Why Indonesia-Singapore Defense Cooperation Agreement Harmful?

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Prabowo Subianto, Indonesian Defense Minister.
Prabowo Subianto, Indonesian Defense Minister.

The Indonesia-Singapore defense cooperation agreement received mixed responses from a number of groups in Indonesia. A number of parties stated that this cooperation did not provide benefits for Indonesia, on the contrary it was detrimental.

Professor of International Law at the University of Indonesia (UI) Hikmahanto Juwana assessed that the Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) between Indonesia and Singapore was detrimental to Indonesia. Hikmahanto revealed, when compared to the benefits obtained by Indonesia, the losses were even greater.

This is because it contains an agreement that Singapore can apply for the right to hold combat and war exercises with other countries in an area called the Bravo area in the southwest of the Natuna Islands.

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He said that a similar agreement had also been initiated in the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) in 2007, but was rejected by the DPR and the public.

Hikmahanto explained, referring to DCA 2007, several issues were questioned, namely the provision of a strategic Indonesian Archipelagic Sea lane area (ALKI) if Singapore was allowed to conduct war games in the Natuna Islands. According to him, so far the ALKI area has been an area of commercial ships passing by.

He said that if the granting of a permit for Singapore's military training resulted in the closure or disruption of the ALKI area, it would be very detrimental to Indonesia.

"Singaporean soldiers, for example, commit crimes in Indonesia during training, they will be tried in Singapore, even though the crime is in Indonesia," he said.

These factors underlie the rejection of the defense cooperation agreement in 2007. Hikmahanto hopes that the DPR will pay close attention to the agreement initiated by the Indonesian government with Singapore. He recalled the importance of territorial sovereignty for the state.

Previously, the Governments of Indonesia and Singapore agreed to cooperate in the fields of politics, law and security as well as defense cooperation.

One of them is the Defense Cooperation Agreement, which contains an agreement in which Singapore can apply for the right to hold combat and war exercises with other countries in an area called the Bravo area in the southwest of the Natuna Islands.

This cooperation agreement was also questioned by the majority of members of Commission I DPR RI during a joint meeting with Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto at a meeting on Thursday (27/1/2022). The cooperation, which was rejected by the DPR in 2007, was judged not to have benefited Indonesia at all.

However, after the meeting, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto explained to reporters that the military agreement with Singapore did not harm Indonesia.

"We need friendship with Singapore and we consider Singapore is our friend country," Prabowo replied at the Parliament Complex, Jakarta, Thursday.

Prabowo said Singapore's military and war exercises in the area called the Bravo area in the southwest of the Natuna Islands must obtain permission from the Indonesian government. The contents of the agreement are the same as the 2007 DCA during the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).

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