JAKARTA: Indonesia will hold its legislative and presidential elections next year, and Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has expressed hope that these elections will be smooth and peaceful.
Mr Teo was in the Indonesian capital for a three-day working visit to Jakarta to further strengthen bilateral ties with heads of political parties, including Gerindra Party chief Prabowo Subianto, and Golkar Party leader Airlangga Hartarto, who is also Indonesia’s Industry Minister.
Discussions were also held with National Mandate Party chairman Zulkifli Hasan, who is also speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly, and United Development Party’s chief Muhammad Romahurmuziy.
Mr Teo said that all of the political party leaders gave the assurance that the upcoming elections will be smooth and peaceful.
“We got some useful perspectives on how they see politics in Indonesia, the relative importance of economic issues versus identity politics,” he said on Friday (Jul 20).
“All of them also assured us that the upcoming elections will be smooth, and will be peaceful. They took the example of what happened in the recent Pilkada, the local elections where there were 171 different contests going on, and that proceeded smoothly and also very peacefully. Certainly we hope for smooth and peaceful elections in Indonesia as well.”
He added that the party leaders also expressed the desire for closer relations with Singapore.
“I saw that as a very strong, positive. They are happy with the bilateral relations we have. We want to have good, stable bilateral relations for the future, and I think that is very important because if there is a whole spectrum of political leaders in Indonesia who wish to do that, I think that’s very useful for strengthening bilateral relations for the future,” said Mr Teo.
In Jakarta, Mr Teo also met Indonesian leaders to prepare for the Leaders’ Retreat between Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Bali on Oct 11.
On Thursday he met Mr Widodo and both reaffirmed the longstanding and close ties between Singapore and Indonesia.
They took stock of the progress of the last Leaders’ Retreat in Singapore.
The Kendal Industrial Park in Semarang, Central Java, which is a joint venture between Singapore and Indonesia, already has the commitment of more than 40 companies operating there, with close to US$500 worth of investments.
A polytechnic has also been built in the industrial park and will begin taking its first batch of students in October this year.
Mr Teo stressed that the project is one of the highlights of Singapore-Indonesia cooperation and the model could be replicated in other parts of the country.
“It’s a little bit like the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks that we have in Vietnam,” said Mr Teo.
“We started with just one outside Ho Chi Minh City, we have now seven in Vietnam with many of the provinces in Vietnam very enthusiastic about having these industrial parks. So, I think that with good success in Kendal we can see how we can replicate it to other places.”
Singapore and Indonesia are also jointly developing cruise tourism.
Mr Teo noted that cruise tourism has increased with routes now to Bali, Surabaya and Banguwangi, in East Java.
He said there are further opportunities for other cruises to Sumatra to access Lake Toba and other destinations.
In Jakarta, Mr Teo was accompanied by Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Industry Tan Wu Meng, MPs Joan Pereira and Henry Kwek, and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.