Lee Hsien Loong’s arrival for APEC Summit makes waves in the Philippines

Lee Hsien Loong’s arrival for APEC Summit makes waves in the Philippines. Photo: Screengrab from Facebook
Photo: Screengrab from Facebook

Filipinos on social media took notice when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong chose to use a less extravagant plane unlike some of his peers for his trip to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.

Unlike other world leaders who arrived on jumbo jet flag carriers or their own presidential airplanes like President Barack Obama’s Air Force One, Lee stood out when he used on Tuesday a small and nondescript private Gulfstream jet.

A Facebook post on his arrival made by Philippine media outlet ABS-CBN News on Wednesday has garnered more than 20,000 likes, 600 shares and 350 comments so far, with many Filipinos chiming in with their thoughts on PM Lee and his chosen mode of travel.

One of the top ranked commenters, with over 170 likes and 63 replies, posted, “It’s a less extravagant plane. But he’s the highest paid leader in the world. Obama’s pay is embarrassing compared to his.”

Another added, “Singapore is right around the corner. Other countries are miles away so of course they have to use a jet.”

One commenter wrote, “If he’d taken a more sophisticated plane to NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport), somebody might steal it.”

Another wrote, “A chicken rice meal costs $3 and they have condominium units. That’s how it is in Singapore and there’s no corruption. I salute Prime Minister Lee, if Philippine government officials were like him, the country will prosper.”

One commenter wrote, “I salute you Mr. Prime Minister. Though Singapore is only 3.5 hours flight to Manila, the Lee's are known to be humble leaders in Singapore. Most of the politicians and prominent personalities there are humble ones. You can even see an actor or an actress doing groceries in the supermarket alone, pushing the trolley and carrying the bags full of groceries. But in the Philippines, ordinary actors and actresses are idolized like gods.”

After his arrival, PM Lee updated his Facebook page with an aerial photo of Manila’s business district, taken by him during his flight, along with thoughts on the summit and thanks towards Philippines for the warm welcome.

On the APEC Summit, he wrote, “This year, we'll be discussing how to integrate our economies in the Asia-Pacific region. We will also be looking at helping MSMEs (Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises) compete regionally and globally, and building sustainable and resilient communities.”

His post has more than 14,000 likes, 800 shares and 400 comments, and has earned an outpouring of support from both Philippines and Singapore alike.

The top comment, below Lee Hsien Loong’s own, wrote, “Thanks to all Filipinos for the kind welcome of our PM. Salamat po!”

Photo: Screengrab from Facebook

One Filipino wrote, “Thank you for visiting us. Hope you can impart your knowledge in building a nation to our leaders. I am very impressed when I went to SG and I hope one day Philippines will also achieve what you achieved.”

The APEC Summit consists of 21 member economies from throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The Summit seeks to promote free trade throughout the region and is being hosted by the Philippines this year.