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. 

Singapore non-oil domestic exports plunge 17.3% in June, the biggest drop in over 6 years

Singapore's exports fell by double-digits for the fourth straight month, with shipments in the key electronics sector sinking by nearly a third. Non-oil domestic exports performed worse than expected, slumping 17.3 percent in June compared to a year ago, following a downwardly revised 16.3 percent fall in May, said Enterprise Singapore on Wednesday (17 July). This is the biggest year-on-year drop since shipments sank 33.2 percent in February 2013. – The Straits Times

PM happy 'Vote 18' passed; says fact that vote was unanimous is 'historic'

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has expressed his happiness that history was created when the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 to lower the voting age to 18 was approved in the Dewan Rakyat. He said the fact that all 211 members of parliament who were present voted for the amendment was historic as such a thing had never happened before. “It is indeed a historic day for Malaysia. It has never happened before. I am so used to Parliament, but this was the first time an amendment was approved with full support from all the MPs, with not even one of them opposed to it. – New Straits Times

Scientists face harsh penalties

The House of Representatives has passed into law a bill aimed at protecting Indonesia’s rich natural resources from the threat of biopiracy by imposing harsh penalties – including hefty fines and prison sentences – on recalcitrant foreign researchers. Local scientists, however, fear that the punishments are “too excessive” and that the law could end up limiting academic freedom and thus hinder science. The law on the national system of science and technology, enacted on Tuesday, allows the government to file criminal charges against foreign scientists accused of breaking research rules. The law carries several punishments, including up to a two-year prison term and a fine of up to Rp 2 billion (US$143,564) for foreign scientists caught stealing biodiversity samples – such as insects or plants – from Indonesia.  – The Jakarta Post

Gordon: Philippines should not withdraw from UNHRC

Senator Richard Gordon said Wednesday that the Philippines should not withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), after 18 of its 47 member-states voted in favour of a resolution seeking an investigation into the human rights situation in the country. “I don’t think we should withdraw. I think it’s right that we should stay there,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel. Gordon said instead of pulling out from the international body, the country should instead “accept the findings” of the council but show the government’s own statistics on human rights, including drug war deaths, and vow to take action on the issue. – The Philippine Daily Inquirer

Meteorological Department warns of worst drought in decade

The Meteorological Department (MD) says Thailand is going to experience the worst drought in a decade, as average precipitation across large swaths of the country has fallen far short of the monthly average. Kornrawee Sitthichiwapak, the MD's deputy director-general, said downpours this rainy season were far below average, particularly in the North and North-eastern as well as in the Central Plains - all of which are important crop growing regions. "The country's overall rainfall is the lowest in a decade," she said. – Bangkok Post

Tickets for F1 race in Hanoi go on sale

Tickets for the Formula 1 Vietnam Grand Prix 2020 go on sale via all channels today. Three-day ticket costs from VNĐ3,890,000 (US$170) to VNĐ9,090,000 (US $395), while the cheapest one-day ticket is VNĐ1,560,000 (US$67). Vietnam will host its first-ever F1 Grand Prix in Hanoi in April 2020. As one of the largest and most prestigious sporting events on the planet, F1 is expected to enhance the capital’s position as a truly global city and a destination for world-class experiences.  – Vietnam News

Sihanoukville authorities find 83 rubbish-packed containers

83 containers packed with rubbish were broken open at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port by joint authorities on Tuesday. The origin of the containers has yet to be ascertained, Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said. Pheaktra, who is also the ministry’s secretary of state, said officials were searching for the company or individuals behind importing the mostly plastic waste. – The Phnom Penh Post