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Seeing Kim was a historic moment for me, says Singapore resident Seeing Kim was a historic moment for me, says Singapore resident

Seeing Kim was a historic moment for me, says Singapore resident

Jun 12, 2018

Singapore residents braced for major traffic jams and road diversions on Monday as security forces fanned out across the island state ahead of Tuesday’s historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Stringent security measures will be in place until Thursday, police said. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday said hosting the summit will cost 20 million Singapore dollars ($15 million), most of which about half will be spent on security.

Authorities had warned that there would be roadblocks and increased security checks, especially in marked-out zones where the event will take place and where delegates are expected to stay.

The zones include the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island, where the summit will be held, and the St. Regis Hotel, where Kim is staying; and the Shangrila Hotel, where Trump is staying.

Long lines had formed along the streets toward the St. Regis Hotel when Kim arrived on Sunday night with his convoy of more than 20 vehicles, including an ambulance.

Lee Yoonmi, who lives in the St. Regis Residence next to the hotel, was leaving her apartment when she heard that Kim was coming. She waited for more than an hour before seeing him briefly.

“They were so scary,” Lee said of Kim’s bodyguards. “There were so many of them. They were making sure no one takes pictures of him. If they saw anyone take a photo with their phone, they’d immediately come to you and tell you to delete it.”

Lee, who has been living in Singapore for five years, added: “I’m South Korean, so for us this is once in a lifetime, a historic moment for me and for Singapore.”

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Saturday said his country is hard at work making sure the environment is safe and secure for the negotiating parties.

“My staff in the ministry have… all had sleepless nights answering messages from all over the world, addressing very specific requests — it goes far beyond serving coffee and tea,” he said.

Shawn Ho, an associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, told Arab News: “Singapore is a very open place. We try to check, but obviously we can’t guarantee that everyone who comes in has the best intentions. There’s always an element of risk.”

But despite the risks, Singapore agreed to host the summit because “it knows that it will contribute to peace and stability in the region and in the world,” said Ho.

Thousands of security personnel are out in force, in what could be one of Singapore’s largest security operations.

They include the armed forces, police and auxiliary forces, many of whom had their annual leave frozen in preparation for the summit.

A special guard force, the Gurkha Contingent, will be deployed to secure the summit venue. With a reputation for being among the fiercest warriors in the world, the Nepali Gurkhas have since 1949 been recruited as a frontline force in Singapore.

Lynette Chan, a teacher whose office is in one of the special zones, said she does not mind the traffic diversions: “It’s a short-term inconvenience for a long-term, big-picture gain.”

She added: “It’s a small part to play in helping to create peace in the region. It’s also good for economic and political stability.”

Eunice Shin, who lives in another zone, said: “It doesn’t inconvenience me too much.” Police and reporters are stationed just across from her building, she added.

“Everyone’s really nice. It’s very peaceful,” she said. “My kids are enjoying it with all the fire trucks around. They’re very impressed because you never see any police in Singapore.”

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