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. 

Dr M hails Seoul’s ‘Look South’ policy 

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has great expectations for this week’s special summit between South Korea and ASEAN, saying that the two parties can further develop win-win partnerships.

“We welcome (South) Korea’s looking south policy,” he said in an exclusive interview with Yonhap News Agency and Yonhap News TV during his trip to Busan for the ASEAN-South Korea Commemorative Summit.

Dr Mahathir was referring to the Moon Jae-in administration’s New Southern Policy intended to strengthen Seoul’s strategic ties with ASEAN. – New Straits Times

Third bridge needed to ease congestion between Johor and Singapore

Malaysia’s Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday (25 November) there was a need to build a third link to ease traffic congestion between Johor and Singapore.

He told the Johor state assembly that he had already informed the federal government about the link, which could take the form of a bridge or a tunnel, reported national news agency Bernama.

“If the state government supports, I will ensure this initiative will be started,” Tan Sri Muhyiddin said during a debate at the Johor state assembly sitting in Iskandar Puteri. “Before we used to have only one bridge, then we had two bridges and now these two can no longer cope,” he said, referring to the heavy traffic at the Causeway and the Second Link. – The Straits Times

Ahok faces uphill battle as new Pertamina commissioner

Newly installed president commissioner of state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, will face an uphill battle to keep tabs on Indonesia’s largest energy enterprise, experts say. 

The former Jakarta governor told reporters before his inauguration in Jakarta on Monday that his position entailed “sitting on the board, as a citizen, to help oversee developments in (Pertamina’s) performance, field operations and teamwork.”

“It's different from when I was a governor, I could tell (the public) about everything. Only certain positions have such authority. In this case, they are Pertamina’s president director and the state-owned enterprises (SOE) minister.”

As stipulated in the 2003 SOEs Law, commissioners have far less power than directors over a state-owned company’s day-to-day operations. – The Jakarta Post 

Villar says DPWH not relying on special powers to hasten ‘Build’ program

It’s not within the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) assumption to say that President Rodrigo Duterte be given special powers to hasten the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” programs, department Secretary Mark Villar said Tuesday.

“I leave it up to the wisdom of Congress if they want to give us, but we won’t be relying on that, it’s not within our assumptions we’ll be given special powers,” Villar said over ANC’s “Headstart” when asked if he wants the President to be granted special powers.

“At this point, we can implement the projects that we have,” he added.

Villar’s statement comes after Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda filed House Bill 5456, which seeks to give Duterte special powers to “utilise all necessary government resources, exercise police power, and employ executive actions and measures to ensure the effective implementation” of the 75 flagship projects of the administration.  – Philippine Daily Inquirer

Millennials mired in shopping debts

Thai millennials’ spending on ‘must-have items’ amounts to 1.37 trillion baht (US$45.32 billion) a year, representing 13 percent of the country’s GDP, and half of them owe debts, while one-fifth of debtors have defaulted, according to TMB Analytics.

nnials’ spending on ‘must-have items’ amounts to 1.37 trillion baht (US$45.32 billion) a year, representing 13 percent of the country’s GDP, and half of them owe debts, while one-fifth of debtors have defaulted, according to TMB Analytics.

Gen Y, those born in 1981-96, total 14.4 million people in Thailand and 7.2 million of them are indebted, said Naris Sathapholdeja, head of TMB Analytics. Some 1.4 million out of 7.2 million millennial debtors have defaulted.

“Some 1.4 million people in this age group are debtors, while their soured loans comprise 7 percent of total non-performing loans (NPLs). According to the Bank of Thailand data, 7.2 million millennials shoulder debts amounting to 423,000 baht (US$14,000) each on average,” he said. – Bangkok Post

Vietnam awaiting UK court’s decision to bring 39 lorry victims’ bodies home

Vietnam and the United Kingdom are “in the process of completing” legal and technical procedures to repatriate the bodies of 39 Vietnamese migrants who died near London late last month, said Vietnam’s deputy foreign minister Bui Thanh Son on Monday.

Along with technical procedures, the return of the bodies required approval by the UK’s judges, Son said on the side-lines of the ongoing National Assembly meeting in Hanoi.

“Regarding legal procedures, the return of the bodies requires approval from the court in England,” Son said. 

“The two sides are working hard to bring back the victims’ remains as soon as possible,” said the deputy minister. – Viet Nam News

Body of Princess Buppha Devi cremated

The body of Princess Norodom Buppha Devi was cremated in a grand ceremony at 9:50 am yesterday in front of Botum pagoda. 

King Norodom Sihamoni, Queen Mother Monineath Sihanouk along with senior government officials, armed forces, monks and citizens participated in the ceremony.

Princess Buppha Devi passed away at the age of 76 last week in a Bangkok hospital. Princess Buppha Devi was former director of the Royal Ballet and former Minister of Culture and Fine Arts.

Her body was returned to the Kingdom and placed in Botum pagoda in Phnom Penh since last week. – Khmer Times

Opposition MPs quiz Yangon government about keeping confiscated lands

An opposition politician has asked the Yangon Region government why it is still holding land released by the Tatmadaw (military) during previous administrations.

U Maung Myint, MP of the United Solidarity and Development Party for Mingin township, Sagaing Region, said the Yangon government should have returned thousands of hectares of confiscated land that were relinquished by the Tatmadaw to their original owners. 

Instead, the regional government submitted a proposal to use the land for other projects, he said. – The Myanmar Times