The Korea Herald


[Newsmaker] Singapore excited about Trump-Kim summit

Shangri-La seen as the most likely venue

By Kim So-hyun

Published : May 11, 2018 - 15:16

    • Link copied

SINGAPORE – News that Singapore will host the historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un next month made top headlines here, drawing attention to where on the island the two leaders will meet.

Local experts say the most likely venue would be the Shangri-La Hotel, which has hosted the annual high-level Shangri-La security dialogue among 28 Asia Pacific states since 2002.

The historic meeting between China’s President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying Jeou in 2015 also took place at the Shangri-La Hotel.

“The hotel staff, Singapore police and even foreign security staff have a lot of experience in ensuring security of the leaders at that hotel,” Shawn Ho, associate research fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore told The Korea Herald.

The hotel lobby at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore.(Shangri-La Hotel) The hotel lobby at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore.(Shangri-La Hotel)

Local daily the Straits Times also said deploying of security assets would be relatively convenient, especially as the Shangri-La Dialogue will be held there in early June, ahead of the Trump-Kim summit on June 12.

The hotel’s location in a residential area is also a plus.

Some may pick the landmark Marina Bay Sands as another possible venue as the integrated resort is owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp., a company run by one of Trump’s major donors.

However, a local security services company official quoted by the Straits Times said, “It is out of the question,” as the facility’s sprawling area makes it very challenging for security personnel, and closing off the area is unlikely as there are too many ways to access the location.

Sentosa, a resort island off Singapore’s southern coast, may have some merits from the security perspective as there are some secluded and private places on the island.

Hotels on Sentosa, however, may not be able to host large entourages, the newspaper said, citing a hospitality consultant.

For the inter-Korean summit on April 27 at the truce village of Panmunjeom, nearly 3,000 journalists from around the world packed the press center to cover the event.

The White House confirmed on Friday that Singapore was chosen because it could ensure the security of both leaders and provide neutrality.

Singapore‘s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Friday that the country is pleased to host the meeting. “We hope this meeting will advance prospects for peace on the Korean Peninsula,” the ministry added.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the meeting between the two leaders is a significant step on the path to peace.

“May it lead to a successful outcome,” he said in a Twitter reply to Trump.

Many Singaporeans were excited at the news, while some were concerned about the security hype and its effect on road traffic.

“I am excited and proud that this historic first meeting will be held in Singapore,” office worker Gerard Wee told The Korea Herald.

“It would be really great if I get to catch a glimpse of the two of them, especially Kim who is so rarely seen in public.”

“If a historic peace deal is successfully brokered here, Singapore’s name will be in history books,” said office worker Justin Ng.

“I have the ‘not in my backyard’ mentality. But on the other hand, Singapore is selected because we are reliable and safe. Mixed feelings so far,” said Benson Wong.

“Will the highway and roads suddenly be blocked and secured like the last time when the US president visited Singapore? I was stuck in traffic for two hours,” Gerrard Villa wrote on the website of local broadcaster Channel NewsAsia.

Singapore’s hosting of the summit has particular significance as the country is the chairman of ASEAN this year, according to Ho.

“The ASEAN Regional Forum will be another major meeting that could possibly see the foreign ministers of the currently stalled six-party talks meet again on the sidelines of the ARF,” Ho said.

By Kim So-hyun (