Singapore’s relationship with neighbouring Indonesia has grown in strength and maturity, as Indonesia’s ratification of several bilateral agreements puts them into effect.
Among the agreements are a defence pact, an extradition treaty, as well as the Flight Information Region (FIR) agreement.
Closer cooperation for defence and combating crime
The 25-year long Defence Cooperation Agreement deepens the strategic relationship between both countries’ armed forces, with the SAF continuing to conduct military exercises in training areas in Indonesia. Together with the Treaty for the Extradition of Fugitives, it sends a signal for the stability and safety of the region.
The extradition treaty allows extradition of fugitives of over 30 offences, including money laundering, corruption, narcotics, bribery, and terrorism funding. This means that fugitives who flee across the border can be brought back to face justice in the jurisdiction where the crime was committed.
It also allows extradition requests to be made based on the citizenship status of the accused at the time the offense occurred, closing a legal loophole that saw fugitives change citizenship to evade prosecution.
Decades-long flight information region issue resolved
FIRs are a region of airspace delegated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for the supply of air traffic service. This is vital for the safe and efficient conduct of flight in the airspace.
Since 1946, Singapore has had operational responsibility for the FIR above the Riau Islands due to Singapore’s advanced technology and infrastructure. Indonesia has long wanted to take control of it, while Singapore has maintained that the issue is not one of sovereignty but of safety and efficiency.
Under the new treaty, the FIR boundaries will be adjusted to more closely match the territorial borders of the two nations. For the next 25 years, Indonesia will also delegate the provision of air navigation services to Singapore, subject to extension by mutual consent.
New areas of cooperation to come
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who witnessed the signing of these agreements with Indonesian President Joko Widodo back in 2022, welcomed the ratification of the agreements on a Facebook post.
In yet another sign of the robust relationship between the two nations, Indonesian Vice President Ma’ruf Amin visited the Singaporean President Halimah Yacob at the Istana on Monday.
He expressed his appreciation for the completion of the three bilateral agreements, describing them as “further improv[ing] the cooperation between the two countries.” He also highlighted the potential for his country to work closely with Singapore in the halal and Islamic finance industries in the future.
With some decades-long issues finally resolved mutually, Indonesian commentators have described the occasion as a new chapter in the diplomatic history between Singapore and Indonesia.