts of Bandung, West Java. Baleendah, Dayeuhkolot and Bokongsoang districts are worst affected by the floods.
  • West Java Search and Rescue Agency spokesman said the road access to the affected districts have been cut off affecting the relief operation to evacuate stranded people.
  • Clients are advised to avoid traveling to West Java and the authorities forecast heavy rainfall across Indonesia will continue until the rainy season ends in April.


  • Three soldiers and one rebel were killed yesterday in a gun battle in Yigi village in the Nduga district of central Papua province. Indonesian Army suspects that the attack was by the National Liberation Army of West Papua.
  • An army spokesman said that the attack was conducted by a large group of fifty to seventy people and the military has taken control of the situation now.
  • More attacks by the rebels in the Papua region are expected before the presidential elections on April 19. Clients are advised to employ extreme caution while traveling in Papua province of Indonesia. Avoid areas with military and government offices which are potential targets for the rebels.


  • President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad have renewed cooperation to ensure the development of Mindanao Island, following the ratification of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. It replaces the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao which was a separate autonomous region covering mostly Muslim populated Mindanao provinces.
  • Both leaders agreed to increase cooperation to fight terrorism, piracy, transnational crimes, and illegal drug trade. Under the Trilateral Cooperation Agreement along with Indonesia, all three nations have agreed to tackle growing security challenges in all forms.
  • Prime Minister Mahathir stressed on the need for peace in the South China Sea where the Philippines and eight other nations have overlapping claims on the islands in the region.


  • Yesterday Police arrested a town councilor of Manay municipality of Davao in the Southern Mindanao province on charges of possessing firearms and illegal drugs. Police recovered several firearms and two sachets of suspected crystal meth valued at USD 230.
  • Five drug suspects were killed yesterday in different operations after allegedly engaging the police officers in a shootout. The shootouts occurred in different municipalities of Bulacan province on the central island of Luzon. Police recovered firearms, crystal meth and paraphernalia drug from the suspects.
  • Trafficking of illegal firearms and drugs is a major concern in the Philippines. The official death toll from the anti-narcotics operations since 2016 is more than 5,000. Clients are advised to be aware of the frequent armed encounters between police and criminals.


Main Issues in South Asia

Firstly in SRI LANKA

  • Yesterday Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed his disapproval of President Maithripala Sirisena statements on Sri Lanka’s commitment to the UNHRC on war-time atrocities against Tamils.
  • Prime Minister office said the government will seek an extension of the timeline of the UNHRC resolution 30/1 of October 1, 2015, to investigate the war crimes committed by Sri Lankan soldiers during the war against the LTTE.
  • Prime Minister’s statement was in contrast with the President’s statement that he would send his own team to the UNHRC session to seek an extension and UN must allow Sri Lanka to resolve its own issues. In October 2018, President Sirisena had dismissed Prime Minister Ranil creating a constitutional emergency in the country.


  • An officer of the Criminal Investigations Department was arrested for accepting a bribe from a businessman against whom a court case is being heard at present.
  • The businessman filed a case at the Bribery Commission alleging that the officer had accepted a bribe from him in earlier two occasions as well, claiming a part of the bribe will be given to the judge.
  • According to the Global Corruption Body report of 2015, a third of Sri Lankans believe the police is corrupt. Overall Sri Lanka ranks 89th least corrupted country out of 180 countries in 2018 in the report by Transparency International.


  • Candidates of Dhaka University Central Students’ Union and Hall Union elections have demanded an extension to the voting time which is scheduled from 8 am to 2 pm on March 11.
  • Around 43,000 student voters will cast their vote for 38 different positions.
  • The Swastika Shatantra Parishad, an independent panel, proposed to set up 357 polling booths at dormitories so that students could cast their votes within the given timeframe. Authorities are yet to respond to the demands.


  • Police yesterday arrested four armed robbers from Fakirhait Kazipara municipality in Chittagong district in southern Bangladesh. Five policemen suffered injuries in the gunfight with the robbers.
  • Police recovered firearms from the robbers. Cases of Arms Act, preparation to commit robbery and police assault were filed against the suspects.
  • Clients are advised to employ extreme caution while traveling in Sitakunda unit and expect more clashes between police and robbers.


  • Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has claimed that the Jaish-e-Mohamed group is a terror outfit and Pakistan’s intelligence agency has used it to carry out attacks in India during his presidency from 2001-2008. He claimed the group had allegedly tried to assassinate him twice in December 2003.
  • Jaish-e-Mohammed has been banned in Pakistan under the National Action Plan, 2014. Jaish-e-Mohammed has been accused of various attacks in India, including the recent suicide attack which killed 44 Indian soldiers on February 14. The attack had led to an escalation of military hostilities between Pakistan and India.
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