In an interview with BBC (who really got our geography wrong yesterday), Minister of Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan confirmed what everyone was guessing a week ago: Singapore is indeed picking up the hotel tab for the North Korean contingent here.
Asked directly if Singapore paid for their stay at the very upscale St. Regis abode, Dr. Balakrishnan answered “of course.”
“It’s hospitality that we would have offered them, and as Chairman Kim said yesterday, he would have liked to have come to Singapore anyway, with or without the summit,” Dr. Balakrishnan told the BBC.
Turns out, North Korea’s Dear Leader is not staying at the Fullerton Hotel as initially posited by The Washington Post. Less than an hour after his arrival at Changi Airport yesterday afternoon, Kim Jong Un and his delegation drove straight to The St. Regis, where security has been ramped up over the course of last week.
The Presidential Suite on the hotel’s 20th story — and we wouldn’t expect Kim to want anything less — goes for up to S$12,260 (about US$9,200) a night, with a king-sized bed, silken throw pillows, crystal chandeliers, and marble, gold, brass, and silver adornments everywhere.
So you can only imagine how much Singapore is paying to have the North Korean leader and an entire army of bodyguards and government officials at the St. Regis.
According to the BBC interview, the cost borne for the North Korean contingent is part of the $20 million Singapore is spending on the summit in total, said Dr. Balakrishnan. The Straits Times reported that $10 million is set aside for security measures, while $5 million is for the facilitation of international journalists who’ve flown here to cover the summit. Presumably, part of the other $5 million is going towards Kim’s hotel tab.
It’s an “investment in world peace,” said Dr. Balakrishnan, adding that it was all within the budget the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong allowed.
Let’s hope there’re some funds left to cover the effort to have skyscrapers in Marina Bay keep their lights on through the night just to form a nicer backdrop for international broadcasters.