Thai government rejects UDD compromise offer; UDD leaders allege that Abhisit has ordered army to use force in crack down against protesters; Series of explosions in Silcom district kill 3 protestors; ASEAN-China maritime cooperation agreement finalised;
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  • The political crisis in Thailand continued with the Thai government rejecting the offer of the ‘Red Shirts’ to halt their anti-government demonstrations in return for dissolution of Parliament and holding of fresh election within 30 days. Citing continued use of violence and intimidation, PM Abhisit Vejjajiva stated that Parliament dissolution “must be done for the benefit of the entire country, not just for the Red Shirts, and it must be done at the right time.”1 Abhisit reaffirmed the Thai government’s resolve to take appropriate action against the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), reclaim Ratchaprasong business area currently occupied by the UDD and restore peace.2 A prominent leader of the UDD alleged that PM Abhisit has already ordered the army to use force to crack down on protesters.3 A series of bomb explosions meanwhile rocked Silcom financial district on April 22. The explosions occurred near the site where the Red Shirts were holding demonstrations, killing 3 people and wounding more than 70 others.4

    During the ASEAN Maritime Transport Working Group Meeting (MTWG) held in Kuala Lumpur, a draft of the MoU on ASEAN-China Consultation Mechanism was finalized. The MTWG is considered to be a significant platform in helping ASEAN member countries in intensifying maritime cooperation.5

    The Strategic Trade Bill 2010 tabled in the Malaysian Parliament on April 1 reaffirms the need to prevent chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) incidents. The Bill provides for measures to control activities that may facilitate the design, development and production of WMD and their delivery systems. It also proposes to “effectively control the trans-shipment, transit and brokering of all arms, development of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.”6

    During the visit of Malaysian PM Najib Razak to Tokyo, a joint statement ‘Enhanced Partnership for a New Frontier’ was released outlining over 20 areas of cooperation. These include environment preservation, chemical, wastes and recycle management, biodiversity and energy conservation, emphasis on renewable energy, among other aspects.7 The recently introduced bilateral initiative ‘Japan-Malaysia Cooperation Initiative for Environment and Energy’ also emphasized the need to strengthen cooperation on issues relating to environment and energy through the introduction of green technology.

    Malaysia meanwhile has indicated that it could send a medical team to Afghanistan soon. The step is being seen as indicative of its commitment to help achieve peace in the country.8

    Singapore termed the concluding draft of the two-day Tehran Conference on Disarmament and Non-proliferation as ‘misleading’. The Singapore Foreign Ministry insisted that there was no agreement among delegates to the Tehran Conference to issue such a document and "neither was there any discussion on the contents of the document."9

    In other developments, Myanmar and Australia are to join seven other states as observers at the upcoming SAARC summit in Thimphu from April 28-29, 2010. The summit is expected to issue a joint declaration ‘Towards a Green and Happy South Asia’ with climate change as its key theme. Two pacts on environment and trade in services are also expected to be signed.10