Indonesia says Singapore wants to scuttle pact because of embezzled funds

Associated Press
13 Jul 07

Indonesia accused Singapore of trying to scuttle a bilateral defense pact because it does not want to acknowledge accommodating fugitives who fled Indonesia with billions of dollars after the 1997-98 financial crisis.

The agreement, negotiated between the two countries in April, is linked to an extradition treaty that Jakarta hopes will help it recover embezzled funds. But a dispute over Singapore’s right to carry out military training in Indonesia has held up ratification.

Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono told The Associated Press he is willing to let Singapore carry out naval exercises in the so-called Bravo area of the South China Sea four times a year.

“We think this is adequate given our concern of environment, fishermen and general security in that region,” he said. “But they’ve raised the ante … they want 45 days training for every quarter, which is 15 days a month. That’s too much.”

Singapore’s Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment Friday, but had issued a statement last week defending its position on the issue.

The city-state says it is Indonesia that has stalled the implementation of the pact by refusing to sign related agreements that they had already agreed on, and by seeking last-minute changes. But Sudarsono said Singapore was to blame.

“I think what they wanted was to scuttle the agreement package, because if they agree to the extradition treaty, they’d have to acknowledge that between 1997-2001 they indeed accommodated fugitives who fled Indonesia with US$2 billion to US$3 billion,” he said.