President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will resume discussions on an extradition treaty with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as the city-state continues to prove a popular destination for graft fugitives.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said both leaders, who will meet at the Bogor Presidential Palace on Tuesday, aimed to boost bilateral cooperation in general in addition to specifically discussing extradition and border issues between the two nations.
“Economic, trade and investment as well as border and legal issues, especially mutual legal assistance and extradition, are high on the agenda. All are in the interests of both countries,” he said in Jakarta on Friday.
Marty visited Singapore earlier this week to meet his counterpart, K. Shanmugam, in preparation for the meeting.
Yudhoyono’s extradition talks with Lee will be the first since both leaders signed an extradition treaty and defense cooperation pact in 2007. Both countries at that time had agreed that one agreement could not be signed without the other.
But after weeks of local media headlines playing up nationalist sentiment and lawmakers accusing Yudhoyono’s administration of compromising national security, the House of Representatives refused to ratify both agreements.
Tubagus Hasanuddin, the deputy chairman of the House Commission I overseeing foreign affairs, said the rejection stemmed from an “unacceptable clause” in the defense pact that would have allowed Singapore to use 32,000 hectares of land in Indonesia as a training ground for its fighter jets.
After the House rejection, the two countries decided to freeze further discussion of both agreements indefinitely.
However, as more and more graft suspects have fled to Singapore or are suspected of transiting through the city-state, Indonesia has shown growing interest in moving forward with an extradition agreement, even absent an accompanying defense pact.
The most recent examples of high-profile graft suspects running away to Singapore are Muhammad Nazaruddin, the former treasurer of Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, and Nunun Nurbaeti, the wife of former deputy National Police chief Adang Daradjatun.
While both Nazaruddin and Nunun are now on trial for their alleged transgressions, Indonesian authorities had difficulties in getting them back. After several months of efforts, Nazaruddin was arrested in Colombia and Nunun apprehended in Thailand.
Many also believe that several other corruption fugitives are living in Singapore or are permitted to pass through it, including businessman Anggoro Widjojo and former Bank Century shareholders Hesham Al Warraq and Rafat Ali Rizvi.
On the maritime border issue, Marty said both countries would intensify negotiations to resolve the remaining disputed segments in the eastern part of the Singapore Strait, following ratification in 2010 of an agreement on the strait’s western part.
According to Marty, Yudhoyono and Lee will also focus on bolstering trade relations, which last year stood at $41 billion, up 33 percent from 2010.
Singapore is also Indonesia’s biggest investor, with a value of $5.1 billion last year, Marty said.
“We strengthen each other with these economic relations,” he said.