Asia

Singapore-Indonesia ties need to be ‘continuously strengthened in every aspect’: Vice President Mar’uf Amin

JAKARTA: Singapore-Indonesia ties need to be continuously strengthened in every aspect, including politics, the economy and security, said Indonesian Vice President Ma'ruf Amin.

In an exclusive interview with CNA last Thursday (Nov 28), he said potentially destabilising issues in one country, such as terrorism and a weak economy, will end up affecting the other party.

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"As nearest countries, one country will feel the effect most when another has difficulties, disasters, instability," Mr Amin said in his first international interview after being inaugurated in October.

He said Singapore and Indonesia have to help each other to maintain stability in the region.

"(We) need to continuously strengthen the relationship in every aspect – politics, economy and security," he added.

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Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Vice President Ma'ruf Amin introduce members of their new cabinet on the steps of the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Oct 23, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Adek Berry)

Singapore has been Indonesias largest investor since 2014.

The 76-year-old vice president, who is a senior Muslim cleric, believes Singapore companies can invest more in Indonesia. For instance, there could be increased economic cooperation in a special area comprising Singapore, Batam and Bintan, he said.

Indonesia is planning to build the countrys longest sea bridge connecting the islands of Batam and Bintan, which are located near Singapore.

Visitors arrive at the ferry terminal on Batam island. (File photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

The construction of the 7km bridge will begin in 2020, in a bid to improve business and tourism between Singapore and Indonesia. The project will cost about 4 trillion rupiah (US$284 million).

HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT

There is also a potential for more education cooperation, Mr Amin added.

“Weve seen that education in Singapore is, of course, more advanced. We want that (in Indonesia too), whether it's formal education or vocational education.

"We are developing human resources, which is why the cooperation between Indonesia and Singapore, especially in vocational education, is something really needed,” he said.

He hopes that Singapore can provide vocational training to Indonesians who are not pursuing tertiary education so to enable them to become productive workers.

“Singapore has all these strengths and can work together with Indonesia.”

Both sides have previously agreed to explore further collaboration in vocational education.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Vice President Ma'ruf Amin (pose with members of their new Cabinet on the steps of the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Oct 23, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Adek Berry)

The Indonesian government led by President Joko Widodo has made human resource development one of its top priorities in this new term of government. The other priority areas include infrastructure development, simplifying regulations, reforming the bureaucracy and transforming the economy.

Indonesia was ranked 87 out of 157 countries in last year's World Banks human capital index, which looks at youth mortality, schooling and health. Singapore was ranked first.

READ: Indonesia's planning ministry targets up to 6% GDP growth in next 5 yrs

“This is one of our national priorities, developing human resources.

"Education is very important, so that our graduates, whether secondary or tertiary, are competent and ready to be used (by companies),” said Mr Amin.

When asked for more concrete details on how Singapore can work with Indonesia in the education sector, the vice president said: “There are several options. It can be the teachers (being sent from Singapore), it can also be our children being sent to Singapore."

"Or maybe Singapore can build schools here under various conditions which will have to be agreed on,” he added.

There are only four secondary schools in Krayan. (Photo: Kiki Siregar)

Last week, Mr Widodo admitted at a CEO Forum in Jakarta that developing human resources is the most difficult job.

There are now around 220,000 schools across the archipelago with 45 million students, according to government data.

READ: Jokowi's new Cabinet shows commitment to fight extremism, improve education: Analysts

TRANSBOUNDARY HAZE

Another important area both countries need to tackle jointly is the environment, Mr Amin said.

For years, Indonesia has been struggling with seasonalRead More – Source

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