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World News

PM Lee, President Jokowi hail ‘special’ 50th anniversary of Singapore-Indonesia relations



The two leaders also point to progress in areas of cooperation like tourism and the digital economy.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Thursday (Sep 7) lauded the “very special” occasion of 50 years of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“Our bilateral relationship has since grown and prospered,” Mr Lee said at a joint press conference, following the signing of several agreements between both countries. “Generations of leaders have taken a long-term and win-win approach to cooperate for mutual benefit and to solve problems amicably and rationally.”

“As a result, today we have a strong partnership based on mutual trust and respect. We hope (this) will continue to strengthen and prosper for many more years.”

A total of nine memoranda of understanding between the two Southeast Asian nations were signed on Thursday, covering areas like higher education, vocational training and disaster risk management.

The latter agreement will “enhance operational linkages” between the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Authority, said Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement.

The two leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation, as well as combating radicalisation and violent extremism.

On the issue of transboundary haze, Mr Lee expressed his appreciation to President Widodo for Indonesia’s efforts in tackling forest and land fires, said MFA. It added that the Prime Minister also communicated Singapore’s “full commitment” to work with Indonesia to address the haze issue.

Mr Lee noted: “Since our last leaders’ retreat, many areas of cooperation have been progressing, including investment and skills training, digital economy and initiatives to support regional growth and development in Indonesia.”

Kendal Industrial Park, a joint venture between Singapore’s Sembcorp Development and Indonesia’s industrial estate developer PT Jababeka, has attracted 32 confirmed tenants and almost US$500 million in investment, creating close to 4,000 jobs, Mr Lee said.

There are now plans to set up a polytechnic in the industrial park to train workers, he added.

Expanding on Singapore and Indonesia joining hands in the development of the digital economy, Mr Widodo said: “This is no longer an option. It is now imperative. This will be a priority for Indonesia and Singapore.

“If we can combine … investment, technology with talent and youth market potential, then the digital economy cooperation will make Indonesia as well as Singapore’s economy even stronger.”

Mr Widodo added that Batam is an ideal location to further develop the digital economy, with the development of the digital cluster in Nongsa and the development of a start-up incubator.

“Tourism also presents great opportunities which we have yet to optimise. Indonesia has all-encompassing tourism destinations … and new destinations continue to be promoted,” he said.

Singapore and Indonesia will work together to develop joint tourism destinations, cooperate on operating cruise ships and cruise ship harbour construction, and increase investment in tourism infrastructure, Mr Widodo said.

To bring the two countries closer together, a major cultural event will be held next year to cap off the celebrations, he said. The event will also serve to showcase Indonesia’s rich cultural tapestry and Singapore’s growing arts and culture scene.

“The overall breadth and depth of our cooperation reflect an enduring and maturing partnership,” said Mr Lee.

“I am confident that under President Jokowi’s leadership, we will continue to enjoy a strong, forward-looking and dynamic relationship. I look forward to seeing Singapore and Indonesia rise together to greater heights over the next 50 years.”


Earlier on Thursday, the two leaders planted a tree at the Singapore Botanic Gardens as part of the celebrations to mark 50 years of bilateral ties.

The celebration is known as RISING50, an acronym derived from “RI” for the Republic of Indonesia and “SING” for Singapore.

The Sunda oak tree, dubbed the “RISING tree”, was planted in the Gardens’ Learning Forest. The tree is native to both Singapore and Indonesia, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Tuesday.

Mr and Mrs Lee also hosted President Widodo and First Lady Iriana to a breakfast of nasi lemak at the Gardens.

A commemorative stamp set featuring coral reefs from both countries was also launched.

“The joint issue by SingPost and Pos Indonesia features coral reefs of both countries, as the myriad interdependencies within these delicate ecosystems reflect the many ways in which Singapore and Indonesia are working together,” SingPost said.

The stamps were unveiled at the Istana by Mr Lee and Mr Widodo.

On Thursday afternoon, the leaders witnessed a joint flypast by F16 jets from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU), as well as a combined military band performance at Marina Cruise Centre.

RSAF jets led the first “arrowhead” formation, followed 20 minutes later by a combined flypast, in which the number 5 was flown by TNI-AU jets and the number 0 by RSAF jets.

Five RSAF F-15SG jets performed a bomb burst manoeuvre to conclude the aerial salute to the two nations.

Singapore’s Ministry of Defence said that this was the largest and most complex combined flypast that the RSAF has conducted with any foreign air force to date.

PM Lee added that the flypast reflects the “close defence ties” and “excellent working relations” between Singapore and Indonesia’s defence forces and security agencies.

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