Emcee: Thank you. Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. We have come to the end of the signing ceremony. May I now invite Her Excellency Retno Marsudi and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan to the lecterns for the joint press conference?
Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: Would you like to go first, since you are the guest?
Minister Retno Marsudi: Oh, really? Ok.
Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: Seriously, go ahead. Go ahead.
Minister Retno Marsudi: Thank you very much. It is really an honour for me to speak first before my good colleague, my good friend, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan. Well first of all, of course, thank you very much Minister Vivian Balakrishnan for receiving me and my delegation. And it is always a pleasure for me to be here back in Singapore. And my presence today is particularly special for me, because apart from having the bilateral meeting, it is also to kick off the commemorative activities of Indonesia-Singapore 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations. And this morning I also gave the keynote speech at the RSIS Public Lecture. Even more special, and as you all know, you have just witnessed the exchange of the Instruments of Ratification of the Treaty between Indonesia and Singapore relating to the Delimitation of the Territorial Seas of the two countries in the Eastern Part of the Strait of Singapore. With the exchange of these Instruments of Ratification, Indonesia and Singapore now only have one standing border delimitation. But I would like to say a little more on this. The exchange of instruments of ratification that you witnessed just now epitomises the significant things. First, it creates certainties. As the saying goes, "good fences make good neighbours". And this is also one of the fastest negotiation and ratification process that Indonesia has with other countries. And of course, it shows the high commitment for our two countries to finalise all the pending issues, and it shows the high commitment of our two countries to always make bilateral relations better.
Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, Minister Vivian and I discussed a wide range of issues this afternoon. We agreed that our bilateral relations are in very good shape. We discussed the follow-up of the PM's visit to Indonesia, to Semarang. We discussed ways to intensify bilateral economic cooperation because we see a good number, a good figure of our trade and our investment. Especially for investment, last year, we enjoyed an increase of almost 90% of Singapore's investment in Indonesia. During the discussion with Minister Vivian, Minister Vivian said that Singapore is committed to even expand the investment in Indonesia.
In the areas of political and security cooperation, we also discussed ways of enhancing cooperation in many areas, including, of course, countering terrorism because we too believe in international cooperation to counter terrorism. We believe that no country would afford to counter terrorism on its own. And as part of the commemorative activities in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, we look forward to many such activities, including the Leaders' Retreat in 2017. And then if you remember in Semarang we also discussed the plan to establish the one-and-a-half track forum dialogue, and then the inter-faith dialogue, as well as the business council. I think we would like to materialise all the planned activities this year once again to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations.
And this year also, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN. Minister Vivian and I are confident that ASEAN and its community will continue to grow and strengthen. ASEAN has been central in contributing to peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond, and Indonesia is very committed to keep it this way. I also discussed about the issue of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and I handed over my invitation to Minister Vivian to attend the ministerial-level of IORA, which Indonesia since 2015 until 2017 holds as a chairman of IORA. Later on, I will also convey the invitation from President Jokowi to Prime Minister Lee to attend the first IORA Summit which will be held in Indonesia, in Jakarta, on 7 March. So once again, thank you very much Minister Vivian. I will see you in the Philippines, or maybe before the Philippines; we will see you in Bonn for the meeting, very important meeting there. Thank you very much once again.
Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: Thank you. Thank you, Ibu Retno. I'm very pleased to welcome you to Singapore. I think our staff will know that actually Ibu Retno and I meet very, very often, all over the world.
Minister Retno Marsudi: And text very often as well.
Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: Yes, I think we are heavy users of WhatsApp and other messageing platforms. So, we meet very often, but this is special because this is the first time I am hosting you for an official visit to Singapore. So, a warm welcome to you and your delegation.
We have just exchanged the Instruments of Ratification of the Treaty Delimiting the Boundary in the Eastern Part of the Strait of Singapore, between Indonesia and Singapore. And as Ibu Retno has said, this has been remarkable for the pace at which this process was conducted. You may recall that, in fact, we ratified the Western Boundary Treaty in 2010, and that means now both countries share a common continuous 67.3 km maritime boundary. This has been a major testament of our ability to amiably resolve complex bilateral issues, and to do so through negotiations and in accordance with international law. This is something which both of us feel very strongly about. And the fact that we completed the negotiations in slightly over three years, as you have alluded to, is really very efficient and very fast paced for a boundary agreement. I think this underscores the excellent relationship between the Republic of Indonesia and the Republic of Singapore. It shows that we have a functional, good relationship. And more importantly, it shows the strategic trust. Without that, everything becomes more complicated. So I want to thank all our officials who've worked very hard for this, and I also want you to continue to maintain this strong working relationship at all levels between the two governments.
