Shangri-La Hotel a suitable venue for Trump-Kim summit, say security experts

Having hosted prominent events and personalities before, Shangri-La Hotel and its staff are familiar with security protocols, say experts.
Having hosted prominent events and personalities before, Shangri-La Hotel and its staff are familiar with security protocols, say experts. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Having hosted prominent events and personalities before, Shangri-La Hotel and its staff are familiar with security protocols, say experts.
Having hosted prominent events and personalities before, Shangri-La Hotel and its staff are familiar with security protocols, say experts. PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Shangri-La Hotel has a history of hosting prominent events and figures, and may be the venue for the historic meeting between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next week.

The 792-room luxury five-star hotel sits on 6.01ha of land off Orchard Road, and has held major conferences over the years, including the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, which ended yesterday. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the keynote speaker at the dialogue, attended by Asia-Pacific defence ministers, diplomats and analysts.

It has also hosted top US leaders such as Mr Barack Obama in 2009 and Mr George H.W. Bush in 1992, and English Premier League club Arsenal.

Then US President Obama was here in November 2009 for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum and to take part in the first Asean-US summit on the sidelines of Apec meetings, held at the hotel. In March this year, Mr Obama was back in his private capacity to give a speech to 1,000 guests at a private bank event held in the hotel's Island Ballroom.

The hotel was also the venue for the historic meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou in November 2015. It was also where then US President George W. Bush stayed in October 2003, as did Arsenal players in July 2015.

Security experts say that Shangri-La Hotel's portfolio of hosting high-security events makes it the optimal venue to host the Trump-Kim summit.

Group managing director of Ademco Security Group, Mr Toby Koh, said Shangri-La's experience means security preparations and planning would be more efficient.

 
 

"It is a preferred choice because given its history, its staff would already be well-trained with security, and their long-term service staff would have already been trained and given clearance. For events planned on short notice, this is convenient," he said.

"Security protocols would already be in place, such as road blocks, exit points and security checkpoints. Law enforcement would have past experience with the location as well."

The hotel's location, away from the main Orchard Road belt, and within a residential area, means that controlling access to the area is simplified, he added.

Mr Ong Kok Leong, chief operating officer of Secura Group, parent company of security and risk consultant company Soverus, said: "Shangri-La is located on higher ground with several small roads leading to its premises. This allows better access control management as well as excellent overview of activities which may pose potential threats to the event.

"So, if there is a threat, it will have to travel from the bottom up, and security will be able to take preventive measures to mitigate the risks or react to any security exigencies."

Dr Michael Chiam, senior tourism lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, noted that the hotel's function venues are located away from guest rooms, which makes it easier to secure the event area without inconveniencing hotel guests too much.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2018, with the headline 'Shangri-La a suitable summit venue, say security experts'. Print Edition | Subscribe