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Rodrigo Duterte Takes Karaoke Diplomacy to Malaysia


Duterte’s Karaoke Duet With Malaysia’s Premier

At a state dinner on his visit to Malaysia, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and the Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, performed a karaoke duet of “Sha-La-La-La-La” by the Danish band The Walkers.

Photo by Jesus Dureza/Jesus Dureza, via Associated Press… Watch in Times Video »

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has a reputation for salty language. But at a state dinner in Malaysia on Friday, the leader — who once called President Obama a “son of a whore” — displayed a penchant for sappy melodies and dulcet tones.

On a two-day state visit, Mr. Duterte and Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia found time for a bit of karaoke.

Mr. Duterte crooned Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings,” while Mr. Razak sang “The Young Ones” by Cliff Richard and the Shadows.

The leaders also sang a duet, the 1970s hit “Sha-La-La-La-La” by the Danish rockers The Walkers.

That Mr. Duterte’s contribution to international statecraft, the annals of which already include Ping-Pong diplomacy, would include karaoke might come as little surprise to those he leads.

Rodrigo Duterte’s Most Contentious Quotations

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has a reputation for frank speechmaking that often angers the international community.

As the former mayor of Davao City, Mr. Duterte was a fixture of the city’s karaoke bars, where he would belt out Frank Sinatra tunes while brandishing a .38 pistol.

Karaoke bars are an essential part of social life in the Philippines, and virtually every home in the country has a karaoke machine. A passion for public singing has led to competitive television shows, a multimillion-dollar business of migrant worker entertainers and several murders.

Mr. Duterte has signaled a shift in his country’s foreign policy from alignment with the United States to increased engagement with regional powers, including China.

Last month, Mr. Duterte threatened to kick out the American military from bases in the Philippines. In September, President Obama canceled a meeting with Mr. Duterte after the leader offended him. The two men later met briefly on the sidelines of a summit meeting in Laos.

Mr. Duterte has led a bloody crackdown on drug dealers and users in his country. On Friday, Mr. Razak said the two leaders had agreed to allow Malaysia’s security forces to pursue criminals in Philippine territorial waters. The nations are working to combat maritime ransom kidnappings.

Source: NYT > World

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