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. 

Malaysia's PM says rail line linking Johor Baru to Singapore to proceed

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday (Oct 17) said Malaysia will proceed with the 4km Johor Baru to Singapore rail line.

His comments about the Rapid Transit System (RTS) rail link followed that of Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke on Tuesday that details of the project will be decided by the Malaysian Cabinet within two weeks. – The Straits Times

Thai royal barge procession rescheduled

His Majesty the King has postponed the royal barge procession from Oct 24 to Dec 12, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam announced on Thursday.

Mr Wissanu said the King made the decision after the organisers concluded that water levels and currents in the Chao Phraya River, and weather conditions, could pose a problem for the procession.

The procession was planned to start at 3.30pm on Oct 24. The King decided to postpone it to the same time on Dec 12, he said. A full rehearsal was held on Thursday before organisers decided to consult the King. The procession is an extension of the King’s coronation ceremonies that began in early May. – Bangkok Post

'Print media can survive with quality content'

Malaysia's Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong said that the print media industry players should not harp on the dichotomy between online and print media as the divisions were not as important as the content.

“Journalism will never die, although the form will change. And, the money spent on media will change. We are in a different environment from the 1990s. But now things have changed. The point is we still pay for content, good content is important — specialised media is key.”

Liew was one of four panellists at the forum “Survival of Print Media: Why go soft when you can go hard?” at Intekma Resort and Convention Centre. – New Straits Times

Indonesia picks McKinsey to help plan capital in the forest

An Indonesian unit of management consultants McKinsey & Company has been appointed to conduct a feasibility study on moving the capital from the crowded, flood-prone city of Jakarta on Java island to the forested island of Borneo, an official said.

President Joko Widodo revealed the long-awaited site for a new capital in August in East Kalimantan province, triggering numerous questions including how the US$33 billion plan would be financed and its environmental impact.

McKinsey Indonesia will take on the government’s initial studies on issues including the social, cultural, environmental and economic impact, said Rudy Soeprihadi Prawiradinata, deputy for regional development at Indonesia’s Planning Ministry. – The Jakarta Post

Hun Sen gains backing of three countries over EBA

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday concluded his trip to Eastern Europe and is bringing home the support of three countries in regards to an ongoing review of the Kingdom’s Everything-but-arms trade status.

The Kingdom’s status is currently under review by the European Commission over perceived setbacks to human rights and democracy following the dissolution of the CNRP. The EC is currently drafting conclusions and the Kingdom will know whether it will lose access by February.

During his trip to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Bulgaria, Mr Hun Sen discussed the review with the leaders of each country, lobbying for support to retain the EBA, which is vital for the Kingdom’s economy and the livelihoods of the garment sector’s nearly 800,000 workers. – Khmer Times

Hike in power tariffs drives Myanmar’s inflation past 8 percent

Inflation levels so far this year have peaked at 8.53 percent in August, according to the latest available data released by the Central Statistical Organisation, and higher levels are expected for the rest of the year as a result of rising electricity prices.

Inflation has risen from 6.94 percent in January, driven by rising food prices, including rice, oil, meat and fish, vegetables and other basic commodities. Non-food prices, including that of gold and petroleum were also volatile even though the local currency was relatively stable at around K1500 against the US dollar.

According to the October 2019 edition of the World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific Economic Update, inflationary pressures in Myanmar are expected to remain high in the medium term, with inflation for the year forecast to be as high as 8.5 percent. – The Myanmar Times