The Straits Times, one of the biggest newspapers in Singapore, scoffed at comments about how Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is similar to the late Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founder. The newspaper was referring to the commentary of Prof. Emmanuel J. Lopez, called “Commentary; Duterte’s style reminiscent of Lee Kuan Yew’s,” published by the Philippine Star, wherein he compared Duterte’s strategy with Lee’s own method during the first few years of getting rid of crime and corruption in Singapore.
Global Affairs associate editor Ravi Velloor described the comparison “laughably inappropriate.”
“The analogy would have been interesting except that it is laughably inappropriate,” he wrote.
The Straits Times then made the contrast between the two leaders.
“Mr. Lee, for one thing, tough as he was on crime, was not a man to have a person’s life taken away without absolute attention to due process. Nor would he, favourable arbitral ruling in hand, ever back away from pressing his principled claim to national territory for the elusive promise of a few bags of silver in development aid,” it added.
The Singapore newspaper also said that the only thing Duterte and Lee had in common was the fact that they were both lawyers.
It also hit the killings of the innocents in the Philippine government’s campaign against drugs.
“People with no links to the drug trade, either as consumers or suppliers, have been assassinated in the process, perhaps to settle private vendettas,” it said.
And in reference to the large presence of abusive trolls who defend Duterte, the Straits Times wrote: “Criticism is met with abuse. An army of online warriors, some of whom are perhaps employed in the booming outsourcing industry, seem to be readily on hand to troll presidential critics, putting a fright into even seasoned commentators.”
The Straits Times also warned of how former President Benigno Aquino III’s work in making the Philippines one of the fastest growing economies in Asia may go to waste, adding that Duterte should not “drop the ball.”
The newspaper quoted Mr. Dindo Manhit, president of the Stratbas-ADR Institute for Strategic and International Studies, in his interview with the Business Mirror, to support its warning.
“In the United States, as elsewhere, private investors have reportedly grown skittish about Philippines’ prospects. The US economy is the Philippines’ largest source of private investment and second-largest export market after Japan,” Manhit said.
The Straits Times also raised concerns about how the issue of extrajudicial killings and Duterte’s “gyrations on the maritime dispute with China” may become a “bone in Asean’s throat.”
While the newspaper understood why Duterte is in a hurry to accomplish his goal because of his six-year term, it gave one piece of advice: “Sometimes, though, it is wise to make haste a tad slowly.”