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.

Sights set on Indo-Pacific  

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has finally offered its own version of the Indo-Pacific Strategy, which includes the bloc's own vision for cooperation in the Indian Ocean, as well as Asia and the Pacific region, which it calls the "ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific".

The strategy was announced about two years after US President Donald Trump proposed the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy and the 2017 APEC Summit in Vietnam, so that the region can take full advantage of Southeast Asia's strategic location in the heart of the Indo-Pacific region. – Bangkok Post

Lost at sea: At least 18 Singaporeans have died in regional waters since 2007

Since 2014, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has coordinated a total of 92 search and rescue operations for ships and people at sea. In some cases, the operations were carried out as a result of vessels capsizing after a collision, but there have also been "man overboard" cases and diving accidents.

Media reports since 2007 showed that at least 18 Singaporeans - from recreational divers and ship repairers to members of Singapore's dragon boat team - were claimed by the sea in the region. In most instances, sudden changes in currents and weather had contributed to the incidents. – Straits Times

Pasir Gudang air pollution: 16 schools ordered shut

A total of 16 schools in a 6km radius of SA Taman Mawar here have been instructed to close for four days beginning today following back-to-back incidences of schoolchildren falling ill due to suspected air pollution.

The closure involves 20,180 schoolchildren and teachers from the 16 schools, the Ibrahim Sultan Polytechnic, as well as 69 kindergartens and preschools. – New Straits Times

Vietnam to develop cattle breeding, say officials

Vietnam’s agricultural sector will focus on developing cattle, poultry and aquatic breeding to compensate for a shortage of pork which is expected to hit this year due to African swine fever.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said in the first half of this year, despite many difficulties, especially the outbreak of African swine fever which has caused heavy losses in the livestock sector, the sector still maintained a good growth momentum. – Vietnam News

Abandoned tents, human waste piling up on Mount Everest

The record number of climbers crowding the world’s highest mountain this season has left a government clean-up crew grappling with how to clear away everything from abandoned tents to human waste that threatens drinking water.

Budget expedition companies charge as little as US$30,000 per climber, cutting costs including waste removal.

Everest has so much garbage — depleted oxygen cylinders, food packaging, rope — that climbers use the trash as a kind of signpost. – Philippine Daily Inquirer

Almost 500,000 displaced by fighting at end of ‘18: report

About 480,000 refugees had fled fighting across Myanmar as of the end of 2018, according to report by 15 local civil society groups entitled, “There is no one who does not miss home.”

The report said that, as of December 2018, there were an estimated 97,000 refugees in Thailand, most of whom were ethnic Karen and Karenni, 106,000 primarily Kachin, Ta’ang and Shan internally-displaced persons (IDPs) in Kachin and northern Shan states, and an estimated 280,000 mainly Karen and Mon IDPs in south-eastern Myanmar. – Myanmar Times