S'pore, Indonesia mark 50 years of bilateral ties

People-to-people exchanges to expand further, says DPM Teo

The people-to-people exchanges between Indonesia and Singapore are set to expand further as the two nations celebrate 50 years of bilateral relations this year, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said here yesterday.

Speaking at the National Day Reception hosted by the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta, DPM Teo said 2017 marks an important milestone in the bilateral relationship.

"Singapore and Indonesia have a remarkable bilateral relationship built on a strong mutual understanding and respect," said Mr Teo, switching to Bahasa Indonesia during his speech.

He also said the Republic is committed to working with Indonesia and other Asean member states when it assumes the Asean chair next year, to enhance business ties and connectivity in the region.

DPM Teo arrived earlier yesterday for a three-day visit, his second to Indonesia this year. He is accompanied by Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan- Jin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry and Education Low Yen Ling, Mr Vikram Nair, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs, and officials from the foreign affairs, and trade and industry ministries.

He will call on President Joko Widodo and former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono before ending his visit at the Singapore Community Day tomorrow .

The visit is part of a series of high-level visits by Singapore's leaders to Indonesia to commemorate RI-SING 50, the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Evidence of the close people-to- people cooperation is in a programme where more than 5,600 Indonesian officials have taken part in training exchanges in Singapore, said DPM Teo. The training sessions cover aspects of tourism, port management and urban planning.

"Later this year, journalists and editors from the Indonesian media will also participate in a visit programme to Singapore," he added.

Indonesian officials at the reception included Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto and Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan.

Noting the strong economic ties between the two countries, Mr Airlangga said in a speech: "Indonesia's economy has continued to perform well over the last decade and we are pleased to note that Singapore also continued to be one of our strongest partners."

He added: "In this regard, Singapore is one of our largest trading partners and our largest foreign investor."

Official figures released last month showed that Indonesia's biggest foreign investor in the second quarter of this year was Singapore, with US$1.6 billion (S$2.17 billion) in investments, followed by Japan (US$1.4 billion) and China (US$1.3 billion). In 2016, bilateral trade reached US$56.1 billion, and Singapore was Indonesia's top foreign investor with investments amounting to more than US$13 billion.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore, Indonesia mark 50 years of bilateral ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe