26 March 2016
The Straits Times reprinted the article “A strange anomaly in management of airspace” (March 21) by Chappy Hakim, former Indonesian air force chief, which appeared in the Indonesian- language newspaper Kompas on March 14. He argued that Indonesia must reclaim the airspace over the Riau Islands currently managed by Singapore as a matter of sovereignty, pride and nationalism.
Although Mr Chappy acknowledged that Europe Flight Information Regions (FIRs) crossed national boundaries, he exclaimed that “we are not Europe”.
Mr Chappy’s comments display a fundamental misunderstanding of the international system of FIRs established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which has been in operation since 1946. ICAO has emphasised safety of navigation in periodic discussions on re-aligning FIRs. Sovereignty has not been the key issue. Mr Chappy’s argument is ironic as Indonesia manages the airspace over Australian-owned Christmas Island and independent Timor Leste.
… Barry Desker is Distinguished Fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University. He served as Singapore’s Ambassador to Indonesia from 1986 to 1993.
RSIS / Online / Print
Last updated on 28/03/2016