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'Particularly special': PM Lee, President Jokowi pledge continuity in Singapore-Indonesia ties at their final Leaders' Retreat

'Particularly special': PM Lee, President Jokowi pledge continuity in Singapore-Indonesia ties at their final Leaders' Retreat
Besides milestones in bilateral relations, PM Lee Hsien Loong (left) also acknowledged Indonesian President Joko Widodo's contributions to Indonesia and the region.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

BOGOR — Accompanied by their successors, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong celebrated their achievements in bilateral ties over the past decade at their Leaders' Retreat at Bogor state palace on April 29, and promised continuity in future co-operation.

The meeting, a long-held tradition in which the countries' leaders and ministers meet informally each year to discuss ways to strengthen ties, was the seventh and final one for both leaders, who will be leaving office in 2024.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong is set to take over from PM Lee on May 15. Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, who won the country's presidential election on Feb 14, will succeed Widodo in October.

Describing the rare eight-eyed meeting as "particularly special" as it was his last with the Indonesian president, Lee expressed his confidence that the incoming leaders "will continue to bring the relationship to greater heights".

"From the present leadership to the next, we committed to look ahead, build on the strong foundation, and expand co-operation," he said at a joint press conference with the Indonesian leader who is better known as Jokowi. "I am glad that President Jokowi and I are handing over the bilateral relationship in a good state to our successors."

"May Singapore-Indonesia ties continue to flourish, far into the future."

President Widodo said this leaders' retreat "is a strong signal for the continuity of co-operation between the two countries, Singapore and Indonesia".

Both leaders welcomed the progress in several sectors, including defence and the green economy. Widodo also lauded plans to export electricity to Singapore and co-operation in technology transfer and exchange of science and technology in food processing.

Lee noted the "excellent progress" in bilateral co-operation in areas including defence, the digital economy and the green economy.

He also lauded the resolution of longstanding issues on airspace management, defence co-operation and extradition under an expanded framework, which came into force in March 2024.

Thanking Widodo and his ministers, Lee said: "They show that when we work together in a spirit of friendship and openness, we can address even the most complicated issues in a pragmatic and mutually beneficial manner."

Besides milestones in bilateral relations, the prime minister also acknowledged Widodo's contributions to Indonesia and the region, and underscored the country's importance as Asean's largest economy.

As the host of the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit in 2022, and the Asean Summit in 2023, Indonesia under the leadership of Widodo "has been a constructive voice in a divided world", PM Lee said.

"With vision and leadership, he has put Indonesia on a strong economic trajectory, confident and optimistic about its path ahead. And raised Asean's standing as a participant in international affairs with a view worth listening to, and with contributions which will make a difference. It has brought stability and progress to Indonesia and the entire region," he said.

"When Indonesia prospers, the region prospers," he added.

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This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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