My letter to MediaCorp’s TODAY newspaper on the above matter is published today, Wednesday 9th Nov 2016.
I share the views expressed in the letter “Duterte’s actions aimed at getting more foreign investment, trade” (Oct 31).
As the United States election campaign turned ugly, the Philippine leader had the foresight to build closer ties with another power, China, as well as Japan and Brunei, and seized the opportunity to secure investments.
Likewise, Malaysia’s Prime Minister has turned to China to finance and build its East Coast Rail project.
Clearly, Mr Rodrigo Duterte also has an axe to grind with the US and wants foreign troops to leave his country in two years’ time.
The fiercely independent politician is clamping down on drug pushers and addicts, and wants to rid his country of drugs and corruption.
Although human rights groups question the manner in which he tackles its drug problem, he is popular with Filipinos, for they know that drug addiction has plagued their country, leaving many to struggle with poverty.
His job of rebuilding the country is not easy. He is also getting tough on telcos by warning them that if they do not improve communication services, they would face foreign competition.
Singapore understands that, as the Philippines is an Association of South-east Asian Nations member, there must be unity within this group so that economic growth can benefit all member countries.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has started building rapport with Mr Duterte by meeting him and extending good wishes to him in Laos in September. Having healthy relations and mutual respect among all 10 nations will see better cooperation.
To be able to take the Philippines to greater heights, however, Mr Duterte must be mindful of his communication skills and language, especially his use of expletives to hit out at those whom he dislikes.
If he can secure a dynamic public relations team to guide his communication and improve his image, he could soar and secure international support that would enable his country to prosper.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO