Singapore refutes claims by Indonesian police

Singapore has refuted accusations by two Indonesian police officials that it refused to cooperate with regard to extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) requests.

A spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said the two countries enjoy good bilateral cooperation in law enforcement and criminal matters.

"Singapore and Indonesia are party to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty Amongst Like-minded Asean Member States, under which cooperation already takes place in line with Singapore's domestic laws and international obligations," he said in a statement yesterday.

"In fact, we have provided assistance to Indonesia on its MLA requests. Singapore looks forward to receiving similar cooperation from Indonesia."

Under the MLA, one country can gain access to interrogate criminals detained in the partner country, as well as to gather evidence and seize the criminals' assets.

Indonesia and Singapore signed an extradition treaty in 2007, but Indonesian lawmakers have yet to ratify it in Parliament.

The MFA spokesman was responding to local news reports quoting Inspector-General Saiful Maltha, the Indonesian national police's head for international relations.

According to one report, carried by state news agency Antara, Gen Saiful said Singapore "did not want" to cooperate with Indonesia on the Extradition Treaty and MLA requests. Indonesia had sent a draft of the Extradition Treaty to Singapore but did not receive a reply, he added.

He made the comment at a meeting with the media last Thursday to discuss the state of investigations into graft suspect Honggo Wendratno, the founder of an oil firm who is suspected to be in Singapore. The police had said in 2015 that it wanted to question him in a corruption case involving the illicit procurement of diesel fuel in 2010.

The Antara news report quoted another police officer, Brigadier- General Naufal Yahya, who was also at the meeting, as saying: "Singapore lives on investment. If the suspect does not invest there, he would surely have been driven out on the pretext of overstaying."

However, the MFA spokesman said the remarks were "factually incorrect and mischievous" and "do not reflect the good cooperation between the two law enforcement agencies, especially coming from two senior officials".

Singapore and Indonesia signed the Extradition Treaty and Defence Cooperation Agreement as a package in April 2007 in Bali.

The signing was witnessed by then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, added MFA.

"Both agreements are still pending ratification by the Indonesian House of Representatives. Singapore is ready to proceed with both agreements once Indonesia is ready to do so."

While the location of Honggo is unclear, Singapore had in the past assisted Indonesia in similar cases where the suspect was located within its jurisdiction - though the Extradition Treaty has yet to be ratified.

Last June, Singapore deported Indonesia's former football association chairman La Nyalla Mattalitti, who had been hiding for more than two months - first in Malaysia, then in Singapore - in an attempt to avoid a graft investigation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore refutes claims by Indonesian police'. Print Edition | Subscribe