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Filipino lawmaker criticises 'good friend' Singapore over Taylor Swift exclusivity deal, wants Philippines to formally protest agreement

Joey Salceda criticised the Singapore government's exclusive Taylor Swift deal, saying that 'this isn't what good neighbours do'.

MCCY and STB highlighted the potential tourism benefits of Taylor Swift's six-day concert in Singapore, with over 300,000 tickets already sold.
MCCY and STB highlighted the potential tourism benefits of Taylor Swift's six-day concert in Singapore, with over 300,000 tickets already sold. (Photo: Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

SINGAPORE — A Filipino lawmaker has condemned Singapore over its exclusivity deal with American pop star Taylor Swift, which resulted in the Republic being her only stop in Southeast Asia on her Eras Tour.

The criticism came from representative Joey Salceda, who on Wednesday (28 Feb) called on the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to formally protest the agreement between the Singapore government and Swift's team, ensuring she wouldn't perform elsewhere in Southeast Asia during her sold-out world tour.

"This isn't what good neighbours do," said Salceda in a media statement that was reported by several outlets. He added that move would have a detrimental impact on Singapore's diplomatic relations with the Philippines.

As an economist representing the province of Albay in Congress, Salceda chairs the House committee overseeing Bills that generate government revenue.

"Our countries are good friends. That's why actions like that hurt," he said, adding that the Philippines should not 'just let things pass' and should 'officially register our opposition' with the Singapore embassy in Manila.

Why Taylor Swift is only performing in Singapore within Southeast Asia

The controversy arose when Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin revealed on 16 Feb that the Singapore Government allegedly offered subsidies of up to US$3 million (S$4 million) for each concert, contingent on Swift not performing in other Southeast Asian nations.

While the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) confirmed their support for the upcoming concerts, they did not disclose the financial details.

Kallang Alive Sport Management, which operates the National Stadium, had pursued Swift's team early in 2023 before confirming any international tour venues and ultimately secured the Singapore-only dates.

The ministry and the STB said that tourism sectors such as hospitality, retail, travel and dining are likely to benefit from the six-day concert in Singapore, with over 300,000 tickets already sold.

Philippines media outlet GMA Integrated News reported that while Salceda advocated for the Philippines to oppose Singapore's deal with Swift, he acknowledged that it had proven successful for the city-state, boosting hotel sales and air travel to Singapore.

He suggested that Manila improve its infrastructure to host concerts for world-class acts like Swift, stating, "In the long run, though, we need to step up our game."

Swift's Singapore stop sparks frenzy and scams amidst high ticket demand

Swift's upcoming performances at the National Stadium from 2 to 9 March are a major highlight for Singapore, as it is one of only two stops in Asia for her highly anticipated Eras Tour, the other being Tokyo.

The excitement surrounding ticket sales in Singapore was evident, with over a million eager fans queuing virtually on the Ticketmaster website during the presale.

This presale was exclusive to UOB bank customers, leading to a surge in card applications throughout Southeast Asia.

However, the overwhelming demand for tickets has also led to numerous scams as enthusiasts seek to experience Swift's performance firsthand.

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