The second reason why we're happy is that we are also here to mark the start of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Indonesia. I think the acronym we're going to use is "RISING50" - it stands for "Republic of Indonesia and Singapore 50 years". And this is a very apt description (applause). It's a very apt description of the direction to which we want to take our bilateral relationship. We will commemorate our Golden Jubilee this year with events that celebrate not only the relationship at the government-to-government level, but also the cultural, historical links, and new emerging areas of economic cooperation, especially digital economy. We will see cultural performances, digital media events, film screenings and other events which will be announced in due course. Prime Minister Lee is looking forward to hosting President Jokowi in Singapore for the Leaders' Retreat later this year and to celebrate the 50th anniversary with him. On the bilateral front, as Ibu Retno has already described, we have excellent bilateral relations. We share a very similar world view although we're actually quite different. We are a tiny city state, you have 17,000 islands. I think the last I checked you have three different time zones.
Minister Retno Marsudi: Yes.
Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: And it is faster to travel between Jakarta and Singapore than to travel from the eastern to the western most extent of Indonesia. So, in that sense, we are very different but I believe we share a deep reservoir of strategic trust which has been built up over 50 years. This, we owe a large extent to having strong leaders in both Indonesia and Singapore. Second, we have a common and shared aim of strengthening ASEAN unity and centrality. And this is something which we have worked on together on so many occasions, even at times when we come under pressure to maintain ASEAN unity and centrality. And because we have a common world view, because we have deep levels of strategic trust, we have therefore a stable and positive relationship that enables us to do many things together. For instance, PM Lee and Bapak President Jokowi launched the Kendal Industrial Park in November last year. So three months have gone by already and so far about US$330 million in investment commitments have been made to this industrial park, and there's potential to generate up to 4,000 jobs and more. We also agreed to establish an Indonesia-Singapore Business Council, and this is really to expand opportunities for cooperation and to get our businessmen and business sector to know each other and again to build up trust and look for areas where they can collaborate together. Singapore is Indonesia's largest foreign investor, I think in both 2015 and 2016. And as you've said, in fact the figures are increasing. We hope to keep this momentum going in this Golden Jubilee year. I think it will be very auspicious. So I want to thank you again for your hard work, for your meticulous attention to details and to nurturing this very important relationship between Singapore and Indonesia. And let's celebrate our 50th anniversary with confidence for the future, and also with that commitment to make and to strengthen this relationship at a very fundamental level, because this is a most crucial relationship for Singapore. So thank you Ibu Retno.
Emcee: Thank you Your Excellencies. The Ministers will now take questions from the press. Please identify yourself and your organisation before asking your question. Yes please, ma'am.
LHZB: Ministers, this is Sheo Be, I am from a Chinese newspaper here, Lianhe Zaobao. I seek your indulgence in giving me the airtime for two questions. Number one, I would like to find out -it was mentioned that the treaty took only three slightly over three years to complete. I wonder how is that possible? Was it because there were earlier two treaties that were completed and some lessons were gained along the way? What then were some challenges? And the second question I would like to ask is this, we also mentioned the establishment of the Indonesia-Singapore Business Council. I hope to get some updates and some follow-ups following from both countries' Leaders' Retreat last year. Thank you.
Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: Well, ok your first question - how were we able to do it so quickly. As I said just now, I think the first element is a deep level of strategic trust and that we are committed. You know, you can change policies; you can make many choices; you cannot change your neighbours. And understanding that the most important thing is to develop strategic trust that we are committed to each other's continued development and progress. Without trust, you can't make progress. Especially on delicate and sensitive issues like sovereignty. So that's the first thing which I want to say.
The second factor is that we have very competent staff in both the ministries in Indonesia as well in the Attorney General's Chambers and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singapore. Without competent staff who are masters of their domain, you will go around in circles; you will not be so confident to make quick decisions, timely decisions; and to ensure that there are no mistakes made. So I would put these two as the top two reasons - strategic trust and competent staff.
