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.  

Rantau Panjang duty-free zone under water; Kelantan flood victims at 4,386

The popular duty-free zone of the border town here was completely inundated by floodwaters this evening after Sungai Golok broke its banks, following heavy rain since Friday.

Up to 100 traders in the zone were forced to cease operations.

Access to the area was closed to light vehicles after roads were submerged in 0.3m-deep waters. – New Straits Times

Baht concerns abound

More than two decades ago, the baht suffered heavy devaluation as a result of speculation, forcing Thailand's central bank to de-link the local currency from the US dollar and adopt a managed floating exchange rate.

Fast-forward to the present and the baht's value has become a challenge for the trade-reliant economy. This time the local currency's strength is the issue, as opposed to drastic depreciation during the 1997 financial crisis. – Bangkok Post

Yangon chief minister promises to follow law in market upgrade

Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein said he would follow the law in making improvements to Tarmwe market, and called on traders to keep their demands within reason.

He said the government will only consider reasonable suggestions and demands. – Myanmar Times

Hong Kong says unrest costing 2 percentage points of GDP growth

Hong Kong is expected to record its first budget deficit since 2004, with the economy sustaining damage equivalent to two percentage points of output growth, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said.

The deficit for the 2019-2020 fiscal year is expected due to an adverse economic environment, decreased tax revenue and income from land sales, as well as relief measures announced during the year, Mr Chan told lawmakers at the legislative council on Monday (2 December). – Straits Times

Funcinpec, KNUP to merge this month

The royalist Funcinpec party and Khmer National United Party will hold their congress to merge late this month after senior officials of both parties agreed to do so.

KNUP spokesman Run Meatra said that senior officials of Funcinpec and the KNUP agreed to a merger on 23 December. – Khmer Times