Indonesia's Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto conferred S'pore's highest military award by President Tharman

Prabowo also called on PM Lee after the ceremony.

Tan Min-Wei | November 21, 2023, 11:13 PM

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Indonesia's defence minister, Prabowo Subianto, was conferred Singapore's highest military award on Nov. 21.

Prabowo, who is also one of the candidates for Indonesia's February 2024 presidential election, is in Singapore from Nov. 21 to 22.

Highest military award

In a ceremony at the Istana, Prabowo inspected a guard of honour, before President Tharman Shanmugaratnam awarded him with the Darjah Utama Bakti Cemerlang (Tentera) [Distinguished Service Order (Military)].

Image via Ministry of Defense/Facebook

The Distinguished Service Order is Singapore's highest military award.

Prabowo was conferred the award for his significant contributions towards strengthening Indonesia and Singapore's close and long-standing bilateral defence relations.

One such contribution was the overseeing of the ratification of the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) as Minister of Defence.

The DCA was originally agreed between then-Ministers for Defence Teo Chee Hean and Juwono Sudarsono in 2007, according to Fulcrum.

Until recently, Indonesia's House of Representatives did not ratify the agreement, but Indonesia's current President Joko Widodo currently enjoys a parliamentary majority, allowing for the DCA to finally be ratified in 2022.

The DCA, along with the Singapore-Indonesia Extradition treaty and the Flight Information Region agreement, were all discussed during the 2022 Indonesia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat and ratified that same year.

Promoting close collaboration

Prabowo is also credited with promoting closer collaboration between both Singapore and Indonesia's defence establishments.

This includes overseeing the conduct of key bilateral multilateral exercises such as Exercise Safkar Indopura and Exercise Super Garuda Shield, as well as high-level visits.

Both defence establishments also worked together on several multilateral platforms such as the Asian Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM), and the ADMM-plus, which includes representatives from Asean partners such as China, the United States and India, to name a few.

Also present at the ceremony was Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Senior Minister of State for Defence Zaqy Muhammad, and Chief of Defence Force Aaron Beng.

After the ceremony Prabowo called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

He was also hosted to lunch by Ng, during which they discussed regional security development, and ways to further strengthen Singapore and Indonesia bilateral defence relationship.

Third time

Prabowo served in the Indonesian military, rising to the rank of Lieutenant General in the elite Kopassus unit, before retiring and trying unsuccessfully to run for president, both times against Widodo.

After his failure in 2019, he was offered the role of defence minister by Widodo, a position he has held ever since.

Prabowo is now in the midst of his third presidential election campaign.

He is one of three candidates, alongside former Governor of Central Java Ganjar Pranowo, as well as former education minister, Anies Baswedan.

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Top image via Ministry of Defense/Facebook