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September 07, 2017

MFA Press Statement: Singapore-Indonesia Leaders' Retreat, 7 September 2017

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Singapore on 7 September 2017 for the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders’ Retreat. Both Leaders reaffirmed the excellent state of bilateral ties, and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Indonesia (RISING50[1]), with the theme of “Trusted Partners, RISING together”.

Prime Minister Lee and President Joko Widodo witnessed a series of commemorative events on 7 September 2017 which showcased the breadth and depth of the bilateral relationship at this milestone juncture. Both Leaders planted the “RISING Tree”, a Sunda Oak which is native to both Singapore and Indonesia, and enjoyed a private breakfast at the Singapore Botanic Gardens together with their spouses. At the Istana, the Leaders officiated the launch of a joint stamp issue featuring corals from Singapore and Indonesia, which exemplifies the rich marine diversity in both countries.

At the Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore (MBCCS), the Leaders witnessed a joint flypast by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU), as well as a joint performance by the military bands from the Singapore Armed Forces and the Indonesian National Armed Forces. Ten RSAF F-16s and ten TNI-AU F-16s soared over Marina Bay in ‘Arrowhead’ and ‘50’ formations, following which five RSAF F-15SGs executed a bomb burst manoeuvre as a salute to both countries and the Leaders. This successful historic flypast was the result of close collaboration and understanding between the two Air Forces, and underscores the excellent defence relations built up over decades between the two countries.

During the Retreat, the Leaders agreed that it was important to continue leveraging on the trust and partnership that both countries had developed over the past 50 years. With a positive and stable relationship, both countries would be able to build even more robust and mutually beneficial economic linkages. Both Leaders noted the strong existing cooperation in trade, investment, and tourism, with Singapore being the top contributor of realised investments in Indonesia in 2016 amounting to US$9.2 billion, and the top source of visitors to Indonesia in 2016 with 1.47 million visitors. The Leaders affirmed both sides’ readiness to start negotiations on a new Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between Indonesia and Singapore, which will further strengthen economic cooperation and investment flows.

The Leaders discussed cooperation in investments and skills training, particularly in the Kendal Industrial Park (KIP) which the Leaders jointly opened in 2016. To date, KIP has attracted 32 confirmed tenants with committed investment totalling US$475 million and the potential to create employment for up to 4,000 workers. They welcomed plans to set up a polytechnic in KIP to up-skill local workers, which will increase labour competitiveness and improve the attractiveness of KIP as an investment destination. A technical arrangement on capacity building in technical and vocational education and training was also signed by the Institute of Technical Education and Indonesian Ministry of Industry (MOI).

The Leaders discussed a new frontier in bilateral collaboration in the digital economy sector. They welcomed the recent establishment of two start-up “Launchpads” – EV Hive landing pad by East Ventures and SGInnovate, and BLOCK71@Jakarta by NUS Enterprise and Salim Group, an incubation facility for more than 20 start-ups from Singapore and Indonesia. Through these platforms, start-ups from both countries can network with one another, access cost competitive co-working spaces, and scale-up their business. In addition, two MOUs on digital skills training and capacity building with the Indonesian Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education (MORTHE), were signed on the sidelines of the Retreat. The first involved a Digital Literacy Framework Training Programme for Singapore Polytechnic to conduct train-the-trainers programmes across public institutions in Indonesia in 2018, while the second covered a Visiting Scholar Programme with the NUS School of Computing. An MOU on academic, research and internship exchanges was also signed between the Singapore University of Technology and Design, Bandung Institute of Technology, and the United in Diversity.

Prime Minister Lee and President Joko Widodo discussed economic developments in the Batam, Bintan and Karimun (BBK) region, and noted the positive impact that mutually-beneficial partnership has brought to both Singapore and BBK since collaboration in the region started in the 1980s. Both Leaders welcomed continued efforts to improve the investment climate in BBK. The Leaders noted that there was potential to develop a digital ecosystem in Batam by leveraging on both countries’ complementary strengths, and agreed to step up cooperation on this front. As part of this effort, a RISING50 Coding Competition was held at Batam State Polytechnic (BSP) in May 2017, which attracted 500 participants from across Indonesia. Temasek Polytechnic also completed a set of train-the-trainers programmes for IT lecturers from BSP and Telkom University in March and July 2017.

