Toast Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the official lunch hosted in honour of Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the Istana on 7 September 2017.
Your Excellency Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia
Ibu Iriana Joko Widodo
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
I am delighted to welcome President Jokowi and his delegation to Singapore. Thank you for making special effort to be with us today because today we celebrate a significant milestone in our bilateral relation. On this very day in 1967, 50 years ago exactly, our two countries established diplomatic relations.
Having the Leaders’ Retreat today is a highlight of the 50th anniversary commemoration of our bilateral relations. Our friendship has come a long way since the late S Rajaratnam and Adam Malik signed the joint communique in Jakarta to establish diplomatic ties. While we are neighbours by geography, we are partners by choice. Our two countries are committed to broadening and deepening cooperation. As can be seen in the Retreat’s comprehensive policy agenda and list of MOUs signed today. The theme of the Retreat “Trusted Partners, RISING together” also reflects our multi-faceted partnership, founded on mutual trust and mutual benefit.
But we can do much more together. Our bilateral relationship can only continue to deepen and benefit our two peoples, if it is supported by close rapport between the leaders. I am therefore glad that President and I have developed a constructive working relationship. We meet each other often at various regional and international fora. We work together in ASEAN because we share a common desire to make the region stable and prosperous. And I look forward to President Jokowi’s continued support as we take over the ASEAN Chairmanship next year.
Bilaterally, the President and I have made it a point to hold a Leaders’ Retreat every year. Our Ministers and officials have worked very hard to make sure to advance our work programmes and agenda. We discuss concrete follow-ups, and new areas that both sides can work on together. But Retreats cannot be all work and no play so President Jokowi and I did some catching up this morning before we started the Retreat proper. We went for a little jalan-jalan and breakfast with our families at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, one of my favourite places to jalan-jalan. Because Kaesang (Jokowi’s son) would be familiar with most of the food places in Singapore, I decided to serve this morning, nasi lemak with a little modern twist, different from the nasi lemak we had the last time you were here.
We also planted a tree together at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. We chose the Sunda Oak because it is a hard and sturdy tree with deep roots, reflecting the strong foundations of our relationship. It is a tree which grows throughout the Southeast Asia region, in Indonesia, as well as Malaysia and Singapore. I am told that its timber is very good for house building and furniture.
In line with our Retreat’s theme, the tree we planted this morning is named the RISING tree. It is still a sapling although it is already taller than us but it can grow to 40 metres tall so it has a lot of potential to grow and flourish over the years, and to provide shade and benefit future generations.
The staff at the Singapore Botanic Gardens will take good care of the RISING tree, so that it lives up to its name. Meanwhile, I am confident that given President Jokowi’s leadership and close personal attention to our bilateral relationship, our partnership will also continue to strengthen and to scale greater heights!
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to rise and join me in a toast, to the good health and continued success of President Joko Widodo; and to the enduring friendship between Singapore and Indonesia.
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