Indonesia urges ratification of S’pore extradition pact

Armando Siahaan, Nivell Rayda & Dewi Kurniawati
The Jarkarta Globe

The Corruption Eradication Commission said on Monday that it wanted the government to push for the extradition treaty with Singapore to be ratified by the House of Representatives.

“We have agreements with our counterparts in foreign countries, including to arrest fugitives,” said Haryono Umar, deputy chairman of the commission, also known as the KPK.

“But with no clear extradition treaty, arrests would almost be impossible. The Anti-Corruption Law states that we cannot meet a person under investigation unless it is to conduct an arrest.

“We try to prevent fugitives from fleeing the country in the first place,” Haryono said. “But what happens if the suspect has already left?”

Haryono said the KPK had often told the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that it wanted the treaty with Singapore to be ratified.

In 2007, Indonesia and Singapore signed an extradition treaty after negotiations stretching back to 1979.

But the treaty in effect collapsed when House lawmakers refused to ratify it because they did not want to sign the Defense Cooperation Agreement, which was part of the two-in-one agreement negotiated at the time.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said the House at the time had disagreements over some clauses raised by the Singaporean government, which led to the failure of the ratification.

Bantarto Bandoro of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said the absence of such a treaty allowed Indonesian fugitives to flee to Singapore to escape arrest.

The city-state has long been a safe haven for businesspeople and government officials who are running from the law in Indonesia, he said. Graft fugitives believed to be residing in Singapore include Anggodo Widjojo and former Bank Century shareholders Sjamsul Nursalim Hesham al Warraq and Rafat Ali Rizvi.

According to a report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini in 2006, there were about 18,000 Indonesian millionaires living in Singapore with a total of $87 billion in wealth.

Bartarto said the first major step was better harmonization between the government and the legislature in terms of pushing for ratification.

Kemal Aziz Stamboel, the head of House Commission I, which handles defense and foreign affairs, said the House was willing to reopen the extradition issue if the government made the request. Kemal said reconsidering the ratification was not on the commission’s agenda because there was no pressure from the government to do so.

“If there is a recommendation from the government, then the House will raise the issue and review it again,” he said. 

But Teuku said the government had not pressed the House to revisit the treaty because there had not been enough demand from the public.

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