Taylor Swift: Singapore prime minister defends deal to secure exclusive access to Eras tour – The Guardian

Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong confirmed an ‘arrangement’ for Singapore to be the only stop on Swift’s south-east Asia Eras tour
Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong has defended an incentive provided to Taylor Swift by his government, to make the country the only stop in south-east Asia on her world tour, saying it was not a hostile act towards its neighbours.
“[Our] agencies negotiated an arrangement with her to come to Singapore and perform and to make Singapore her only stop in south-east Asia,” Lee told a press conference in Melbourne, where he is attending a regional summit.
“It has turned out to be a very successful arrangement. I don’t see that as being unfriendly.”
Swift is currently part way through the six sold-out shows in Singapore.
Thailand’s prime minister claimed last month that the concert promoter AEG had informed him that the Singaporean government offered subsidies of US$2m-$3m (£1.6m-£2.4m) a show as part of an exclusivity agreement.
Singapore’s government previously said it had given Swift a grant to play in the city-state, without mentioning the terms of the deal. However, on Tuesday Lee confirmed that Swift was provided with “certain incentives” from a government fund established to rebuild tourism after the pandemic, but did not say how much the deal cost.
Some south-east Asian neighbours have complained they have been deprived of the tourist boom that her concerts bring.
Last month a Filipino lawmaker said it “isn’t what good neighbours do”.
Lee did not directly answer when asked if he had encountered “bad blood” among other leaders due to the arrangement and suggested that if Singapore hadn’t struck an exclusive deal, a neighbouring country might have done so.

“Sometimes one country makes a deal, sometimes another country does. I don’t explicitly say ‘you will come here only on condition that you’ll not go to other places,’” Lee said.

Swift’s representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Associated Press news agency.
Lee said he expected that Australia similarly made “mutually acceptable, sensible arrangements” with Swift when she performed in Sydney and Melbourne before flying to Singapore, but added that he did not know what those arrangements were.

“If that’s what’s needed to be done to get an outcome which is mutually beneficial and which, from Singapore’s point of view, serves not just to grow the economy but also to bring in visitors and goodwill from all over the region, I don’t see why not,” Lee said.

Many of Swift’s fans across south-east Asia were bitterly disappointed when it was announced last year that she would skip most of the region and stop only in Singapore during her Eras tour. Even for those with the means to travel to see her, securing tickets was difficult.
With Rebecca Ratcliffe, Reuters and Associated Press

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