Signing of 'balanced' set of agreements on longstanding issues show 'strength' in S'pore-Indonesia ties: PM Lee

PM Lee said that the agreements are "durable" for the long haul that will last for at least a generation.

Faris Alfiq | January 25, 2022, 03:13 PM

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Both Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo witnessed the signing of a balanced set of agreements that addresses three longstanding bilateral issues between the two countries.

Speaking at a joint press conference at the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders' Retreat in Bintan on Jan. 25, PM Lee described the signing of the set of agreements as "a major step forward" in bilateral relations between Singapore and Indonesia, and that it demonstrates the "strength and maturity of Singapore-Indonesia relations".

Balanced set of agreements important for Singapore and Indonesia

The balanced set of agreements addresses the following three bilateral issues: Flight Information Region (FIR), Defence cooperation and the Extradition of fugitives.

PM Lee said that these three issues are important for both Singapore and Indonesia, and both countries have worked together and discussed them many times.

During the last Leaders' Retreat, PM Lee said that both Jokowi and himself decided that it was time to "decisively" settle these longstanding bilateral issues.

Therefore, they endorsed a Framework which would address the needs and interests of both sides.

Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investments Luhut Pandjaitan and Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean followed up with detailed negotiations.

When implemented, PM Lee said that the FIR Agreement will meet the civil aviation needs of both countries, and uphold the safety and efficiency of air traffic in a manner that is consistent with International Civil Aviation Organisation rules.

The Defence Cooperation Agreement will strengthen cooperation between both countries' armed forces, and advance defence relations, he added.

And as for the Extradition Treaty, it will enhance cooperation in combating crime and send a clear positive signal to investors.

In addition to the set of agreements, both leaders also exchanged letters to agree that these three agreements enter into force simultaneously.

You can watch the signing of the agreements here.

Agreement represents "good balance of benefits"

The conclusion of these agreements demonstrates the strength and maturity of Singapore-Indonesia relations as these three agreements take into account both parties' interests and represent a good balance of benefits, PM Lee said.

He added that the agreements are "durable" for the long haul that will last for at least a generation.

It would also "create a solid foundation to move bilateral relations forward with confidence and trust", he elaborated.

During the Joint Press Conference, PM Lee thanked Jokowi for his leadership and vision, as well as Luhut, Teo and other officials on both sides for "their tireless work and their shared determination to make progress on our longstanding bilateral issues".

"I encourage the ministers and officials to maintain close coordination and implement the agreements expeditiously," he added.

Singapore and Indonesia to continue discussing cross-border travel

Both PM Lee and Jokowi also discussed the resumption of cross-border travel during the Leaders' Retreat.

PM Lee noted that Indonesia has resumed the tourism travel bubble from Singapore to Bintan and Batam.

He added Singapore will discuss with Indonesia how to make the travel bubble bi-directional.

He and Jokowi agreed to continue discussions to expand air and sea travel to more destinations in Indonesia.

The discussions will continue at a pace both countries are comfortable with, PM Lee said, adding that it would take into account both countries' respective public health situations.

Photo via Ministry of Communications and Information.

Singapore and Indonesia to explore new areas of collaboration including sustainability and green economy

During the Leaders' Retreat, PM Lee said that both he and Jokowi reviewed ongoing bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

"Singapore has consistently been Indonesia's top foreign investor since 2014, and despite the pandemic, our investments have grown," PM Lee said.

PM Lee said that at the last Leaders' Retreat both Singapore and Indonesia signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty, which has since entered into force.

The treaty "will build investor confidence and contribute to economic growth and jobs growth," he added.

He highlighted that the Kendal Industrial Park, which both he and Jokowi jointly opened at the 2016 Leaders' Retreat is doing well and has attracted US$1.6 billion (S$2.15 billion) in investments.

Both countries' finance ministries and central banks are also strengthening institutional linkages to deepen financial cooperation.

PM Lee said during the press conference that both Singapore and Indonesia are also exploring new areas of collaboration such as sustainability, the green economy, digital economy, and human capital development.

He added that both countries have also formalised cooperation on green and circular economy development, energy cooperation, and exchanges between our students and educators.

No significant progress made on implementing Asean's Five-Point Consensus

Both leaders discussed regional developments as well, in particular, Myanmar where the situation remains serious.

They noted that there has been "no significant progress" has been made implementing Asean's Five-Point Consensus since its adoption in April 2021.

"We are committed to help Myanmar reach a durable and peaceful resolution in the interests of its people," PM Lee said.

However, he noted that it is essential for the Asean Chair and his Special Envoy to engage all parties involved.

"We also need to see progress in the delivery of humanitarian assistance," he added.

PM Lee said that Singapore will continue to work with Asean Chair Cambodia, and the next Asean Chair, Indonesia, and other Asean member states on the full implementation of the Five-Point Consensus and other relevant Asean decisions.

He also said he looked forward to supporting Indonesia's G20 chairmanship and making it a success.

You can watch the full Joint Press Conference here:

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Top image via Ministry of Communications and Information.