Republic of Indonesia and Singapore mark half a century of close ties

“We are neighbors by God’s will, by geography, but we are and always will be good neighbors and close friends by choice. Next year, Singapore will become the Chair of ASEAN, I have expressed Indonesia’s support for Singapore’s chairmanship.

ASEAN unity and centrality must always be our chief concern so that ASEAN remains relevant for its members and its people, as well as contribute even greater to the world.” - RI President Joko Widodo

Singapore and Indonesia celebrate fifty years of diplomatic relations this year. With an increasing number of Singaporean companies investing in Indonesia and Singapore continuing to offer Indonesian companies access to its world-class financial system, the two nations have formed a strong alliance. The fiftieth anniversary was recently observed at the highest level when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met Indonesian President Joko Widodo at a leaders’ retreat in Singapore last September and relations between the two countries continue to flourish.

As Indonesia’s largest foreign investor (inflows totaled USD 9.2 billion in 2016), Singaporean companies see Indonesia’s burgeoning population and growing middle-class as a huge market for their products and services. The relationship is mutually beneficial according to Noor Meurling, Chairwoman of the Singapore Chamber of Commerce Indonesia (SCCI) in Jakarta.

‘Our two countries have a close affiliation and continually add value to one another’, Meurling. ‘Each brings unique benefits to the table and we expect this cooperation to continue’.

Founded in 2006, SCCI’s goal is to facilitate their members’ understanding of how businesses and industries operate in Indonesia. From hosting conferences and events to networking functions, the chamber is proud of its role in helping companies navigate the business landscape in Indonesia.

‘Although there are certainly fundamental differences between our two countries such as language, market-size and rule of law, the potential benefits of investing in Indonesia far outweigh the challenges’, says Meurling. ‘Working through these and other differences is an essential part of achieving success in Indonesia’.

Along with eight other member countries, Singapore and Indonesia are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This year sees the Association celebrate its fiftieth anniversary and it continues to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development across the region.
Vice Chairman of SCCI, Jaspal Sidhu, who also founded SIS Group of Schools, believes education will play a key role in Indonesia’s development.

‘Over the years, Singapore and Indonesia have worked closely together in the fields of higher education and vocational training’, says Sidhu. ‘Indonesia benefits from initiatives focused on teacher-training, exchange programs, joint-research initiatives and educational collaboration. A skilled work-force in Indonesia will encourage more investment and Indonesia’s rich history, complex politics, vast cultural and geographic frontiers provide Singapore’s academics, diplomats and researchers with fertile ground to learn and hone their own skills’.

The Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to ASEAN, a division under Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently lead by the interim Chargé d’affaires H.E. Mr. ChilmanArisan. The mission continues to play a significant role in ensuring Indonesia meets the targets agreed to be ASEAN member countries.

‘Respecting each member-nation’s independence is crucial to ASEAN’s success’, says Arisan. ‘One pillar of ASEAN is narrowing the development gap among ASEAN member countries while also bringing together ASEAN and the rest of the world. While, we still have a great deal of work to do, the Association is today seen as a effective platform and we are proud that ASEAN is seen internationally as a credible body with a vision for the future’.

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