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. 

Thai police seize Malaysia-bound ‘ice’ worth US$12 million

Thai police have foiled an attempt to smuggle one tonne of ‘ice’ (methamphetamine) worth RM50 million (US$12.02 million) into Malaysia, Thailand’s Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) said today.

Deputy NSB chief Lt Gen Pornchai Charoenwong said three suspects – two locals aged 21 and 22 and a Myanmar, 35, – were arrested at 4.30am (local time) in Phichit Province, about 330km from Bangkok, on 10 November.

Acting on a tip-off, police stopped a pickup truck driven by one of the suspects, and upon inspection, found ‘ice’ in hundreds of Chinese tea packets in a plastic bag in the vehicle, he said. – New Straits Times

LTA warns against turning e-scooters into mobility aids

Vendors who modify electric scooters into personal mobility aids (PMAs) by adding a third wheel and reducing the maximum speed of the device will be taken to task, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has warned.

Such “irresponsible vendors” can end up making the devices unsafe, the authority said in a Facebook post yesterday. Its statement came amid a flurry of online advertisements from vendors offering a way out for e-scooter users feeling the impact of a ban on using public footpaths.

PMAs, including wheelchairs, motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters, are not affected by the ban, which began a week ago. – The Straits Times

‘I’m ready’: Ahok to get top post at state company

State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Minister Erick Thohir has asked former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, to lead one of Indonesia’s state firms. 

“I was asked to join one of the SOEs. I’m ready as long as it is for the country. Any position is possible. What is important is that I would help the country,” Ahok said after meeting with Erick, as quoted by Antara. 

He did not know when he would officially join the SOE. “Maybe in December or November, I don’t know.” It is not known which state firm Ahok will be in. – The Jakarta Post

DSI vows no loopholes in ‘Billy’ case

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) expects to wrap up its probe into the murder of Karen activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen and file charges by the deadline.

“We still have time, so we will continue to collect evidence and make the case watertight. We don’t want to leave any loopholes,” DSI director-general Pol Col Paisit Wongmuang told the media on Wednesday. 

Suspects for the murder were arrested on Monday, after which the DSI has two months to submit the case to court. – Bangkok Post

Duterte aide: Let numbers speak for ‘Build, Build, Build’

The Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program is not a “failure” but it can do better, according to the presidential adviser for flagship programs and projects.

Vivencio Dizon said the administration had still spent nearly P1 trillion (US$19.7 billion) for infrastructure to boost the economy despite the government revising its initial list of 75 flagship projects under the BBB program following studies that showed some of these were not feasible.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday described the BBB program as a “dismal failure” because only nine out of the initial 75 flagship projects had commenced construction halfway into President Rodrigo Duterte’s term. – Philippine Daily Inquirer

Cambodian capital draws 4.7 million visitors during festival

More than 4.7 million tourists visited the capital during the three-day Water Festival holiday, according to a report issued by the Ministry of Tourism yesterday.

The figure represents a five percent increase compared with last year’s holiday.

The report says that 4,750,000 Cambodians and 31,446 foreigners visited Phnom Penh during the three days of the holiday. – The Khmer Times