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September 02, 2014

Singapore and Indonesia have agreed on their maritime boundaries

Singapore and Indonesia have agreed on their maritime boundaries in the eastern part of the Strait of Singapore and will sign a treaty during President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's three-day state visit to Singapore, which starts today.

Your Excellency Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam  and Madam Mary Chee Bee Kiang,
Your Excellency Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Madam Ho Ching.
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to you, Mr. President, and to the people of the Republic of Singapore, for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to me, my wife and to the Indonesian delegation. We are deeply touched by your enduring demonstration of friendship.
I am very grateful and truly honored to receive the “First Class, Order of Temasek”, which I dedicate to the good people of Indonesia and to the lasting friendship between our two countries It will be a permanent reminder to me of the many wonderful moments that we shared together as close neighbors.
Before I proceed, I wish to ask your kind indulgence if I were to breach the standard protocol this evening.  I will speak somewhat longer so I can share with you my personal reflections on some of the qualities that form the strong ties between our two nations.
Today, we have had a very good and productive day.  I had a series of excellent bilateral meetings with President Tony Tan Keng Yam, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien-loong.  We witnessed the signing of an important Treaty Relating to the Delimitation of the Territorial Seas of the Countries in Eastern Part of the Strait of Singapore.  In a world marked by tensions and disputes, with this treaty we are demonstrating that with strong political commitment – it is possible to achieve mutually acceptable solutions. Through this agreement, we set a new milestone in our bilateral relations.
It is always great to be back in Singapore.  Of all the countries in the world, Singapore is the one country that I have lost track in terms of how many times visits have been made.  Perhaps this is because it takes less time to go from Jakarta to Singapore than from my private home in Cikeas to my office in Jakarta.  I have come here so often that Indonesian Embassy staffs have memorised my habit  -- a visit to Kinnokuniya bookstore, especially after Border’s closed -- and a stop at a  noodle stall nearby.
Despite my frequent travels here, this particular visit has a special meaning to me.  This is certain to be my last official visit to Singapore as President of the Republic of Indonesia.  My staff asked me : “what does this mean, Mr. President ?”  Well, I told him, this means, the next time I come here I will have to take a taxi from the airport.
And by the way, in my mind Singapore is an ideal place for me to take a few weeks of sabbatical leave to complete my book project.  So if you happen to find me typing in a cafĂ© on the Orchard Road, please join in !
But seriously, I wanted to use the opportunity of this state visit to personally express my gratitude and bid farewell to our Singaporean friends, many of whom are here with us tonight.
I recall vividly my meeting with Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew right after I was elected President in 2004.  Mr. Lee shared with me invaluable views on many strategic issues.  That wisdom coming from Asia’s most respected statesman and intellectual giant was very helpful to me.  I had the opportunity to see Mr. Lee Kuan Yew several times afterwards, and I always appreciated his sharp analysis. 
  I also deeply value my long-standing friend-ship with Your Excellency Mr. Tony Tan, whom I knew when he served as Minister for Defense and I was a General in the TNI in search of ways to reform the military.  It never occured to us that several years later we would be meeting as Presidents of our respective countries.  Afterwards, I continued to work closely with his successor, Admiral Teo Chee Hean, and we continue our friendship until this day.
I also developed close personal relations with former President S. R. Nathan, which started when he invited me to speak at IDSS, which he then chaired.
I also enjoy similar friendship with Emeritus Senior Minister, Honourable Goh Chok Tong, whose contributions to our bilateral relations have been invaluable during some of the most critical years in Indonesia.
And, of course, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong – with whom in the last decade I have forged an invaluable partnership to promote our common goals, within ASEAN, APEC, G-20 and other fora.  I take pride in being one of the very few leaders who was able to persuade the Prime Minister to sing – it was in Bali, and yes, we were all impressed with his hidden talent.
