Singapore, Indonesia to hold annual leaders' retreat soon, reaffirm cooperation

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (right) meeting with Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan on Jan 12, 2016.
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (right) meeting with Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan on Jan 12, 2016. PHOTO: MFA
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (left) speaking with Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi during his introductory visit to Indonesia on Jan 12, 2016.
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (left) speaking with Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi during his introductory visit to Indonesia on Jan 12, 2016. PHOTO: MFA
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (left) and Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi speaking during a press conference on Jan 12, 2016.
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (left) and Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi speaking during a press conference on Jan 12, 2016. PHOTO: MFA

The annual Singapore-Indonesia leaders' retreat will be held soon, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan who met his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi during his introductory visit to Jakarta.

Both ministers reaffirmed the multi-faceted and deep cooperation between the two countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement on Tuesday (Jan 12).

"In this context, the ministers agreed that it would be timely for the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders' Retreat to be held soon," MFA said.

The two ministers also spoke about how Singapore companies are moving beyond familiar places like Jakarta, Batam, Bintan and Karimun, and into other regions such as Central Java.

An example is the upcoming Kendal Industrial Park in Semarang which is a joint-venture between SembCorp Development and PT Kawasan Industri Jababeka.

The industrial park will focus on manufacturing activities and both ministers agreed that there was room for other areas of cooperation, such as tourism and infrastructure development.

Ms Retno expressed Indonesia's appreciation for Singapore's efforts in ensuring the welfare of Indonesian workers in Singapore.

The ministers discussed possible bilateral manpower cooperation, MFA said.

Dr Balakrishnan also discussed the special economic zones of Batam, Bintan and Karimun (BBK) during his meeting with Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan.

In a Facebook post, the Singapore minister said: "We agreed on the importance of ensuring regulatory certainty and improving labour relations in BBK, for the BBK to become more attractive to potential investors."

Mr Luhut also touched briefly on the issue of airspace. Singapore's position is that it is not an issue of sovereignty, and "the safety and efficiency of commercial air traffic is the paramount concern", said MFA. "The current arrangements have worked well for many decades for the benefit of the international aviation community by ensuring the safe and efficient provision of air traffic services in the region," it added.

During his meeting with Indonesia's Minister of Communication and Information Technology Rudiantara, Dr Balakrishnan suggested a possible collaboration between the two countries.

He wrote: "I mentioned to him how Singapore companies based in Indonesia may offer opportunities to talented students from Indonesian educational institutions in the field of digital technology and ICT."

He also met Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. They discussed ways in which Singapore could cooperate more closely with the government of Jakarta in areas of mutual benefit.

He is in Indonesia until Wednesday (Jan 13).