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Spending $20 million to make history



The cost of hosting the recent Trump-Kim summit raised questions of government spending.

On June 12, Singapore hosted an unprecedented and historical event – the meeting between the President of the United States, Donald Trump and North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

As host, Singapore bore a total cost of approximately $20 million, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The news caused Singaporeans to wonder if the amount was justified.

What's going on?

During a visit to the international media centre on Jun 10, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong explained how the budget for the high-profile meeting would be utilised.

PM Lee said: "It 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."

Half of the cost was channeled into security efforts, involving policemen around the venue as well as "all-round protection and in-depth protection – air, sea, land, against attack and against mishap." 

Another $5 million went into accommodating the estimated 2,500 journalists from around the world covering the summit at the international media centre in the F1 Pit Building.

Some felt that the amount spent was justified, especially since a significant amount goes back to Singapore's economy.

A netizen felt that there was little lost from domestic spending.

Some felt that the amount of publicity and goodwill that the event garnered for Singapore far outweigh the costs.

"The Trump-Kim summit really puts Singapore in good light for being a city of diplomacy so that future treaties and agreements can be made here…Singapore could possibly be the next Geneva," said 19-year-old Cherylene Tan, who is currently waiting to enter university.

While $20 million may seem like a small price to pay for putting Singapore on the map, some netizens question the benefits, especially since some international media is still publishing incorrect information about Singapore. 

Some felt like publicity alone was not worth the money, when many are still misinformed about Singapore.

Others felt the money could be better invested in other things, like taking care of Singapore's own needs.

One netizen believe that money could be better spent to help needy Singaporeans.

Nur Indah, 19, felt the extravagant budget seemed unnecessary.

The third-year Nanyang Polytechnic student said: "I'm very conflicted because the outcome of this meeting is good…but then again $20 million is really a lot of taxpayers' money. We're always complaining about increasing prices and this seems to be why."

What's your take? 

1. Do you think $20 million spent on the summit was a good use of money for Singapore? Why?