Singapore Trying to Scuttle Defense Pact: Minister

JAKARTA ~ Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono has accused Singapore of trying to scuttle a bilateral defense pact so it will not have to sign an extradition treaty as part of the deal, reports said..

The defense pact and landmark extradition treaty were signed in April between the two nations, but still need to be ratified by their parliaments to be put into effect.

A scheduled signing of three implementing agreements (IAs), detailing specific areas of cooperation, was delayed at the last minute because Indonesia requested changes, Singapore has said.

Speaking to the National Defense Institute, Sudarsono said that Singapore had upped the number of days it wants for military training in Indonesian territory as the two sides thrash out the IAs.

“They intentionally raised the figures so that the DCA (defense cooperation agreement) and its IAs get deadlocked so that the extradition treaty also gets deadlocked,” he said, according to the Media Indonesia daily.

Sudarsono said that Singapore wanted to use Indonesian territory for military exercises 15 days per month, but this was “just crazy. Indonesia only wants four or six times per year.”

Indonesia has been negotiating an extradition treaty for years with the city-state as it seeks to prosecute corrupt officials and business executives who allegedly fled there with millions in state funds in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The state-run Antara news agency also quoted Sudarsono as saying that Singapore had benefited from the hot money brought in by wanted Indonesians and their extradition would “hurt the image of Singapore as a clean country.”

Singapore has denied it has been used by Indonesian criminals to launder money and says it has adequate protections in place.

The Indonesian parliament had demanded a fine-tuning of the implementation agreements, saying the original agreement was overwhelmingly in favor of Singapore and put Indonesia’s territorial sovereignty at a disadvantage.

In June, Singapore’s Foreign Ministry warned Indonesia that the DCA could fall through if Jakarta were to insist on making last-minute changes to the text of the three IAs.

The two deals had been hailed as a sign of improved diplomatic relations between the two nations.

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