Singapore’s security on high alert for historic Trump-Kim summit after city state spent US$15 million to host
Although Singapore has the experience of hosting high-profile events such as the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security forum, security for Tuesday’s meeting will be on a different scale
Singaporean officials said they were taking an “all hands on deck” approach to ensure the security of the historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – one of the highest-profile events ever to be held in the city state. That effort includes the S$20 million (US$15 million) Singapore is paying out of its own pocket to host Tuesday’s meeting.
Interior minister K. Shanmugam told reporters about 5,000 police officers and first responders will be deployed by the end of the meeting. Singapore has a total of around 13,000 police officers and 2,500 first responders.
The figure does not include military personnel who have been deployed, with at least two warships patrolling waters off Sentosa island resort where the summit will be held.
Shanmugam said the two-week lead time to prepare for the summit meant officials faced “tremendous strain” in organising security for the event but was “quietly confident” of measures put in place over the last few days.
The government last week declared areas around three hotels involved in the summit – the Shangri-La, St Regis and Capella – “special event areas”, giving police enhanced powers to stop and search people and vehicles.
Trump will stay in the Shangri-La, Kim in the St Regis and the summit will be held at the Capella on Sentosa island. Airspace over Singapore is also restricted until Thursday.
Although Singapore has the experience of hosting high-profile events such as the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security forum, Shanmugam said Tuesday’s meeting will be on a different scale.
“The specific security threat against both leaders is at a different level than most of the participants of the Shangri-La Dialogue,” the minister said.
He said however that authorities had not received specific threats.
Immigration officials turned away “three to four” individuals deemed security concerns over the last few days, including one person who was found to have searched information about suicide bombing on his mobile phone, Shanmugam said.
The heightened security measures were most visible around the Shangri-La and St Regis hotels, where perimeters were lined with uniformed police officers. The Shangri-La hotel, where Trump will stay, was heavily guarded by US Secret Service personnel.
Also deployed in both hotels were officers from Singapore’s Gurkha Contingent, kitted in body armour and combat assault rifles.
The elite regiment, made up of Gurkhas recruited from Nepal’s hill ranges, is a vestige of Singapore’s colonial history and is maintained by local authorities to serve as a neutral force unaligned with any of the country’s major ethnic groups.
Speaking on the impact of hosting the summit, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the country stands to gain from the publicity generated over the next few days.
“The fact that we have been chosen as the site of the meeting, we did not ask for it … it says something about Singapore’s relations with the parties … and our standing with the international community,” Lee said.
Lee said security costs made up about half of the S$20 million the city state paid for hosting the event. He did not say if Singapore is footing North Korea’s hotel bill.
“We are willing to pay and it’s our contribution to an international endeavour which is in our profound interest,” Lee said.
Asked if the government would recoup the money spent, Lee said: “I think if you calculate the price of everything in this world, you will miss out on the really important things.
“We will be sure to be cost conscious, and we will also be sure that we will do what is necessary to make this a safe meeting.”