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3-on-3 with Dino Patti Djalal: Jokowi knows Singapore well

29 Apr 3-on-3 with Dino Patti Djalal: Jokowi knows Singapore well

With President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo now at the helm of ASEAN’s biggest nation, what does the future hold for Singapore-Indonesia ties, as well as Indonesia’s relations with the rest of the region? We spoke to Dr. Dino Patti Djalal, former Indonesian Vice Foreign Minister and former Indonesian Ambassador to the United States.

Dr. Dino and Malaysian Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin spoke in Singapore on 23 April at the SIIA’s Future50 (F50) event, “Connecting Singapore and Our Neighbours: Competition, Cooperation and Integration”. The talk was part of our F50 series, which examines the future for Singapore in the context of Asia and the world.

Q: How will Singapore-Indonesia relations develop under President Jokowi’s leadership?
Dr. Dino: President Jokowi knows Singapore quite well, even before he became President. When he was governor of Jakarta, he visited Singapore. I think of all countries in the world, Singapore is the one where he probably is most familiar with. His son went to school here, and so on. So I think that familiarity will help keep the relations on its good tracks, as it has been all these years. Obviously we have a lot of agendas in our bilateral relations but I’m sure that Singapore will continue to be a priority for our foreign policy.

Q: Under Jokowi’s administration, will ASEAN feature prominently in Indonesia’s foreign policy?

Dr. Dino: Yes. I can categorically say yes, because we don’t have any choice. In Indonesia’s foreign policy we have a lot of global interests around the world, but the one natural geopolitical space for us is in our own backyard and ASEAN. ASEAN is a source of our strength and the notion of an ASEAN family is very much embedded in our regional and international outlook. So presidents may come and go…ministers may come and go…but none of them have any choice in terms of always placing ASEAN first as their foreign policy platform.

Q: As economic nationalism is taking priority in some ASEAN states, how will this affect regional integration efforts such as the AEC?

Dr. Dino: Well, I think (there are) two things that we need to look at – one is nationalism and the other is populism. They are similar but not necessarily the same. I think both nationalism and populism will play a role in Indonesia’s foreign policy and perhaps in the foreign policy of other ASEAN states.

I think we should take it as a given that this is a fact of political life in Indonesia. What is important is that the government remains committed to regionalism. And what is important is not just the president, but the politicians and the parties in our parliament, and the ministers and government departments, they all remind and educate the public that nationalism is important. but nationalism has to be coupled with internationalism.

We have a long tradition with this argument – the notion that nationalism and internationalism are two parts of the same coin. But the population needs to be reminded constantly of this. Otherwise, it will degenerate into narrow nationalism, you know, “us against them”, which is not healthy.