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Old 29th November 2012, 03:56 PM   #2
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Indonesia's Growth 'A Testament to Its Leadership': Singapore's Tan

Zakir Hussain - Straits Times | November 29, 2012

Singapore's President Tony Tan inspects the honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on November 28, 2012. Tan is Indonesia for a five-day state visit. (Reuters Photo/Supri)

Jakarta. The Indonesian economy has seen a remarkable transformation over the past eight years, and remains resilient in the face of a global financial crisis, Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam said on the second day of his state visit to Indonesia.

This impressive growth is a testament to the leadership of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, he said at a state banquet.

"Under Your Excellency's presidency, Indonesia has been a model of how democracy, development and Islam can co-exist and prosper," Tan said.

"Indonesia has enjoyed eight years of political stability during which broad-based foreign and domestic investments have benefited not only the capital but provinces across the country.

"In the regional and international arena, Indonesia speaks with the confidence and clout of a successful country and constructive global player," he added.

Tan's visit comes at a time when bilateral ties are robust, much of this aided by close personal ties between the people and their leaders, a point both leaders highlighted last night.

Accompanying officials bantered about how only an hour earlier, the Indonesian football team had pipped Singapore 1-0 in the final minutes of a closely fought Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup match in Malaysia.

Both economies are also closely intertwined. "Our relations date back to the time of traders who plied the ancient maritime silk road," said Tan, adding that they have since grown considerably.

Tan began his day by paying his respects to the more than 9,000 soldiers and leaders buried at the Kalibata Heroes' Cemetery.

In the afternoon, Yudhoyono and several key ministers greeted Singapore's President at the presidential palace in the heart of Jakarta with a 21-gun salute, before both leaders and their wives had tea together.

Vice-President Boediono then called on Tan at his hotel, where they discussed the economy and cooperation in human resource development and education.

At the state banquet later, Yudhoyono, who spoke first, noted that bilateral relations have grown ever closer in the last 10 years.

"Our geographic proximity forms the basis for building mutually beneficial strategic cooperation," he said.

"In politics, the strength of our ties is mirrored in the high frequency of visits among government officials, MPs and community leaders, which help boost cooperation in other fields."

He also found the rise in trade volume between the two countries heartening, amid a global downturn.

"We ought to encourage this positive trend by pushing for trade that is balanced, fair and sustainable," he said.

Yudhoyono hoped investors from Singapore, the largest source of foreign investment, could continue to invest and help Indonesia realize its master plan for economic development.

Both leaders stressed how people-to-people ties were key to the bilateral relationship. Both countries are now each other's top visitor destinations.

Yudhoyono noted that more than 24,000 Indonesian students studied in Singapore this year, and many Indonesians pursue careers in Singapore.

He also expressed his gratitude to Singapore for its efforts to safeguard the welfare of Indonesian domestic workers in Singapore.

"We are very grateful that our workers in Singapore get the right to one day off a week," he said. "This is a wise move that greatly benefits them."

Tan noted that schools and arts groups are working together, stressing a shared culture and history.

Singapore has also trained 5,000 Indonesian officials under the Singapore Cooperation Program.

Both leaders also stressed that as founding members of Asean, their countries share a common vision of a close-knit Asean Community by 2015 and a region that is peaceful, stable and prosperous.

Indonesia will also chair the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) next year.

"Maintaining growth and prosperity in our region will require Asean to maintain its centrality. This will help our region manage the complexities of an uncertain international environment," said Tan.

"Singapore will continue to work with Indonesia to strengthen Asean's unity and centrality. We also look forward to working closely with Indonesia during Indonesia's chairmanship of Apec next year."

Reprinted courtesy of The Straits Times
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