PM Lee invites Jokowi to pitch for investments in Singapore

PM Lee Hsien Loong calling on Indonesia President Joko Widodo at the Istana in Jakarta on Oct 20, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
PM Lee Hsien Loong calling on Indonesia President Joko Widodo at the Istana in Jakarta on Oct 20, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong has invited newly-inaugurated Indonesian President Joko Widodo to make a pitch to businesses in Singapore for investments in infrastructure and developing the maritime sphere when he or his ministers next visit.

Mr Lee was speaking to Singapore media after paying a courtesy call on Mr Joko at the presidential palace yesterday afternoon. He described their first meeting as "good".

"We have many things going on - economic, trade, investments, we've got security cooperation, our armed forces work together with the TNI, and I told him that we work well and would like to do more together," Mr Lee said, referring to the Indonesian Armed Forces by its acronym.

He noted that the new president's priorities were domestic, saying he had focused on certain ideas and reforms such as over the fuel subsidy, for a start.

But Mr Joko also spoke about "reforms to the bureaucracy, getting investments in on infrastructure, getting the idea of a maritime nation going, and he believes that Singapore can help him to achieve this".

"So I said: 'Yes, certainly'. Next time he or ministers are in Singapore, I encouraged him to meet our businesspeople and make a pitch to them of his strategy and plans, and I'm sure they'll be very interested to hear what he has to say," Mr Lee added.

As for the haze, Mr Lee said he did not raise the subject, but said Singapore had made its position known to Indonesia.

"I have read what President Joko has said earlier, that he is quite determined to tackle this problem, but I think today is not the time to go into such specific issues," he said. "There'll be time enough later."

Mr Lee met Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who will host Singapore at the G20 summit in Brisbane next month, and United States Secretary of State John Kerry before flying home.

zakirh@sph.com.sg