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.  

Up to 13 feared dead in volcanic eruption off New Zealand

A volcano off the New Zealand coast erupted Monday with a towering blast of ash and scalding steam as dozens of tourists were exploring its moon-like surface, killing five people and leaving eight others missing and feared dead, authorities said.

Helicopter crews landed on White Island despite the danger and helped evacuate the dozens of survivors, some of them critically injured.

Hours after the disaster, authorities said the site was still too dangerous for rescuers to search for the missing. But aircraft flew over the island repeatedly, and “no signs of life have been seen at any point,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. – Philippine Daily Inquirer

Former Deputy Prime Minister played a part in wrongdoing at State-owned steel group

The Party Central Committee's Inspection Commission released their conclusions on Monday after its 41st meeting held in Hà Nội from December 4-6, which focused on the wrongdoings at the Standing Board of Party Committee of the State-owned Việt Nam Steel Corporation (VSC).

The meeting found that the board was negligent and loose in its leadership and direction, inspection and supervision work, letting the firm commit serious wrongdoings in the implementation of the second phase of the Thái Nguyên Iron and Steel Corporation (TISCO II), causing great losses of the State money and property. - Viet Nam News

Investors focusing on real estate, power generation in Myanmar

Real estate and power became the sectors most focused on by investors in the months of October of November, the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) has revealed.

In the first two months of the 2019-20 fiscal year that began on October 1, the Myanmar Investment Commission approved 41 investments totalling US$1.3 billion (K1.9 trillion), DICA statistics show. DICA said the figure is triple the total of US$465 million for the same period a year ago, indicating increased interest in Myanmar from foreign investors. – Myanmar Times

Sokha’s treason trial set for January 15

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday set January 15 as the date to begin the treason trial against former opposition leader Kem Sokha as the Appeal Court dismissed an effort by his lawyers to halt proceedings.

Sokha was arrested in September 2017 and charged with treason for allegedly colluding with the US to overthrow the government. Two months later, the CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court and its 118 senior members were banned from politics for five years. – Khmer Times

UN: Malaysia enters Very High Human Development category of nations

Malaysia has scored a high 0.804 on the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) for 2018, placing it in the Very High Human Development category.

The UNDP said Malaysia’s ranking rose primarily due to an improved life expectancy average of 76 years versus 75.8 years in 2017; and a higher Per Capita Gross National Income at Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) of US$27,227 compared to US$26,555 in 2017. – New Straits Times