SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has defended the exclusive deal the Government struck with pop star Taylor Swift to make Singapore her only Southeast Asian stop for her Eras tour, saying it was not an unfriendly act towards its neighbours.

Mr Lee, who is in Melbourne to attend the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, addressed this issue at a joint press conference with Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for the 9th Singapore-Australia Annual Leaders’ Meeting on Tuesday (5 March).

The Sydney Morning Herald had asked the Singapore premier to confirm whether Singapore paid for an exclusive arrangement for Swift not to play in another Southeast Asian nation.

The Australian daily also asked for his response to comments from some other Southeast Asian political leaders that the deal undermines the ASEAN spirit of cooperation.

Confirming that Government agencies negotiated an arrangement with Swift to come here and make Singapore her only stop in Southeast Asia, Mr Lee revealed that “certain incentives provided to her from our tourism (recovery) fund – it was the post-COVID-19 fund to revive tourism”.

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Calling the arrangement a success, Mr Lee says he does not see this as being unfriendly to Singapore’s neighbours in Southeast Asia. He said:

“Sometimes one country makes a deal, sometimes another country does. I do not explicitly say you will come here, only on condition that you will go other places. She came to Sydney. I think she had a very successful concert in Sydney. I do not know what the arrangements were, but I am sure that mutually acceptable, sensible arrangements were made.

“If that is what needed to be done to get an outcome which is mutually beneficial, and which from Singapore’s point of view, serves not just to grow the economy, but also to bring in visitors and goodwill from all over the region, I do not see why not.”

The PM added: “If we had not made such an arrangement, would she have come to someplace else in Southeast Asia or more places in Southeast Asia? Maybe, maybe not. These are things that she will decide.”

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