Posted by: mel | February 6, 2009

Indonesia and Singapore agree on western part of border

February 5, 2009 

Officals in Indonesia and Singapore say they have agreed on a new maritime borderline between Indonesia’s Pulau Nipah and Singapore’s Sultan Shoal.

Presenter: Christine Webster
Speaker: Indonesian political and economic expert, Professor Arif Budiman from Melbourne University

WEBSTER: The Indonesian government says the martime boundary agreement will enable economic opportunities to be developed in the Batam, Bintan and Karimun islands near the Singapore border.

Indonesian political and economic expert Professor Arif Budiman from Melbourne University says the agreement will also mean better security along the border.

He says it will hopefully mean less Indonesians will illegally enter Singapore looking for work.

BUDIMAN: It is more the concern of Singapore rather than Indonesia, because Indonesia is a poor country and mostly if people cross the border they want to find work there and Singapore cannot afford it. So it’s basically the concern of Singapore to stop Indonesian cheap labour coming to Singapore. For Indonesia Singapore is only a kind of shopping place for the rich people, they go to Singapore and buy things. So this is the thing that Singapore wants but not the border, especially the ocean where it is difficult to control because there are many ships crossing the border and go to Singapore illegally.

WEBSTER: It also though from what the President of Indonesia has been saying, he says that now that this agreement has been reached Indonesia can now further explore economic development in territories, including the Batam, Bintan and Kariman Islands. What sort of potential is there?

BUDIMAN: It’s basically the investment, Singapore has a lot of money there and they want to invest in a productive place. They have to find a place in Indonesia, and Indonesia is more democratic now and rule of law is getting stronger, so for Singapore it is getting better, Indonesia. So now they are looking, before under Suharto it’s very unpredictable, so no investment is going to Indonesia. This is more under Suharto. But now it is more stable, rule of law is reigning in Indonesia.

WEBSTER: And what areas could Singapore be looking for?

BUDIMAN: Maybe some way they can set up kind of small industry like in Batam where there are some markets for that, some small industries and also I think they want to go into mining to at least talking together with Indonesian mining capital.

WEBSTER: You say that there could be some small industries that Singapore would be interested in, what type of industries?

BUDIMAN: Mostly industries that produce things that are being used in daily life.

As far as in the big industries like car industries, Indonesia has potential market for cars because of the booming economy, the population is so large. So there is a kind of future market for cars and luxury goods also. So Singapore is looking basically everywhere and at the moment I think mostly they are interested in the more safer industries like the luxury goods industry.

WEBSTER: What has taken Indonesia and Singapore so long to reach an agreement over this area?

BUDIMAN: I think there is a kind of distrust between Indonesia and Singapore, especially because Singapore is considered as Chinese and Indonesia has some special relationship with Chinese people, even in Indonesia they don’t trust the Chinese. I think that psychologically it makes it difficult.

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