JAKARTA: Indonesia and Singapore signed on Tuesday a series of agreements covering extradition, defense and airspace management in what is seen as a “major step forward” in relations between the two Southeast Asian neighbors.
The deals were signed by senior cabinet ministers following a meeting between President Joko Widodo and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Indonesia’s Bintan island as part of their annual leader’s retreat.
“Today, our bilateral relations take a major step forward,” Lee said during a joint press statement aired on Indonesia’s State Secretariat YouTube channel.
Both countries agreed to realign the boundary of their respective flight information regions while further strengthening cooperation and fostering closer interaction between their armed forces through a defense cooperation agreement.
“Going forward, we hope that the cooperation in law enforcement, aviation safety, as well as defense and security of the two countries will continue to be strengthened based on the principle of mutual benefit,” Widodo said.
Fitri Bintang, a researcher at the Center for Strategic International Studies in Jakarta, told Arab News that today’s milestones are “signs of maturing relations” between Indonesia and Singapore.
The two countries also inked an extradition agreement, under which they can grant the extradition of fugitives for a comprehensive list of offenses committed up to 18 years ago.
“The extradition treaty will enhance cooperation in combating crime and send a clear, positive signal to investors,” Lee said.
Indonesian Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly said in a statement that the extradition treaty will act as a deterrent for criminals in Indonesia and Singapore.
“If the two countries ratify the extradition treaty soon, then the law enforcement agencies of both countries can make use of this treaty to prevent and combat transnational crimes like corruption and terrorism,” he added.
Indonesia has already signed similar treaties with other countries in the region, including Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea and China.
Indonesia and Singapore must now conclude their respective domestic processes to ratify and bring the agreements into force, which for these three agreements in particular, officials agreed must occur simultaneously.