No doubt, in Indonesia, there are also count-less number of individuals who have been relentless in forging better understanding between our coun-tries and peoples. These personal bonds of friendships have been critical.  We must see to it that succeeding generations of Singaporeans and Indonesians continue such ties.
With these exceptional leaders and many others, I have had the pleasure to build a strong and special relationship with Singapore.
I say “special” here not for the sake of courtesy. 
Since joining the Cabinets of President Abdur-rachman Wahid and President Megawati Soekarno-putri, and since becoming President of Indonesia in 2004, I was always mindful of the strategic value of Singapore. 
Singapore has achieved remarkable progress as a nation.  As a city-state, an island-state, with small population and no natural resources, Singaporeans faced an uphill struggle to survive, let alone succeed.  
But as you mark your 49 years of independence, here you are now.  You have become a modern, developed nation in the heart of South-east Asia, with high quality of life.  From a society of migrants and traders, you have developed a strong national identity and pride as Singaporeans. You have scored impressive gains in global rankings on education, on competitiveness, on innovation, on ease of doing business, and many others. And diplomatically you have punched well above your weight in the world community.  You have become a positive example of the good things that come when a nation applies the rule of law, good governance, hard work and sound economic policy. 
In the past 10 years, good relations with Singapore has been my Government’s top priority.  I admit, there were times when relations with Singa-pore were not easy; perhaps, you think the same of us too. 
But I am sure there is a mutual feeling that Indonesia - Singapore relations constitute one of our most important bilateral relations, and we have to get it right.
In pursuing our relations with Singapore, as with all other nations, I have always embraced the principle of equality between nations.  This is funda-mental to our foreign policy : we respect and will cooperate with all nations – big, medium and small. 
I have also emphasized the need to cultivate goodwill, trust and confidence. This is why since 2010, Prime Minister Lee Hsien-Loong and I have met every year, where we sit together with a minimum of formality to discuss openly the issues that confront our nations.  This is followed by even more frequent consultations between our foreign and other ministers.  We have also formed Six Working Groups to manage our sectoral cooperation in a more focused way.
And of course, this reationship cannot have a “special” quality unless we are deeply invested in the success of one another and feel each other’s pain and always ready to help in times of need.  This is what transpired when Singaporean armed forces came to our aid during the critical hour of the tsunami crisis, a time which shall be remembered as the most difficult time of my Presidency.  And for my part, that is why in March this year I stopped campaigning for several days during the elections, so that I could personally lead the efforts to reduce forest fires in Riau.
After all we have been through -- the ups and downs -- I believe we have fostered stronger relations. 
I am now in the final weeks of my term in office.  It has been a great honor to lead Indonesia through the first decades of the 21st century.  Indonesia still confront great challenges : poverty, infrastructure, corruption, and many others.  But I will leave office knowing that Indonesia has come a long way from the day I took office. Indonesia now has stable democracy, political stability, peaceful election, better security, law and order, and social progress.  We also have maintained our national unity, and harmonious relations among our religious and ethnic groups, despite the spread of radicalism in some parts of the world.  We have largest and fastest growing middle-class in Southeast Asia.  Our GDP per capita has multiplied almost 400 % in the last decade.  Our domestic demand and purchasing power continue to grow strongly.  We are the 16th largest economy, or 10th largest accor-ding to one World Bank estimate based on purchasing power parity.  We registered the second highest economic growth among the G-20, after China. And the World Economic Forum recently dubbed the last 10 years as Indonesia’s “golden decade”. Of course, I was not in a position to dispute them on that.