The third point is that both of us share a common commitment to international law and to the sanctity of agreements. This gives a seriousness of purpose and a sense of urgency to do the right and fair thing to protect your own sovereignty and your own national interests, whilst at the same time understanding that you are building a relationship that must last the test of time. So, that's why I am very pleased with the progress that was made on this particular treaty. Because it, in fact, illustrates a very important aspect of our relationship.
Minister Retno Marsudi: Thank you very much. First, I would like to respond to the first question. To add to what Dr Vivian had already mentioned - the principle, that is very good to always remind us that we could not choose our neighbours. So, being neighbours is our destiny and it will be up to us how to manage it. And I think, as you mentioned, we have a very strong commitment to manage our bilateral relations to bring benefit to our people. So why we can finalise in a very fast manner is because of the commitment, and like Dr Vivian mentioned, it is because of the hard work of our staff. But one very important message, why we are able to solve the border issues in this very fast way, is also to give or to show the good example, that the issue of borders can be solved, can be settled peacefully through negotiation, and of course, in a fast manner. Can I go to the second question about the business council? At the government level, we know that our relations are very strong and solid. So, between the governments, we have already laid the foundation - a very strong foundation. But we want more. We want to go beyond the G-to-G relations, and we want to include both business sectors through the business council. And the other one is also other stakeholders. So that is why in principle, we agree to establish the one-and-a-half-track to also embrace our stakeholders to get involved in making the bilateral relations between Indonesia and Singapore even better in the future.
Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: Alright, I hope that answers the question. I think that the Indonesia-Singapore Business Council is just starting out, so I don't want to jump the gun. But again the fundamental point is that governments can have good relations; governments can set up a conducive environment; but ultimately businessmen themselves need to engage with each other, need to assess opportunities. In the same way, at the people-to-people level, at the cultural level, at the historical level, academic institutions, think tanks, students, tourists, the more interaction there is, the stronger the relationship and therefore this is really part of an effort to build a multi-faceted, deep and broad relationship between our two nations.
LHZB: Will there be any timeframe at all?
Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: I don't intend to put a This is not something where you are going to have a deadline. This is something where you want a sense of urgency and the more the merrier. The more projects, the more interaction, the more people, the more stakeholders, the better.
Emcee: Thank you, Your Excellencies. May I invite one more question, please?
Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: The other side, yes.
TV One: Thank you, my name is Samusumarit, I am from National TV One from Indonesia. I want to ask the Foreign Minister of Singapore. What is the importance of the 50th anniversary of the Singapore-Indonesia relations? Thank you.
Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: Thank you. Well, the first point is that the Republic of Indonesia is very important to Singapore and to be able to celebrate 50 years is a very Let me give you a few reasons why this is significant. If you go back in history, if you go back 50 years ago, it doesn't mean that everything was always easy, that we agreed on everything. We have gone through difficult times as well. But now, 50 years later, to be able to stand here and tell you that we have a very strong, deep and broad relationship and deep reservoirs of strategic trust that have been built up over time. Not because everything was easy or that there were no disagreements, but patiently, year by year, issue by issue, decade by decade, we have built up a level of strategic trust. We have built up mutual respect and we have built up ways of working together, solving things. And for instance, this treaty is an example of that. So for us to be able to celebrate 50 years of progress, I think it is a very worthy reason to celebrate.
Then the other point is that this celebration should not be confined to only between the two governments. It really should be a celebration at the people-to-people level. And at the people-to-people level, we are connected by bonds of history, of culture, of art and of common pursuits. And we're also connected by a common future - our future as neighbours. Like you said we have no choice. I believe that we are key believers and supporters of the idea of ASEAN. After all, we are also the founding members of ASEAN. So, the fact that there is even more for us to do in the future, and also that we are now at a time when the world is a very uncertain place; at a time when there are fundamental questions asked about economic growth, about economic integration; about preparing people for the future. The fact that at this point in time, we share such a common view, such a common perspective, and a common commitment to pursue closer integration, to pursue aligned interests, to encourage our people to work together, and to encourage our businesses to seek opportunities together. I think all these are very good reasons for us to celebrate.
Emcee: Thank you.
Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: Thank you.
Emcee: Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, this concludes the Joint Press Conference. Please rise for the departure of the Ministers. Thank you.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore