State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno, center, is accompanied by directors from state firms at a breaking of the fast gathering with reporters. (Antara Photo/Yudhi Mahatma)

Singapore Will Not Host Indonesian Government Data, Says SOE Minister Rini Soemarno


JUNE 21, 2015

Jakarta. State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno is speaking out about the controversial cooperation between Indonesia’s state controlled Telekomunikasi Indonesia, or Telkom, with Singaporean telco company Singapore Telecommunications on Saturday in a breaking of fast gathering with journalists.

Rini clarified that the data center being built by Telekomunikasi Indonesia International Singapore (Telin Singapore) in Jurong, Singapore, “will not host” Indonesian government data.

Rini, who invited top executives from state firms, including from Telkom, at an informal breaking of the fast gathering at her residence in the Widya Chandra complex, South Jakarta, said Telkom’s data center was built “purely” to tap Singapore's potential market.

“It’s for businesses in Singapore only. Telkom is building its third data center in Singapore after winning a tender, through Telin Singapore, for permission to operate a data center in Jurong. Telin is fully a subsidiary of Telkom.

Last week, an NGO called Indonesia Club filed criminal charges against the minister, accusing her of authorizing Telkom to build a data center in Singapore, partly owned by a Singapore parastatal, with the assumption that “it would host” Indonesian government data.

“I was surprised, I just came back from China and France, but I had a surprising gift: the media reporting negatively about the cooperation between Telkom and Singtel [Singapore Telecommunications],” she said.

Gigih Guntoro, director of  Indonesia Club, pointed out the risks of Telkom and Singtel hosting Indonesia’s e-government services, saying the cooperation may violate state intelligence and electronic communications laws.

He further argued that electronic systems and transactions in Indonesia, especially those that relate to data servers for public services, must be located within the country.

Rini, however, remained defiant and said she was unphased by the police report filed by Indonesia Club.

“Go ahead, we haven't done anything wrong,” she said. “Of course we will abide by our own regulations. Data servers for public services must be located here [in Indonesia].”

Rini declined to reveal whether she plans to counter-sue Indonesia Club over the report.

Unrelated issues

Indra Utoyo, director of Innovation and Strategic Portofolio at Telkom, explained that the Telin-3 data center, Telkom’s cooperation with Telin and Telkom’s intention to win the tender for e-government services developed by President Joko Widodo's administration “are completely unrelated issues.”

He insisted that Telin-3 data was necessary as Telkom's first and second data centers have reached 70 percent of their maximum capacity rate.

“There was a tight tender process for this project. Many [companies] are proposing to build a data center in Jurong. We went through the bidding process and we won,” Indra said, emphasizing that the data center “will not” host Indonesian government data.

After winning the tender on June 5, Telin Singapore kicked off construction of the $115 million Telin-3 data center in Jurong with a ceremony that included Rini and Telkom chief executive Alex J. Sinaga, who is also named in Indonesia Club’s police report.

With regards to the joint venture between Telkom and Singtel, Indra clarified that Telkomsigma, Telkom’s data center subsidiary will merge with NCS, previously called National Computer Systems, a fully-owned subsidiary of Singtel.

NCS has its core business in IT system integration, supporting the Civil Service Computerization Program as well as data center projects, according to its website.

Telkom's e-government services, meanwhile, still has to undergo a tender process by the government, Indra said.

The government has yet to reveal whether it will appoint Telkom for the project, which may involve synchronizing Joko's welfare programs, such as the Indonesian Health Card (KIS) and Indonesian Smart Card (KIP).

Rini explained that the joint venture may instead help Indonesia develop the “system" for the state's e-services, instead of hosting government data.

“It may, for example, develop an e-education system or help manage a system that could help reduce dwell time at ports,” she said.

Rini explained that the project would require the efforts of multiple government agencies, but the nation is in dire need of “a one-window system.”

“In regards to data management, it would still be handled by the respective ministries,” she said, adding that it may also include participation from the home affairs ministry.

She did not elaborate on how the data center or e-government system would work, but Telkom’s Indra Utoyo said the company is “ready to help,” banking on the strength of its Telkomsigma, which already has three data centers in Serpong, Tangerang; Sentul, West Java; and Surabaya, East Java.

The unit is currently building new data centers in several other Indonesian cities, including Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. The company has announced it intends to expand Telkomsigma’s data centers from the current 55,000 square meters to to 100,000 square meters by the end of this year.