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Photo from Ministry of Communication and Information

Do Singaporeans get the sense that charity begins at home, as far as the government is concerned? 

by Augustine Low

For US President Donald Trump, American interests come above all else. At his inauguration, he told the crowd “From this day forward, a new vision will govern . . . it’s going to be only America first, America first.”

Everything he has done since has been to protect American interests – from his immigration policies to imposing trade barriers and tariffs and withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. He has even told countries that unlike in the past, they have to start paying for American military involvement and protection.

For Donald Trump and America, it’s now Charity Begins At Home – taking care of Americans first and foremost before taking care of others.

As for North Korea, spending on its nuclear programme is estimated to be over US$3 billion, according to South Korean government analysis.

Yet the North Koreans cannot even foot their hotel bill for the Trump-Kim summit.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says $20 million is a price Singapore is “willing to pay” and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan calls it an “investment for world peace.”

The sum of $20 million is no doubt small change for Singapore.

And world peace is indeed very noble and consequential.

So consequential that one risks being called small-minded for quibbling over that $20 million price tag spent in the name of world peace.

But we have look at it in context.

We are at a point in time when America is leading the charge with the Charity Begins At Home mantra, when North Korea is spending billions on weapons of mass destruction... yet when they come for a summit, Singapore has to foot the bill.

There’s something seriously NOT right with that.

Augustine Low is a proud but concerned citizen. Voicing independent, unplugged opinion is his contribution to citizen engagement.