"I Have a Rapport with the People"

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Only hours after a late-night meeting in Indonesia with President Bacharuddin Habibie, a pensive, slightly sleepy-eyed Philippine President Joseph Estrada met with a group of TIME editors at the World Economic Forum's East Asia Economic summit in Singapore. Excerpts from the interview:TIME: Has God punished you by making you President during an economic crisis?
Estrada: [Laughs.] It's one of the biggest challenges of my life. It has been an uphill battle since I started as a movie star, and this will be the last performance of my life. President Aquino introduced democracy and economic reform. President Ramos introduced political stability and reform. Unfortunately, at the time I took over, the whole of Asia was hit by the economic crisis. But my predecessors left a good foundation for economic development. Were Philippine President Estrada and Indonesian President Habibie
 
TIME: Have you talked to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad about the case?
Estrada: Soon I might appeal to him. President Habibie and I discussed it last night. A personal appeal to Prime Minister Mahathir, a joint appeal, maybe at the APEC summit. But this is personal, not official.Were Philippine President Estrada and Indonesian President Habibie