Hot off the press

These are the top stories making the front pages of major newspapers from across Southeast Asia today. 

Get up to speed with what’s happening in the fastest growing region in the world. 

PM Lee, Jokowi hope deep Singapore-Indonesia ties will grow even stronger

The relationship between Singapore and Indonesia has prospered, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and visiting President Joko Widodo noted at their fourth Leaders' Retreat on Tuesday (Oct 8), as they expressed the hope that ties will grow stronger in the next five years.

The meeting comes ahead of Mr Joko's swearing in for his second term in two weeks' time. 

President Joko, better known as Jokowi, and his new Vice-President Ma'ruf Amin had won the April presidential election as a joint ticket with 55.5 per cent of the vote. – The Straits Times

Nazir Razak: I did not use a single sen of 1MDB monies

Former CIMB Bank chairman Nazir Razak, who was among 80 individuals and entities served compound notices by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to recover RM420 million (US$100 million) of 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) funds has claimed innocence. 

The younger brother of former prime minister Najib Razak, in a statement, said he was doing Najib a favour when he was asked to use his bank account for transactions totalling up to RM25.7 million (US$6.12 million). 

“I acted in good faith and obliged to his request. I did not retain or use a single sen,” he added, referring to a MACC RM420 million recovery plan that named him as one of the 80 persons and entities who received more than RM500,000 (US$119,000) in alleged 1MDB monies. – New Straits Times

Digital Economy and Society Ministry's WiFi demand draws flak

Thailand’s Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry's demand that all cafes store data passing through their WiFi connections has drawn flak from shop owners, especially small-scale operators, who said the measure would impose a financial burden on them, including server expense.

Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta said on Tuesday that coffee shops must keep the traffic data, known as a log file, for at least 90 days in line with Section 26 of the Computer Crime Act.

The move is meant to allow authorities to track down those behind illicit acts or remarks on the internet. – Bangkok Post

Jokowi gains support from labour unions

Amid protests by various groups signalling widespread distrust of the government, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo may have gained support from an unlikely source: labour unions.

Jokowi met with leaders of the nation’s two-largest labour unions at the Bogor Palace on Monday, apparently to discuss a planned revision of the 2003 Manpower Law.

After the meeting, All-Indonesia Workers Union Confederation (KSPSI) president Andi Gani Nena Wea and Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) chairman Said Iqbal expressed their support for the Jokowi administration – which is something of a surprise given that the KSPI had been a vocal supporter of Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto's presidential bid. – The Jakarta Post

Philippine dollar reserves highest in history

Foreign currency inflow pushed the Philippines’ dollar reserves higher in September — their highest level in the country’s’ history — which bodes well for the strength of the peso and industries that buy raw and intermediate materials from abroad.

Initial data showed the country’s gross international reserves rose by US$130 million to US$86.16 billion as of end-September 2019 from US$86.03 billion at the end of the previous month, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said.

He said the increase was due mainly to the government’s foreign currency deposits and income from investments abroad. Diokno added, though, that the increase in reserves as “partially tempered” by payments for foreign debts. – The Philippine Daily Inquirer

ASEAN urged to tackle issue of haze

Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Aun Pornmoniroth yesterday said that ASEAN should enhance coordination, management and increase resources to cope with forest fires and trans-boundary haze pollution.

He was speaking at the opening of the 15th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting for the Environment in Siem Reap.

“Asean must ensure proper land use planning, sustainable forest management and cleaner air in the region,” Mr Pornmoniroth noted. – Khmer Times