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. 

Immigration DG vows to hunt down escapees of investment scam syndicate

Malaysia's Immigration Department vowed to hunt down those who have escaped during the department’s raid on the largest investment scam syndicate headquarters in Cyberjaya on Wednesday. Its director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud said the department had rounded up 680 people, including 77 women, aged between 19 and 35 years old, believed to be Chinese nationals as majority of them did not have their passports when the raid was conducted at a multilevel building in Cyberjaya. Khairul Dzaimee said that during the raid the operators provoked and some even attacked the Immigration officers. – New Straits Times

DPM Heng calls for more multilateralism 

As the world builds walls, Singapore must go against the tide and build bridges, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Friday (22 November). To do so, it must stay united, renew its social compact and work with like-minded partners to keep the world open, he added. “The free, open and rules-based international order is under stress. If countries wall up, or if there is a new Iron Curtain, the cost to Singapore will be significant,” Mr Heng said. “Trade is our lifeblood, and multilateralism is how small countries like us have a place in the world.” – The Straits Times

Prawit warns Thanathorn: ‘No protests

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon warned Future Forward Party (FFP) leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit not to instigate any street protests in the wake of the Constitutional Court’s ruling to disqualify him as an MP in a media-shareholding case. Prawit made the comments when asked about the party’s ongoing campaigns, such as the call for the abolition of military conscription, and push for constitutional amendment. Thanathorn yesterday insisted on his innocence in the media-shareholding case, saying he will give his interpretation of the ruling soon. – Bangkok Post

Jokowi picks young people to presidential expert staff 

President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo has appointed seven young people as members of his new presidential expert staff to give him innovative ideas in regard to the country’s development in various fields. Among the new expert staff members are education technology start-up Ruangguru CEO and founder Adamas Belva Syah Devara, Amartha Fintech founder Andi Taufan Garuda Putra and Creativeprenuer CEO Putri Tanjung. Their ages range between 23 and 36 years old, with the youngest being the 1996-born Putri – who is also the daughter of media mogul Chairil Tanjung. – The Jakarta Post

Duterte’s economic team hails move to continue rice importation

Economic managers on Thursday welcomed the decision to proceed with the liberalised rice trade regime, which they said had reduced the retail prices of the Filipino staple food since it commenced Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Ernesto M. Pernia told the Inquirer that a freer rice importation would sustain the inroads made in terms of poverty reduction. For Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, who heads the economic team, the decision to continue the implementation of the rice tariff law was “good.” – Philippine Daily Inquirer 

Tourism helps more airlines take off in Vietnam

Vietnam’s booming tourism industry has led to growth in the aviation sector, with more routes and airlines creating a new landscape for the industry. According to data from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the number of international tourists visiting the country grew from 4.25 million in 2008 to 15.5 million in 2018, while the number of domestic tourists rose from 20 million in 2009 to 80 million this year. Vietnam’s aviation market had developed strongly during that time, with average revenue growth of 17.4 per cent, two times higher than the 7.9 percent average in Asia, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). – Viet Nam News

Loss-making factories should be privatised, officials say

Government officials have raised the need to restructure most of Myanmar’s state-owned factories, as just four out of the 57 factories controlled by the Ministry of Industry (MOI) are now making money. Around one third of these factories need to be closed down with the MOI losing about K300 billion-K400 billion (US$197 to US$263 million) each year, said U Aung Kyaw Oo, secretary of the Pyithu Hluttaw’s Investment and Industrial Development Committee. For the remaining factories that are still operating, upgrades and overhauls of existing machinery and equipment are urgently required. The solution, officials said, is full or partial privatisation. – The Myanmar Times

Ambassadors instructed to choose words carefully when meeting Sokha

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party yesterday produced a video clip reminding foreign diplomats who visit former opposition leader Kem Sokha not to encourage him to partake in activities that could destroy the Kingdom’s peace. The video clip issued yesterday came after dozens of foreign diplomats began meeting with Sokha at his residence in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district after Phnom Penh Municipal Court eased his bail restrictions. Dozens of foreign ambassadors to Cambodia have met with Sokha at his residence. So far, he has held meetings with ambassadors of France, United States, Germany, Australia, Japan, Switzerland, United Kingdom, the European Union, Swiss, Belgium and Finland. – Khmer Times