Singapore's Lee: Philippine Change No Boost For Democracy

Dow Jones via Yahoo!

Tuesday, January 23 3:29 AM SGT

SINGAPORE (AP)--The change of power in the Philippines was no boost for democracy because it was done outside the constitution, but the Southeast Asian country can expect investment to flow back in, Singapore elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew said Monday.

"I think there's an immediate sense of relief, so capital will flow back, but cautiously, because the problems are not over," Lee said in an interview.

Philippine President Joseph Estrada was forced from office on Saturday, days after his impeachment trial collapsed. The Supreme Court named Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo -who had been vice president - as president after the army withdrew support for Estrada.

"I would have preferred that Estrada could be removed in a constitutional way in the Senate," said Lee, the 77-year-old founder of the modern city-state of Singapore, whose views are often sought by world leaders.

"That's an assumption of power here which isn't in the constitution. So I don't think it was a plus for the democratic system," he added.

Lee resigned as prime minister a decade ago but still wields considerable power. Though credited with turning a malaria-ridden, poverty-stricken tropical island into one of Asia's most prosperous nations, he has often been criticized for not having much taste for democracy.

Elections are regularly held in Singapore, but critics say there is little freedom of expression and opposition voices have little chance to be heard.

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