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. 

Malaysian Parliament passes 2020 Budget

The Supply Bill (Budget) 2020 was passed at Dewan Rakyat yesterday after receiving members’ majority support through a voice vote.

Earlier, the Supply Bill 2020 was tabled for a third reading by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, and was seconded by Deputy Entrepreneur Development Minister Dr Mohd Hatta Md Ramli.

Lim tabled the 2020 Budget, which allocates RM297 billion (US$71.2 billion) – not including contingent savings of RM2 billion (US$480 million) – on 11 October.   

The budget is an increase of RM19.5 billion (US$4.67 billion) over the RM277.5 billion (US$66.53 billion) for the 2019 Budget – without taking into consideration a one-off allocation for the repayment of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and income tax arrears. – New Straits Times 

Malaysia defers new fruit, vegetable export rules to Singapore

Malaysia’s plan to revise its export permit scheme for fruits and vegetables has been deferred to April, amid complaints from suppliers who export fresh produce to Singapore that the new rules will raise their costs considerably.

On 21 November, vegetable and fruit traders in the southern Malaysian state of Johor cried foul over new rules imposed by enforcement agency Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Service (Maqis), which reduced the number of item categories that can be declared in an export permit from 50 to 10, thereby requiring them to apply and pay for multiple permits for each truckload of produce that crosses the border.

The traders said the move would increase their operational expenses, with some claiming costs could rise as much as 700 per cent as a result. – The Straits Times 

Airlines turn noses up at Thai pilots

Thai pilots are failing to find work after graduation despite high global demand in the aviation industry, the Civil Aviation Training Centre president said on Monday.

International airline operators are competing to offer jobs to pilots, but “our pilots find no jobs”, according to Piya Atmungkun.

Between 600 and 700 newly graduated pilots are struggling to secure seats in cockpits, he said.

Aviation programmes and pilot training schools have mushroomed, but many fail to meet international standards, according to Piya. – Bangkok Post 

Indonesia wants face-recognising surveillance cameras, says it will ‘comfort’ public

Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian has asked regional administrations to install more closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems connected to the local police to address crime and provide digital security measures for residents.

But with the data protection bill stuck in the House of Representatives and a lack of clarity about how CCTV footage is used and who has access to it, experts say that the expansion of CCTV could lead to violations of privacy and abuse of power.

Tito first mentioned his plan to put up more CCTV cameras last week. He then reiterated it in a meeting with the Indonesian Provincial Government Association (APPSI) on Tuesday. – The Jakarta Post

Workers ‘crying for solution’ to Metro Manila traffic mess

The Management Association of the Philippines, often very formal in its public statements, has let out its frustration over the traffic in Metro Manila, telling the government that each gruelling day leaves the workers of its member firms “crying for a solution.”

“The Management Association of the Philippines begs the authorities to do something about the horrendous daily traffic in the metropolis,” the group said in a statement on Thursday.

MAP said it was directly affected because the employees of its members have been complaining about their difficulties. The latest assessment of the traffic cost dates back to 2017, when the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said that the traffic in 
Metro Manila cost P3.5 billion (US$68.92 million) a day, higher than the P2.4 billion (US$47.26 million) estimated back in 2012.

The traffic cost, however, which took into consideration the value of time lost in traffic and fuel costs, could not account for the daily frustration of waking up early in the morning just to arrive late for work. – Philippine Daily Inquirer 

Vietnamese, Chinese deputy foreign ministers talk bilateral ties

Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Hoai Trung and his Chinese counterpart Luo Zhaohui held a meeting in Beijing from 26-28 November to discuss Vietnam-China ties, territorial border issues and regional and international matters of mutual concern.

Both sides praised the maintenance of regular high-level exchanges, effective implementation of cooperation mechanisms between the parties, ministries and localities, as well as progress in economic-trade, investment and tourism collaboration.

They held that the mainland border situation has basically been stable while negotiation and exchange mechanisms on maritime issues have been maintained, thus laying a solid foundation for their future coordination. – Viet Nam News 

South Korea pledges to support Cambodia’s ongoing development

The Cambodian government yesterday highlighted the success of regional summits in South Korea, noting its government pledged to support the Kingdom’s socio-economic development.

Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn represented Prime Minister Hun Sen at the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit and Mekong-Republic of Korea Summit this week.

In a press conference before his return to the Kingdom on Wednesday, Kao Kim Hourn, minister attached to the Prime Minister, said that during the bilateral meetings, both sides discussed various issues, including a soft loan of US$700 million for 2019-2023.

“They discussed bilateral cooperation, including on investment, trade, finance, infrastructure, agriculture, energy, waste management and people-to-people exchanges,” Mr Kim Hourn said. – Khmer Times  

Japan reaffirms support for people in conflict zones in Myanmar

Japan’s commitment to helping conflict-affected people in areas where ethnic armed groups have signed a truce with the government will not waver, its envoy said on Wednesday.

Ambassador Ichiro Maruyama said his country remains firm in its resolve to support Myanmar’s peace process, noting that achieving political settlement to the decades-old conflicts would take time.

“The peace process isn’t something that can be immediately implemented,” Maruyama told a ceremony to mark the completion of the comprehensive development programme in Kayin and Mon states.   

He added that if ethnic armed groups sign a truce with the government, his country would support humanitarian assistance for civilians in areas under the groups’ control. – The Myanmar Times