“Wake up, Mr Lee. Present-day Indonesia is much more democratic and open than during the era when the two of y

27 Jul 07

Former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s statement on his visit to Indonesia has drawn a stalemate in efforts to resolve Indonesia-Singapore differences on the DCA (defence cooperation agreement).

Lee who is here from July 22 to 27, 2007 said the DCA was an agreement between the Singaporean government and the Indonesian government, not between Singapore and the House of Representatives or any political party in Indonesia.

This former Singaporean prime minister in a statement urged Indonesia to be consistent with the agreement, in response to a question what he thought about the Indonesian Parliament’s rejection of the DCA and the House’s suspicion about his visit to Indonesia. “It is a complicated question for the Singaporean government.”

Lee’s statements made on many occasions have drawn reactions from many legislators and leaders of many organizations in Indonesia.

Muhammad Rahmad Kurnia MSc of Hitbu Tahrir Indonesia said that the former Singapore prime minister intentionally came here to create a rift among some circles in the country.

Having met with Vice President Yusuf Kalla, Lee said Kalla seemed to fully understand the importance of the DCA, but unfortunately he (Kalla) was only the vice president.

According to Kurnia, Lee’s statement which put Kalla at odds with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was seen as a disdainful trick of this noted Singapore politician in triggering a rift among Indonesian politicians.

“I think Lee’s visit to Indonesia is merely to create a rift as he has anticipated that the DCA will not be ratified by the House of Representatives,” he said, adding that Lee came here to put more pressure on Indonesia.

Lee wanted the Indonesian government to be wishy-washy in their stance in the context of the DCA. He intended to provoke a general controversy, Kurnia said.

Therefore, the House of Representatives (DPR) and the people of Indonesia should continue rejecting the DCA which is not serving the interest of this world largest archipelagic country in addition to insisting the government on taking a firm stance against Lee whose statement tended to belittle the role of the DPR and political parties.

Remain rejecting

In the meantime, the House of Representatives (DPR) was reported to stick to its stance of rejecting the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) between Indonesia and Singapore although Singapore is sending former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew to persuade Indonesian officials to ratify it.

“Lee’s visit to Jakarta will not change DPR’s attitude. The House will, however, appreciate his visit to Jakarta,” House Speaker Agung Laksono said. He said that the DPR rejected the substance of the DCA because, an evaluation indicated that were many aspects of the deal that did not serve Indonesia’s short and long run interest.

Legislator of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, Andreas Pareira, said that Lee’s statement that the Singapore government could conclude bilateral cooperation agreements including the DCA only with the Indonesian government, showed that he (Lee) was beginning to become senile.

Andreas said Lee Kuan Yew still regarded present-day Indonesia as being the Indonesia during the era of president Soeharto who was his close friend. “Wake up, Mr Lee. Present-day Indonesia is much more democratic and open than during the era when the two of you (Lee and Soeharto) could make bilateral agreements on your own on behalf,” Andreas pointed out. Hence, the young PDI-P politician said he would like to give Lee a political lesson on the new democratic era of Indonesia.

“The senior Singapore politician should know that in Indonesia strategic decisions relating to the interest of many people can now be made only with the approval of the House of Representatives which consists of political party members elected in elections that are possibly among the most democratic in the world,” he said. As to political democracy, according to Pareira, Singapore still needed to learn much, including from Indonesia.

Not only that, Lukman Hakim Saefuddin of the United Development Party (PPP) faction said that Lee’s statements that Indonesia’s political system and practices are counter=productive, and that relations between the government and DPR were strange and irrational, in addition to comparing President SBY and Vice President Kalla, was an act of harassment to Indonesia’s sovereignty.

His comment failed to reflect his statesmanship as he was a noted senior statesman of a neighbouring country, Lukman said.

Therefore, the PPP faction called on the government to seriously learn and watch out for the motives behind Lee’s statement on Indonesia’s political system and practice. “Please don’t put Indonesia at stake just for the sake of the DCA.”

In addition, he added, the Singapore’s ambassador to Indonesia should also clarify the comments made by his former prime minister.

Earlier, Lee Kuan Yew reiterated that with regard to the DCA, the Singaporean government only reached such agreement with the Indonesian government, and not any political party.

However, he added, Singapore very much appreciated the Indonesian government’s decision and the process through which the DCA was going through in Indonesia.

Lee Kuan Yew is now on a six-day visit to Indonesia from July 22 to 27, 2007, to attend a Citibank function and meet with Indonesian political leaders, lawmakers and members of the business community.

Channel News Asia said that Lee was accompanied by his wife and a number of Singaporean legislators and senior government officials.

Lee, who was prime minister from 1959 to 1990, and known as the founding father of the island state, will deliver a lecture at the Indonesia Forum Foundation.

In 1990, Lee was succeeded by Goh Chok Tong who led Singapore until he was replaced by Lee Hsien Loong on Aug 12, 2004.

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