Audio Overview of East Asia Pacific Issues, Monday, 18 March 2019

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


Main Issues in East Asia Pacific 

Firstly in INDONESIA

  • Vice-presidential candidates Ma’ruf Amin and Sandiaga Uno faced off in the third round of presidential debate last night. The debate touched on employment, education, health, and social and cultural issues.
  • Sandiaga, Prabowo Subianto’s running mate was expected to overshadow Ma’ruf, President Joko Widodo’s vice-presidential pick. However, Ma’ruf kept up with Sandiaga in a largely cordial contest. Ma’ruf promised that the Widodo government will continue the national health insurance scheme and will consolidate research funds.
  • Latest polls indicate that Widodo and Ma’ruf maintain their comfortable lead over their opponents. However, a survey by Gallup International shows that 40% of Indonesian voters may still change their minds.


  • A Widodo ally, the United Development Party (PPP) Chairman Muhammad Romahurmuziy, was arrested and charged with bribery by the Corruption Eradication Commission on March 16. The PPP said it will suspend and replace Mohamad.
  • Mohammad’s arrest is a setback to both the PPP and the Widodo coalition. However, the party and coalition officials said it will not affect their electability.


  • More than 73 people have died, and 60 others are missing in Sentani and Jayapura in flash floods and landslides in the far eastern Indonesian province of Papua. The disaster was triggered by torrential rain that began on March 16. More than 4,000 people have also been displaced, with many housed in government shelters.
  • Flooding is common in Indonesia, especially during the October-April rainy season. Emergency officials say they had warned of flood risks in Papua due to deforestation of the mountains surrounding Jayapura.
  • Clients are advised to avoid the areas affected by the flash floods and follow the directions of the local authorities.


  • The Election Commission reported that more than 2.6 million Thais participated in peaceful advance voting yesterday, ahead of the March 24 general elections. The figure represents 75% of all registered advance voters. The advance ballots will be sent to the constituencies for counting, along with the ballots on March 24.
  • The high advance voters’ turn-out indicates that the Thais are eager to participate in the upcoming electoral exercise. The peaceful conduct of the voting also indicates that the March 24 elections are expected to be calm.
  • Clients are advised to avoid the vicinities of polling centers on March 24. Continue to avoid political and religious events before the election.


  • The Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) took effect yesterday, one year after the withdrawal was filed. However, the lawyer who filed a complaint with the ICC against President Duterte said the withdrawal cannot prevent the tribunal from arresting and trying the president. The ICC is yet to formally investigate Duterte on the killings of thousands of people in his so-called anti-drug operation.
  • Duterte has vowed to make his anti-drug war harsher in the last three years of his term. He also maintains that the ICC does not have powers over him.


  • The Mass Transit Railway services between the Central and Admiralty stations will be suspended today after two trains collided with each other. One driver was reportedly injured in the collision.
  • The rare incident took place near Central station at around 3 AM when a Tsuen Wan-bound train collided with a Central-bound train at the crossover section during a trial run for a new signal system.
  • Clients are advised to be aware of the disruptions in the subway service and consider alternate modes of public transport.


Main Issues in South Asia

Firstly in PAKISTAN

  • A blast targeting a passenger train has killed four people and injured six others near Dera Murad Jamali in the southern province of Baluchistan yesterday.
  • Baluchistan is plagued by a separatist insurgency. Terror attacks by the insurgent groups are a major concern in the province.
  • Clients are advised to be aware of the frequent attacks by the insurgents and avoid traveling to remote areas of the province.


  • The Nepali Congress party has called on the government to take the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal into confidence and convince them to come to the negotiating table.
  • The Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist was banned by the government last week after a series of arson attacks and bomb blasts in the last month. The attacks were targeted at assets of foreign companies including the Malaysian telecom operator Ncell.
  • The main opposition party cautioned the government to avoid the path of the prohibition against the constitution. Chand led Communist Party of Nepal has been accused of indulging in extortion and criminal activities.


  • The Congress party has announced that they will be contesting the general elections in West Bengal without an alliance this year. The announcement comes are their talks with the Communist Party of India – Marxist broke down last week.
  • The Congress party has been trying to form an alliance with regional parties to take on the incumbent Bhartiya Janata Party this year. The Bhartiya Janata Party has a majority in the lower house of the parliament and is seeking to retain power for a second term.
  • The Bhartiya Janata Party is facing a crisis Goa after it’s Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar passed away yesterday. A political crisis in the state broke out after opposition parties led by the Congress party requested the Governor to dissolve the state government and laid claim to form a new government.
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