Daily Briefs

Photo : The Kathmandu Post

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #01, 01 June 2023, Thursday

Nepal's Prime Minister in India - Day One

Political Instability in the Maldives Continue

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #01, 1 June 2023, Thursday
By Immaculine Joy Paul C, Melvin George and Lakshmi Parimala H

Dahal's India Visit: Day One
On 31 May, PM Dahal embarked on his visit to India. Upon his arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, he was welcomed by India's Minister of State of External Affairs, Meenakshi Lekhi. He later met India's National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, and Foreign Secretary, Vinay Mohan Kwatra. According to news reports, they discussed a few of the crucial issues were discussed, including boundary disputes, the EPG report and the opening of new air routes. ("Doval, Kwatra call on Dahal; meeting with Modi today," The Kathmandu Post, 1 June 2023)

The President signs the long pending citizenship bill
On 30 May, the President of Nepal, Ramchandra Paudel, authenticated the citizenship bill, which was initiated in the House of Representatives in July last year. The bill was returned by the former President, Bidya Devi Bhandari, for reconsideration in August. However, the bill was resent to the President for authentication on 6 September, which lapsed as Bhandari did not sign it till the deadline. Paudel, after repeated requests from the government, signed the bill, after consulting several legal and political experts. There is wide contention on whether Paudel can authenticate the bill that was passed by the previous government. The passing of the law has cleared the way for citizenship by descent to children of parents who got citizenship by birth. (Binod Ghimire, "Presidential seal on citizenship bill courts controversy," The Kathmandu Post, 1 June 2023)

Nepali-speaking Indians caught in the Manipur violence
On 1 June 2023, The Kathmandu Post reported on the Nepali-speaking community got caught in the protests between the Meiteis and the Kukis in Manipur. According to the report, though they have not been targeted so far, the violence is making them feel unsafe, with people from Serou village hiding in dugouts, from the violence. According to the Statistics Department of India, around 50,000 Nepali speakers live in Manipur, whose total population is 3.4 million. (Parbat Portel, "Nepali-speaking Indians stuck in Manipur violence," The Kathmandu Post, 1 June 2023)

"There is scope, if we can invest in production, packaging, and marketing", says Kuensel
On 31 May, Kuensel reported on an incident where a Bangladeshi importer complained to a Bhutanese diplomat about the quality of packaging. Despite being a forest-rich country, Bhutan used leftover wood to make boxes for exporting oranges in winter and apples in summer. Besides this, the exports of the two most exported fruits, oranges and apples, are declining, due to growing domestic demand and declining area under cultivation. In the south, the problem of pests and diseases is affecting the produce. As Kuensel reports, Bhutan relies on nature than on intervention from experts or the government. However, it concludes that investing in production, packaging, and marketing will improve the situation. ("Exporting our products," Kuensel, 31 May 2023)

UNHRC demand for international recognition of the 1971 genocide
On 1 June, The Daily Star reported that the UN Human Rights Council had included the demand for international recognition of the 1971 genocide, as one of the agenda of its 53rd session to be held during19 June-14 July. A statement on the same was sent to UN Secretary-General by Stichting BASUG, the Bangladeshi diaspora organization, with the special consultative status of the ECOSOC along with several other organizations like Aamra Ekattor, Projonmo '71, European Bangladesh Forum, and Seraji Foundation. Besides reiterating the international recognition of the 1971 genocide, it stated that the genocide was planned and carried out by the Pakistan military against the Bangalees during the Bangladesh Liberation War. ("1971 genocide: Demand for recognition on agenda of UN session," The Daily Star, 1 June 2023)

PM Hasina and President Erdogan exchange words of support and gratitude
On 31 May, in a telephone call to PM Sheikh Hasina, the newly elected President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, emphasized his stance on working with the former to take the relations between the two countries to a new height. Hasina congratulated Erdogan on his victory in the second round and further reiterated Bangladesh "would remain steadfast to stand by the brotherly people of Turkey at any time of need." Erdogan, in reply, expressed his gratitude to the people of Bangladesh and wished to strengthen ties between the two peoples. Hasina delivered her best wishes to Erdogan and his family, wishing peace, progress, and prosperity to Turkey through him. ("Hasina, Erdogan vow to take Dhaka-Ankara ties to new height," The Daily Star, 1 June 2023)

Formation of Transitional Coordination Committee is inappropriate, says Prayut Chan-o-cha
On 31 May, Bangkok Post reported that the Move Forward Party formed a "Transitional Coordination Committee" to prepare for the transition of power in Prachachat Party Headquarters in Bangkok. Seven other working panels on various issues were also set up. Each panel consists of eight representatives from all the coalition parties who would report the progress update to the transitional coordination committee. Thus ensuring consensus about the country's challenges and consolidating them into joint policies. The outgoing PM Prayut Chan-o-cha criticized the formation of the committee as inappropriate. He said: "Government organizations are still under the present government. They will prepare information for the transition in the future." (Aekarach Sattaburuth and Wassana Nanuam "MFP's Pita prepares for power," Bangkok Post, 31 May 2023)

