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Republic's soft power ensured summit's success

One does not need a calculation of the exponential exposure or advertising value to be convinced that Singapore has benefited from facilitating the Trump-Kim summit (Singapore may have gained over $700m in exposure as host: Analyst; June 14).

The "homo economicus" - the economic man who is rational and acts in his own interest - had earlier complained about the hefty tab and inconvenience that could result in futile efforts if the summit turned out to be just a photo op.

However, it is the ideal of the "homo reciprocans" - the reciprocating human motivated by improving his environment - who wanted to give their best for the success of the summit that prevailed.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's tour of Singapore's iconic landmarks such as Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands required no compelling narratives to explain more concretely to him the alternative path his state could pursue.

A whiff of capitalism and the colourful nocturnal life in the throbbing commercial core of Singapore were also in sync with South Korean President Moon Jae-in's vision of economic cooperation with North Korea.

The "no-detail-was-too-small" hospitality precept was also evidenced in the early celebration of US President Donald Trump's birthday, which could have favourably influenced his impression of the working lunch.

Regardless of the positivity or negativity of post-summit analyses and reports, the hosting of the event has affirmed that the sources of "soft power" that Singapore tapped are manifold even if the country is limited by the size of its population as well as its lack of natural resources.

These sources include even-handedness, institutional and organisational skills, thinking out of the box and diplomatic adroitness and amenities.

Grace Chew Chye Lay (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 24, 2018, with the headline 'Republic's soft power ensured summit's success'. Print Edition | Subscribe