Swift Attack!

I bet you think about me, Thailand.

After wrapping up her shows in Melbourne and Sydney, Taylor Swift kicked off her Singapore performances last night.

Some locals are happy. The Thais are not.

Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin claimed the Singapore government paid Swift US$2.8 million per show, supposedly on the condition that she would make Singapore the only stop on the Southeast Asian leg of her tour. Swift has been scheduled to perform at least six shows in Singapore.

“The concert promoter didn’t tell me the exact figure, but they said the Singapore government offers subsidies of between US$2 million and US$3 million,” Srettha told a business forum in Bangkok recently, according to a report by The Guardian.

Everything was kept under wraps in Singapore until the Thai prime minister’s outburst.

Then, with their balls squeezed, Singapore government had no choice but to scramble to explain its Machiavellian behavior, with The Straits Times taking up two full pages justifying Singapore’s action. A Sunday edition of the same paper devoted two more pages of rationalization; one write-up was entitled Why music stars like Taylor Swift choose to come to Singapore.

A couple of days later, an unknown professor from an unknown university even wrote an overly-long article in The Straits Times entitled Taylor Swift concerts make Singapore a vastly more interesting place. His piece was subtitled Having the American pop star come here is both a smart tourism economic strategy and a further move to remake Singapore’s image. (Well, everyone is a professor these days!)

Oh, wonderful! Because, you know, Singapore’s reputation couldn’t possibly get any better, could it? Clearly, we’re just envied, adored and worshipped by all our neighbors in Southeast Asia. It’s not like we’re already topping the charts as the most beloved nation around here. Come on, don’t we know that we are the most despised country in the region? Enough already, I say, but being utterly shameless Singaporeans, expect a flood of such articles on Tay Tay to be published in these few weeks.

A bit of background here: Swift is unlikely to be allowed to perform in prudish Indonesia or Malaysia. That leaves Thailand and Singapore. And with this underhanded maneuver by the Singapore government, the Thais haven’t got a fighting chance!

Swift’s shows in Singapore will benefit the economy as fans from neighboring countries descend on the island. One estimate says her shows will boost Singapore’s economy by up to S$500 million in tourism receipts. That’s half a billion bucks! The Thais aren’t getting close to even smelling any of that.

So of course they are fucking upset.

Some in Singapore are hailing the stealth move as a coup, an economic feat, blah, blah, blah.

I guess I was brought up by better parents. In my family, we don’t do things like that to our neighbors and friends.

Singapore’s coup has raised eyebrows in the Philippines too. Filipino statesman Joey Salceda chimed in, saying “This isn’t what good neighbours do.”

Yes, look at Singapore, the mighty host of Taylor Swift in all her glory! Singapore, the one and only beacon of hope for all 11 countries in Southeast Asia. With our grandiose claim as the sole representative of Southeast Asia for this event, Singapore is just milking every last drop of excitement from the 650 million souls in the region who are dying to catch a glimpse of Tay Tay. How noble of our government to graciously allow the masses to bask in Taylor Swift’s presence!

I predict even the prime minister will enter the fray and opine his two cents’ worth because clearly, having Taylor Swift perform in Singapore and not in neighboring countries is just the epitome of friendliness, right? Because who wouldn’t feel the warm embrace of friendship when their favorite pop star skips over their entire region to make a stop only in one city? Yep, totally not “unfriendly” at all.

Time to order some Dale Carnegie books for those conniving schemers in the Singapore government who are now probably still doing cartwheels at the thought of their win. I recommend that Carnegie classic How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Oh before I say my last word on this wuliao (silly and senseless) topic, let me tell you the latest gem from Singapore Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong!

Apparently, according to him, the hype surrounding the amount of money paid to Taylor Swift was “nowhere as high” as we all thought. Note that till today, the actual amount paid by the government has not been divulged.

That’s not the point, is it? I mean, who would have thought that a government minister would gallantly lead a team across the pond just to bring Taylor Swift here? A government minister no less!  Yup, you heard it right, folks! The point is: our tax dollars are diligently ensuring we’re all sufficiently blessed with our dose of Swiftie enchantment.

Oh, what a delightful display of our esteemed leaders’ impeccable priorities!

Truly, I’m in awe. They never fail to amuse.

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