PM Lee Hsien Loong’s remarks at the Joint Press Conference with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders’ Retreat on 25 January 2022, in Bintan, Indonesia.
Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to thank President Jokowi for his warm hospitality to me and my delegation.
Bintan is an apt venue for the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders’ Retreat, given the strong economic and people-to-people links between Singapore and the Riau Islands province (Kepri). This is my fifth Leaders’ Retreat with President Jokowi. Our last one was held in Singapore in 2019.
Typically we hold the Leaders’ Retreat annually, but the pandemic disrupted our plans. Notwithstanding, President Jokowi and I have kept in touch regularly. Most recently we met in October, in Rome, while attending the G20 Summit. But it is still important for us to resume the Leaders’ Retreat. Because it is a key platform to discuss and make progress on our bilateral agenda.
I am therefore most grateful to the President and his officials for making these excellent arrangements to host my delegation and me.
Expanded FrameworkToday our bilateral relations take a major step forward. I am very happy that the President and I have just witnessed the signing of a balanced set of agreements that addresses three longstanding bilateral issues between Singapore and Indonesia; the Flight Information Region (FIR) and the Defence cooperation, and the Extradition of fugitives.
These three issues are important to our two countries. They have been on our bilateral agenda for several decades. We have worked together and discussed them many times before. At our previous Leaders’ Retreat, President Jokowi and I decided that it was time to decisively settle these longstanding bilateral issues.
We endorsed a Framework which would address the needs and interests of both sides. We tasked Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investments Pak Luhut Pandjaitan and Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean to follow up with detailed negotiations.
I am very glad that we have now achieved what we set out to do. Our two sides have reached agreement on these longstanding bilateral matters. When implemented, the FIR Agreement will meet the civil aviation needs of both countries, and uphold the safety and efficiency of air traffic in a manner consistent with ICAO rules.
The Defence Cooperation Agreement will strengthen cooperation between our armed forces, and advance our defence relations. The Extradition Treaty will enhance cooperation in combating crime and send a clear positive signal to investors.
In addition, we exchanged letters to agree that these three agreements will enter into force simultaneously. What remains will be for both countries to complete our domestic processes to ratify and bring the set of agreements into force. The conclusion of these agreements demonstrates the strength and maturity of Singapore-Indonesia relations. These agreements take into account both parties’ interests, represent a good balance of benefits, are durable agreements for the long haul design to last for at least a generation, and create a solid foundation to move bilateral relations forward with confidence and trust.
I thank President Jokowi for his leadership and vision, which have brought about this positive outcome. I also thank Pak Luhut, SM Teo and the officials on both sides for their tireless work and their shared determination to make progress on these longstanding bilateral issues. I encourage the Ministers and officials to maintain close cooperation and coordination and implement the agreements expeditiously.
Cross-border TravelPresident Jokowi and I also discussed the resumption of cross-border travel. Indonesia has resumed tourism travel from Singapore to Bintan and Batam. We implemented a travel bubble to Bintan and Batam, and Singapore will discuss with Indonesia, how we can make it bi-directional, and we hope without taking too long.
President Jokowi and I agreed to continue discussions to expand air and sea travel more generally to more destinations in Indonesia. But we have to take into account the COVID-19 situation and in particular, the outbreak of the Omicron variant. And we will do so at a pace that both sides are comfortable with, taking into account our respective public health situations.
Bilateral CooperationWe also reviewed our ongoing bilateral cooperation. As the President noted, Singapore has consistently been Indonesia’s top foreign investor since 2014, and despite the pandemic our investments have grown. At the last Leaders’ Retreat we signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty, which has entered into force. This will build investor confidence and contribute to economic growth and jobs growth.
The Kendal Industrial Park, which President Jokowi and I jointly opened at the 2016 retreat, is doing well. It has attracted US$1.6 billion in investments and will create many thousands of jobs. Our Finance Ministries and Central Banks are also strengthening institutional linkages to deepen financial cooperation. Singapore and Indonesia are, are at the same time, besides these existing areas, also exploring new areas of collaboration such as sustainability, the green economy, the digital economy and human capital development. And I am happy that our officials are already meeting to discuss cooperation on sustainability. We have formalised cooperation on green and circular economy development, energy cooperation, and exchanges between our students and educators.
Regional IssuesPresident Jokowi and I also discussed regional developments – in particular, Myanmar, where the situation remains serious. We noted that no significant progress has been made implementing ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus since it was adopted in Jakarta in April last year. We are committed to help Myanmar reach a durable and peaceful resolution in the interests of its people. But 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. Singapore will continue to work with the ASEAN Chair, Cambodia, the next Chair, Indonesia, and as well as other ASEAN Member States on the full implementation of the Five-Point Consensus and other relevant ASEAN decisions.
ConclusionI would also like to thank President Jokowi for inviting Singapore to this year’s G20 meetings. We look forward to supporting Indonesia's G20 chairmanship and making it a success. We are very grateful that President Jokowi has hosted a successful and fruitful Leaders’ Retreat. It shows that the bilateral relationship is in excellent order. Our two countries are able to work together under challenging circumstances, and resolve longstanding issues in an open and constructive manner.
I am confident that we will build on these strong foundations and develop new areas of collaborations to benefit future generations. I look forward to continue working closely with President Jokowi to take our bilateral relations to greater heights. Terima kasih.
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