08 April 2015
OVER a period of almost 30 years from the 1970s, an excellent relationship existed between Indonesia and Singapore.
While it is unfashionable among historians to credit “great men” for the outcome of events and to look instead into factors underpinning broad historical trends, the smooth bilateral relationship owed much to the mutual confidence which developed between President Suharto of Indonesia and Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Mr Lee’s first exposure to Indonesia occurred in August 1960 when he made an official visit to Indonesia and was a guest of President Sukarno. It was a disappointing exchange as Sukarno did most of the talking and there was little substantive discussion, with Sukarno expounding his concept of “guided democracy”, repeating points he had made in many public speeches.
The visit highlighted the decline in the Indonesian economy following the expulsion of the Dutch community in 1957, the nationalisation of foreign enterprises and the proclamation of a policy of economic nationalism.
… The writer is Distinguished Fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University. He was Singapore’s Ambassador to Indonesia from 1986 to 1993.
RSIS / Online / Print
Last updated on 08/04/2015