Paul Quaglia – APAC Assistance Director
Major Issues In EAST ASIA PACIFIC
FRIDAY, 29 March 2019
The Palang Pracharat Party wins popular vote. The pro-military Palang Pracharat party has won Thailand’s popular vote with 100% of ballots counted. However, the results remain unofficial until final results are announced by the Elections Commission on May 9. The Palang Pracharat Party won 8.4 million votes while the pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai Party garnered 7.9 million votes. This a significant part of Thailand’s history. It shows great fatigue and disappointment by Thai’s disenchanted with traditional political parties such as those aligned to corrupt businessmen and also to underperforming parties, most notably the Democrats. The success of new parties like the Palang Pracharat Party and the Future Forward party evidence that people want to change and want leadership. The military-led government, despite bias, bigoted and myopic commentary from Western countries, have proven to be both popular and effective. Of course, many people don’t want a military-led government. Thanathorn, the son of billionaire car part distributors met that need. The rise of both these new parties is a message to other people and parties in the lower house that Thais are tired of narcissistic greedy politicians and the voting public have matured whereby they are no longer idle pawns accepting empty false words that hide agendas that are not motivated in the interest of the Thai public.
The Election Commission’s announcement does not yet make clear the overall winner of the March 24 election. Both the Palang Pracharat and a Pheu Thai-led coalition of seven political parties have claimed a mandate to form the next government. The Phe Thai led coalition captured enough seats to form the majority with 255 members in the House of Representatives but is short of the required number of lower house and Senate seats to nominate the prime minister. The 250-member military-appointed Senate is expected to back the Palang Pracharat Party and retain Prayut Chan-ocha as the Prime Minister. The situation highlights the key role of the Senate informing the government under the new Constitution of 2017.
Fourth presidential vote tomorrow. Indonesia will have its fourth presidential election debate tomorrow, out of five debates scheduled this year between President Widodo and his challenger Prabowo Subianto. The topics for the debate are ideology, government, security, defense, and international relationships. The Jakarta Metro Police will reportedly deploy 5,000 officers to secure the debate, which will be held at the Shangri-La Hotel. Pre-election surveys show Widodo still commands a comfortable lead over his rival. Clients in Jakarta are advised to avoid the vicinity of Shangri-La Hotel tomorrow.
Papuan rebels vow to continue attacks. Papuan independence fighters have vowed to launch more attacks on Indonesian soldiers building the Trans-Papua Highway. In a video being circulated in the social media, liberation army commander Egianus Kogoya said: “We cannot step back. We will not hesitate to pursue the Indonesian military and the police until Jakarta gives us independence.” Kogoya taunts the military for being unable to find the Papuan fighters even though they are in the same mountainous area in Nduga. The Papuan rebels’ video signals that the clashes in Papua are likely to escalate. Clients in Papua are advised to avoid visiting the Nduga regency. Employ high-risk security measures in Papua, and be aware of the special travel permits required to go to the province, even for employment pass holders. These passes are called Surat Keterangan Jalan (Travel Permission Letters) and are obtained through an application to the police in Jakarta. They take several days to obtain.
Conflicts flare in Shan state. Fresh fighting broke out on March 27 between the Myanmar military and two ethnic rebel groups in the eastern Shan State’s Namtu township. The military clashed with the Shan State Progressive Party and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, displacing more than 200 villagers. The clash signifies that more fighting between the government forces and armed ethnic rebels can be expected in the region. The clash happened even though the Shan State is part of the military’s unilateral ceasefire announced on December 21 that is due to end on April 21. Clients in Myanmar are advised to avoid visiting conflict-ridden states including the Rakhine and Shan states. For critical business missions in these states, contact APAC Assistance to plan and deploy appropriately trained security personnel for close personal protection.
Bomb attack in Liaoning province. Three people were injured and the suspect was killed in an arson and bomb attack on a police station in Shenyang in northeastern Liaoning province yesterday. Authorities did not specify how the suspect died. Bomb explosions have occurred in China in recent years. In January, twin blasts rocked a high-rise building in the city of Changchun, killing one person and injuring another. The unrest prompted authorities to launch a sweeping campaign against terrorism and separatism in the northeastern region of the country. Clients are advised to employ caution while traveling in China.