Singapore's diplomatic ties with Indonesia go back five decades, but the two neighbours are also bound by centuries of shared heritage and traditions.
This strong historical bond should not be forgotten as both countries mark a significant milestone - their 50th year of diplomatic relations - next year, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said at a state banquet yesterday in honour of visiting Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
In his speech, Dr Tan paid tribute to the strong ties between Singapore and Indonesia, and the longstanding and intimate bonds between their people.
"Merchants and traders have plied the sea routes across the Strait of Malacca and the Java Sea for centuries, buying and selling spices, crafts and other goods," he said.
Also, many Singaporean families can trace their roots back to Indonesian areas in Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi and Kalimantan.
"Based on these strong and deep historical ties, the bilateral relationship between our two countries has grown from strength to strength," Dr Tan said. "We have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with each other in difficult times."
In the wake of the 2004 tsunami which devastated Aceh, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) sent its largest-ever deployment to help in relief and rehabilitation efforts.
A decade on, when AirAsia flight QZ8501 bound for Singapore from Surabaya went down, the SAF lent a hand once more in Indonesia's search and rescue efforts.
And many Singaporeans remember how Mr Joko and his wife Iriana made time to attend the funeral of Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in March.
Singapore's excellent relationship with Indonesia continues to be underpinned by the close ties between their leaders, strong defence co-operation and economic collaboration, Dr Tan said.
Mr Joko, in his speech, said Indonesia is modernising to raise the living standards of its people, and presents economic opportunities for Singapore investors.
He also hoped for continued peace, prosperity and happiness between the two countries.
Dr Tan said both share a future that is dependent on the peace, stability and prosperity of the region.
"As is normal in relations between two old and close friends and neighbours, issues are bound to arise from time to time...
"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."
This article was first published on July 29, 2015.
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