JAKARTA • The strong bond between Singapore and Indonesia is founded largely on the strong people-to-people ties, which have been made possible by generations of Singaporeans working and living in Indonesia, said President Halimah Yacob yesterday.
Addressing about 200 Singaporeans residing in the country, she urged them to continue forming meaningful relationships with Indonesians and "demonstrate the best of Singapore, our culture, traditions and even our famous dishes".
She said at a reception at the Shangri-la Hotel in Jakarta: "All of you... are ambassadors, representing Singapore as you go about your daily lives in Indonesia."
She also told them that Singaporeans at home are appreciative of them for playing the role.
Madam Halimah, whose four-day state visit to Indonesia ends tomorrow, also touched on Singapore having its first cases of local transmission of the new coronavirus that originated in Wuhan in China.
Yesterday, the Government said four out of the six new cases had not travelled to China. All four are women. Two of them worked in a health products shop that served a group of Chinese tourists; one is a tour guide who brought the group to the shop while the fourth is a maid of one of the trio.
Said Madam Halimah: "Singaporeans are, of course, concerned but we need to balance that with continuing to live a normal life... We cannot be paralysed by fear."
As she acknowledged their difficulty in being away from their families, especially during this period, she also urged them to stay in close touch with events in Singapore.
"Today's technologies and social media allow you to feel even closer," she said.
One Singaporean who took what the President said to heart is Mr James Pinto, 33, country manager of an IT company who has lived in Indonesia for the last six years.
"We come together to help each other adjust to life here, advance our business opportunities and just gather for food and activities with a Singaporean touch," said the father of a four-month-old girl.
The event was also attended by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Social and Family Development Sam Tan as well as Singapore's Ambassador to Indonesia Anil Kumar Nayar and MPs Jessica Tan, Saktiandi Supaat and Ang Wei Neng.
Today, Madam Halimah will go to Yogyakarta, where she will have a dialogue with students of Gadjah Mada University and visit BLOCK71 Yogyakarta, a start-up incubation community set up by NUS Enterprise in partnership with the Salim Group.