Was It All Worth It? Yes, Says This Netizen
Last week, The Straits Times reported that some $20 million would be spent on this week’s Trump-Kim Singapore summit.
While many Singaporeans are proud to host the historic meeting, some factions are unhappy at its high costs.
In response to this, a netizen has taken to Facebook to explain why he thinks $20 million is a “fantastically small price” to pay for hosting such an important event – and we can’t help but share his sentiments.
We summarise Mr Bjorn Lee’s points after the jump.
The Trump-Kim circus, I mean summit, is in town and the top question on locals’ minds: “why is Singapore paying $20M for…
1. Asian face
As reported earlier in MustShareNews, the Washington Post revealed that North Korea would find American assistance embarrassing.
But the hermit state desperately needed some form of assistance to get here.
It borrowed a Chinese jet to fly Mr Kim Jong-un here and was unprepared to pay the steep cost of hotels here.
Earlier, it was reported that Mr Kim would stay at The Fullerton but in the end, he opted for The St. Regis Singapore.
Just as fancy – and equally as expensive.
So North Korea can’t afford it and the Americans don’t want to pay – last time we checked, The St. Regis is not a charity.
It only makes sense that Singapore foots the bill.
2. “US hinted to Singapore to pay”
The Washington Post also reported,
Singapore government officials were made aware that the United States was considering asking them to cover the hotel costs for North Korea.
Mr Lee adds his own geopolitical commentary, writing,
This is key because it means US “owes” us a favor even if it’s just a small logistical detail.
We’re not sure what Mr Lee is basing his conclusions on, or if he means that Singapore owes the United States a favour.
But it’s safe to say that the United States asked us to chip in – and weighing the pros and cons of doing so, the Government did.
3. The Free Trade factor
Everybody knows Mr Trump is a trade protectionist, running his 2016 campaign on promises to tear up the Trans-Pacific Partnership and North American Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
That kind of rhetoric throws our own 2003 FTA with the United States into jeopardy.
Mr Lee’s logic is that paying $20 million is one way for Singapore “to step up and be counted”.
But as The Straits Times pointed out, Mr Lee’s fears are largely unfounded.
The US Census bureau shows that the US enjoys a trade surplus with Singapore.
In 2017, American exports to Singapore were valued at US$29 billion, while its imports from Singapore were valued at US$19 billion.
So Mr Lee’s argument that our FTA needed safeguarding is largely baseless.
4. The middleman
However, Mr Lee redeems himself with his next point.
Once again donning his “geopolitical commentator” cap, Mr Lee highlights how important the summit is for Singapore’s diplomacy efforts.
Recently maligned by China and facing an inward-looking administration in the United States, Singapore needs to flex its diplomatic muscle and show off its independence.
Instead of aligning with either the United States or China-backed North Korea, Singapore chose to be a neutral power and facilitate friendly discussion between the two.
Switzerland of the East? That’s us, alright.
5. $20 million is peanuts to Singapore
Drawing an analogy between a family and a Government, Mr Lee points out that $20 million makes up just 0.03% of the latter’s budget for 2017.
I cannot think of better ways to spend 0.03% of my annual income. If you are the Singapore Prime Minister in charge of short term and long term planning,how would you spend it better?
How netizens feel
Mr Lee’s post went viral, garnering over 1,000 shares on Facebook.
Most netizens agreed with his views, saying that the summit acted as free advertising for Singapore.
But not all felt the same way.
One netizen shared this quote attributed to former American President Thomas Jefferson.
The netizen was likely alluding to North Korea‘s shocking human rights record – which the world has largely seemed to ignore in recent days.
When asked if the leaders had discussed the issue, Mr Trump said rather flippantly that they had, but admitted that denuclearisation had been a greater priority.
Look to history for comfort
Nevertheless, naysayers of the meeting should look to history to realise that hosting such an important event bodes well for the host city.
Nearly 100 years ago, leaders of Germany, the United States, Britain, France, Italy and Japan gathered at Versailles, a region 20km southwest of Paris.
There, they signed what would become one of the most important documents in modern history: the Treaty of Versailles.
It effectively spelt out how the world would move forward after the devastation of World War I.
While its success was questionable, it has sealed Versailles’ place in world history.
Scores of students around the world now know about the region, even if they’ve never been there.
Wouldn’t it be great if Singapore enjoyed the same fame?
P.S. Ignore the fact that the Treaty of Versailles almost certainly led to World War II. We’ll just slide that under the rug for now.
Featured image from Donald Trump’s Instagram.