Prime Minister Lee affirmed Singapore’s commitment to support regional growth and development in Indonesia. The Leaders welcomed the signing of a Heads of Agreement between Pavilion Energy, Keppel Offshore and Marine and Indonesia state-owned PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara to distribute liquefied natural gas (LNG) to remote areas in West Indonesia for power generation. The energy project, which was first discussed at the 2016 Retreat, will support President Joko Widodo’s plans to increase Indonesia’s power generation capacity to drive the Indonesian economy forward. To further advance regional development, IE Singapore has also been working closely with the Makassar city government to bring Singapore tech companies into Makassar to develop e-government platforms and smart lighting systems, as a follow-up to the MOU on Smart City Development in Makassar signed at the 2016 Retreat.

The Leaders welcomed efforts towards harnessing the growth potential of cruise tourism in the region, which will open up new destinations to tourists and generate more jobs and revenue for both countries. The newly established Bilateral Cruise Inter-Agency Task Force, a direct outcome from the MOU on Cooperation in the Field of Tourism signed at the 2016 Retreat, aims to support cruise tourism development in both countries. The Leaders also welcomed several private-sector driven tourism-related MOUs signed earlier this year. This included an MOU to provide consultancy and management expertise in marina development in East Java’s Boom Banyuwangi, and an MOU to develop a cruise berth in North Bali’s Celukan Bawang port to accommodate large cruise ships such as the 3,400-passenger Genting Dream. The Genting Dream will be the largest cruise ship that will sail regularly to Indonesia commencing December 2017, and will bring more than 60,000 passengers who will spend a forecasted US$7 million on shore.

The Leaders welcomed the establishment of the Indonesia-Singapore Business Council (ISBC) on the sidelines of the Six Bilateral Economic Working Groups Ministerial Meeting (6WGMM) on 28 July 2017 in Jakarta. The ISBC, which was first announced at the 2016 Retreat, will enhance business-to-business ties and facilitate cooperation in key sectors of mutual interest such as in tourism, industrial development and infrastructure. Both Leaders met Singapore and Indonesian business leaders from the ISBC when they attended the inaugural Singapore-Indonesia Investment Forum at MBCCS on the afternoon of 7 September 2017.

The Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation, both bilaterally and regionally, to combat radicalisation and violent extremism. The Leaders witnessed the signing of an MOU on Disaster Risk Management between the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Authority, which will enhance operational linkages between both agencies. The Leaders also welcomed the MOU on cooperation between Attorney-General’s Chambers and Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office signed on 29 August 2017 in Bali, which will facilitate exchanges for professional development, and aims to deepen understanding of each country’s laws, practices and policies.

The Leaders also witnessed three MOUs signed by the Ministry of Education – an MOU on education cooperation with the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture (MOEC), an MOU on higher education cooperation with MORTHE, and an MOU on vocational education and training with MOI. The MOUs reflect the shared commitment by both governments to deepen cooperation in these fields. The training and exchange programmes will also foster mutual understanding and strengthen people-to-people ties between the two countries.

Prime Minister Lee expressed his appreciation to President Joko Widodo for Indonesia’s efforts in tackling forest and land fires, and expressed Singapore’s full commitment to work with Indonesia to address the haze issue

The Leaders agreed to explore further collaboration in arts and culture. The Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth is working with MOEC on a framework to enhance bilateral cultural cooperation. Both sides are also working towards a marquee cultural event in 2018 to cap off the RISING50 celebrations.

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[1]               The tagline “RISING50” is an amalgamation of “RI” for the Republic of Indonesia, “SING” for Singapore, and “50” for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between both countries.