Singapore Beats the World in Holding Ground-Breaking Events

WTO Inaugural Ministerial Conference, World’s First Youth Olympics, China-Taiwan Meeting are just a few examples

The one thing that The Straits Times consistently does well is in the use of creative design and infographics. As it did today in a Sunday feature on the historic peace summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un set for Tuesday.

There is no doubt that Singapore playing host to a significant peace initiative is a strong endorsement of the trust it enjoys worldwide. However, the over-reactions I see in Singapore’s media confound me as the country has proven strengths in holding such premium events.

Organisational Excellence: Singapore beats the world hands down in terms of organisational excellence, spanning all aspects of high-profile meetings, including security while keeping public disruptions minimal, perfection in execution, use of ground-breaking technology and top-notch entertainment for attendees.

In December 1996, Singapore organised the inaugural ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), drawing leaders from 120+ countries.

I had the opportunity to cover that first WTO ministerial meeting as a journalist – I was with Microsoft Magazine then and writing for Newsbytes, now owned by The Washington Post, a part of the Amazon group.

Suntec City was the venue for it, with celebrations at the Sentosa, which is where the Trump-Kim summit is to be held. Indian signer Sharon Prabhakar was among entertainers who performed at the WTO inaugural.

Coins, MRT Cards for WTI: Coins were minted and commemorative MRT cards were rolled out specially for the event. Media representatives were also given some of those goodies.

There were eager collectors willing to pay a premium price for them as I was stepping out of the conference venue. As someone keen on collectibles myself, I was not ready to part with that (though I will have to scour my home to trace them now).

Summit city 3Similar limited-edition mementos are also being sold for the June 12 summit.

Another event Singapore organised with aplomb was the World Bank–IMF conference in 2006, with participation from more than 300 Finance Ministers from every part of the world.

2010 – YOG vs the Commonwealth Games: Singapore also hosted the first-ever Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in 2010, the same year when India completely messed up the Commonwealth Games. The planning was so poor that steps were afoot to move the Games out of the country – fortunately, some late action from India prevented what will have been a disaster for it.

Cloud computingwas used in a big way at the YOG in Singapore not just to minimise expenditure on costly equipment for a two-week event but also to demonstrate to the world the viability of emerging new technology platforms.

Earlier in 2005, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) also held an important session in Singapore to pick the city that will host the 2012 Olympics. The honour went to London.

In 2015, Singapore also hosted the first summit between the leaders of China and Taiwan in nearly seven decades.

Given Singapore’s consistency in organising events that attract global attention, I am surprised at the fluff surrounding the Trump-Kim summit.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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