Singapore and Indonesia have finally concluded its negotiations and will be ready to sign the landmark extradition and defense treaties on Friday (27 April).
The extradition treaty and defense cooperation agreement would be formally signed at a ceremony in Bali in the presence of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Extradition treaty between Indonesia and Singapore, both members of the 10-nation ASEAN grouping, have been in negotiations for years but have failed to settle sensitive issues such as different legal systems and the basis for territorial jurisdiction. Several figures have accused Singapore of deliberately prolonging the process, saying that the treaty would allow Jakarta to reclaim illicit assets held by Indonesians residing in the city state. There had been a speculation that Indonesia’s sand ban export is linked to the issue.
Indonesia’s political players and observers have welcomed the agreement reached on the defence cooperation agreement and the extradition treaty. Hikmahanto Juwana said the treaty is a result of negotiation with a lot of compromises, Indonesia can only hope that it is not jeopardizing Indonesia’s national interest. To enter into force, the treaty has to be ratified by the parliament, in a process that may take years. There is a risk now that it could be used as political bargain to the government.
International relations analyst Bantarto Bandoro of CSIS saw the deal as a sign that the top leaders were determined to keep ties on an even keel despite problems over issues such as the haze and sand ban. 'Obviously there was a political will to end it from both sides,' he said. Another expert Arbi Sanit said that the political boost for Dr Yudhoyono is timely. It comes at the halfway mark of his term and at a time when he is under pressure to revamp an under-performing Cabinet.
Most lawmakers, however, warned Indonesians not to be too excited over the signing of the extradition treaty. Some expressed surprise at the “sudden” deal reached as recent public pronouncements seem to hint that the two-year-old talks were becoming more protracted. Lawmaker Abdillah Thoha, who chairs the Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation Board, was quoted by online news portal www.detik.com as warning Jakarta not to be duped into signing agreements that would put Indonesia at a disadvantage. Another MP, Yudi Chrisnandi expressed his disappointment that the government did not disclose the negotiated provisions before concluding the agreement, saying that the parliament could have given useful inputs. However, MPR Chief highly welcomed the conclusion of the agreements and the signing of the agreements on Friday.
The Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) holds the view that the extradition agreement to be signed by Indonesia and Singapore will be no guarantee that Indonesia can recover its assets in the neighboring city state because Singapore has not yet signed the 2003 UN Convention against Corruption. Another analyst, Beginda Pakpahan of University of Indonesia, however, believed that the treaty is beneficial for both Indonesia and Singapore. It is a significant step in Indonesia’s fight against corruption, transnational crime and money laundering. For Singapore, its willingness to finally sign the treaty can boost its credibility in international law. Singapore also needs good and stable relations with its ASEAN neighbors, particularly Indonesia.
In general, Indonesia sees the extradition treaty as vital to its anti-corruption efforts. Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said the agreement would affect 42 criminal cases, including the notorious Bank Indonesia Liquidity Assistance (BLBI) scandal.
Analysts in Singapore welcomed the agreements even as they sounded a note of caution about their implementation. 'These new pacts will only signal two things: that ties are on the right track and there is commitment to enhance and deepen them further,' said Associate Professor Bilveer Singh of the National University of Singapore's (NUS) political science department.
Singapore senior statesman Lee Kuan Yew said that the treaty won't frighten rich Indonesians away from Singapore or hurt the island's property and banking sectors. "Please remember the financial sector was not built up on Indonesian money," Lee was quoted as saying in Wednesday's The Straits Times. "Indonesian money is no more than two to three percent."
Singapore is home to a large number of wealthy Indonesians. They are key players in the property market and big business for private banks. One third of Singapore's high net-worth investors -- those with net financial assets of more than $1 million -- are of Indonesian origin, Merrill Lynch and Capgemini said in a report, adding that these 18,000 Indonesians had total assets of $87 billion.
Unlike the extradition treaty, the defense pact received much less attention in Indonesia. The most sensitive issue, the inclusion of a third party in Singapore’s military exercises has been solved. Indonesia could let Singapore conduct military training in its territory as well as allowing the city state to bring a third party to its military training exercises in Indonesian territory. Indonesia wanted the third party to be subject to the agreement, especially the provision that Indonesia will have jurisdiction over any criminal offenses that may occur during training. The bilateral defense cooperation will be established under a five-yearly agreement.
Both Indonesia and Singapore can draw some lessons from this. In the nature of things, relations between close neighbours such as Indonesia and Singapore - with such different political, cultural and economic histories - are bound to experience occasional rough patches. Both countries, together with others in ASEAN, should now turn to the biggest item before them - which is to draft a legally binding ASEAN Charter to take ASEAN integration to a new plane. (26 April 2007).
Singapore, RI agree to sign treaties (Jakarta Post, 24 April 2007)
Singapore decides to sign extradition pact with RI after 35 yrs (Antara, 25 April 2007)
RI, S`pore reach agreement on extradition, defense accords (Antara, 24 April 2007)
Indonesia and Singapore agree on extradition and defence pacts (Antara, 24 April 2007)
Extradition pact won't hurt banks: Singapore's Lee (Reuters, 24 April 2007)
RI agrees to some defense cooperation with S'pore (Jakarta Post, 26 April 2007)
ICW: extradition treaty no guarantee for asset recovery (Antara, 25 April 2007)
MPR chief for immediate implementation of extradition treaty (Antara, 25 April 2007)
Perjanjian Ekstradisi RI-Singapura Untungkan Kedua Pihak (Extradition Treaty RI-Singapore benefit two countries) (Antara, 26 April 2007)
Ekstradisi Berlaku Surut Perjanjian RI-Singapura Jauh Lebih Maju (Extradition treaty is retroactive) (Kompas, 25 April 2007)
Latihan Militer di Indonesia, Singapura Harus Minta Ijin (Military exercises in Indonesia: Singapore has to secure Indonesia’s approval), (Tempo Interaktif, 24 April 2007)
Pemerintah jangan cepat gembira sikapi ekstradisi Singapura (Do not get too excited)
Ketua MPR sambut baik (MPR Chief highly welcomes the imminent signing of the agreement)
Hikmahanto Juwono: jangan berharap tinggi dari ekstradisi (Expert: Do not hope too high from extradition treaty) (Detik.com 25 April 2007)
Wakil rakyat khawatir draf ekstradisi rugikan Indonesia (MP worried draft agreement disadvantage to Indonesia), (Detik.com, 26 April 2007)
Basic truths to relations, Straits Times (25 April 2007)
SINGAPORE-INDONESIA TIES: Defence and extradition deals good for ties (Straits Times, 25 April 2007)
S'pore-Jakarta deal on extradition, defence pacts (Straits Times, 24 April 2007)
S'PORE-INDONESIA AGREEMENT ON DEFENCE COOPERATION
Deal will allow resumption, expansion of military training (Straits Times, 25 April 2007)
S'pore-Jakarta treaty to boost corruption fight: Indon minister (Straits Times, 24 April 2007)
Extradition pact won't hurt banks: MM (ST/Reuters, 24 April 2007)