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. 

Stay informed with The ASEAN Post. 

Singapore's GDP growth for 2022 likely to come in at lower half of 3-5% forecast: MTI

Singapore maintained its 3 per cent to 5 per cent economic growth forecast for 2022, but warned that growth will likely come in at the lower half of the forecast range because of the impact of the war in Ukraine and China's strict Covid-19 lockdowns.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said on Wednesday (May 25) that the external economic environment has deteriorated since February, due in part to the onset of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

"The conflict has disrupted the global supply of energy, food and other commodities, which has in turn exacerbated global inflationary pressures and adversely affected the growth of many economies," it said in a statement released with the first-quarter 2022 Economic Survey of Singapore. Meanwhile, stringent measures implemented in China to contain its domestic Covid-19 outbreaks are likely to weigh on its economy and contribute to global supply bottlenecks, MTI said.

The ministry said that as a result of the war and the lockdowns, global supply disruptions are likely to be more severe and prolonged than earlier expected, potentially persisting throughout 2022.

This, in turn, is likely to constrain production and dampen gross domestic product (GDP) growth in some economies, including the United States, China and Europe, by more than previously projected. – Straits Times 

Export ban may see farmers go bust

The ban on the export of chicken may backfire if farmers reliant on selling their birds abroad go bust, an economist said.

This will lead to further supply reduction and price hikes, said Professor Dr Mohd Nazari Ismail from Universiti Malaya's Business and Economics Faculty.

"If the chicken farmers need the export income because they are under financial strain, then this will backfire because the farmers will go out of business. If many farmers go out of business, supply will be reduced, and this will cause prices to go up."

He said farmers could survive the restriction if they were not saddled with large debts. On Monday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced several short-term measures to deal with the rising prices and shortage of chicken in the country.

He said the export of 3.6 million chickens a month would be halted from June 1, until local prices and supplies had stabilised.

He also said the government would look into creating a buffer stock of chicken and optimising cold storage facilities owned by the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry.

Ismail Sabri said approved permits for poultry would be abolished to ease imports, more slaughterhouses abroad would be accredited to supply chicken to the country and subsidy claims for chicken farmers would be simplified.

The Malaysian Competition Commission has also been tasked with investigating the supply shortages and is expected to submit a report in June.

Ismail Sabri said action would be taken if a cartel was behind the chicken and egg supply woes since the beginning of the year. – New Straits Times

Airports on alert for monkeypox symptoms

The Public Health Ministry has issued alerts instructing all international airports to step up their screening of arrivals, especially from 17 countries where monkeypox cases have now been confirmed, according to its deputy minister, Sathit Pitutecha.

"Each airport has a disease control unit and officials will intensify measures against monkeypox by being more vigilant," he said. Skin disease and sexually transmitted disease clinics will be asked to watch out for monkeypox as Mr Sathit urged the public to keep abreast of the situation from the Department of Disease Control (DDC).

Dr Chakkarat Pitayawonganon, director of the DDC's epidemiology division, said travellers from the UK, Spain and Portugal are being closely monitored for monkeypox. He said travellers from these countries who have visible symptoms such as rashes will be asked to take a test, adding that no tests have been conducted so far.

The ministry has not declared monkeypox a dangerous communicable disease yet and no domestic cases have been reported. However, it will meet to assess the risk of infection, he said, adding the ministry has not considered a vaccination programme.

Dr Supakij Sirilak, director-general of the Department of Medical Sciences, said smallpox vaccines are known to be 85% effective against monkeypox and the department is well-equipped to test and approve such vaccines if needed. – Bangkok Post

Go expects PRRD to sign remaining important bills

Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go on Tuesday said he expects President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to sign into law the remaining bills seen to improve the lives of Filipinos before the latter ends his term on June 30.

This, after the Senate unanimously approved on third and final reading Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2423 or the Private Security Service Industry Act, repealing the 52-year-old Republic Act 5487 or the Private Security Agency Law during the resumption of the session on Monday.

"For me, whatever proposed bill that will help our countrymen or the interest of every Filipino, I will support it," Go said during his visit and outreach initiative for fire victims of Barangay North Bay Boulevard South in Navotas City.

Go and Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa co-authored SBN 2423 which seeks to strengthen the regulation of the private security services industry and improve the protection of Filipino security guards.

Dela Rosa thanked his colleagues, including Go, for their contribution to the refinement of the bill that also aims to improve the protection of Filipino security guards by providing necessary training through the development of ladderized training and education, including basic security guard courses, specialized security guard courses, security officers training courses, detective training courses, and candidate protection agent courses.

“I am glad that my fellow members of the Senate were able to see what I intended to show: that the urgency of this bill is not to be found on the surface. Instead, its urgency lies in the almost unseen, seldom appreciated actions of its stakeholders – our security officers, our security guards, all of our security professionals,” he said.

Dela Rosa, the former chief of the Philippine National Police, earlier assured his colleagues that the bill will ensure that private security agencies shall be 100 percent Filipino-owned as a safeguard to Philippine national security.

Dela Rosa said the private security industry needs to be improved, and at the same time, protect the needs of Filipino security guards.

