Trump-Kim summit puts Singapore in the spotlight

World Today

The view of Resorts World Sentosa island in Singapore is pictured on June 6, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Roslan RAHMAN)

Singapore, a city-state of roughly 5.6 million people, was at the top of the news of the day around the world as it was announced it would host the historic Trump-Kim summit.

CGTN’s Sean Callebs reports.

President Trump called Singapore “a country of profound grace and beauty.”

“I think the branding name of Singapore remains intact, in that, very quickly it is able to organize extremely high-level event, that requires extreme security assurances,” said Economist Song Seng Wun of CIMB Private Banking.

The motorcade (C) transporting North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un leaves Sentosa island after taking part the North Korea-US summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Ted ALJIBE)

Song Seng Wun has worked in the banking sector in Singapore close to 30-years. He said high profile events, such as the summit, can only help the city-state. Much of its income is based on geography and having the second busiest port in the world. Two-thirds of the economy revolves around the service industry.

Thousands of journalists have been in Singapore this week, chronicling the summit that’s cost Singapore an estimated $20 million. So what did the city-state get in return? Song Seng Wun said its all about the branding.

This photograph taken on June 6, 2018 shows a container vessel (C) guided by a pilot boat sailing past Shell petroleum refineries on Pulau Bukom (background)in Singapore. (AFP PHOTO / Roslan RAHMAN)

“That kind of branding is invaluable. Anyone who hasn’t heard of Singapore, and that was many, who thought Singapore was part of Malaysia, or China, say ‘oops, ok, it is a small city state, I know what that is know’,” he explained.

Legions of journalists got a chance to try the multi-cultural dishes at one of the many hawker centers, where stalls are set up for tasty, low-cost meals. At any given time, there are a million tourists in Singapore, many taking in the image of the Merlion: the half lion-half fish, national icon.

A chef displays “El Trumpo” (L) and “Rocket Man” (R) tacos at a restaurant in Singapore on June 7, 2018, ahead of the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.. (AFP PHOTO / Roslan RAHMAN)

Singapore’s financial success is relatively young, cropping up in the past half-century. It was a dirt-poor country, with the bay jammed full of tiny wooden boats selling goods.

In part by coming here, Trump’s team is trying to convince Pyongyang that the poor,-isolated DPRK could evolve into a type of Singapore. It’s a tall order that would take a generation or more, as well as a massive change in direction for Pyongyang’s government.

Regardless, among the winners this week was Singapore: a tiny shining speck of a city-nation on the ocean, that many believe has elevated its status under the brightest of the bright lights.