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. 

Australian wins death sentence appeal in Malaysia, walks free

An Australian grandmother who claimed she was tricked into carrying drugs into Malaysia after falling for an online romance scam Tuesday won her final appeal against the death penalty and will be freed.

Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, originally from the Philippines, was arrested in December 2014 while in transit at Kuala Lumpur International Airport with 1.1 kilos of crystal methamphetamine stitched into the compartment of a backpack she was carrying.

She was initially cleared of trafficking after a judge ruled in 2017 she did not know she was transporting the drugs, but the acquittal was overturned after prosecutors appealed and she was handed a death sentence. – New Straits Times 

SG Bike takes over Mobike’s licence to operate 25,000 bicycles in Singapore

Local bike-sharing operator SG Bike on Wednesday (27 November) announced that it had completed the takeover of Mobike’s licence to operate 25,000 bicycles in Singapore.

The deal, which was concluded at about a third of the valuation that the two firms initially agreed on, makes SG Bike the largest bike-sharing operator here.

All existing Mobike bicycles can now be unlocked using SG Bike's mobile application. Conversely, the Mobike app can no longer be used to unlock the bikes.

During the trial period starting on Wednesday, SG Bike is offering free rides for trips under 30 minutes on Mobike-branded bicycles. – The Straits Times 

Thai government rolls out stimulus

The government has rolled out further stimulus measures intended to inject about 144 billion baht (US$4.7 billion) into the economy to boost full-year economic growth to 2.8 percent and maintain momentum into the first quarter of next year.

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana said the cabinet approved the Finance Ministry's package which comprises three measures after it was predicted that the global economy is likely to remain in a state of flux and exert further pressure on Thailand.

“The aim is to boost the economy during the remainder of this year and the first quarter of next year,” Mr Uttama said after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

He said the government expects the measures to propel full-year economic growth to 2.8 percent from a projection of 2.6 percent recently announced by the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC). – Bangkok Post 

Indonesia wants civil servants to be ‘government’s influencers’

In a bid to more widely disseminate information about the government’s programs, the Communications and Information Ministry wants to make use of civil servants who have large followings on social media to be influencers for the government.

The acting head of the ministry's public relations bureau, Ferdinandus Setu, said the ministry aimed to involve civil servants who are active in social media.

“Those who have a minimum of 500 followers on Instagram and Twitter and a minimum of 500 friends on Facebook,” Ferdinandus said on Monday at a press conference, as quoted by

The civil servants, he explained, are to get special badges that label them as influencers and would get special invitations to events run by the government. –The Jakarta Post 

SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte is angry over the logistical troubles that have been plaguing the country’s hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Malacanang said on Tuesday, as it urged the organisers to ensure that they have backup plans to avoid inconveniencing foreign and Filipino athletes.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the barrage of complaints from athletes taking part in the regional sports meet had reached the President, who was in Busan, South Korea until Tuesday afternoon.

“The President is angry over what happened,” Panelo said in an interview on Tuesday. 

Panelo also supported calls for an investigation into the hosting of the SEA Games once it is over, and for sanctions to be meted out to those who will be proven to be accountable for the mess. – Philippine Daily Inquirer 

Foreigners allowed to change visa status while in Vietnam

The National Assembly (NA) on Monday voted for amendments to the immigration law, for the first time allowing visitors to change their visa status and prolong their stays in Vietnam without having to fly out of the country.

The amendment was approved by an overwhelming 83.6 percent for the Law on Entry, Exit, Transit and Residence of Foreigners.

The law will come into effect on 1 July next year, allowing visitors to apply to change their visas under a number of circumstances. – Viet Nam News 

Kingdom in talks with Russia for nuclear science

Cambodian and Russian experts yesterday concluded discussions on the possibility of constructing and establishing a Nuclear Science and Technology Centre in the Kingdom.

The discussion, which was held in Siem Reap province over two days, took place at the 3rd meeting of a Cambodia-Russia joint working group on cooperation in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra yesterday said the group reviewed a draft agreement on cooperation for the construction of a nuclear science and technology centre in Cambodia. – Khmer Times  

Japanese companies to upgrade communications infrastructure

Four Japanese companies recently announced a plan to upgrade communications infrastructure connecting the major cities of Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon, Mandalay and Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Myanmar under an official order from Myanma Posts and Telecommunications, the country’s largest telecommunications operator.

The Communication Network Improvement Project, valued at about ¥7 billion (about US$62 million), will be the first ODA loan project in Myanmar›s communications field carried out under the auspices of the Japanese government. 

The four participating companies plan to construct international internet connection facilities and communications infrastructure connecting the three cities and the Thilawa SEZ by 2021. – The Myanmar Times