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 will spend $400m upgrading drains, $10m on studying sea level rise to counter climate change

Singapore is fortifying its defences against climate change, with $400 million (US$295 million) being pumped into upgrading and maintaining its drains over the next two years, and $10 million (US$7.4 million) more channelled into studying sea level rise. These are just two of a multitude of measures that are meant to guard against a "perfect storm" of events that could see the Republic engulfed by sea water if not enough is done. But the Government cannot do this alone, and everyone has a part to play to prevent "the end of life as usual", said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Wednesday. – The Straits Times

Illegals can apply for amnesty from Aug 1

The Back For Good Programme is expected to be implemented from Aug 1 for foreigners who committed offences under the Immigration Act 1959/63 to return home voluntarily. Malaysia’s Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said immigrants who committed offences such as overstaying and not having valid travel documents were allowed to return to their countries through the programme that would end on Dec 31. “We are not sure of the number of illegal immigrants in the country but we hope 300,000 to 400,000 of them will take advantage of this opportunity,” he said. – New Straits Times

Jakarta Police issue more than 5.4m traffic tickets in five years. Here are the highlights

Motorists and motorcyclists in the capital and its surrounding areas are not exactly known for obeying traffic rules. Police data shows that between January and June this year alone, 550,896 people were ticketed for traffic violations in Greater Jakarta, which includes Tangerang, South Tangerang, Depok and Bekasi. Meanwhile, more than 5.4 million people were ticketed in 2014-2018. – The Jakarta Post

New tourism minister sees lure of marijuana

Thailand’s new tourism and sports minister plans to promote medical marijuana tourism and legalise ride-hailing and accommodation-sharing apps and websites to attract foreign visitors. Speaking on his first day in office, Pipat Ratchakitprakan, a key Bhumjaithai Party leader, said he wants to include marijuana in medical tourism, especially Thai traditional medicine and massage. The marijuana tourism packages would aim to attract tourists from Europe and the US who have a positive perception about medical marijuana. – Bangkok Post

Ho Chi Minh City seeks to become global financial hub

Ho Chi Minh City has committed to develop a detailed plan to turn the city into a regional and international financial hub after years of delay in carrying out the ambitious goal. Nguyen Thien Nhan, secretary of the city’s Party Committee, said: “There’s no better time to do it (than) now.” As an international financial hub, Ho Chi Minh City, which contributes 45 percent to the country’s GDP, would enhance socio-economic growth locally, nationally and regionally, he added. Nhan said a feasibility report on the plan would be submitted to the People’s Council in October and that the city is expected to start building a financial centre complex by June 2020. – Vietnam News

Trillanes warns: ‘I’ll expose Duterte’s drug links’

Former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV has vowed to expose President Rodrigo Duterte’s links to the illegal drug trade as he faces sedition cases filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police against him and 35 others who were linked to the “Ang Totoong Narcolist” (The Real Narcolist) videos. The filing of cases against key members of the opposition is also “clear acts of political persecution and harassment by the Duterte administration” aimed to “stifle democratic dissent,” according to the staunch critic of the administration. – The Philippine Daily Inquirer