Singapore says it respects Philippines' drug war
MANILA, Philippines – Singapore on Tuesday, March 21, said it respects the Philippines' war on drugs, but declined to comment on alleged human rights abuses in the Philippine government's anti-drug campaign.
"Singapore has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs," Singaporean Ambassador to the Philippines Kok Li Peng said at the weekly Pandesal Forum on Tuesday, March 21.
"We have a very tough policy on drugs, and we think that it works for us, and we respect other countries' right to determine how they're going to pursue their own anti-drug policies," Kok said when sought for comment on the Philippines' anti-drug campaign.
"We have consistently said that it is every country's sovereign right to enact laws and policies for the people," she explained.
When asked specifically about extrajudicial killings linked to President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, Kok declined to comment.
The question on extrajudicial killings was asked twice in Tuesday's forum, but Kok said she would answer the question the same way, stressing respect for other countries' policies.
Singapore takes a strong stand against crime and imposes the death penalty on offenses such as murder and drug trafficking.
Duterte compared to Lee Kuan Yew
"I think that we rely on the strict implementation of our laws – objective and impartial administration of justice," Kok said.
In November 2016 alone, Singapore executed two foreigners convicted of drug trafficking. In 2015, the country also executed 3 other people for drug offenses, according to prison statistics.
In the Philippines, Duterte is implementing his drug war as his spokesman, Ernesto Abella, compares him to the late Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Lee, 91, was an authoritarian leader who transformed Singapore from a sleepy British imperial outpost into a global trading and financial center. He died on March 23, 2015, after a 7-week struggle with pneumonia.
Kok said Duterte and Lee "were in leadership positions at different times" that posed different challenges. She said both leaders, however, have "political will and determination."
Referring to Duterte and Lee, the Singaporean ambassador said, "I think both men have been characterized as doers."
The Straits Times associate editor Ravi Velloor once said, however, that this comparison of Duterte and Lee is "laughably inappropriate." He said that Lee, for one, "tough as he was on crime, was not a man to have a person's life taken away without absolute attention to due process."
Duterte's war on drugs has killed more than 7,000 people since July 1, 2016, a day after Duterte took office. Of this number, nearly 3,000 were killed in police operations while the rest died in extrajudicial or vigilante-style killings. – with reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com