PM Lee hosts Philippine leader to spread of local favourites

PM Lee with Mr Duterte at lunch yesterday. Noting it was the second time this week he was having durians, Mr Lee said: "International diplomacy is indeed dangerous for waistlines!"
PM Lee with Mr Duterte at lunch yesterday. Noting it was the second time this week he was having durians, Mr Lee said: "International diplomacy is indeed dangerous for waistlines!"PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

From fragrant nasi lemak made with fresh, hand-squeezed coconut milk to bowls of decadent chendol, a rich spread of local favourites was on the menu for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday.

Mr Duterte, who was here on a state visit, was hosted to lunch by PM Lee at The Coconut Club, a hip Ann Siang Hill restaurant dishing out Singapore hawker staples with an upscale twist.

Kerabu, a Malay salad studded with dried shrimp and peanuts, and soto ayam, or chicken broth, were also served.

Both leaders ended the meal with durians - a Singapore favourite and a key export of Mr Duterte's home city of Davao.

It was PM Lee's second time indulging in the fruit this week, he said in a Facebook post.

 
 
 

He had a sampling of Malaysian durian on Tuesday, when he was hosted to dinner in Putrajaya by Prime Minister Najib Razak. PM Lee was there for the annual Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat.

He quipped on Facebook: "International diplomacy is indeed dangerous for waistlines!"

After lunch, Singapore business leaders, led by Singapore Business Federation (SBF) chairman Teo Siong Seng, called on Mr Duterte and his Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez.

The economic outlook of both countries, and potential trade and investment opportunities were among the topics they discussed.

Mr Teo noted that the Philippines, as one of Asia's fastest-growing economies and a newly industrialised country, is an important overseas destination for Singapore businesses.

He said: "We see great potential in furthering our two-way trade and investment through our close bilateral relationship with the Philippines."

In a statement, SBF said it will organise activities in the coming year for Singapore companies interested in pursuing business opportunities in the Philippines. Some plans include business missions, in partnership with IE Singapore, to Manila and places such as Davao and Cebu.

Mr Duterte also visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where an orchid was named Dendrobium Rodrigo Roa Duterte in his honour.

He left Singapore last night, after meeting members of the Filipino community here at a packed session at the Singapore Expo.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2016, with the headline 'PM Lee hosts Philippine leader to spread of local favourites'. Print Edition | Subscribe