Singapore committed to long-term ties with Jakarta

Mr Teo Chee Hean (centre) at the Singapore Community Day event in Jakarta yesterday, with (from left) Mr Vikram Nair, Singapore Association in Indonesia president Justin Lee, Singapore Chamber of Commerce Indonesia chairman Noor Meurling, Ambassador
Mr Teo Chee Hean (centre) at the Singapore Community Day event in Jakarta yesterday, with (from left) Mr Vikram Nair, Singapore Association in Indonesia president Justin Lee, Singapore Chamber of Commerce Indonesia chairman Noor Meurling, Ambassador Anil Kumar Nayar, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Mrs Teo, Mrs Peck See Nayar, Mrs Kayo Suzuki-Tan and Singapore's Permanent Representative to Asean Tan Hung Seng.ST PHOTO: WAHYUDI SOERIAATMADJA

DPM Teo adds both sides are looking to take relations forward at Sept 7 Leaders' Retreat

Singapore is committed to a long-term relationship with Indonesia, and much has been done by working groups on both sides to ensure that the agenda for the Leaders' Retreat on Sept 7 will take bilateral ties forward, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

"Hence, what I came here for was basically to tee up for the very important Leaders' Retreat, which we will be having on the 50th anniversary of our bilateral relations," said DPM Teo yesterday, as he wrapped up a three-day visit to Jakarta.

DPM Teo had arrived in the Indonesian capital last Thursday, and attended a National Day reception hosted by the Singapore Embassy, followed by a meeting with President Joko Widodo, during which he conveyed Singapore's greetings for Indonesia's 72nd Independence Day, which falls on Thursday.

Both DPM Teo and Mr Joko affirmed their commitment to the bilateral partnership, and to deepen cooperation in areas such as digital economy and skills upgrading, which will be discussed further at the Leaders' Retreat in Singapore.

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Other agenda items include exploring more ways to cooperate on economic and regional development, and to continue collaborating in social and cultural exchanges, as well as security.

"We are very close neighbours and we have built up this relationship of trust over the past 50 years," said DPM Teo. "Therefore the theme for this year's retreat is Trusted Partners, Rising Together."

He also said it is good for Singapore to see a united, stable and prosperous Indonesia, which also augurs well for Asean as a region.

"Indonesia also sees many advantages in working with Singapore. We have been Indonesia's largest investor for several years now, a major trading partner, and we are also a very strong interlocutor on issues such as security, which affects both of us and the whole region."

Accompanying DPM Teo on the visit were Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry and Education Low Yen Ling, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee (Defence and Foreign Affairs) Vikram Nair and other officials.

Mr Tan had spent time in Jakarta as an army attache from 2003 to 2004. He said while ties are strong, relations still need to be tended to, and he hopes to see more people-to-people exchanges.

At the Singapore Community Day event yesterday, DPM Teo called on Singaporeans in Indonesia to help nurture bilateral relations.

"You yourselves play a major role here, you have business, you have lived here in Indonesia, and you also are ambassadors for Singapore, letting Indonesians know how Singaporeans are, what we stand for, what our country really is," he said.

DPM Teo also gave an update on developments at home, including the upcoming presidential election.

"We have not had a president from the Malay community for 47 years... and we have made constitutional changes this year to reinforce the importance of multiracialism in Singapore," he said. "My hope for the presidential election is the hope of all Singaporeans - that we have a president who is able, a person of integrity... who will uphold the principles of multiracialism, multi-religionism... and a president whom all communities can be proud of."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 13, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore committed to long-term ties with Jakarta'. Print Edition | Subscribe