Singapore Warns Indonesia over Defense Pact

SINGAPORE ~ Singapore warned Indonesia on Wednesday that a bilateral defense pact could fall through if Jakarta were to insist on making last-minute changes to the text.

After more than 18 months of talks, the two countries signed a defense cooperation agreement on April 27, alongside a landmark extradition treaty.

But the scheduled signing later of three implementing agreements, detailing specific areas of cooperation, was delayed at the last minute because Indonesia requested changes, Singapore’s Foreign Ministry charged.

“Singapore’s position is that the agreements are already settled, and the terms cannot be changed casually or piecemeal, without risking the whole package of ET and DCA unraveling,” the ministry said, referring to the extradition treaty and defense cooperation agreement.

It said Singapore has conveyed a proposal on how the two sides can move forward “in the interests of good relations between the two countries.”

“And we are waiting for Indonesia’s response to our proposal,” it added, saying Jakarta had had ample time to raise matters of concern during the negotiating phase.

The city-state’s Foreign Ministry said it was puzzled by reports that Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said Singapore wanted sole responsibility for making military training arrangements in Indonesia.

“Indonesia did not raise these issues then,” the ministry said.

Last month an Indonesian presidential adviser warned lawmakers, who must still ratify the defense pact, that it could threaten Indonesia’s sovereignty.

The state-run Antara news agency also quoted the adviser, Adnan Buyung Nasution, as saying the extradition treaty favored Singapore over Indonesia.

Indonesia had long sought the treaty to strengthen its chances of prosecuting business executives who have allegedly fled to Singapore with millions in state funds.

Wealthy Singapore and its giant neighbor have experienced sometimes testy bilateral ties but analysts said the extradition treaty would open a new chapter in relations.

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