APAC Assistance Operations Assistant Bhargav Reddy discusses Main Issues in East Asia Pacific.
Main issues in East Asia Pacific
Firstly in THAILAND
- Six home-made bombs exploded at different locations in the Pak Phayun district of the southern Phatthalung province yesterday. Later, three bombs were discovered and destroyed in the same district. Train services were suspended for three hours.
- There were no casualties from the bombings but the shops in different locations were damaged. The separatist insurgents have been seeking to create unrest in southern Thailand through such terror attacks and put pressure on the military before the general elections. This is significant because this province has been void of incidents. The incidents have normally been confined to the provinces of Narathiwat, Songkhla, Pattani, and Yala. The incidents in the Phatthalung province signifies a change on modus operandi and possibly diverging goals between leaders of various insurgent groups.
- A security alert has been issued by authorities in the Phatthalung province. Clients are advised to employ extreme caution while traveling in the southern provinces of Thailand.
Also in THAILAND
- The Prachathai Party candidate Meechai Khaiseng contesting in the March 24 election from the Constituency 2 of the northeastern Kalasin province has ended his candidacy and party membership citing lack of support from the party.
- Meechai said since the party’s provincial office was opened, he has not received any financial support from the party leading to unpaid bills for the office.
- However, other party candidates will continue their campaigns in the province.
- Former Army General Muchdi Purwoprandjono has declared his support for President Joko Widodo. Retired military officials are seen as an influential factor in the upcoming presidential election in April.
- The support from the retired general comes after Joko Widodo agreed to provide more civilian posts to active military personnel in the government institutions. Widodo’s challenger Prabowo Subianto, a former military general himself, has claimed that he has more former generals supporting him.
In the PHILIPPINES
- The Philippines Air Forces have launched air strikes in Sulu province yesterday targeting hideouts of the Abu Sayyaf group.
- The air raid was conducted after the intelligence agencies confirmed that the Abu Sayyaf group was plotting terror attacks in the area. No casualties have been reported so far.
- Military Spokesperson said there would be no letup in military offensive and a clearing operation is ongoing by the ground forces to flush out the Abu Sayyaf members.
Also in the PHILIPPINES
- The Damen Shipyard Group from the Netherlands has expressed its interests in taking over the ownership of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Constructions Philippines.
- The two companies have different production models. Hanjin is involved in building large container ships, whereas Damen Shipyard is focused on smaller vessels like yachts, tug boats, and cruise ships.
- Hanjin Heavy Industries and Constructions Philippines was established in 2006, as a subsidiary of South Korean firm Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Company Limited. It declared bankruptcy as it was unable to repay USD 400 million in loans to the Philippine banks and USD 900 million to South Korean lenders.
- Malaysian police have increased their alert level following the arrest of nine terror suspects last month.
- Some of the arrested suspects belonged to the Ansar Am Shariah Al Tunisia group which has been banned by the UN as an international terrorist group responsible for planning large scale attacks in several countries.
- Police spokesman in a statement said yesterday that Malaysia will cooperate with foreign intelligence agencies to identify and arrest the members of terror groups. Some of the common methods adopted by foreign terrorists include marrying locals to get a spouse visa, or using student visa or set up businesses in Malaysia.
- Nine policemen have been killed and another missing in a militant attack in the Yoetayoke village, north of Sittwe, capital of the western Rakhine state. Weapons were reportedly stolen from the police station.
- No insurgent group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet. However, it is alleged that the Arakan Army is involved in the attack. The group was formed in 2009 and have several thousand recruits seeking independence and protection of Arakan people from Myanmar government.
- The Rakhine state is plagued by separatist violence since 2017 after a military offensive which has forced more than seven million Rohingya Muslims to cross into Bangladesh as refugees.
- China’s central bank governor said yesterday that China and the U.S are close to securing a currency deal in the ongoing trade negotiations. According to the agreement, China would not manipulate its currency to keep the Chinese made goods cheap and gain a competitive advantage in the international market.
- China has made similar commitments in several other multilateral agreements. However, it is still unclear on how the deal will be enforced and how both China and the S should respect each other’s monetary policy.
- The United States President Donald Trump has accused China of devaluing its currency and has threatened to impose sanctions on Chinese goods worth USD 250 billion.
Main Issues in South Asia
Firstly in INDIA
- The Election Commission of India announced the schedule for General Elections yesterday. The elections will begin on April 11 till May 19 in seven phases and the results will be declared on May 23.
- The state assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, and Sikkim will be held simultaneously, however, no tentative dates have been announced yet. Elections in Jammu And Kashmir is being postponed due to security concerns.
- More than 600 million voters are eligible to vote for 543 seats for the lower There will be approximately 1 million polling stations. All digital content posted by political parties and their candidates will fall under the purview of the Model Code of Conduct issued by the Election Commission of India.
Also in INDIA
- Mudasir Ahmed Khan, an alleged member of the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group has been identified by security officials as the planner of February 14, suicide attack on Indian soldiers which killed 44 paramilitary personnel. He allegedly procured the vehicle and explosives used in the attack.
- Mudasir reportedly joined the Jaish-e-Mohammed group in 2017. He is also accused of the attack at an army camp in February 2018, in which six personnel and a civilian were killed.
- The Jaish-e-Mohammed Islamist group has been banned by the UN and several other countries as a terror group. The February 14 attack led to a military response by India and brought India and Pakistan on brink of a full-scale war.
In SRI LANKA
- President Maithripala Sirisena hopes to be declared as the joint candidate of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna in the presidential elections expected in September 2019.
- To make his claim stronger, President Maithripala has increased his campaign against drugs and illicit liquor in the country. President Maithripala has proposed separate courts to try drug offenders and also proposed to enforce the death sentence on drug convicts.
- The election will be a key event in Sri Lankan politics after the constitutional crisis in October 2018 when President Maithripala appointed the former president and Member of Parliament Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister after dismissing the incumbent Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Also in SRI LANKA
- China Machinery Engineering Corporation has won a contract worth more than USD 25 million to expand coal yard of the Lakvijaya coal power plant located in Norocholai, northwestern Puttalam province. The company has investments in Hambantota port for a natural gas power plant and Basnagoda-Attanagalu Oya water supply project.
- Only two bidders participated in the coal yard tender advertised in August 2017, the only other contender was Shanxi Xintang Engineering Design. Shanxi Xintiang’s bid was rejected by a Technical Evaluation Committee on various grounds.
- According to a cabinet committee, the Lakvijaya power plant operations were affected for six months from April to the middle of September last year due to rough seas requiring the expansion of the coal yard.
- Police have busted a gang of dacoits in Quetta city of Balochistan province. They have been accused of allegedly looting houses disguising themselves as policemen and other security officers.
- The gang comprised of eleven members. Only six members of the gang have been arrested while five other members are still at large.
- Clients are advised to employ extreme caution in Quetta and avoid traveling to smaller towns and remote areas of the city.