Wednesday 22 October 2014

Jokowi invited to make pitch to firms in S'pore

Both countries work well and would like to do more together: PM Lee
By Zakir Hussain Indonesia Bureau Chief In Jakarta, The Straits Times, 21 Oct 2014

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong has invited newly inaugurated Indonesian President Joko Widodo to make a pitch to businesses in Singapore for investments in infrastructure and developing the maritime sphere when he or his ministers next visit.

Mr Lee was speaking to the Singapore media after paying a courtesy call on Mr Joko at the presidential palace yesterday afternoon. He described their first meeting as "good".

"We have many things going on - economic, trade, investments, we've got security cooperation, our armed forces work together with the TNI, and I told him that we work well and would like to do more together," Mr Lee said, referring to the Indonesian Armed Forces by its acronym.

He noted that the new President's priorities were domestic, saying he had focused on certain ideas and reforms such as over the fuel subsidy, for a start.

But Mr Joko also spoke about "reforms to the bureaucracy, getting investments in on infrastructure, getting the idea of a maritime nation going, and he believes that Singapore can help him to achieve this".

"So I said, 'Yes, certainly.' Next time he or his ministers are in Singapore, I encouraged him to meet our business people and make a pitch to them of his strategy and plans, and I'm sure they'll be very interested to hear what he has to say," Mr Lee added.

Mr Lee noted that while the two countries may occasionally face some knotty differences, on the whole, bilateral ties are very good and both sides have made much progress in the last decade.

And he hoped Mr Joko and his Cabinet would continue to cooperate with Singapore and take the relationship further.

Asked about the different styles of Mr Joko and his predecessor, Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Mr Lee said: "We are very happy to work with the elected president of Indonesia, and with president Yudhoyono we had a good 10 years.

"Our relationship developed in a very steady way and I think that this was a positive decade."

He noted that it would take some time for Mr Joko to settle his more urgent priorities, after which he hoped to discuss possibilities for specific ideas to expand cooperation. As for the haze, Mr Lee said he did not raise the subject, but said Singapore had made its position known to Indonesia.

"I have read what President Joko has said earlier, that he is quite determined to tackle this problem, but I think today is not the time to go into such specific issues," he said. "There'll be time enough later."

Mr Lee said Singapore hoped to work in a cooperative way with Jakarta - citing the standing offer to assist in firefighting efforts - and gradually bring the problem under control.

"I do not expect to be able to make a sudden breakthrough, but we are continuing to work at it."

Mr Lee cited Singapore's recent transboundary haze pollution law to make it easier to charge perpetrators with contributing to the haze when they enter Singapore.

"It's not been tested yet, but I think some of the companies which are potentially involved in this have taken note of what we are doing, and I hope it will influence the way they develop their plantations in Sumatra and Kalimantan."

Mr Lee met Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who will host Singapore at the G-20 summit in Brisbane next month, and United States Secretary of State John Kerry before flying home.

Indonesia welcomes its new President
Jokowi reaches out to rival, thanks predecessor as he is sworn in
By Zakir Hussain Indonesia Bureau Chief In Jakarta, The Straits Times, 21 Oct 2014

INDONESIA'S seventh President, Joko Widodo, was sworn in yesterday at a ceremony watched live on TV by millions of Indonesians, thousands of whom later took to the capital's main streets to welcome their "people's president".

His inauguration was the first cordial transfer of power in the country's history, and hopes are high that the transition will usher in another period of political stability for South-east Asia's largest economy.

Banners across the capital, referring to former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Mr Joko by their popular names, proclaimed: "Thank you SBY, welcome Jokowi".

Mr Joko, 53, recited his oath of office at the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) in the morning with a copy of the Quran held over his head: "By God, I swear to carry out my duties as President of the Republic of Indonesia as best and as justly as I can, upholding the Constitution and the laws of the republic."

He then embraced his predecessor, Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, 65, and both men exchanged seats at the front of the hall to applause.

In the audience were Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, among other guests who included United States Secretary of State John Kerry. Mr Joko later received all four men at separate meetings at the presidential palace.

Mr Lee was the first foreign leader he met. Mr Lee told Singapore reporters he conveyed greetings from President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and invited Mr Joko to visit Singapore. "I expressed to him my wish to continue working with Indonesia, and working with him to take our relationship another step forward," Mr Lee said.

Mr Joko was elected on July 9 with 53.2 per cent of the vote, defeating rival Prabowo Subianto by more than eight million votes after a fractious election campaign.

But both men finally met and reconciled last Friday, allaying somewhat fears that Mr Joko's administration would be hobbled by an opposition-dominated Parliament.

In a new tradition, the inauguration was attended by former presidents B.J. Habibie and Megawati Sukarnoputri, as well as the widow of former president Abdurrahman Wahid.

Mr Joko also acknowledged Mr Prabowo as a "good friend", earning a salute from his rival, to applause.

MPR Speaker Zulkifli Hasan paid tribute to Dr Yudhoyono for a decade of economic growth, political stability and raising the country's global stature: "We thank him for laying a strong foundation for the continued development of Indonesia," he said.

Mr Joko, citing founding president Sukarno's call on Indonesians 60 years ago to have a new seafaring spirit, then said: "As your captain, let me invite every citizen to board the ship that is Indonesia and sail together towards a Great Indonesia. We will unfurl our sails, and brave the storms and ocean waves ahead on our strengths."

A horse-drawn carriage ferried Mr Joko to the presidential palace, and Dr Yudhoyono received him at a welcoming parade.

Mr Joko later joined well-wishers at an inauguration concert at the capital's iconic National Monument.

'Just call me Jokowi'
The Straits Times, 22 Oct 2014

JAKARTA - Two weeks after winning the July presidential election, Mr Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was asked by a journalist how he would want the press and everyone else to address him after he took the oath of office.

"Just Jokowi," came the modest reply from the man who has risen to the highest office in the country after starting his career as a small furniture trader.

What about other heads of state - how should they address him, asked the journalist from The Jakarta Post. In reply, he said: "President Jokowi."

He admitted that "Joko" would be awkward, and "Mr Widodo or President Widodo" would sound strange.

"But otherwise, just Jokowi."

Riding on a popular wave to become President, Mr Joko first won mandate to office as the mayor of Solo and later as Jakarta governor on the back of his reputation as a hands-on reformist.

But how did he get his nickname "Jokowi", the reporter asked. Apparently, there was a French connection. Before diving into politics, Mr Joko was a furniture trader based in Solo, with a French buyer as a client. The buyer had several other "Jokos" from other parts of Java on its list of suppliers, which led to mix-ups. The buyer thus started differentiating the various Jokos, following which Mr Joko became "Jokowi", a name he has since embraced.


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