21 October 2015
The haze enveloping Singapore today highlights the significance of our bilateral relationship with Indonesia. Just as we cannot escape the devastating impact on our health of ‘slash-and-burn’ techniques to clear forested land in Sumatra for palm oil plantations, as neighbors, emerging trends in Indonesia will have an impact on Singapore.
Generally excellent bilateral ties during the years when President Suharto led Indonesia from 1967 to 1998 have been followed by more challenging interactions as Singapore adjusted to the rise of populist democracy in Indonesia. There has been a sharp increase in bilateral exchanges over the years, both at the political and business levels as well as a rise in tourism, increasing student and community exchanges, together with Singapore’s emergence as a major investor in Indonesia and growing bilateral trade. But there are undercurrents which should not be ignored.
… Barry Desker is Distinguished Fellow and Bakrie Professor of Southeast Asia Policy, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He served as Singapore’s Ambassador to Indonesia from 1986 to 1993. This article originally appeared as an RSIS commentary here and is republished with kind permission.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 23/10/2015