Singapore's foreign minister cancels visit to Batam

Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan cancelled a planned visit Batam, Riau Islands, on Thursday, citing his obligation to accompany Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on official duties as the cause.

Batam Panbil Industrial Estate president director Johannes Kennedy Aritonang denied public speculation that the cancellation was triggered by the recent arrest of a Singaporean vessel by Batam authorities on suspicion of violating shipping and immigration laws.

"According to the Singaporean Consulate, Minister Balakrishnan has to accompany the prime minister," Johannes told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Balakrishnan was scheduled to meet businesspeople from the Batam industrial area during the meeting.

Johannes said Singaporean Ambassador to Indonesia Anil Kumar and several trade delegates were also set to join Balakrishnan.

They were to discuss several economic issues, including how to revive the Triangle Group coordination.

"We also aimed to discuss Singapore's attention, which is now directed more at the Iskandar Development Region in Johor instead of Batam," said Johannes.

The meeting was likely to be postponed until the fourth week of April, he added.

The cancellation of the visit occurred as the Tanjung Pinang District Court held a hearing on alleged shipping violations by Tan Poh Hui Ricky, a Singaporean citizen who served as helmsman of the Seven Seas Conqueress, on Wednesday. He was accused of operating the vessel with improper navigation tools.

During the hearing, prosecutor Gustian charged the helmsman with violating shipping and immigration laws.