Duterte, Lee Kuan Yew are nothing alike: Singapore newspaper

Kimberly Jane Tan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 30 2016 06:01 PM | Updated as of Sep 30 2016 08:13 PM

Duterte, Lee Kuan Yew are nothing alike: Singapore newspaper 1
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Singapore founder Lee Kuan Yew. File photo / Composite

Despite both ruling with an iron fist, the late Singapore founder Lee Kuan Yew is extremely different from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Singapore's biggest newspaper said Friday.

In a strongly-worded opinion piece, the Straits Times scoffed at commentaries that Lee and Duterte had similar administrative styles and nation-building approaches.

Lee, under an authoritarian rule, transformed Singapore from a third world to a first world country. He passed away in March 2015.

"The analogy would have been interesting except that it is laughably inappropriate," wrote Global Affairs associate editor Ravi Velloor.

The first big difference between them, said the piece, was that Lee "was not a man to have a person's life taken away without absolute attention to due process."

"People with no links to the drug trade, either as consumers or suppliers, have been assassinated in the process, perhaps to settle private vendettas. 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," it said.

In Duterte's ongoing war against illegal drugs, at least 1,840 deaths have been recorded. Of this number, 1,088 were killed during police operations.

Aside from this, the piece said Lee would never back away from a territorial claim "for the elusive promise of a few bags of silver in development aid."

The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled last July that China's economic claim on the South China Sea was without basis.

The Duterte administration, however, has been careful not to bring up the matter in international fora or with China, saying it wants to work with the rising superpower in resolving the issue.

"The Duterte-ordered extrajudicial killings, and his gyrations on the maritime dispute with China, have raised a stench for the Philippines that is far more perverse than the haze that used to spread out from Indonesia. If it goes on for too long, it could potentially be a bone in ASEAN's throat," said the Straits Times.

It also warned against signs that Duterte may be endangering the Philippines' once promising economic future.

"Global investors have turned skittish in recent weeks as his coarse tongue and take-no-prisoner methods get attention," it said, citing the Peso dropping to a seven-year low.

"Mr Duterte has many good reasons to be in a hurry to accomplish his mission. Presidents in his nation are allowed only a single six-year term, after all. Sometimes, though, it is wise to make haste a tad slowly," it added.