Sin­ga­pore proud to be at the cen­ter of sum­mit spot­light

City-state spend­ing $15 mil­lion to host Trump, Kim

The Signal - - USA TODAY - Thomas Maresca Spe­cial to USA TO­DAY

SIN­GA­PORE – As the spot­light landed on this tiny na­tion of 5.5 mil­lion ahead of the his­toric sum­mit meet­ing be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tues­day, many Sin­ga­pore­ans seemed to be tak­ing the mas­sive op­er­a­tion in stride.

On Mon­day, crowds of jour­nal­ists and cu­ri­ous lo­cals gath­ered around the ho­tels where Trump and Kim were stay­ing, while most other Sin­ga­pore­ans went about their daily rou­tines – go­ing to and from work, shop­ping and jog­ging past se­cu­rity check­points and po­lice sta­tioned with shot­guns and ri­fles.

Some lo­cals ex­pressed a sense of pride about their city-state be­ing able to pull off such a ma­jor event.

“I think peo­ple here are happy about the sum­mit,” said Zain­udin Deen, a fi­nan­cial con­sul­tant, who was walk­ing nearby the Shangri-La Ho­tel, where Trump and his en­tourage were stay­ing. “As the host na­tion, we’re proud. We were able to set up the se­cu­rity for this with short no­tice.”

At the nearby St. Regis ho­tel, where Kim Jong Un and his del­e­ga­tion were stay­ing, a grow­ing crowd formed Mon­day evening as word got around that the North Korean leader would be com­ing out to go on a night­time minic­ity tour of Sin­ga­pore.

Alan Heng, 55, hung around with his brother near the ho­tel, hop­ing to catch a glimpse of the elu­sive North Korean leader while en­joy­ing the elec­tric at­mo­sphere.

“Every­body is ex­cited,” he said. “It’s a big in­ter­na­tional event, and it’s putting Sin­ga­pore in the spot­light. There are small in­con­ve­niences, but it’s worth it.”

Sin­ga­porean Prime Min­is­ter Lee Hsien Loong shared that sen­ti­ment, say­ing Sun­day that the $15 mil­lion the sum­mit was cost­ing the coun­try to host was money well spent.

“It’s our con­tri­bu­tion to an in­ter­na­tional en­deavor which is in our pro­found in­ter­est,” Lee told re­porters Sun­day at the mas­sive in­ter­na­tional me­dia cen­ter that the city-state set up to ac­com­mo­date the more than 2,500 jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing the event.

Lee said about half of the amount is go­ing to se­cu­rity.

“It is a cost we are will­ing to pay,” Lee said. “(The sum­mit) gives us pub­lic­ity. 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.”

Sin­ga­pore is foot­ing the bill for Kim and the North Korean del­e­ga­tion, Foreign Min­is­ter Vi­vian Balakr­ish­nan told the BBC on Mon­day.

Of course, there have been ef­forts to cash in on the sum­mit. The Sin­ga­pore

Mint un­veiled three com­mem­o­ra­tive coins for the event, in gold, sil­ver and nickel, fea­tur­ing clasped hands un­der the North Korean and Amer­i­can flags on the front and the in­scrip­tion “World Peace” on the re­verse.

And the Trump and Kim im­per­son­ators who cap­tured me­dia at­ten­tion at the Pyeongchang Win­ter Olympics in Fe­bru­ary turned up in Sin­ga­pore for an event where fans could take self­ies with them for a price.

Still, some other lo­cals took a big­ger-pic­ture per­spec­tive on Sin­ga­pore’s role in the his­toric sum­mit.

“It’s very great to host such a big event,” said D.M. Lim, an of­fice ad­min­is­tra­tor who stopped to join the crowd out­side St. Regis ho­tel on her way home from work. “It’s good for Sin­ga­pore, but the main point is, maybe we can help the two sides make peace, and that would be great for the world.”

CHRIS MCGRATH/GETTY IM­AGES

Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials watch Kim Jong Un cross a bridge.

JOSEPH NAIR/AP

Cu­ri­ous on­look­ers wait for the mo­tor­cade of U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in Sin­ga­pore on Mon­day.

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