Singaporeans in Indonesia can be ambassadors for Singapore: DPM Teo Chee Hean


JAKARTA - Singaporeans who live or work in Indonesia can be ambassadors for Singapore, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, as he addressed about 500 guests at the Singapore Community Day in Jakarta on Saturday (Aug 12).

"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.

The visit by DPM Teo to Jakarta is just one of many events held in recent months to mark 50 years of bilateral relations between the two countries.

It also comes just weeks before Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is set to host Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the upcoming Leaders Retreat on Sept 7 in Singapore.

DPM Teo has been in Jakarta for the last three days, attending Thursday (Aug 10) night's National Day Reception hosted by the Singapore Embassy, as well as meeting with Mr Joko, former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto, among others on Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean celebrating Community Day in Jakarta on Saturday (Aug 12). ST PHOTO: WAHYUDI SOERIAATMADJA

Accompanying him are Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry and Education Low Yen Ling, Chairman for Government Parliamentary Committee (Defence and Foreign Affairs) Vikram Nair and officials from the foreign affairs, trade and industry ministries.

Although there have been periodic tensions between Indonesia and Singapore over issues like the transboundary haze, the two countries always had strong bilateral ties.

Singapore is Indonesia's largest source of foreign investment and third largest trading partner, while Indonesians make up the Republic's largest source of foreign visitors for many years.

DPM Teo also gave Singaporeans at the community day an update on key developments back home.

They include what is being done to keep Singapore safe even as the region has been hit by several terror attacks in recent years; efforts to help Singaporeans adopt lifelong learning and prepare for the future economy; as well as the upcoming presidential election.

He said that Singapore will hold the presidential election reserved for Malay candidates soon.

"We have not had a president from the Malay community for 47 years since our first president, Encik Yusof Ishak, and we have made constitutional changes this year to reinforce the importance of multi-racialism in Singapore," said DPM Teo.

He assured Singaporeans that whether in an open election, or a reserved election, every candidate has to meet the same stringent minimum criteria in order to be president, whether he or she comes from the public or private sector.

"My hope for the presidential election is the hope of all Singaporeans - that we have a president who is able, person of integrity, upright, who will uphold the principles of multi-racialism, multi-religionism in Singapore, and a president whom all communities can be proud of," added DPM Teo.