Sat, 05 Mar 2005

Singapore Embassy responds

I refer to the article Extradition talks and Singapore's lectures by Abdillah Toha published in The Jakarta Post on March 1.

It is puzzling how Abdillah Toha came to the conclusion that the recently held negotiations between Singapore and Indonesian officials on the extradition treaty issue " did not yield much". Both the Indonesian and Singapore governments are pleased with the progress of the extradition treaty negotiations.

At a joint press conference in Singapore on Feb. 15 during the state visit of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reaffirmed Singapore's commitment to conclude an extradition treaty with Indonesia expeditiously.

More recently, Indonesia's foreign minister Hassan Wirajuda was quoted by the Indonesian media on Feb. 22 as stating that the meetings on the extradition treaty to date have "gone on smoothly" and that "both sides have shown commitment to solving the issue".

Abdillah's lecture that Singapore is dragging its feet on the extradition treaty because it has vested economic interests in protecting so-called "corruptors" is baseless and shows a lack of understanding of the issues. There are many complexities involved in negotiating an extradition treaty between Singapore and Indonesia. For example, a detailed list of extraditable crimes would have to be agreed upon, including terrorism related offenses.

Extradition can be in either direction. President Susilo has told the media that an extradition treaty could not be concluded "overnight". President Susilo has also pointed out that some countries have taken as long as eight years to conclude extradition treaties with Indonesia.

Abdillah is wrong to think that an extradition treaty is the only legal recourse available to the Indonesian government. Even without such a treaty, Indonesia has recourse through the Singapore legal system. In the 1990s, the Indonesian government successfully undertook civil legal action through the Singapore courts in the Pertamina-Tahir case.

Singapore and Indonesia have also signed on to the ASEAN Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, which provides another avenue. If Abdillah has evidence of "billions of dollars stolen from Indonesia (which) are now deposited in Singapore banks", he should produce it.

Singapore supports the effort by the Indonesian government to eradicate corruption and hopes that an extradition treaty would help. However, we are relieved to read Abdillah agreeing that the "extradition treaty (alone) would not break the chain of corruption activities."

ADRIAN CHUNG First Secretary (Political) Singapore Embassy Jakarta





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