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Is Govt spending on exclusive Swift concerts a pre-election boost?

Amid speculation, Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth, defends the undisclosed investment in Taylor Swift’s exclusive Singapore concerts, highlighting significant economic benefits, against a backdrop of pre-election sentiment in 2024.



In a Parliament session on Monday (4 Mar), Edwin Tong, the Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth, addressed the swirling rumours about the cost of securing Taylor Swift’s exclusive concerts for Southeast Asia in Singapore.

The controversy was ignited by Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, as reported by the Bangkok Post, who claimed that Singapore had secured exclusive rights for Taylor Swift to perform at the National Stadium, effectively sidelining other Southeast Asian countries from hosting the global pop star.

According to Srettha, the global event organizer Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) revealed that the Singapore government had pledged US$2 million to US$3 million per show for Swift’s exclusive performances in Singapore, amounting to a hefty US$12 to US$18 million in total.

Acknowledging the exclusive deal, Tong reassured that the speculated figures were exaggerated and not as steep as rumoured.

However, Tong maintained secrecy over the exact financial details, citing business confidentiality. He refuted the speculated grant size, emphasizing that the economic benefits for Singapore would far outweigh the investment, barring any POFMA correction direction issued to the alleged perpetrators of falsehoods.

“I can assure members of the house that the economic benefits to Singapore are significant and outweigh the size of the grant,” Tong confidently stated.

Tong shared in Parliament that he and his team visited the US in February 2023 to explore the sports and entertainment industry. This visit paved the way for discussions about hosting a Taylor Swift concert in Singapore, which eventually led to an agreement making Singapore one of the stops on Taylor Swift’s tour.

It is unknown when exactly the deal was signed, but the Singapore dates were announced in June 2023.

Had it not been for Srettha’s exposé, voters in Singapore would be no wiser regarding the government’s expenditure on Swift’s exclusivity.

Despite parliamentary pressure, Tong remained tight-lipped about the expenditure, only noting that the government was evaluating the contract’s terms and would take “appropriate measures under advisement.”

Following the revelation, Singapore’s mainstream media rallied to highlight the potential economic windfall from hosting the concert, despite the UK media, BBC, noting the unclear net gain and how the tourism board refused to release foreign visitor estimates or other projections.

This unfolding saga also casts a spotlight on the political undercurrents, especially given the highly anticipated general election is expected to be held this year — particularly in light of the “generous” Forward Singapore Budget. Elections in Singapore are held at the discretion of the Prime Minister.

Without the revelation by the Thai Prime Minister about the government’s significant investment to secure Taylor Swift’s exclusive performances in Singapore, it’s plausible to imagine politicians from the People’s Action Party (PAP) attending the concert in a bid to gain visibility and connect with younger voters, even amidst the backdrop of the Iswaran corruption scandal involving free tickets.

This plausible strategy, aiming to showcase the ruling party’s alignment with popular culture and youth interests, might have unfolded quietly if not for the unexpected disclosure. Nevertheless, PAP politicians are showcasing their talents outside of the stadium, playing songs or doing stuff connecting to the pop diva.

But with many Singaporeans in support of the exclusive deal with Taylor Swift, asking its neighbours not to be sour over it, and disregarding the feelings of disappointed Swifties from neighbouring countries who couldn’t afford to travel to Singapore, the ruling party might have played their cards well.

Nevertheless, if the general election is indeed held this year, we must ponder what else the ruling party has been spending on to increase its chances at the polls without our knowledge.

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As a Malaysian living in Malaysia, I laud Singapore for the ts show though I’m no fan of hers. It has made the red dot even more noticeable on world map. Beside the money,the reputation of Singapore as a safe efficient affluent city with great transport system, advanced facilities, good hospitality support, technical support etc etc helped clinch the deal. The immense benefits to Singapore economy is invaluable. And the happiness factor must not be overlooked. So election ploy or not, a great move by the government.

If elections are called, TS has been used for PAP propaganda. I still want a distribution of the revenue from the TS shows as taxpayers’ funded it. The PAP are once again silent on how much was paid and revenue collected.I suppose they think it is their grandfather ‘s monies to do as they please.

Liddat in future our reserves if not properly scrutinised and questioned wouldn’t it end up somewhere? Scary!

Hotels benefit. The ruling government benefits when more tourists come and pay consumption tax. Public transport companies benefit. Singapore Airlines and Changi Group benefit.

Will these proceeds be distributed back to the people? Or are taxpayers footing the bill but not able to see the rewards?

@Singaporeans, you are all living in the dark! Without Thailand and Philippines revelation on this special spending, we still could not know someone is dipping the hand in the cookie jar!

If this spending was so honourable, why the PAP did not broadcast it prior, for the support of its citizens?!

Something fishy right?

Using Reserves is not for party interest but People interest.
Using it during election year is not for self interest but Humanity interest.

So, tax monies is well spent and not for self interest.

I see landslide victories coming.

Is ET going to bring any big sport events at this stadium since taking over management or we just stuck with Swiftie like shows at a sports stadium .

Can’t be more cheesy than this!

You pay them the highest pay in the world for a political office holder.
And you get guitar and cheesy video?

Are you lapping these up, islanders?

They, the govt, put out their Golden Calf for ppl to worship so that they will quit complaining just like Biblical times …Not everyone into their golden calf … Maybe the 70percent. Dun have the Data …

Stop saying “many” Singaporeans support this exclusive TS deal. What are the numbers? Only certain demographic groups? How does the average Singaporean on the street or the average SME benefitted from this deal? Show us the breakdown of the costs and which sectors (or kaki-langs?) the revenue went. They said “many” support the MSM, hence must give it 900m to continue serving the “many”. Yet if “many”, then why ST/SMT cannot survive on its own? Very lan-cheow logic, hor. They also said “many” supported the reserved Kelong president, yet when comes for reelection, why she didn’t even have the guts… Read more »