Home | Breaking News | ‘Island of death from behind’: dark past of Sentosa, the Trump-Kim summit venue
(Top) View of Siloso Beach on Sentosa Island. and The Capella hotel on Sentosa Island Photograph: HANDOUT/Reuters

‘Island of death from behind’: dark past of Sentosa, the Trump-Kim summit venue

WT24 Desk

The venue for next week’s summit in Singapore between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un is home to beautiful beaches, casinos and some of the best golf courses in Asia, according to The Guardian.

But Sentosa island – where the US president and the North Korean leader will meet on 12 June – has a dark past.

While its contemporary name means “peace and tranquility”, Sentosa was used as a Japanese prisoner of war camp for British and Australian servicemen after allied forces surrendered to the Japanese in 1942.

It was also the site of summary executions of large numbers of Singaporean Chinese – including civilians – suspected of being involved in anti-Japanese activities. Many of the killings were carried out on the island’s beach, now home to the 18-hole Serapong golf course.

Until 1972 Sentosa was known as Pulau Belakang Mati – roughly translated as “island of death from behind” – but was renamed as part of a Singaporean government campaign to turn it into a resort island.

The decision to hold the summit on Sentosa makes logistical sense. Located just half a kilometre from the southern coast of the main island of Singapore, it offers seclusion and privacy, and will be comparatively easy to secure.

“The venue for the Singapore summit between @POTUS and Leader Kim Jong-un will be the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island. We thank our great Singaporean hosts for their hospitality,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted on Tuesday.

Earlier the same day, Trump tweeted: “Meeting in Singapore with North Korea will hopefully be the start of something big … we will soon see!”

Their summit, due to begin at 9am local time next Tuesday, will be the first between sitting US and North Korean leaders. They will focus on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, weeks after a historic meeting between Kim and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in.

More than seven decades on from Japan’s surrender, Sentosa is popular among tourists who flock to its beach and attractions, including Universal Studios Singapore.

Sources familiar with the arrangements said US diplomats had picked the island resort, which is connected to the Singapore main island by a single causeway that can be easily closed off to traffic.

Sentosa is also home to some of the city-state’s richest residents with waterfront villas costing up to Sgd$39m (£21m/$29m).

Singapore authorities have marked out part of the island surrounding the Capella hotel as a special security zone on the days around the summit.

According to the government gazette, weapons, flares, loud hailers, sound systems and banners will be banned in the special zone, with police allowed to conduct body searches on those entering the area.

Set in 30 acres of lush, manicured grounds, the Capella’s 112 rooms and villas were built in restored colonial buildings that once included an officers mess for the British army.

Designed by British architect Norman Foster, the hotel has hosted Madonna and Lady Gaga. Basic rooms start at Sgd$663, with the opulent three-bedroom colonial manor going for Sgd$10,000 for a night’s stay.

The entire hotel has been booked out in the period leading up to the summit.

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