That stable and growing Indonesia is good for the world, good for the region, and good for Singapore. I want Singapore to always see Indo-nesia, not only as a friend, but also as a sea of opportunity for us to grow together.
Singapore has always been an important factor for progress.  Singapore has ranked among the top investors in Indonesia. You are our top trading partner – at around US$ 42 billion.  Singaporeans are the largest source of foreign tourists in Indo-nesia – around 1,4 million last year, and conversely, there are around 3 million Indonesians who visit Singapore each year.  You can easily spot them because they are the ones carrying shopping bags on Orchard Road.  Indeed, between Jakarta - Singapore is said to be the third busiest passenger air routes in the world, after Hongkong – Taipei and Dublin – London routes.  Singapore is also a favourite destination for Indonesian students, including for my two sons Ibas and Agus, who attended Master Degree Program at Nanyang Technological University. There are about 24 thousand Indonesian students in Singapore now.  And they part of a large population of around 200,000 Indonesians who are happily living, working and studying here. 
With all the promising things in our relations, we must keep in mind that the significance of our relations go beyond the bilateral dimension.
Both Indonesia and Singapore find ourselves in a challenging international landscape.  The relations between the major powers are becoming unstable.  Russia and Europe are in volatile relationship.  The Middle-East is boiling, and the international com-munity is still figuring out how to respond to the threat of ISIS. Relationships in Northeast Asia, as well as in South Asia, remain unsettled.  There are new tensions in the South China Sea.  
For that matter, ASEAN must truly transform itself into an effective and pro-active Community. ASEAN must reach out true to the spirit of the Bali Concord III—ASEAN Community in a Global Com-munity of Nations.
ASEAN must contribute to a better and more prosperous world. It needs to demonstrate and deliver on its often-quoted leadership and centrality role in the region. Today, it means that ASEAN must take the lead in imparting its positive experience - in transforming trust deficit into strategic trust - to the wider East Asia, Asia-Pacific, indeed, the wider Indian Ocean – Pacific Ocean geopolitical architect-ture. That is why Indonesia welcomes ASEAN’s support for its proposal for an Indo-Pacific Treaty for Friendship and Cooperation – much like the TAC for Southeast Asia – however this time covering the countries of the EAS and, perhaps in the future, beyond.  A binding commitment for the non-use of force and peaceful settlement of disputes.
Thus, for Indonesia, and I am sure for Singapore also, despite the fact that our inter-national roles are evolving and expanding, I can assure you that ASEAN will always be the corner-stone of our foreign policy.  The more the world changes, the more we will cling to ASEAN as our family, our neighbors, our partners.  In ASEAN, we rise and grow together.
As Indonesia and Singapore commemorate the 47th anniversary of our diplomatic relations this year, I am pleased that during our meeting today we reaffirmed our commitment to work closer for our bilateral relations and also on regional and global affairs.  This is a message that I will be sure to convey to my successor, President-elect Joko Widodo.  I have met with President-elect Joko Widodo several times and discussed with him the situation in the region, and he has expressed his commitment to continue Indonesia’s good relations and partnership in the region and beyond.
As I look ahead, I see many promising developments to come.  The ocean of opportunities between us will only grow.  I see more of our politicians becoming engaged, adding to the already close relationship between our Governments.  I see more Singaporean entrepreneurs investing more outwardly in Indonesia’s provinces, regents and cities.  I see more technology and innovation from Singapore coming to Indonesia.  I see more and more of our youths becoming connected, by way of schools and Universities, by way of social media and cultural exchanges, and by the workplace and travels.  And I see both Singapore and Indonesia evolving a healthy social and economic symbiosis where we both progress and prosper together as close neighbors.
All of these developments allow me to leave office with a very big smile.
Finally, I would like to invite Your Excellency as well as all the distinguished guests to stand and raise our glasses in a toast for the health, joy and prosperity of His Excellency President Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam; and for closer, deeper and stronger relations and cooperation between our two peoples and countries.
Thank you.
Singapore, 3 September 2014

