Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has come forward to defend the exclusive deal that his city-state struck with global pop sensation Taylor Swift. Under the terms of this deal, Swift is set to perform six concerts from March 2 to 9 in Singapore, making it her only Southeast Asian destination for her current Eras Tour.

Incentives Provided

The Prime Minister confirmed that certain incentives were extended to Swift from a government fund that was set up to revitalize the tourism industry following the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The exclusivity of the deal has faced criticism from some Southeast Asian neighbors who feel they are missing out on the significant tourist influx that Swift's concerts typically bring to a region.

Lee did not disclose the exact cost of the deal but expressed his satisfaction with the arrangement, emphasizing that it has been quite successful. While addressing concerns about potential strain in relationships with neighboring countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Lee maintained that the deal was not intended to be hostile.

Smooth Sailing

Despite facing questions about potential tension or disagreements among ASEAN leaders due to the exclusive deal, Lee remained coy. He suggested that had Singapore not secured this arrangement, there was a possibility that a neighboring country could have done so instead.

From the Prime Minister's perspective, this exclusive deal with Taylor Swift stands as a strategic move to boost Singapore's tourism landscape without intended animosity toward other Southeast Asian nations.

Exclusive International Deals

"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.

No Immediate Response

Swift’s representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mutual Arrangements

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. Lee said he didn’t know what Australia’s arrangements were.

Mutual Benefits

“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.

Swift's Decision

“If we had not made such an arrangement, would she have come to someplace else in Southeast Asia or more places in Southeast Asia? Maybe, maybe not. These are things that she will decide,” Lee added.

VIP Attendee

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who is hosting the ASEAN summit, attended one of Swift’s Sydney concerts last month.

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