Friday, December 10, 2010

Q&A at Indonesia's Defence University

Dec 10, 2010

'Zero tolerance' towards graft

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean fielded at least 10 questions from students of Indonesia's Defence University yesterday. These are two of them.

How can Singapore expect mutual trust and security cooperation if it allows corrupt Indonesians to stay in the country?

Mr Teo said Singapore had cleaned up its own corruption problem in the 1950s and 1960s by taking a tough line against graft. This started from the top leadership; ministers and senior executives were sent to jail. Today, there is a 'culture of zero-tolerance' towards graft, he said.
'If someone asks you for a bribe in Singapore, you would be totally outraged and would complain about it straightaway,' he said.

This was paired with strong enforcement - the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau can investigate anyone and reports directly to the prime minister - and public officials are paid decent wages so they have no excuse to be tempted.

'In tackling corruption in Singapore, we did not depend on an extradition treaty. Corruption was tackled in-country, at the root and at the source from the top leadership down,' said Mr Teo.

Singapore, he reiterated, stood ready to go through with the extradition treaty and defence cooperation agreement that had been signed with Indonesia.

'We are ready to cooperate with the Indonesian authorities according to what the laws allow,' he added.

He pointed out that there were cases where the Indonesian courts had successfully claimed the Singapore-based assets of those they had convicted.

[1) Corrupt Indonesians and corruption in Indonesia are an Indonesian problem to be solved by Indonesia.
2) Singapore is willing to help and had in fact agreed to an extradition and defence cooperation treaty.
3) Indonesia's parliament has refused to ratify the treaty.]

Can Singapore return the control of airspace around the Riau Islands to Indonesia?

The airspace over the Riau Islands province has been under Singapore's control for 10 years. Mr Teo said this was a decision taken by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which decides every 10 years which agency controls the airspace. This is based on their assessment of the capabilities of the agency's control centre.

'This has no implications on sovereignty,' stressed Mr Teo, who added that Indonesia was receiving income from all planes that flew through its airspace.

Singapore and Indonesia had signed an agreement in the late 1990s in which Singapore acted as Indonesia's collection agent. The amount paid by each aircraft was determined by its weight and distance travelled, among other factors. Singapore remitted these payments to Indonesia each month, he said.

'So even though Indonesia does not have to bear the expense of providing air traffic control services in the form of radars and air traffic controllers, it is actually collecting charges,' said Mr Teo.

[There is no implications on sovereignty, except for sovereign pride, and the implied criticism of Indonesian's capability. Actually, there shouldn't be any implied criticism. The fact of the matter is that Changi Airport being a major air hub has a lot of air traffic and for operaional efficiency and safety it makes sense to have a single air traffic controller and it should be based at the most major airport since it is the most likely destination or origin of the planes.

And related by undated post on Batam internet community website:]

Singapore yet to return RI airspace control

The Singaporean government seems unwilling to return control over Indonesia's airspace in the Riau Islands province, for economic and strategic reasons, a Batam airport official says.

Based on the 2009 Flight Law, Indonesia's airspace over Riau Islands should be returned to Indonesia, Tevi Amir, the chief air traffic controller at Batam's Hang Nadim Airport, said Tuesday.

The airspace over the province had been under Singaporean control for around 10 years because of the limited capacity of Indonesia's radar systems, but this issue was no longer relevant, Tevi said.

"The Transportation Ministry, through the Directorate General of Air Transportation, will take the issue to the annual International Civil Aviation Organization *ICAO* meeting in Hong Kong next year.

"The airspace over Riau Islands has been managed by Singapore since 1999, generating significant revenue for Indonesia, Tevi said. Singapore collects Flight Information Region (FIR) service fees from planes passing over Indonesian territories, which it hands over to PT Angkasa Pura II on an annual basis, he said.

"But we do not know how many planes pass through our airspace. Indonesia only receives fees from Singapore. We wish Indonesia could handle the matter independently."

Batam's Hang Nadim Airport chief Hendro Harijono shared a similar view, because based on the 2009 Flight Law, all airspace over the Riau Islands province should come under one FIR. However, the issue has also been hampered by border issues between Indonesia and Singapore.

"The ICAO has also requested that the borders between both countries be clarified. This is the duty of the Foreign Ministry. If we are serious about the FIR, we must resolve the border issues. The airspace control is also important for the sake of our sovereignty and to test our *military* capabilities," Hendro said.

Technically, Indonesia should control the airspace over Riau Islands, Hendro said. It should be equipped with primary and secondary radars, worth around Rp 40 billion each (around US$4 million), to detect any (metal) objects flying over the territory. So far, none of the airports in Riau Islands are equipped with such devices, hence communication between planes and airports has relied on radio.

In August, a small plane carrying Riau Islands Governor Ismeth Abdullah was forced to circle for two hours after going off-course into a neighboring province, before it eventually landed safely.

The incident was blamed on the plane's faulty navigational system and a lack of flight navigation facilities at Batam's Hang Nadim International Airport. Singapore's control over the airspace has also restricted the use of the territory for Indonesian interests, particularly military exercises.

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