President DR Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono  will also receive the Order of Temasek (First Class), Singapore's highest decoration for foreign leaders, in a ceremony tomorrow

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said in a statement: "It is being conferred on President Yudhoyono for his positive contributions to the relationship between Singapore and Indonesia during his 10 years in office."

He will be the second Indonesian leader to receive the honor, which was given to president Suharto in 1974 during his state visit that year for his contribution to the development of Singapore-Indonesia relations.

Under the new agreement, which is to be signed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the two governments have settled the borders that delineate the eastern part of the Singapore Strait, an area incorporating Indonesia’s Batam Island and Singapore’s Changi.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said that the signing of the agreement was expected to take place in Singapore on Tuesday during Yudhoyono’s meeting with his Singaporean counterparts, Prime Minister Lee and President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

“He [Yudhoyono] will arrive in Singapore  tomorrow  [Tuesday], and a private meeting with the Singaporean President and Prime Minister will take place. The meeting will include the signing of the agreement between Indonesia and Singapore relating to the first segment [of the eastern border],” Marty told the press at a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Monday.

The eastern sea border is divided into two segments: the first segment includes the area between Changi and Batam, while the second covers the zone between Bintan and South Ledge/Middle Rock/Pedra Branca, areas which are also a bone of contention between Singapore and Malaysia.

Marty said that Tuesday’s agreement would be the second after a deal in 2009.

“We signed an agreement covering the western part of the Singapore Strait in 2009, but the one covering the eastern parts has been delayed due to the territorial dispute between Malaysia and Singapore,” Marty said, adding that the Indonesian government expected to seal an agreement with the Malaysian government in the next few days.

The 2009 agreement covers the western part of the Singapore Strait, including Nipah and Tuas islands.

During his visit to Singapore, Yudhoyono is also expected to receive the award of the Order of Temasek First Class from the Singapore government, the second award he has received from Singapore. During a state visit to the city-state in 2013, Yudhoyono was granted an honorary degree from the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).

House of Representatives Commission I, which oversees defense, information and foreign affairs, applauded the government’s success in completing the agreement with Singapore.

“The agreement [with Singapore] will definitely hasten the process with Malaysia, which is good because unlike Singapore, with whom Indonesia has few sea disputes, Indonesia and Malaysia have been involved in a number of debates on the matter, due to a number of issues including illegal fishing,” commission chairman Mahfudz Siddiq stated.

Mahfudz added that the agreement could boost ties with Singapore.

“The signing of the agreement will improve Indonesian-Singaporean bilateral ties in the future. I believe that the agreement will have no negative consequences for the next government in terms of bilateral cooperation with Singapore,” said Mahfudz, a member of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

Mahfudz took issue only with the fact that the government rarely briefed the House on its progress in the negotiations with the Singaporean government.

Contacted separately, Commission I lawmaker Helmy Fauzy of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), one of the five political parties that officially nominated president-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, praised the agreement, saying that it would further help the Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla administration to implement programs on maritime management.

“We have been involved in a number of sea border disputes, particularly with Malaysia. The signing of the agreement will definitely speed up the process with Malaysia and then we can eventually settle those disputes,” Helmy said. 

SINGAPORE: Indonesia's outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been awarded the Order of Temasek (First Class) - Singapore's highest recognition for foreign leaders. It was presented to him by Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Wednesday (Sep 3) at the Istana.
A citation released to the media by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singapore (MFA) said during his ten years in office, President Yudhoyono "consolidated Indonesian democracy, restored political stability, and fostered steady economic growth".
It noted that Dr Yudhoyono oversaw recovery from the devastating 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, restored peace in strife-torn Aceh, and "neutralised extremist jihadist terror groups". Also, his ministers reformed economic policies and strengthened state finances such that "in two terms, his administration lifted millions of people out of poverty."
Dr Yudhoyono was lauded for foreign policy that emphasised ASEAN unity. "In international fora such as APEC, G20 and the UN, his initiatives and pronouncements have raised Indonesia's stature and strengthened ASEAN's voice in world affairs," the citation read. It stated that Singapore benefited greatly from the positive regional climate and that bilateral ties have deepened considerably during Dr Yudhoyono's tenure.
It also said the award was given to him in recognition of his "valuable contributions to regional cooperation and stability, as well as the substantial and vital friendship between Indonesia and Singapore".

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