Daily Briefs

Photo : Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #39, 15 July 2023, Saturday

Sri Lanka soon to become a part of RCEP

In Bangladesh, the Adani group commences power supply

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #39, 15 July 2023, Saturday
Immaculine Joy Paul C, Melvin George, Ryan Marcus and Lakshmi Parimala H

Loan sharks refuse to cooperate as the ordinance expires
On 15 July, The Kathmandu Post reported that the expiration of an ordinance criminalizing loan sharking in Nepal led to difficulties in resolving disputes and reaching compromises between alleged loan sharks and their victims. Efforts by the government to replace the ordinance have been obstructed by opposition parties, resulting in loan sharks refusing to cooperate. The delay in passing the replacement bill in Parliament is suspected to have been influenced by the financial backing of loan sharks to political leaders leaving victims without resolution and highlighting the challenges in addressing usurious lending practices. (Prithvi Man Shrestha, Emboldened loan sharks ignoring calls for compromise,” The Kathmandu Post, 15 July 2023)

Nearly 2,934 civil servants resign in six months
Between January and June, a total of 2,934 civil servants resigned or retired from the civil service in Bhutan, marking the highest attrition rate in recent years. This includes voluntary resignations and superannuation. The performance evaluation system, known as MAX, has been cited as a demotivating factor, with claims that the moderation committees rate employees unfairly and inconsistently. The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) has received appeals regarding moderation results but has upheld the decisions while directing supervisors to communicate the reasons to the affected individuals. The performance evaluations for general civil servants are expected to be completed by mid-August. (Dechen Dolkar, “More than 2,900 civil servants resign,Kuensel, 15 July 2023)

The Adani group commences power supply to Bangladesh through Godda power plant
On 15 July, Chairman of the Adani Group, Gautam Adani, visited Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka after the start of full power supply from the group's thermal power plant in Godda, India, to Bangladesh. This project marks Adani Group's entry into transnational power projects and India's first commissioned transnational power project where 100% of the generated power is supplied to another country. The subsidiary, Adani Power Jharkhand Ltd, will provide 1,496 MW to Bangladesh under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement, prioritizing environmental sustainability with advanced emission control technologies. (“Adani meets Bangladesh PM after the group starts India’s First Transnational Power Project,” The Economic Times, 15 July 2023)

ILO urges regime to release the labor union leader 
On 14 July, The Irrawaddy reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) called for the release of the General Secretary of Myanmar Industry Crafts and Services Trade Unions Federation, Ko Thet Han Aung. He was re-arrested within a few weeks following his release. He was first arrested in the Myawaddy Township of the state of Karen while fleeing from the junta in June 2021. On 5 December 2021, junta-controlled court sentenced him to two years in prison with hard labour and 20,000 kyats fine. The ILO urged the regime to adhere to the commitments under the ILO Convention on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize that Myanmar ratified as an ILO member. (ILO Urges Myanmar Junta to Free Union Leader Rearrested Weeks After Release From Prison,” The Irrawaddy, 14 July 2023)

ASEAN gets divided over engagement with junta regime  
On 13 July, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) foreign ministers strongly condemned indiscriminate violence in Myanmar including air strikes, artillery shelling and destruction of public facilities. The joint statement made during the two-day ministerial talks, said:“We… reaffirmed our united position that the five-point consensus remains our main reference to address the political crisis in Myanmar.” The statement called to denounce any further escalation of violence and emphasized the need for creating a favorable environment for humanitarian assistance and inclusive national dialogue. The ten-nation bloc is divided as some members want to have an outright engagement with the regime while others (including ASEAN's chair Indonesia) stick on to the five-point peace plan. Controversial “informal talks” held with the regime last month by Thai initiate apart from the ASEAN route have further cracked the bloc.  (AFP, “Divided ASEAN Condemns Myanmar Violence Again, Supports Five-Point Plan,” The Irrawaddy, 14 July 2025)

