While Singapore ministers (Iswaran, Shanmugam and Vivien Balakrishnan, to name just a few) have been gloating over the country hosting the Trump-Kim summit, they should pause to think that the historic event may well have been held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Both Singapore and Mongolia have good relations with the U.S. and North Korea, a key evaluation criterion for the choice of location along with a few other aspects of equal importance – such as security. It is quite another matter that some European cities – including Geneva and some Scandinavian countries – were also weighed in during the initial stages of consideration.
This piece in The Los Angeles Times nails it even more tellingly.
- Pariah nation: “Singapore has diplomatic ties with the pariah nation (referring to North Korea), which has an embassy in a downtown high-rise. Until recent sanctions kicked in, Singapore allowed North Koreans in on work visas, a key source of income for the cash-strapped government in Pyongyang.”
- A quote from a professor: “They admire the Singaporean system. It looks like an autocratic democratic system. Singapore’s restrictive laws on public gatherings and demonstrations would make it a comfortable venue for the North Koreans.”
- “Public gatherings without a police permit are illegal in Singapore.”
- “Singapore, a city state about half the size of Los Angeles and about 1.5 times its population, is no stranger to hosting high-profile meetings. In 2015, it hosted the first summit between the leaders of China and Taiwan in nearly seven decades.”
A Reuters Photo
The report is not likely to resonate well with the Singapore establishment. The last point is the one that, to me, is the most striking as it highlights how overpopulated Singapore is.
That is something I have been repeatedly blogging apart as that has resulted in a deep slide in the quality of life in the country. It is something that can be dealt with even now as about 40% of its residents are foreigners.
Singapore will be least perturbed about it, being a country mostly inhabited by people from the most dense parts of the region, particularly China and India.
G Joslin Vethakumar