President Joko Widodo, second right, and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, second left, look on as Justice Minister Yasonna Laoly, right, exchanges extradition treaty documents with Singaporean Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam in Bintan, Riau Islands Province, on January 25, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Presidential Press Burau)

Indonesia-Singapore Extradition Treaty One Step Away from Ratification

BY :YUSTINUS PAAT & HERU ANDRIYANTO

DECEMBER 06, 2022

Jakarta. A House of Representatives commission has agreed to bring the bill on the extradition treaty with Singapore to the plenary session, bringing it closer to ratification after protracted negotiations that can be traced back to the final year of long-serving President Soeharto more than two decades ago.

All nine parties in the Commission III on Legal Affairs on Monday accepted the government's request to discuss the matter in the House plenary session, where a coalition supportive of President Joko Widodo controls a vast majority of seats.

President Joko Widodo and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong signed the treaty together with the bilateral defense cooperation agreement and the handover of Flight Information Region (FIR) management over Natuna Island and surrounding areas from Singapore to Indonesia during a meeting on Bintan Island, Riau Islands Province, in January.

But an extradition treaty needs to be ratified by the legislature and there is no better time than the current leadership when the 575-member House is dominated by a pro-government coalition that enjoys a supermajority with 83 percent of the seats.

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“The signing of the bill on the Ratification of the Extradition of Fugitives between Indonesia and Singapore means that this forum agrees to bring the matter to the nearest House plenary session,” Commission III Deputy Chairman Pangeran Khairul Saleh told the hearing.

The government was represented by Justice Minister Yasonna Laoly, who thanked the commission for the approval of the treaty and reiterated its significance to the country’s justice system.

“The agreement on the extradition of fugitives between the governments of Indonesia and Singapore regulates the authorized agencies to conduct extradition; criminal offenses that can face extradition; the legal standing; an exception to extradition; the necessary documents; and the operating procedures of the transfer," Yasonna said.

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A number of top lawmakers have promised a speedy process to the ratification with little resistance, in sharp contrast to the deadlock during the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono presidency (2004-14). 

Susilo agreed on the extradition treaty in 2007 but it reached a stalemate in the House as the majority of lawmakers strongly opposed an accompanying defense agreement allowing Singapore to have a military training ground on an Indonesian island. 

But now even the Social Justice Party, or PKS, considered a staunch critic of the Joko Widodo administration, indicated that they won’t stand in the way.

“Today’s constellation of political forces in parliament is very different from then,” PKS politician Sukamta, a member of the House’s Commission I overseeing defense and foreign affairs, has said 

“The important thing is to examine all articles and make sure that the agreement works in the best interest of Indonesia,” Sukamta added.

Golkar Party politician Dave Fikarno Laksono said the treaty “won’t be put on the waiting list” and that what lawmakers need is “three sessions at most” before the ratification by the plenary session.

House Speaker Puan Maharani also said earlier that Indonesia has been pursuing the treaty since 1998.

The Indonesia-Singapore high-level meeting in January also produced a new milestone in Indonesia’s sovereignty of its airspace. 

Indonesia has repeatedly attempted to reclaim the FIR management in its airspace since the 1990s without success due to a lack of technological support and manpower.

Singapore has since 1946 controlled flight navigation in the area under approval from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

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