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

Nations must not take eyes off climate change

The existential threat of climate change is an issue that nations cannot ignore, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said on Monday (21 October) at the first Singapore meeting of scientists from the United Nations’ climate science body.

“We must not take our eyes off the long-term, existential challenge of climate change. Otherwise, citizens will take their cause to the streets and reason will fail to rule,” he said, highlighting the scale of the issue in his strongest comments on climate change to date. – The Straits Times

Another pygmy elephant found dead in Malaysia

Another pygmy elephant, an endangered species found in the tropical rainforests of Borneo, was found dead with its tusks removed on Saturday morning.

On 23 September, a pygmy elephant was shot dead with at least 70 gunshot wounds on its body. Its tusks were also removed.

Follow-up operations led to the arrest of six suspects, including an immigrant, who were believed to be involved in the brutal killing. – New Straits Times

Defence spend eyed for chop

Thai opposition parties have pledged to fight to scale back the defence budget in the second reading of the 3.2 trillion baht (US$106 billion) plan after abstaining from voting on Saturday and allowing the 2020 budget bill to pass its first reading.

Following the vote to conclude the three-day debate, a 64-member panel was appointed to examine the spending plan, setting the scene for a showdown between the government and the opposition.

Of the total, 15 members were drawn from the cabinet and the other 49 represent the government and opposition parties with the Future Forward Party (FFP) naming its leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit among its representatives to sit on the budget bill scrutiny panel. – Bangkok Post

Wamena riots not the result of ethnic conflict, says Papua governor

Papua Governor Lukas Enembe has claimed that riots that broke out in Wamena, Wijaya regency, were not the result of conflict between Papuans and non-Papuans, adding that the province’s indigenous residents had tried to protect visitors and migrants from rioters.  

“I’ve heard so many stories of Papuans protecting non-Papuans during the incident,” Lukas said.  Riots broke out in Wamena on 23 September after a student protest turned violent. 

Authorities have blamed armed separatist groups for stoking the unrest and sending its members into the small town to attack people, destroy public facilities and set buildings on fire. At least 32 people died, most of whom were residents who had moved to Papua from other provinces. – The Jakarta Post

Myanmar needs no help ending Rakhine conflict

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said she will rely on the Myanmar people to resolve the problems besetting Rakhine State, and that ending the conflict would be a priceless legacy for future generations.

“Relying on ourselves is the best way when facing challenges, I’ve made up my mind on this,” the State Counsellor told an event marking the second anniversary of the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development (UEHRD) in Rakhine State in Nay Pyi Taw on Friday.

UEHRD is a public-private enterprise aimed at providing sustainable solutions to communal strife that has long plagued the state. 

“We appreciate our friends for providing help, and I respect them,” she said. “But we as people have to rely on ourselves eventually. I want to raise such a spirit and make it firm in our union.” – Myanmar Times

US ambassador meets Cambodian king as he looks to strengthen ties

The government’s spokespersons unit is optimistic that newly-appointed United States Ambassador Patrick Murphy can help bridge diplomatic gaps after he met with King Norodom Sihamoni on Saturday and issued a positive statement.

Mr Murphy arrived in Phnom Penh last month, but only presented his credentials to King Sihamoni on Saturday at the Royal Palace. Shortly after, Mr Murphy posted a message on his Twitter page, which the government has taken as a positive sign.

“After presenting credentials to King Norodom Sihamoni, I will look forward to meeting with members of the Royal Government of Cambodia and discuss efforts to strengthen ties between our two great countries,” he said on Twitter. – Khmer Times