Srettha applauds Singapore for its ‘wisdom’ in making exclusive deal with Swift


Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said he held no grudges against his Singaporean counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, for securing an exclusive deal with American superstar Taylor Swift.

Speaking to the press on Saturday, Srettha said he had “no problems” with Lee and that they respected each other. Srettha said he and Lee had spoken to each other normally during the ASEAN-Australia summit in Melbourne last week, adding that certain media outlets had only “distorted” his comments on the matter in a way that was “politically motivated”.

“If you pay attention, you will see that I had spoken of Singapore with admiration. Some media outlets may have distorted what I said to make it a political issue. I don’t want to get involved in this. Everybody knows what I said,” the premier explained.

At a business forum in Bangkok on February 16, Srettha had said that Singapore paid Swift some US$3 million (106.22 million) per show to ensure the city-state is the only place in Southeast Asia where she performs.

Swift performed at six sold-out concerts to an estimated 300,000 fans in Singapore. About 70% of the concertgoers had flown into the city-state, thousands of whom were from the city-state’s regional neighbours.

The Thai leader said on Saturday that he agreed with what Lee had said about the matter while in Australia last week.

“Personally, I see this as a wise way of managing a country. It’s something that Thailand should learn. I admire this style of management, there’s nothing to be angry about,” he said.

Srettha also said that he had had a “good conversation” with Lee as they were seated next to one another at the summit in Melbourne, which ran from Monday to Wednesday (March 4-6).

On Tuesday, Lee called a press conference in response to criticism over the exclusive deal with Swift, saying his country was not being “unfriendly” to other countries in the region.

“[Our] agencies negotiated an arrangement with her to come to Singapore and perform, and to make Singapore her only stop in Southeast Asia,” Lee said.

“Certain incentives were provided to her, and a deal was reached. It has turned out to be a very successful arrangement. I don’t see that as being unfriendly.

“If we had not made such an arrangement, would she have come to more places in Southeast Asia? Maybe, maybe not?” he added.

Singaporean officials also acknowledged offering Swift a grant. Singapore’s Culture Minister Edward Tong on Monday downplayed the size of the grant, saying “it is not accurate and not anywhere as high as speculated”.