Complaints against Pita may result in an annulled election, says Deputy Prime Minister
On 31 May, Bangkok Post reported that Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam said that complaints in the list would decide whether MFP leader Pita Limjaroenrat would be disqualified or the May election would be annulled. The complaints regarding his shareholdings in iTV Plc were a key factor. Pita can still be an MP if the complaints disqualify his PM aspirations and he could still be a PM if his MP status is targeted as the PM post is not required to be an MP. If the complaints target both the positions of PM and MP, then the court will take that decision. Complaints filed with the Election Commission target his MP status, his approval of MFP candidates in the 14 May election, and the whole cabinet that he would form. (Wassana Nanuam, Wissanu: Comprehensive complaint may result in annulled election," Bangkok Post, 31 May 2023)

Cabinet approves employment contract extensions till the new government takes charge 
On 31 May, Bangkok Post reported that Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam said that the cabinet has approved the Labour Ministry's request for employment contract extensions for 200,000 migrant workers from Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia. The extension is till the new government takes office. Earlier the request was rejected fearing it would be a burden to the new government. He said: "If the employment [of migrant workers] is not renewed, the police will be conducting the crackdown, and business owners will be afraid to hire the migrant workers." The four-year contract expired on 31 May and it varies from worker to worker. (Wassana Nanuam, "Deal to allow alien workers to stay, work," Bangkok Post, 31 May 2023)

Amnesty International condemns arrest of stand-up comedian
On 31 May, Amnesty International tweeted demanding the immediate release of the stand-up comedian Natasha Edirisooriya and condemned the arrest as an abuse of human rights under the ICCPR. It noted that the right to freedom of expression includes information and ideas of all kinds, including those that may be deeply offensive. It further stated that countries are misusing section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act which allows the introduction of ICCPR into domestic legislation. The provision prohibits advocacy of hatred that leads to incitement to discrimination, violence, or hostility. But the expressions which don't fit the real intentions of hate spreading should be protected by the state and not curtailed. ("AI demands immediate release of Natasha," The Island, 1 June 2023)

Executive Secretary of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in Colombo
On 31 May, Robert Floyd, the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) arrived in Colombo on a visit. The visit is expected to enhance cooperation between the organization and Sri Lanka. In 2000, Sri Lanka signed a Facility Agreement with the organization which led to the set up of an auxiliary seismological station in Pallekale, Kandy, as part of the International Monitoring System (IMS) to ensure its compliance with the CTBT. ("Executive Secy. of Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization here," The Island, 1 June 2023)

Prime Minister pitched for Thai investments into Sri Lanka
On 31 May, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena who is in Thailand to attend the United Nations Vesak Day celebrations, addressed a forum of Thai businessmen, industrialists, and entrepreneurs. He insisted that they undertake investments in Sri Lanka. Further, he highlighted the major perks available for the investors which include tax rebates and access to many markets through Free Trade Agreements. ("Prime Minister calls on Thai entrepreneurs to invest in Sri Lanka," The Island, 31 May 2023)

Political instability: NIAS NR Daily Update
On 30 May, all the councillors of the Kulhudhuffushi City Council submitted their sign-up forms to the newly emerging party, The Democrats. This defection of the councillors of the Kulhudhuffushi City is a significant development as the entire councilors signed up for the new party, and also it is the first time for the MDP to lose its majority in the council. 

On 1 June, 'The Democrats', which is a breakaway faction from the Maldivian Democratic Party filed for registration of the party with the Election Commission. The party submitted 3,560 membership forms. The move comes after 12 MPs left the MDP on 17 May and eventually joined the new party. Once the party is formed, it will become a minority party in the parliament having 13 MPs. Further, in the case of contesting the presidential election on 9 September, the party has to name its presidential candidate between 23 July-3 August. 

Campaign manager appointed for Yameen
On 31 May, Mohamed Ameen, a former Maldivian's Flight Operations Director, was appointed as the campaign manager of Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom. Yameen is the presidential candidate of the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives-People's National Congress coalition. He is notably facing an 11-year prison sentence over a money laundering and bribery case. The conviction has now been appealed to the High Court by him. ("Captain Ameen appointed Yameen's campaign manager," sun.mv, 1 June 2023)

Democrats file for registration with Election Commission
On 1 June, The Democrats, which is the new political party being formed, filed their registration with the Election Commission. They submitted 3,560 membership forms to the EC, which is more than the threshold of 3,000. The application was filed in the name of West Henveiru MP Hassan Latheef on 21 May following the withdrawal of a dozen MPs from MDP and joining the new faction. He said to the press that the party planned to file for registration with 3,500 forms, but they received 60 new forms in the morning. ("Democrats file for registration with 3,500 membership forms," sun.mv, 1 June 2023)

Kulhudhuffushi councilors join The Democrats
On 30 May, all the members of the Kulhudhuffushi City Council handed over thor sign-up forms to MP Hassan Latheef to join the newly emerging party, The Democrats. This move marks the first time the MDP lost its majority in Kulhudhuffushi and also the complete transition of the council to The Democrats. There have been continuous complaints in the city regarding the government's inefficacy in fulfilling its duties. ("All members of Kulhudhuffushi Council defects to The Democrats,Avas, 31 May 2023) 

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