Trump-Kim summit strengthens Singapore's brand
OpinionDiplomacy Trump-Kim summit strengthens Singaporeâs brand October 23, 2018 1:45 AM (UTC+8)
In a world plagued with a deficit of trust, Singapore reaffirmed the relevance and usefulness of its nation-brand by proving how it can be counted upon as a friend to all.
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It was a historic summit between strongmen, US President Donald Trump and North Koreaâs Kim Jong Un. For the first time, hope emerged for an end to saber-rattling, insults and threats of âfire and fury.â Most significantly, the summit promised to stave off a potential catastrophe of nuclear proportions for an entire region.
The Osl o Accords were inked by Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat in 1993 and 1995. The accords were the first formal mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO, specified a five-year roadmap for the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis to be resolved, and affirmed that peaceful, bilateral negotiations would be the modus vivendi between the two parties.
Widely recognized as the cornerstone of a hard-fought âpeace processâ between Israel and the PLO, the accords marked a leap of faith and Norwayâs capital city of Oslo had served as its springboard.
Home to the Nobel peace prize, Norway has stridently resisted polarization in the face of repeated tragedies and attacks from extremist factions of its society on the very heart of its national character, which is embodied by openness, tolerance and inclusiveness. As a nation-brand, Norway has always promised peace and the Oslo Accords were one way for the country to deliver on this brand promise.
In the same spirit as the Oslo Accords, the Singapore Summit had committed America and North Korea to jointly âbuild a lasting and stable peace regimeâ and âto work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.â
During this yearâs National Day Rally, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: âWhy did the US and [North Korea] choose Singapore to host the Summit? I think they considered us a serious and reliable partner.â
How was Singaporeâs nation-brand impacted by its hosting of the Trump-Kim meeting?
Some analysts were quick to claim that Singapore had earned close to $800 million worth of media exposure. Others even went so far as to justify a 38-fold return on investment for the brand (having spent around $16 million on organizing the summit).
Yet these calculations paint an incomplete picture of what th e nation-brand had gained. In fact, through Singaporeâs apex body for communication practitioners, the Institute of Public Relations of Singapore (IPRS), we became a signatory to the Barcelona Principles, an international accord which states unequivocally that such measurements do not reflect the true value of communication efforts.
The true value of hosting this summit is in its boost to Singaporeâs strength in global diplomacy.
Ambassador-at-large Professor Tommy Koh explained: âWhat has kept us on the international map is our ambition to be relevant and useful to the world. By hosting the summit, we are being useful to the world and helping the cause of peace.â
Brand Finance, an international brand valuation firm, ranked Singapore as the worldâs strongest brand for three successive years. According to its Nation Brands 2016 report, this result was significant because of âthe benefits that a strong nation brand can confer, but also the economic damage that can be wrought by global events and poor nation-brand management.â
To that end, I would argue that Singaporeâs nation-brand has been strengthened on at least three counts.
Firstly, the summit had offered Singapore a global stage to reaffirm its resolve to get things done; that as demonstrated on many previous occasions, Singapore will do what it takes to deliver on its commitments.
In his book, Can Singapore Fall?, Lim Siong Guan, the former head of the countryâs civil service, said Singaporeâs nation-brand stands for trustworthiness: âa country and a people who honor our word.â
In a world plagued with a deficit of trust even among allies, Singapore mustered the courage to do just the opposite.
Straits Times opinion editor Chua Mui Hoong explained that in spite of the potential domestic and geopolitical backlash, Singapore had made a compelling presentation as a nation-brand that can be counted on as a âfriend to all.â To which Ambassador-at-large Ong Keng Yong called out the importance of demonstrating Singaporeâs principled stance of neutrality, echoing what the countryâs political leaders had previously affirmed.
In the face of criticism of Singaporeâs warm welcome of the North Korean leader, Ong stood firm: âWe do have diplomatic relations with North Korea and we host many leaders from around the world whose policies people may find objectionable, but we have to show them all our hospitalityâ.
Secondly, the world had also seen how Singapore exuded a pair of impeccable qualities that are highly prized in the arena of diplomacy â" discretion and humility.
In an earlier opinion piece for the Straits Times last year titled âIn defense of Singaporeâs chief naysayer,â I cited several examples of how it has been in Singaporeâs nature to exercise discretion in its conduct of foreign policy.
Professor Koh was himself a strong proponent of Gohâs âprosper thy neighborâ philosophy and has on many occasions nudged Singaporeans âto be humble and modestâ
For instance, while ideas such as the ASEAN Free Trade Area and the Asia-Europe Meeting were conceived in Singapore, then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong had allowed other members of the regional grouping to take credit for these initiatives.
And in a clear indication of these qualities pertaining to Singaporeâs hosting of this summit, one needs to look no further than Prime Minister Leeâs answer to CNN when he was asked point-blank about its importance to Singapore: âWe are the host, we are the tea and coffee pourers.â
Finally, in spite of the summitâs success, it has never escaped Singaporeâs perspective that everything could come to naught. And it is this rare quality of can dor â" which one should expect from a friend â" that roots the countryâs bold promises of dependability and humility to a prevailing sense of reality.
In his congratulatory note to Trump and Kim, Lee described their joint statement as âa crucial first move in the long journey towards lasting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.â
After all, as noble as the Oslo Accords may have been, peace in the Middle East has been, at best, elusive. Yet despite these odds, Singapore has proven to be a nation-brand that the world can trust for its friendship.Asia Times is not responsible for the opinions, facts or any media content presented by contributors. In case of abuse, click here to report. Marcus was named a âSingapore Business Review Notable Chief Marketing Officer under 40â and a "Linkedin Power Profile for Marketing Professionalsâ. He holds an M.S from Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School and won a scholarship for his second masterâs degree from the Singapore Management University and UniversitÃ della Svizzera italiana. He serves on various advisory capacities for academia and industry including, the Institute of Public Relations of Singapore, CMO Council, UOB-SMU Asian Enterprise Institute, Asia Enterprise Brand Awards, to name a few. Marcus contributes to Channel NewsAsia, The Business Times, The Straits Times, TODAY News, Singapore Business Review, Marketing Magazine and others - over 40 commentaries published and counting. continue readingSource: Google News Singapore | Netizen 24 Singapore