Singapore, Indonesia Disagree Why Defense Agreement Stalled
By WENDELL MINNICK, TAIPEI
The Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) between Singapore and Indonesia appears stalled after Jakarta postponed ratification, accusing Singapore of not holding up its end of the bargain.
The DCA allows Singapore’s Air Force and Navy to train in Indonesian territory, a boon for the 270-square-mile city-state. In exchange, Indonesia would get extra training for military forces in Singapore, plus a much-awaited extradition treaty that will allow Jakarta to extradite Indonesian business fugitives hiding in Singapore.
The DCA also includes:
• The restoration and maintenance of the Air Combat Manoeuvering Range and the Air Weapons Range in Pakan Baru in Sumatra for both air forces.
• A provision for the establishment of a Naval Gunfire Support Scoring System at Palau Kayu Ara for use by both navies.
• The development of Baturaja Land Forces Training Area in Sumatra for both militaries.
• Continued training of Indonesian Air Force pilots in Singapore.
Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono told reporters that final ratification of the agreement has been delayed because Singapore refuses to share responsibility in determining when forces would be allowed to train in Indonesia.
“We proposed that training arrangements be determined jointly by the TNI [Indonesian military] and Singapore,” Juwono said. “Singapore rejected it, saying they should decide for themselves, despite the fact that the exercises will be conducted in our territory.”
Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued an official response June 13, saying it is “puzzled by Prof. Juwono’s statement that Singapore wants to decide by itself the military training arrangements in Indonesia.
“Indonesia and Singapore had negotiated the Extradition Treaty (ET), and the Defence Cooperation Agreement and four associated Implementing Arrangements (IAs) as one package,” the statement said. “This package of agreements was agreed to and completed at a meeting of their ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence and their armed forces chiefs on 23 April 2007. It was on this basis that the ET, DCA and Military Training Area IA were signed on 27 April 2007 in Bali in the presence of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.”
At Indonesia’s request, the date for the signing of the three remaining IAs was deferred to May 7 for “administrative and logistical reasons,” said the statement. “Unfortunately, the signing on 7 May 2007 did not materialise, because just before it was due to take place, Indonesia requested changes to the IAs which Singapore could not agree to.”
No Money, No Honey
Not all believe Indonesia’s claims that Singapore is being unfair. A source in the region believes that the Indonesians are stalling on the agreement because someone’s “rice bowl has been upset in Indonesia” — a reference to corruption in the military.
The source stated that, as with all strategic agreements, it is one thing for leaders to reach agreement and quite another to implement an agreement at the command level.
The Indonesian military has a long history of extrajudicial executions, torture and massive corruption. Beyond the regular defense budget, the military supplements its financial needs via military-owned business enterprises, protection money from foreign companies and close ties with organized crime. A law outlawing military-owned businesses by 2009 was passed in 2004, but the military has been hesitant to implement it.
The Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement offers a way out of the stalemate by offering a back door for the Indonesian government: “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. Nevertheless, in the interests of good relations between the two countries, Singapore had earlier conveyed to Indonesia our proposal on how we can move forward on this issue, and we are waiting for Indonesia’s response to our proposal.”
Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle signed a National Guard State Partnership agreement with Indonesia’s Juwono in Jakarta on June 11. According to a statement released by the governor’s office, the two militaries will be involved in collaborative and cooperative missions under the watchful eye of the U.S. Pacific Command.
“It encompasses three focus areas — military to military, military to civilian and civilian to civilian relationships,” the statement said. “The military-to-military initiatives emphasize professional development for the officer and noncommissioned corps and offer a wide scope for mutual exchanges and learning opportunities between the partners’ respective armed forces.”
The governor was in Indonesia on a 10-day visit to discuss better ways to deal with natural disasters. Indonesia’s Aceh province lost more than 100,000 civilians during the 2004 tsunami.