Remarks by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Joint Press Conference with President Joko Widodo

PM Lee Hsien Loong | 11 October 2018

PM Lee Hsien Loong speaking at the joint press conference during the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders' Retreat in Bali, Indonesia on 11 October 2018.


President Jokowi, ladies and gentlemen. 

I would like to thank you, the government of Indonesia, and the people of Bali for your gracious hospitality. My last visit here to Bali was in 2013 for the APEC Meeting. I am happy to be back again, this time for my third Leaders’ Retreat with President Jokowi and, plus the ASEAN Leaders’ gathering and the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings.

I conveyed my condolences to President Jokowi on the Central Sulawesi earthquakes and tsunami. Singapore stands with Indonesia during this difficult time. We deployed two RSAF aircrafts to send humanitarian assistance and help with rescue and recovery efforts. Many Singapore organisations and NGOs have been actively fund-raising to support the relief efforts. We are confident that the affected areas and the population will make a quick and strong recovery under the President’s leadership. 

We had a fruitful discussion with President Jokowi on ways to deepen our cooperation between Singapore and Indonesia. Last year we commemorated RISING50 – 50 years of our diplomatic relations. Singapore continues to be Indonesia’s largest investor, and we are amongst each other’s top trading partners and top tourist ports and destinations. So there is good momentum going forward, based on mutual confidence and trust built up over the decades. 

We discussed many specific issues during our meeting. First, on our investments and digital economy. We witnessed the signing of the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) earlier. Singapore is very happy with this, because it will encourage greater flows of investments into Indonesia. We also concluded the MOU on Industry 4.0 which will create opportunities to learn from each other in response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Kendal Industrial Park (KIP), which the President touched on, has continued to progress, with 43 companies committed, and US$500 million in investments, which will create more than 5,000 jobs. There will be a new polytechnic at the Kendal Industrial park and it will welcome its first batch of students this month. There is the Nongsa Digital Park (NDP) in Batam, which the two foreign Minister launched earlier this year, and it will strengthen Batam’s role as a “digital bridge” between Indonesia and Singapore. 

These are the things which have already been doing. We discussed what more we could do. We discussed, in particular, deliberations on our Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) update between Singapore and Indonesia. I explained to the President why this was important to bring it up to date, comparable to Indonesia’s DTAs with other major economic partners so that we have the right infrastructure and incentives for business people on both sides to invest and to do business with one another. We also talked about possible incentives and rules that would encourage companies to invest in the Kendal Industrial Park and the Nongsa Digital Park – rules such as the minimum investment amounts, and possible tax incentives. These are things we hope Indonesia will make use of. 

On Tourism cooperation we have added new cruise itineraries – three new itineraries since our last Retreat, and it should bring more than 50,000 visitors to Bintan, Surabaya, and North Bali this year. The MOU which has been signed today between Pelindo III and Star Cruises will encourage more cruises and facilitate the upgrading of Celukan Bawang port in Bali, and explore the upgrading of other ports managed by Pelindo III, such as Tanjung Perak in Surabaya.

There will be more to come. For example, our tech incubator Block71, which is already in Jakarta, will expand into Bandung and Yogyakarta, which will launch later this month. And in fact, in Jakarta, more than 30 companies have been incubated at Block71 and maybe Indonesia’s next unicorn will come from Block71.

The President and I also discussed the external economic environment. The current uncertainties in the emerging markets and in the global financial markets, have affected many financial markets around the world, including countries with sound economic foundations like ASEAN countries and in particular, Indonesia. To support the monetary and financial stability of our countries, we have tasked our two Central Banks – Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on our side, and the Bank of Indonesia on your side – to work out and conclude a bilateral financial arrangement soon. This will be a package which will comprise a bilateral local currency swap and also USD repurchase agreement, and the cooperation in this arrangement will instill confidence among investors and enhance economic stability and development in the region. The amount, as the President said, is USD 10 billion. 

Secondly, we are also talking about human resource development and promoting friendships and understanding and cooperation between our peoples. We discussed a project to develop fellowship programme including regional leaders from Indonesia, which will be called the RISING Fellowship. RISING – Republic of Indonesia and Singapore – and we hope every year to welcome more than a dozen leaders, officials and promising young persons from Indonesia, not just from Jakarta, but from the provinces and the major cities, to come to Singapore, visit us, make friends, appreciate how we can work further together, and what are things which we can learn from each other. 

Thirdly, defence and security collaborations have grown from strength to strength. Both Defence Ministries are working together on an intelligence-sharing facility based on the “Our Eyes” Initiative. Our Singapore’s Police Force also works closely with the Indonesian National Police (POLRI) on counter-terrorism and intelligence-sharing.

Finally, our Cultural Cooperation Programme signed today will lead to more cultural exchanges and joint showcases between both sides. So we have accomplished much in last few years under President Jokowi’s leadership. We can do much more together for the long-term benefit of our peoples. We wish Indonesia a successful hosting of the IMF-WB Annual Meetings, as well as smooth legislative and presidential elections next year. Our cooperation will continue during the next few months. I am sure in the months after the elections they will pick up strength again, and strengthen and grow further. 


Foreign affairs