MFP is ready to support PM candidtes from Pheu Thai Party: says Pita
On July 15, Pita Limjaroenrat said in a video posted on his official twitter account that the Pheu Thai would be given a chance to propose a Prime Minister as per the MoU signed between the eight parties. The possibility for Pita to gather the support to secure the Prime Minister post remains low as of 19 July. This would affect the 20 July voting for the proposed amendment to Section 272 of the constitution, to permanently eliminate the powers of senators to choose the prime minister.  The important leaders of the Move Forward Party (MFP) and Pheu Thai Party met on the night of 14 July to discuss the upcoming voting.  They foresee the repetition of 13 July pattern on the next voting. The leader of Seri Ruam Thai Party (Move Forward coalition member party), Police General Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, said that the attempt to change Section 272 was futile and was a MFP’s selfish move, stating that anyone could be nominated. He said that anyone could be nominated. (“Pita: Ready to give way to Pheu Thai if necessary,” Bangkok Post, 15 July 2023)

No plan to back down from Section 112 amendment: says MFP Gen Sec
On 14 July, Move Forward Party (MFP) Secretary-General Chaithawat Tulathon said the Pheu Thai party agreed to re-nominate Pita Limjaroenrat on the upcoming voting session on 19 July. The main reason for Pita not securing simple majority in the PM bid was the amendment proposal of Section 112 of the Criminal Code. Despite this, the MFP insisted that they would go forward with the amendment. Chaithawat said:"The senators have fixed opinions about us. Even if they do not criticize us over the issue [Section 112], they will still find other excuses to attack us. There are reports that old power groups are trying to pressure and control the senators in the hope of forming an alternative coalition government.” Senator Kittisak Rattanawaraha said that there would be a repeat of 13 July on the nineteenth, and the Pheu Thai Party should be given a chance to nominate a candidate to the PM post. (Aekarach Satttaburuth, “MFP stands firm on S112 amendment,” Bangkok Post, 15 July 2023)

Sri Lanka soon to become a part of RCEP
On 14 July Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, during the 30th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting, put forth Sri Lanka’s intention to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). He said that a letter had been submitted to the ASEAN Secretariat citing its intention to join the RCEP. During the meeting, he underscored some of the important areas of cooperation for Sri Lanka, including maritime security, disaster management and preventive diplomacy. (“SL to join RCEP, world’s largest free trade area,Daily Mirror, 14 July 2023)

Iraq and Iran barter violates US sanctions
On July 15, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia revealed that a barter deal of Iranian natural gas for Iraqi oil, discussed this week, could potentially violate US sanctions. The purpose behind Iraq's decision to engage in trading was to resolve payment delays to Tehran, which were impacted by US approvals for transactions. Shia stated that Iran had cut gas exports to Iraq by more than half, when US disapproved to disburse owed funds. He stated that following Tehran's approval to resume gas export in exchange for crude oil, Iraq could resolve its power cut crisis. However, three former U.S. officials said barter would likely run afoul of U.S. sanctions. ("Iraq-Iran gas-for-oil barter would likely violate US sanctions," Reuters, 15 July 2023)

US considers sending F-16 fighters to Gulf against Iran
On 15 July, Al Jazeera reported that the US had considered deploying f-16 fighter jets around the Strait of Hormuz to protect ships from being seized.  US defence official stated that the F-16s would provide air cover for the ships and increase US's military's visibility area. Additionally, they said that the US is considering military operations to address Russian presence on the aerospace of Syria.  ("US to send F-16 fighter jets to Gulf amid Iran shipping tensions," Al Jazeera, 15 July 2023)

Malala Yousafzai criticises Taliban for ban on women's education
On 14 July, ANI News reported that Mala Yousafzai, an education activist, criticized the Taliban for reversal in women's rights to education in Afghanistan. She drew a contract on the access of education for women before and after the Taliban takeover, in a United States House in Abuja, Nigeria. Yousafzai recalled on her being shot in 2012 for advocating girls' education. ("Malala Yousafzai condemns Taliban for reversing women’s right to education in Afghanistan," ANI News, 14 July 2023)

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