Singapore refutes accusations that it refused to cooperate with Indonesian police on graft suspect's extradition

JAKARTA - Singapore on Sunday (April 2) refuted accusations by two Indonesian police officials that it refused to cooperate with extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) requests.

A spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said the two countries enjoy good bilateral cooperation in law enforcement and in dealing with criminal matters, and both 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.

"In fact, we have provided assistance to Indonesia on its MLA requests," said the spokesman in a statement issued just after midnight. "Singapore looks forward to receiving similar cooperation from Indonesia.”

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 Indonesian news reports quoting the national police's head for international relations Inspector-General Saiful Maltha as saying Singapore “did not want” to engage in cooperation with Indonesia on the Extradition Treaty and MLA requests.

He was speaking at a media briefing on Thursday (Mar 30) on investigations against graft suspect and oil firm founder Honggo Wendratno. 

The police had announced in 2015 that it wanted Honggo to report for questioning in a corruption case surrounding the illicit procurement of diesel fuel in 2010.

According to the reports, Inspector-General Saiful said Indonesia had sent a draft of the extradition treaty to Singapore but did not receive a reply.

The same reports also quoted another police officer, Brigadier-General Naufal Yahya, as saying that “Singapore lives on investment.  If the suspect did not invest there, he would surely have been driven out on the pretext of overstaying”.

Singapore's 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 of the package was witnessed by then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong," added the spokesman.

"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 whereabouts of Honggo is still unclear, Singapore has in the past assisted Indonesia in similar cases where the suspect is located within its jurisdiction - in spite of the pending ratification of the Extradition Treaty.

Last June, Singapore deported Indonesia’s former football association chairman La Nyalla Mattalitti, who had been hiding – first in Malaysia, then Singapore – for more than two months, trying to avoid a graft probe against him.

Two months earlier, Hartawan Aluwi, a high-profile Indonesian businessmen convicted of white-collar crimes, was also removed from Singapore.