JAKARTA: Singapore is confident that Indonesia will be able to conduct its political activities in a safe and stable way, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Wednesday (Feb 14).
Campaigning for regional elections in Indonesia begins on Thursday, where more than 171 regions, including 17 provinces, will elect their new leaders. The June regional elections are touted as a prelude to the legislative and presidential elections next year.
Speaking to the Singapore media at the end of his two-day working visit in Jakarta, Dr Balakrishnan said: "We hope that Indonesia remains calm, that the situation remains conducive for investments, for business.
“While we have no say, nevertheless it is our hope that they will be able to conduct all these political activities in a safe, stable and quiet way. I'm confident this will be so."
Last year, the Jakarta gubernatorial election was marked by tension and demonstrations against the capital's then-governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, who was charged with blasphemy against Islam. He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to two years' jail.
In Jakarta, Dr Balakrishnan met with leaders from several major political parties - Prabowo Subianto of Gerindra, Airlangga Hartarto (Golkar) and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (Democrat Party).
"From our range of meetings with leaders from the major political parties here, the consensus is that the relationship with Singapore is important, it’s worthwhile, it’s mutually beneficial, and maintaining that consensus is important," said Dr Balakrishnan.
On Wednesday, Dr Balakrishnan met his counterpart Retno Marsudi at the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Both ministers took stock of bilateral relations, reviewing developments in the digital economy, the administration of Batam and how both countries are collaborating on building cruise tourism.
Dr Balakrishnan also gave an update on the progress of the Kendal Industrial Park in Semarang, Central Java, a joint venture between developers from Singapore and Indonesia.
The industrial park, which was launched by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesian President Joko Widodo in 2016, has attracted 36 companies so far with investments totalling US$600 million.
A polytechnic in the industrial park to produce trained workers to support the project is also almost completed.
"The development of the polytechnic at the Kendal Industrial Park is 77 per cent complete. Both countries had earlier discussed the development of the industrial park, which will also include the building of the polytechnic," said Ms Retno.
The two foreign ministers also discussed preparations for the next Leaders' Retreat in Indonesia which is expected to be in the second half of this year.
Dr Balakrishnan said the retreat is important as it gives top leaders from both countries an opportunity to discuss things in a relaxed and informal setting, build trust, strengthen the relationship, and explore ideas.