Trump-Kim Summit: Singapore will pay S$20 million bill despite playing host – and believes the benefits will outweigh the costs

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the benefits to Singapore’s reputation from hosting the Trump-Kim summit would outweigh the multi-million dollar costs.
The Straits Times

Hosting the Trump-Kim summit is no easy feat for a small country like Singapore – and it certainly doesn’t come cheap with all things considered.

During a visit to the international media centre on Sunday (Jun 10), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the Singapore media that the cost of the summit would amount to approximately S$20 million ($15 million).

Mr Lee also said footing the bill is part of Singapore’s contribution to an international endeavour that is “in our profound interest” and the country was willing to pay the cost.

He further elaborated that about half of the multi-million dollar figure would be spent on security, although the exact amount could not be determined as much of the security consists of existing assets that have already been on round-the-clock deployment.

Due to the high-profile nature of the summit and the matters being discussed, Mr Lee said bar had to be raised much higher for security standards this time as compared to previous meetings between world leaders.

While noting the possibility of recouping some of the costs incurred, he said: “If you calculate the price of everything in this world, you will miss out on the real important things.”

“And in this case what is important is that the summit is held, and we are hosting it, not extravagantly but with due consideration to costs, but making sure operational requirements are met.”

Aside from security, a significant portion of the cost comes from accommodating the estimated 2,500 journalists who will be covering the summit at the international media centre in the F1 Pit Building – around S$5 million, according to the Ministry of Communications and Information.

Part of the budget might also be used to pay for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s hotel stay in the presidential suite of modernist five-star hotel St. Regis Singapore, but this has yet to be confirmed.

When asked about Singapore’s rationale behind its agreement to play host to the Trump-Kim summit, Mr Lee explained the US and North Korea had to first agree on a venue that fulfilled their requirements and is deemed politically and diplomatically acceptable to both parties.

He said: “Therefore, when the two sides asked us to host the meeting, we cannot say no. We have to step up. I think that we are capable of doing it. We have to put some resources into it, but we can do a good job.”

Furthermore, facilitating the summit would benefit Singapore’s reputation and bode well for the country’s publicity, according to Mr Lee.

“The fact that we have been chosen as the site of the meeting – we did not ask for it but we were asked and we agreed – says something about Singapore’s relations with the parties, with America, with North Korea, also our standing in the international community.”

In an interview with BBC Asia business correspondent Karishma Vaswani, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said: “It is an investment in world peace, and we can pull this off with no hitches…or even if things don’t go exactly to plan, the way we respond to it, the reputational benefits that will accrue to Singapore will far outweigh those costs.”

“The primary point is not about the money. It’s about securing peace, opportunity for development,” he added.