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.

'Don't overlook Orang Asli in 2020 Budget'

The Peninsular Malaysia Orang Asli Network hopes the government will focus on basic development involving the Orang Asli in the 2020 Budget, which will be tabled on Friday. Its chairman, Tijah Yok Chopil, said basic development projects such as clean water supply, upgrading of village clinics and road repairs should be given priority as well as providing seeds and fertilisers so that the community could carry out agricultural activities to generate income.

“We need to focus on the development of indigenous people first and less on programmes such as sports and motivation, in view of the current state of the economy.” – New Straits Times

Two men charged over loaded pistol; first case in a decade

Two suspected drug offenders appeared in court via video-link on Thursday over offences involving a pistol. In a joint statement on Wednesday, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) and the Singapore Police Force said that the two Singaporean men were arrested in an operation mounted by both agencies. – The Straits Times

Two wild elephant carcasses found downstream

Rescuers and park officials on Wednesday found the bodies of two of the 11 wild elephants that perished at Haew Narok waterfall, but were unable to remove the carcasses from the river.

One baby wild elephant and its mother survived and went back into the forest, while 11 others died in one of the largest losses of wild elephants in the country. – Bangkok Post

Lower competitiveness a second blow for Indonesia

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration has to swallow another bitter pill at the end of its first term as the country’s competitiveness ranking fell this year, following a gloomy economic outlook conveyed by the World Bank. 

The World Economic Forum (WEF) global competitiveness index published on Wednesday places Indonesia in 50th place out of 141 economies, down five spots from last year. “The decline in the competitiveness index should ring alarm bells for the government to step up its reform agenda,” said Bank Central Asia (BCA) chief economist David Sumual. – The Jakarta Post

524 mostly Chinese illegal workers nabbed in Parañaque raid

A total of 524 illegal foreign workers, mostly Chinese, involved in offshore investment scam were rounded up by authorities in Parañaque City Wednesday night. Of the 524 arrested foreigners, 424 are Chinese, 23 are Vietnamese, 25 are Malaysians, three are Indonesians, 4 are Taiwanese and 45 are Burmese.

NCRPO chief Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the raid was conducted after authorities received information the foreign employees have no working permit. – Philippine Daily Inquirer

Laos, Vietnam plan joint effort to bolster tourism

Laos and Vietnam plan to jointly promote tourism through various activities aimed at drawing more visitors to the two countries. Senior officials from Laos’ four southern provinces and the central and southern provinces of Vietnam, as well as tourism-related business operators, recently discussed the initiative at a meeting held in Champassak province.

They also considered ways to improve facilities and procedures at immigration posts and agreed to inspect visitor facilities at tourist sites to ensure they were adequate. – Vientiane Times