SPEECH BY PRESIDENT TONY TAN KENG YAM AT THE STATE BANQUET HOSTED IN HONOUR OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA HIS EXCELLENCY JOKO WIDODO ON 28 JULY 2015

Your Excellency Joko Widodo
President of the Republic of Indonesia

Mrs Iriana Joko Widodo

Excellencies

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen


My wife and I are honoured to host Your Excellency and Ibu Iriana on your first State Visit to Singapore. While this is officially your introductory visit, Your Excellency is no stranger to Singapore and the Istana. We are pleased to welcome you back.

Your Excellency’s election as the 7th President of Indonesia is testament to the hope and trust that the Indonesian people have placed in Your Excellency, to lead them in the next phase of Indonesia’s development. As Mayor of Solo, Governor of Jakarta, and now as President, Your Excellency has built a track record as a leader who is close to the people, caring deeply for their hopes and aspirations. Your use of impromptu visits or blusukan has become an internationally-known ‘trademark’ of your leadership style. Under Your Excellency’s guidance, I am confident that Indonesia will be able to harness the energy and dynamism of its people to forge ahead in the coming years.

Your Excellency,

Singapore is celebrating its Golden Jubilee of nationhood this year. In 2017, Singapore and Indonesia will mark our 50th year of diplomatic relations. While this will be a significant milestone for our two countries, it should not be forgotten that the links between us are actually rooted well before the last five decades. Merchants and traders have plied the sea-routes across the Straits of Malacca and the Java Sea for centuries, buying and selling spices, crafts and other goods. Many Singaporean families can trace their ancestry to locations in Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi and Kalimantan. This shared heritage can still be seen and felt in present-day Singapore, in locations such as Kampong Java and Bugis Village. Popular Indonesian cuisine such as satay, nasi padang and gado gado have found an important place in satisfying the Singaporean palate. And artistic traditions like wayang kulit, kuda kepang and angklung music continue to be enjoyed in Singapore by both the young and old alike.

Based on these strong and deep historical ties, the bilateral relationship between our two countries has grown from strength to strength. We have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with each other in difficult times. In the aftermath of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in Aceh, the Singapore Armed Forces undertook its largest-ever deployment in support of Indonesian and international relief and rehabilitation efforts. More recently, the SAF was glad to have been able to contribute to Indonesia’s search and rescue efforts after the tragic crash of AirAsia flight QZ8501 in December 2014. And many Singaporeans will remember how Your Excellency and Ibu Iriana made time in your busy schedule to attend the State Funeral of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Singapore’s excellent relationship with Indonesia continues to be underpinned by close relations between the leaders of the two countries, strong defence cooperation, and significant and constantly growing economic collaboration. Singapore and Indonesia are each other’s major trading partners. Singapore has consistently been one of the top investors in Indonesia, and we are also each other’s largest source of tourism arrivals.  Singapore and Indonesia have developed an excellent track record of cooperating closely to resolve complex issues, in the spirit of friendship and mutual benefit. In that spirit, our two countries can look forward to the ratification of the Singapore-Indonesia Eastern Boundary Treaty which will conclude all outstanding bilateral boundary issues between Singapore and Indonesia.  

These would not have been possible without our longstanding and intimate people-to-people ties. We should continue to nurture the many exchanges and interactions between our peoples at all ages and across many fields. This will form the bedrock for developing and enhancing our mutual trust and understanding. I am therefore glad that Singapore and Indonesia have signed three MoUs today on e-government, youth and sports, and cooperation between the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (KADIN) and the Singapore Business Federation. These MoUs are another indication of the multifaceted nature of our cooperation across a range of sectors. I hope that we will continue to actively seek out new opportunities for such mutually-beneficial collaboration, even as we build on and deepen our cooperation in existing areas.

This evening, we are proud to have witnessed the presentation of certificates to graduates of the Technical Training Programme in Ship Building co-organised by Batam Polytechnic, Temasek Foundation, and ITE Education Services. This training programme, which was supported by Singapore’s Economic Development Board and Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, is an inter-institutional and cross-sectorial collaboration that demonstrates the interconnectedness of our two countries, and how much we can achieve by working together in areas of mutual interest. I am delighted that some of the programme’s graduates are able to join us this evening.

Singapore and Indonesia share a future which is dependent on the peace, stability and prosperity of the region. The global landscape has become increasingly unpredictable, amidst a slowing global economy and new trans-boundary challenges and threats. The need for solidarity and cohesion within ASEAN has become ever more important. Even as we welcome the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of this year, it will be important for all ASEAN Member States to work closely together and pull in the same direction to further deepen and strengthen ASEAN integration in the years ahead. This will provide more opportunities for all our peoples to better their lives. Indonesia has a critical role to play in ASEAN’s success, and I look forward to our continuing close cooperation in ASEAN.

As is normal in relations between two old and close friends and neighbours, issues are bound to arise from time to time between us. I am confident that the firm foundation of our bilateral relationship will enable our two countries to continue to overcome any such issues in a constructive manner, by choosing positive solutions premised on mutual respect.

Your Excellency,

Your State Visit to Singapore highlights the warm friendship between Singapore and Indonesia. I look forward to welcoming you back to Singapore on 9 August when you join us for our National Day Parade and Golden Jubilee celebrations. 

Your Excellencies

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

May I now ask you to join me in a toast:

  • To the good health and happiness of President Joko Widodo and Ibu Iriana;
  • To the progress and prosperity of the people of Indonesia; and
  • To the enduring friendship between Singapore and Indonesia.

Thank you very much.