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. 

Janda Baik villagers say ecotourism project will harm their way of life

Villagers are protesting against future development in the area as it will erode cultural and traditional values as well as disrupt the people’s way of life. 

It was understood that the project under the Janda Baik Special Area Plan draft would consist of several plans, such as widening of roads, expansion of four Janda Baik rivers, including Sungai Sum Sum, establishing e-hailing stations and recreational park, as well as building river dams and a low-rise housing development. – New Straits Times

UN mediation treaty shows countries' support for rules-based international order: Heng Swee Keat

The Singapore Convention on Mediation, which was signed by 46 countries in Singapore on Wednesday (7 Aug), is more than just a strengthening of international dispute resolution, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

It also bears testament to countries' continued commitment to a rules-based international order, which is particularly crucial now as the system that has underpinned global peace and stability is coming under pressure, he added. – The Straits Times

Klong Toey slum's days numbered

Deputy Transport Minister Atirat Ratanasate has vowed to mend the notorious image of Klong Toey slum communities with the construction of a "smart community" set to begin next year. "Next year will be the start of the development of a new commercial complex," he said during a visit to the Port Authority of Thailand (PAT) on Wednesday.

PAT is planning to modernise Bangkok port and nearby areas, parts of which have been encroached upon by poor people. – Bangkok Post

USU students sue rector over censorship of lesbian story

A North Sumatra University (USU) student has filed a lawsuit against her rector after the state university shut down its student magazine for publishing a short story about a lesbian's unrequited love. The head of Suara USU, Yael Stefani Sinaga, filed the lawsuit, in conjunction with her student colleagues on Suara USU’s editorial board, with the Medan State Administrative Court (PTUN) on 5 July, demanding the rector revoke the dismissal of all 18 students from the board in March. – The Jakarta Post

Pacquiao backs appeal to keep Jesus out of death penalty debates

Sen. Manny Pacquiao, who invoked the Holy Bible in previous discussions on the death penalty, echoed Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s recent appeal not to drag Jesus Christ in debates on the re-imposition of capital punishment in the country. 

Pacquiao earlier filed a bill to that will impose the death penalty with a fine ranging from P1 million to P10 million on individuals guilty of importing, selling, distributing, manufacturing illegal drugs, cultivating plants classified as dangerous drugs, and maintaining a drug den. – Philippine Daily Inquirer