Daily Briefs

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The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief, 30 May 2023, Tuesday

Growing China’s efforts in Rohingya repatriation

Growing China’s efforts in Rohingya repatriation

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief, 30 May 2023, Tuesday
By Immaculine Joy Paul C, Melvin George and Lakshmi Parimala H



Growing China’s efforts in Rohingya repatriation

On 30 May, The Daily Star reported that China is appearing to be active in turning the ‘Rohingya repatriation into a reality.’ On 27 May, during Bangladesh-China foreign office consultation (FOC), the Chinese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sun Weidong, stated that an early repatriation would be beneficial for Bangladesh, Myanmar and the entire region. While the efforts from China and Myanmar towards the repatriation are more active now, the Rohingyas still seem to lack trust and confidence in the junta. In order to build confidence and trust, visits by the Myanmar officials to Rohingya camps and by the Rohingyas to Myanmar have been taken up. Recently, on 5 May, a 20-member Rohingya delegation visited a model village in Rakhine, at the request of the Myanmar government. (Porimol Palma, “Rohingya Repatriation: China now active but uncertainties yet to clear up,” The Daily Star, 30 May 2023)

"If you suddenly remove the subsidy in the election year, there will be a huge impact," says Minister Hamid

On 29 May, the State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Nasreul Hamid, stated that the government will not withdraw its full subsidy in the upcoming budget presented in June 2023, adding that the price of all types of fuel has gone up and the sudden removal of subsidies in the election year will have a huge impact. Elaborating on the impact of the pandemic and the war, he said the government is providing subsidies to the targeted ‘lifeline’ consumers. He further added that there is no need to worry and that everything will be fine. (“Govt won't cut full subsidy in election year: Nasrul Hamid,” The Daily Star, 29 May 2023)


Nepal announces Rs 1.75 trillion budget for FY 2080-81

On 29 May, the Nepal government presented its annual financial plan worth Rs 1.75 trillion for its next financial year 2080-82. According to the Finance Minister, Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat, the government will raise 71.29 per cent through revenues, 13.70 per cent through internal loans, 12.14 per cent (Rs 212 bn) through external loans and 2.85 per cent (Rs 49.94 bn) through foreign grants. On the other hand, the expenditures consist majorly of recurrent spending, comprising 65.20 per cent, followed by financing (17.55 per cent) and capital expenditure (17.25 per cent). The government has targeted a growth rate of 6 per cent and is aiming to keep inflation within 6.5 percent. Further, he announced few measures to promote domestic production and employment, which include the National Production and Employment Promotion Programme with a focus on the commercialisation of agriculture, promotion of small and micro enterprises and development of IT and tourism, and the Prime Minister Nepali Production and Consumption Growth Programme to promote micro to medium-scale enterprises in agriculture, garment, footwear and pharmaceuticals. The government has also assured to simplify the registration process for new enterprises and to remove threshold for investment in IT sector including the shutting down of 20 unnecessary agencies to cut off costs like the case with vehicle imports, construction and foreign trips, except for the essential ones; and fuel to be replaced by cash for fuel allowances to public officials. (Sangam Prasain & Prithvi Man Shrestha, “Nepal unveils Rs1.75 trillion financial plan for fiscal 2023-24,” The Kathmandu Post, 30 May 2023)

The cabinet approves Dahal’s four-day visit to India

On 29 May, a cabinet meeting approved the visit of PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal to India from 31 May to 3 June. He will be accompanied by five cabinet ministers on his visit. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dahal will hold delegation-level talks with his counterpart, PM Modi on 1 June, following that he will address the Nepal-India Business Summit, interacting with businessmen from both the countries. He will further interact with the Nepali community in India and is scheduled to visit Ujjain and Indore on 3 June. The discussions are said to cover bilateral agreements, agreements on infrastructure and hydro projects, along with slight reference to the boundary disputes. (“Cabinet approves prime minister’s official visit to India,” The Kathmandu Post, 30 May 2023)


The right to satire is an integral part of freedom of expression, says Ranga Jayasuriya

On 30 May, Ranga Jayasuriya commented on the recent religious controversies involving “Pastor” Jerome Fernando and Natasha Edirisooriya, a stand-up comedian. He stated that the authorities failed to hold Islamist Mohmmad Zahran accountable for his hate comments but rather they go after Jerome Fernando who hardly engages in hate speech. Further, on the arrest of Edirisooriya, he stated the role of stand-up comedy is to amuse the audience and is most likely that some become a victim of the joke and the audience is well aware of that fact. He noted that the right to satire is an integral part of freedom of expression. (“The coming witch-hunt by religious paranoia?,” Daily Mirror, 30 May 2023)


Dismissal of MDP defectors; Nasheed expresses discontent toward President

On 30 May, the parliament speaker Mohamed Nasheed expressed his disbelief in President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih over the series of dismissals of government officials who previously left the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). On 29 May, the Environment Ministry's State Minister Ahmed Mujthaba and Tourism Ministry's Senior Executive, MDP activist Ali 'Smith' Hashim, were dismissed. Nasheed went on to ask if the President was not shameful for dismissing the defectors. A senior government official had previously stated that the dismissals were undertaken as the officials critiqued the working of the government.  (“Nasheed expresses disbelief at sacking of MDP defectors,” Avas, 30 May 2023)


Pheu Thai wants its candidate for house Speaker post

On 29 May, the Pheu Thai Party and the Move Forward Party were seen contesting over whose candidate would take up the house Speaker position. Pheu Thai secretary-general Prasert Chantararuangthong said that since the Move Forward Party wants to take up the Prime Minister post, the house Speaker position should be filled by Pheu Thai’s candidate. He added that the issue will be decided between the two parties and would not be a concern for other parties in the coalition. (“Stage set for speaker showdown,” Bangkok Post, 30 May 2023)


Iran journalist faces trial over coverage of a custodial death

On 29 May, an Iranian journalist was tried on charges of covering the funeral of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman who died while being under the custody of the morality police. Amini was detained for violating Iran’s Islamic dress code and her death fueled huge protests across the country for months. Another journalist, Niloofar Hamedi was also arrested. Both were accused of “colluding with hostile powers” for their coverage of the death. Under Iranian law, the above charges will be awarded with capital punishment. Both journalists have been kept in Iran’s Evin prison since last September. (“Iran journalist faces trial over charges tied to Amini protests,” Al Jazeera, 29 May 2023)


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