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. 

600 Covid-19 tests a day done on those with respiratory illness 

About 600 swabs a day taken from patients with acute respiratory illness (ARI) who visited polyclinics and Public Health Preparedness Clinics under the Swab and Send Home programme were tested for Covid-19 from June 8 to 28. Of these, only the swabs of two patients tested positive for the coronavirus, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday. MOH added that during this same period, a daily average of 3,600 ARI patients were seen at polyclinics and Public Health Preparedness Clinics across the island. From June 2, all school staff and students aged 13 and above who had ARI were swabbed for the coronavirus. From June 24, this was expanded to include anyone aged 45 and older. As of July 1, anyone aged 13 and above with an ARI will be swabbed after seeing a doctor. – The Straits Times

Envoy: Malaysia still a UK favourite 

Malaysia continues to remain an attractive destination for British investors and companies wishing to expand their business overseas. At the same time, Britain remains one of Malaysia's favourite partners for education and technical collaboration. British High Commissioner to Malaysia Charles Hay said despite the global economic downturn due to the Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral ties with Malaysia remained strong. "Malaysia is Britain's second largest partner in ASEAN, accounting for £5.2 billion in trade annually. Britain is well aware of Malaysia being the largest supplier of medical gloves and Personal Protective Equipment. "Additionally, many British companies continue to see Malaysia as a favourable manufacturing hub for electronics, healthcare and software engineering," Hay said in an interview at the British High Commission at Menara Binjai in Jalan Ampang here. –New Straits Times

Cabinet reshuffle looms 

A cabinet reshuffle looms after the resignation from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) of three cabinet ministers, including the finance minister. The resignations will spark jockeying for cabinet seat quotas, with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha confirming on Thursday that a reshuffle will be necessary, though cabinet ministers who have performed well will be allowed to stay on. "A cabinet reshuffle can take place any time from now on. I did not say I would definitely reshuffle in September. Changes will be made where necessary. Those who already work well will carry on. I am not saying who is not good. It's the way of politics," Gen Prayut said. His remarks come after Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana, Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong and Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Minister Suvit Maesincee said on Thursday they were leaving the PPRP, the main party in the government coalition. Kobsak Pootrakul, deputy secretary-general of the prime minister, also resigned. – Bangkok Post

Frenchman facing death in Indonesia for molesting hundreds of kids 

A French retiree could face the death penalty in Indonesia on charges that he molested over 300 children and beat those who refused to have sex with him, authorities said Thursday. Police said they nabbed Francois Camille Abello, 65, last month at a hotel in Indonesia's capital Jakarta, where they found two underaged girls in his room. Abello could face life in prison or even execution by firing squad if he is convicted on a raft of charges under Indonesia's child protection laws, including accusations that he filmed the illicit encounters. Police said they had found videos on Abello's laptop computer that showed him engaging in illegal sex acts with hundreds of children aged between 10 and 17. The pensioner had entered the Southeast Asian nation on a tourist visa several times over the past five years, according to police. "He would approach children and lure them by offering them work as models," Jakarta police chief Nana Sudjana told reporters Thursday. – The Jakarta Post

House panel set to meet for possible decision on ABS-CBN franchise bid

The House committee on legislative franchises is set to convene on Friday afternoon to further tackle ABS-CBN’s bid for a 25-year franchise, with a decision on whether or not the issue will pass the House panel level possibly made at the end of the meeting. In the meeting, the technical working group (TWG) tasked to “study and draft the recommendations on the application for franchise of ABS-CBN” is expected to present their report. During Thursday’s hearing, Alvarez did not mention if the voting will happen after the presentation and discussion on the TWG report but several lawmakers have previously said that the voting could happen on Friday. Members of the TWG include Deputy Speaker Pablo John Garcia, Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo, and Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo. – 

MoIT considers common retail power price 

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) is considering allowing households to choose a common retail power price for their electricity consumption, said deputy minister Hoàng Quốc Vượng. Vượng on Wednesday said the ministry is studying a new calculation for power prices. Accordingly, households could choose one of two ways: a common price and the current tiered pricing mechanism. However, the current six tiers would be reduced to five as it ensures all households with power consumption of less than 700 kWh (98.2 per cent of the total) would not be see increased power bills. The study of the new calculation came about as many households were surprised with surging power bills in May and June as well as to have more choice for customers. He said the one retail power price would be built based on the average electricity production cost of VNĐ1,864 per kWh without value-added tax (VAT). – Viet Nam News 

Military accused of indiscriminate bombing 

Amnesty International has accused the Myanmar military of indiscriminate bombing in the nation’s Rakhine and Chin states, according to a press release. The human rights group said it has gathered new evidence indicating several villages were bombed in Chin State in March and April resulting in a loss of life. The alleged incidents occurred with conflict escalating in the states since attacks in January 2019 on several police posts in northern Rakhine by the Arakan Army, an ethnic Rakhine armed group. – Mizzima (Myanmar)