"It is my fervent hope and I believe it is also the hope of this body that through this measure, the private security services industry shall flourish even further along with the success of every individual security professional," he said. – Philippine News Agency

Aviation industry needs more financial help to recover

Viet Nam needs policies to support and remove difficulties for domestic airlines to regain their growth momentum in the post-COVID recovery period, transport experts said yesterday.

At the seminar "Restoring and developing Viet Nam's aviation industry in a new context" organised by Communist Review, in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport (MoT), experts said the air transport industry has been seriously affected and they urge the government to create the market and the development corridor as a key to return to the growth trajectory of the aviation industry.

Dinh Viet Thang, director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Viet Nam (CAAV) said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the development of the aviation industry and caused negative consequences for units in the air transport chain, especially the national airline Vietnam Airlines.”

He added Viet Nam's aviation market dropped sharply in the 2020-21 period with a decrease of 42.1 per cent and 80 per cent respectively compared to 2019. At the same time, Thang said the local airlines have had to struggle, manage and implement all self-advocacy solutions as well as receive support from State management agencies to maintain operations until the market recovers.

The director assessed that by 2022 the aviation market had signs of recovery, especially the domestic market, which is a positive signal for the operation of the aviation industry, contributing to mitigating difficulties and creating favourable conditions for the aviation industry and momentum for recovery and development in the coming years.

However, he said, signs of recovery were only seen in the domestic market. The international market, which brings more than 60 per cent of revenue for Vietnamese airlines, is still facing many difficulties compared to the pre-epidemic level in 2019. – Vietnam News

‘Off’ to vote: Workers get three-day leave to cast ballots in provinces

In a bid to ensure a good voter turnout, the government has agreed in principle to facilitate workers to have three days for them to go to their provinces and cast their ballots for the June 5 Commune Election. The Ministry of Labour yesterday announced that the government had decided to allow workers to take a day off before and one day after the Sunday election day.

“The workers are not required to apply for the leave,” Labour Minister Ith Samheng said in the notice. “The employers must pay workers’ salaries before the leave. If they cannot afford it, the workers are allowed to borrow a proportion of cash advance [to pay for their travels].” According to a statement from the Office of the Council of Ministers, the decision was made in response to an official request by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Unions have demanded one more day of leave for the workers to be really able to travel to their province and cast their ballots.

However, government spokesman Phay Siphan said that three days should be enough for workers to travel to vote.

He said the government has given workers three days off to encourage and push them to go to the polls and participate in electing their commune representatives. He noted that it is a demonstration of the freedoms of workers and employers in a democracy.

“If more go to the polls, it will show the full implementation of liberal, multi-party democracy. In the past, experts have shown that the turnout was higher than in some neighbouring countries,” Siphan said.

“Even travelling to the farthest border will not take more than 10 hours,” he noted. “Therefore, it is not necessary to grant more days off than this.”

He called on the unions to show understanding on the government’s effort to come up with a balance between its politics and the economy. – Khmer Times

Night-time weapons fire from junta bases in Rakhine State alarms locals

Junta bases around the town of Ann in Rakhine State – where the Myanmar military’s Western Regional Command is based – were heard firing both heavy and light weapons on Sunday night, raising concern among area residents. 

The sound of artillery and gunfire could be heard coming from multiple locations, including the old airport, at around 10pm, as the threat of renewed clashes with the Arakan Army persists.

“We heard the weapons going off in separate places,” a resident of Ann told Myanmar Now on Monday morning. “They would occasionally fire a series of shells consecutively or fire automatic weapons. Each time, they would fire around 50 rounds in 10 minutes and then repeat it, again and again. It went on for around 30 minutes.”

He also reported seeing drones overhead while the weapons were being fired, and noted that it was not clear whether the shooting was part of a clash.

“Everyone was afraid since they were firing non-stop, so many people from outside the town came into the town, waking up the residents,” the local explained. “The uneasiness and the terror just grew the whole night.”

He recalled a similar phenomenon during previous battles between the AA and the military in 2019 and 2020, when the Myanmar army would shoot their weapons at night in what he speculated was an attempt to display their firepower and intimidate the opposing forces. 

In the days prior, locals in Buthidaung and Mrauk-U townships reported similar activities by military troops. – Myanmar NOW

Indonesia targets global economic recovery-centric solutions at WEF

Indonesia's target at the 2022 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, is to find solutions to various global problems in order to achieve global economic recovery, Trade Minister Muhammad Lutfi stated.

"A working visit to Switzerland to attend WEF 2022 is one of our efforts to increase Indonesia's trade cooperation not only with government partners but also with global business actors," the minister noted in a statement on Tuesday.

Through the WEF 2022, the minister is optimistic that Indonesia would be able to find solutions to various world challenges, such as the global pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, geo-economic shocks, and also climate change.

The annual meeting will take place on May 22-26, 2022. Minister Lutfi is scheduled to attend several meetings, including the meeting with global business actors from various countries in the world as well as promoting Indonesia's G20 Presidency.

World leaders, businesspersons, politicians, scholars, and representatives from selected media outlets worldwide will congregate for the WEF annual meeting. At the forum, they will exchange views to solve global problems as well as open up business opportunities to increase trade and investment in order to drive economic growth.

WEF 2022 is themed "History at a Turning Point: Government Policies and Business Strategies." The annual meeting coincides with the most important geopolitical and geo-economic moment of the past three decades and the pandemic of the century. – AntaraNews.Com