PM’s Remarks on Swift’s Concert Deal Not Critique of Singapore

After Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announced last month that Singapore had secured an “exclusive deal” with Taylor Swift, a government official clarified on Tuesday that Mr. Srettha’s comments were not intended as a critique or a show of envy towards Singapore.

In a statement, Chai Watcharong, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office of Thailand, said that Mr. Srettha mentioned the deal to express admiration and praise for Singapore.

“Singapore’s proposal was an approach that shows they dared to think and dared to do it, and successfully made Taylor Swift’s team agree to have the exclusive performance in Singapore, the only country in the region. This has benefited the country,” said Mr. Chai.

During a business event in Bangkok on February 15, Mr. Srettha was the first to suggest that financial incentives were offered to ensure Swift would not perform in any other Southeast Asian country.

At that time, he mentioned that AEG, the event organizer, had informed him about the Singaporean government’s proposal of US$2 million to US$3 million per concert for exclusive rights. This amount is believed to be the total for all six concerts rather than per concert.

Following this, a Philippine lawmaker criticized Singapore’s exclusive deal, arguing “this isn’t what good neighbours do,” which led to media focus on the presumed dissatisfaction with Singapore’s approach.

On Tuesday, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, while speaking to journalists in Melbourne, stated he did not view the agreement as hostile towards other countries in the region.

“Our teams arranged a deal for her to perform exclusively in Singapore, marking it as her sole destination in Southeast Asia,” Mr. Lee explained during a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

This is in response to inquiries about whether the agreement conflicted with the spirit of collaboration within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“It has turned out to be a very successful arrangement,” Mr. Lee added.

Clarification on PM Srettha’s Comments

Explaining the comments made by the Thai Prime Minister, spokesperson Mr. Chai emphasized on Tuesday, “The tone and meaning that the Prime Minister has used when talking about this issue were not to criticize or express jealousy toward Singapore.”

Mr. Chai interpreted Mr. Srettha’s statement as suggesting nations keen on enhancing their tourism should consider emulating Singapore’s approach.

He further mentioned that such agreements are commonplace in business, and there’s no basis for Singapore to feel embarrassed about their strategy.

“As Singapore has explained further, it was not just about the financial incentives, but the country also had other factors that made Swift’s team agree with the deal,” said Mr. Chai.

“I feel sad that there are people who are trying to jeopardize PM Srettha’s work. Please stop. There’s no reason for us to try to devalue our country’s leader. And these actions could possibly cause unnecessary dissatisfaction among the people of the two countries.”