Singapore Has Taylor Swift to Itself This Week, and the Neighbors Are Complaining

Taylor Swift has descended on Southeast Asia, or one small part of it at least: All of her six sold-out shows are in Singapore, the region’s wealthiest nation.

Many of her fans in this part of the world, which is home to more than 600 million people, are disappointed. But the Singapore leg of Ms. Swift’s wildly popular Eras Tour, which began last weekend and ends on Saturday, is a soft power coup and a boost for the country’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

The shows — and the undisclosed price that Singapore paid to host them — have also generated diplomatic tension with two of its neighbors, Thailand and the Philippines.

Last month, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin of Thailand said publicly that Singapore had paid Ms. Swift up to $3 million per show on the condition that she play nowhere else in Southeast Asia. A lawmaker in the Philippines later said that was not “what good neighbors do.”

Singapore pushed back. First its culture minister said the actual value of the exclusivity deal — which he declined to name — was “nowhere as high.” The country’s former ambassador at large later called the criticism “sour grapes.” And on Tuesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told reporters that he did not see the deal as diplomatically “unfriendly.”

Fans in other Southeast Asian countries are disappointed Ms. Swift isn’t performing elsewhere in the region.Credit…How Hwee Young/EPA, via Shutterstock
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