Singapore’s DPM eyes deeper ties with Indonesia in green economy, digitalisation

The two countries have been in talks to allow the use of compatible QR codes and local currencies to make payments in the respective other country.

Vincent Fabian Thomas

Vincent Fabian Thomas

The Jakarta Post


Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong speaks during a fireside chat with Indonesian media representatives in Singapore on July 7, 2023.(Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI)/MCI)

July 17, 2023

JAKARTA – Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong says his country is seeking to deepen ties with Indonesia through new areas of bilateral collaboration.

Wong suggested closer cooperation in the green economy and in digital technology. He did not elaborate on the green economy but pointed to cross-border payment systems as a potential field of cooperation in digital technology.

Indonesia and Singapore have been in talks to allow the use of compatible QR codes and local currencies to make payments in the respective other country, which is expected to commence in the fourth quarter this year.

Previously, Singapore said it aimed to pursue carbon neutrality by 2050 and implement circular economy to support its low carbon practices. The city state also has inked a MoU with Indonesia regarding cooperation to help Nusantara Capital City project achieving its green and smart vision.

“I am fully committed to doing my part to strengthen this bilateral relationship, and I am very confident that the ties between Indonesia and Singapore will continue to grow from strength to strength,” Wong told Indonesian journalists during a fireside chat in Singapore on July 7.

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Wong is expected to be the fourth prime minister to lead the city state since its independence, even though the timing of a transition from current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong remains unclear.

Lee said on April 14 last year that ministers of his Cabinet had chosen then finance minister Wong as his future successor. He was quoted as saying by Kyodo News a few years ago that he had no plan to continue serving as prime minister after turning 70, the age he reached in February last year.

In a Facebook post, Lee also mentioned Wong had been chosen as the new leader of “the 4G team”, referring to the fourth generation of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).

Months later, on June 13 last year, Wong was promoted to the post of deputy prime minister. Previously, he had served as co-head of the government’s COVID-19 task force, which helped catapult him into the political spotlight, Reuters reported.

Despite the apparent succession plans, Wong maintains that he does not assume his premiership is inevitable, stressing that it depends on Singaporeans to determine whether the PAP can form the government or not in the upcoming election.

“Let us not get ahead of ourselves,” he said.

“As I have said before, my priorities are to focus my attention and my energy on some of the key issues of concern to Singaporeans, whether it is the cost of living, or housing,” he added, explaining that there were many things still to be done.

Read also: Indonesian ministries clash over clean power export plan

As for Indonesia, Wong reiterated that the bilateral relations between two countries were “in excellent shape”, citing cooperation in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic as well as progress on resolving three longstanding issues around defense, extradition and air space.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo invited Singapore to invest in the Nusantara Capital City project in East Kalimantan this June.

Jakarta also recently reopened sea sand exports, which many believe will mostly benefit Singapore, due to its reclamation needs.

In June last year, Indonesia decided to ban renewable energy exports to neighboring countries, which also impacted some agreements it had with Singaporean firms.

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