Joko Talks Airspace, Security, Haze With Singapore Deputy PM

NOVEMBER 24, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesian President Joko Widodo met with Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean to discuss trade, climate change and jurisdiction of airspace and security, at the State Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Foreign Affairs Retno L.P. Marsudi, who was also present at the meeting, said the possibility of Indonesia taking over control of the airspace above the Riau Islands province from Singapore was among the topics of discussion. Retno also communicated the government's interest in taking over the airspace in the next three to four years.

Singapore has been in control of the flight information region (FIR) since 1946, under airspace agreements sanctioned by the International Civil Aviation Organization. For years, the Indonesian Air Force has complained about Singapore's military activities in the airspace.

“Managing an FIR is about safety. We are building a roadmap to improve our readiness [to manage the FIR]. We are hoping Singapore will help us increase our capacity,” Retno said.

However, Singapore has not welcomed the idea, with some officials reportedly saying that it is vital that the city-state, which has become the region's aviation hub, should retain control over the airspace, citing Indonesia's poor aviation safety record.

Retno said the two leaders also discussed sharing intelligence to combat terrorism, as well cooperating more closely to prevent forest fires, the latest of which caused choking haze affecting the health of hundreds of thousands of people in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia for months.