PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Joint Press Conference at the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders' Retreat 2017

Remarks by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Joint Press Conference with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders' Retreat on 7 September 2017.


His Excellency Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia. Ministers. Ladies and Gentlemen. May I once again welcome President Jokowi and his delegation to Singapore. This is the President’s second official visit to Singapore, and our second Leaders’ Retreat together. I am very happy to reciprocate his warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation on our visit to Semarang last year.

Today’s Leaders’ Retreat coincides with a very special occasion because 50 years ago on this very day, Singapore’s then-Foreign Minister S Rajaratnam signed a joint communique with his Indonesian counterpart, the respected Adam Malik, to establish formal diplomatic relations between our two countries. Our bilateral relationship since then has grown and prospered. Generations of leaders have taken a long-term and win-win approach, to cooperate for mutual benefit and solve problems amicably and rationally. As a result, today we have a strong partnership based on mutual trust and respect.

To commemorate 50 years of friendship, both sides have decided on a theme for this year’s Retreat "Trusted Partners, RISING Together". RISING stands for the Republic of Indonesia, RI, and SING for Singapore. The theme underlines the fundamental basis of our longstanding bilateral relationship, one that is built on strategic trust, and shared vision that we gain more when we progress together. We hope that our close partnership will continue to strengthen and prosper for many more years.

President Jokowi and I had a good meeting this morning. We have a constructive relationship – we meet regularly, and on many issues, we have a meeting of minds. This morning, we took stock of the bilateral account, which encompasses many areas of cooperation.

We discussed the economy, trade and investment. Singapore is Indonesia’s largest foreign investor. Last year, US$9.2 billion was invested in Indonesia from Singapore. Also Indonesia and Singapore are each other’s largest sources of tourists.

We discussed areas, also, where we can deepen bilateral cooperation. Since our last Leaders’ Retreat, many cooperation projects have been progressing, including investments and skills training, digital economy and initiatives to support regional growth and development in Indonesia.

In particular, I am happy that the Kendal Industrial Park which the President and I opened last year is doing well. It has attracted 32 confirmed tenants, almost US$500 million in investments, which will create close to 4,000 jobs and there are now plans to set up a polytechnic in Kendal Industrial Park to produce trained workers to support the project.

This afternoon, we will watch a historic joint RISING50 flypast, which both Air Forces trained hard for. It reflects our close defence ties and in fact, our defence forces and security agencies have excellent working relations. We have cooperated in disaster and humanitarian management, and counter-terrorism. I share President Jokowi’s concern over the growing terrorist threat in our region and we agreed to work closely together on this issue.

President Jokowi told me about his personal efforts in tackling transboundary haze. The situation has improved in the last two years. I thank the President for his attention on this matter and offered Singapore’s full cooperation to address the issue.

Finally, we also want to bring our peoples closer together. The tourist arrival figures show that our two peoples visit each other frequently. These people-to-people ties can be enriched through greater cultural exchanges. We are planning to hold a major cultural event in 2018 to cap off our RISING50 celebrations, to showcase Indonesia’s rich cultural diversity and Singapore’s growing arts and culture scene.

Overall, the breadth and depth of our cooperation reflects our enduring and maturing partnership.

I am confident that under President Jokowi’s leadership, we will continue to enjoy a strong, forward-looking and dynamic relationship and I look forward to seeing Singapore and Indonesia rise together to greater heights over the next 50 years. Thank you very much.