Singapore– The prospects for an extradition treaty betweenSingaporeandIndonesia, long an irritant in bilateral relations, seem to havebrightened in recent weeks.
SingaporeMinister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo said on Feb 12 that “good progress” on the treaty had been made although he could not predict how long negotiations would take.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is due to visitSingaporeon Feb 15 as part of his first official foreign tour, was even more optimistic.
“Hopefully, this matter, which has already taken such a long time – maybe 10 years without any progress - could be settled,” he said last week.
Indonesiahas said that the pact is crucial in its fight against corruption because it would allow for the repatriation of corrupt businessmen who have fled toSingaporeto avoid prosecution at home.
According to Antara news agency, Indonesian officials have complained thatSingaporeis dragging its feet on the treaty because it does not want to lose the billions of dollars allegedly deposited there bycorrupt businessmen.
Mr Yeo said some Indonesian legislators and media had given the “mis-impression” that an extradition treaty would solve the country’s corruption problem.
“This is unrealistic. With or without an extradition treaty, fugitives, once they leaveIndonesia, can practically go anywhere in the world. Funds can also be transferred electronically at a touch of the button…
"Indonesialeaders have acknowledged that corruption is a long-term problem. We applaud President Yudhoyono’s efforts to combat corruption.Singaporewill be supportive but we cannot possibly becomeIndonesia’s law enforcer," Mr Yeo said.
* S’pore ready to conclude extradition pact with Jakarta (The Sunday Times, Feb 13)
* Susilo upbeat on concluding extradition treaty with Singapore (The Jakarta Post, Feb 11)