‘Are we supposed to hold ourselves back?’: Bilahari praises STB for moving quickly on Taylor Swift deal

Bilahari Kausikan praises STB for moving quickly on Taylor Swift concert deal

On Friday (1 Mar), retired diplomat Bilahari Kausikan praised the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) for quickly securing the Taylor Swift concert deal.

He noted that it was “good business”, as the deal would be worth millions considering her immense fanbase in Southeast Asia.

Singapore will be the only stop in Southeast Asia for the American singer’s The Eras tour.

Mr Bilahari also pointed out that there was nothing stopping other Southeast Asian countries from working out a similar deal with Swift.

This comes after criticisms of the deal’s regional exclusivity, the latest of which came from Filipino politician, Joey Salceda.

Bilahari praises STB for Taylor Swift deal

Posting to Facebook on 1 Mar, Mr Bilahari addressed the recent criticisms surrounding Singapore’s exclusive deal with Taylor Swift.

Source: Bilahari Kausikan on Facebook

“Sour grapes. Whenever I hear calls for Singapore to be more ‘sensitive’ to others in Southeast Asia, it really means be as inefficient as they are,” he said.

“That way lies ruin for a small city-state. We have to be better, faster and more creative than the competition.”

Mr Bilahari then noted that nothing was stopping any Southeast Asian country from negotiating an exclusivity deal with Swift.

He concluded that they had not considered inviting her to perform in their countries until they found out she was performing in Singapore.

“So are we supposed to hold ourselves back just because some of our neighbours are slow?” he asked.

Infrastructure, connectivity, and security are likely considerations

Mr Bilahari also noted Singapore’s infrastructure, connectivity, and security as some likely considerations for the deal.

He estimated that the deal with Swift is “worth millions more” than what the Government paid to secure exclusive rights.

“That’s good business,” he continued. “Kudos to STB for moving fast and thinking creatively to secure the deal.”

In an exclusive interview with Channel NewsAsia (CNA), Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong clarified that the size of subsidies the government paid to maintain regional exclusivity for Swift’s shows in Singapore was “nowhere as high as what is being speculated.”

Govt subsidies for Taylor Swift show exclusivity was ‘nowhere as high as what is being speculated’: Edwin Tong 

Mr Tong similarly noted that other countries in the region could have done the same too.

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Featured image adapted from NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and @taylorswift13 on X.

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