JAKARTA: Singapore’s President Tony Tan Keng Yam is on a five—day state visit to Indonesia at the invitation of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
He arrived in Jakarta on Tuesday afternoon and was received at the Soekarno—Hatta Jakarta International airport by Indonesia’s Education and Culture Minister Muhammad Nuh.
President Tan is accompanied by his wife, Mrs Mary Tan, and officials.
On Tuesday evening, President Tan meets the Singapore community at a reception in Jakarta.
He said Singaporeans living overseas act as ambassadors, playing a crucial role in strengthening bilateral ties with the country they are in.
"You also play a key role in strengthening Singapore—Indonesia ties through the friends that you make, the links that you establish, and the experiences that you share. These strong people—to—people ties underpin the entire bilateral relationship," he said.
President Tan said he was happy with the excellent bilateral relationship between Singapore and Indonesia that spans across many areas.
He described trade as "robust", defence ties as "strong" and called its people—to—people links "healthy".
President Tan said Singapore’s 200,000 citizens living overseas remain an integral part of the country.
He reminded them to stay connected, even as they work and live abroad.
Ramli Bin Syed Ahmad, Singaporean in Indonesia, said: "We always welcome head of state, leaders, ministers to come here and have an exchange of views and to find out how we Singaporeans are doing overseas. There are a lot of opportunities here which I think we can tap on and it’s good if the head of state can come here and we can have a good discussion with them and open up new possibilities."
Augustine Goh, Singaporean in Indonesia, said: "We are very proud of course as Singaporeans to have the president of the Republic here with us and meeting all of us here. So I wish him well and he’ll have a very fruitful visit."
Sherolyn Ong, Singaporean in Indonesia, said: "We need a lot of support from back home, especially where we are running our business here. We see that right now Indonesia there’s a big growth, economic growth. And we really need the support of Singapore government, supporting all Singaporeans in Indonesia, working in Indonesia as well."
On Wednesday, President Tan will receive a ceremonial welcome at the Merdeka Palace, followed by a state banquet hosted by President Yudhoyono.
This is President Tan’s second state visit since assuming office last year. His first state visit was to Vietnam in April.
In a media statement, the Indonesian Presidential office said the visit reflects increased cooperation between Indonesia and Singapore.
Bilateral trade between the two neighbours has risen year by year.
Singapore is also Indonesia’s biggest investor.
The statement said President Yudhoyono is expected to discuss important areas of bilateral relations with President Tony Tan, including that of manpower.
This is the second meeting between the two leaders. President Yudhoyono met President Tony Tan in Singapore during the Shangri—la Dialogue earlier this year.
On Friday, President Tan will head to Jogjakarta where he will visit Gadjah Mada University, as well as a humanitarian project by Singapore NGO, Mercy Relief.
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