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Singapore, Asia

Zakir Hussain
Saturday, Sep 6, 2014

Singapore, Asia

Yudhoyono reflects on 'special' bilateral ties

The Straits Times | Zakir Hussain | Saturday, Sep 6, 2014

At the state banquet in his honour at the Istana last night, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono quipped that the next time he visits, he may just have to take a taxi from the airport.

As the room burst into laughter, he also hinted he would continue to make more trips.

"In my mind, Singapore is an ideal place for me to take a few weeks of sabbatical leave to complete my book project. So if you happen to find me typing in a cafe on Orchard Road, please join me."

Dr Yudhoyono began his speech by saying he would break from protocol and take a little longer than usual, leading some of his officials to worry it would be yet another long speech.

But over the next 20 minutes, he reflected broadly on what he felt was behind the strong ties between the two countries, which he called "special".

In his speech, delivered entirely in English, Dr Yudhoyono noted that of all the countries he visited in the world, Singapore was the one he had lost track of how many times he had visited.

Perhaps, he mused, it was because it took less time to go from Jakarta to Singapore than it did to travel from his private home in Cikeas, West Java, to his office in Jakarta.

"I have come here so often, Indonesian Embassy staff have memorised my habit - a visit to Kinokuniya bookstore, and also Borders before it was closed, and a stop at a noodle stall nearby," he quipped.

He noted that both his two sons got degrees at Nanyang Technological University, and people-to-people ties between both countries were growing alongside strong trade and economic links.

But he also noted how since joining the Cabinet of former presidents Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri, he had always been mindful of the strategic value of Singapore and admired what it had achieved.

"I admit, there were times when relations with Singapore were not easy; perhaps, you think the same of us too. But I am sure there is a mutual feeling that

Indonesia-Singapore relations constitute one of our most important bilateral relations, and we have to get it right."


This article was first published on September 04, 2014.
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