Wed, 05 Jan 2000

Singapore PM Goh, investors to visit RI

JAKARTA (JP): Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong along with about 80 businessmen from the city state will visit Indonesia for talks with President Abdurrahman Wahid on investment, Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore Luhut Pandjaitan said on Tuesday.

Luhut told visiting Indonesian journalists in Singapore that during the meeting, which is scheduled for Jan. 13, the Singaporean delegate would be accompanied by the United States ambassador to Singapore.

Goh promised to visit Indonesia to explore investment opportunities during Abdurrahman's visit to the country in November last year.

Antara reported Luhut as saying that Singaporean businessmen remained very interested in investing in Indonesia despite the riots in May 1998, which forced most Indonesian businessmen of Chinese origin to flee the country.

He said the country's proximity made Indonesia more attractive than China as an investment destination for Singaporean investors.

Businessman Tong Djoe, an Indonesian citizen of Chinese origin who now lives in Singapore, acknowledged that Indonesia was still attractive to Singaporean investors.

But he called on the government to develop stability and legal certainty, which he said were consequential for Indonesia to lure foreign investors back into the country.

Luhut and Tong Djoe said the government needed to rebuild international confidence in the country, which was severely damaged over the past two years due to the lingering economic and political crisis.

Both expected that Abdurrahman's Cabinet could formulate concrete policies on investment and national economic development within the next six months as a guideline for investors.

Bank Indonesia has estimated US$80 billion owned by wealthy Chinese-Indonesians and foreign investors was transferred out of the country after the financial crisis hit in mid-1997 and former president Soeharto stepped down amid unrest in May 1998.

Funds taken out of the country by Chinese-Indonesian businessmen during the turmoil were estimated between $10 billion and $35 billion.

Some analysts have said that the businessmen would gradually repatriate the funds as they have confidence in the leadership of Abdurrahman and Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri. (jsk)