Jakarta - Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono accused Singapore on Tuesday of trying to undermine negotiations on the Defense Cooperation Agreement with Indonesia.
Juwono said the Singaporean government wanted the DCA negotiations to be abandoned so it would not have to sign an extradition treaty, which is being treated as part of one package with the defense pact, with Indonesia.
"Singapore is deliberately blocking the DCA negotiations by focusing on the Bravo area," Juwono told Antara.
Bravo area is a piece of Indonesian territory in the South China Sea which has been allocated for air force training, naval maneuvers and missile firing exercises by Singapore, as part of the DCA.
Juwono said Singapore wanted 15 days a month for military exercises in Bravo area.
"I said that`s insane, half a month being used for military training. We want it to be four to six months a year, considering the environmental concerns, fishermen`s livelihood and common security," Juwono said.
He said Singapore was demanding more days in Bravo area because it wanted Indonesia to back down from its demands in the negotiations over the extradition treaty.
Juwono said Singapore would be in a difficult position if it agreed to the terms proposed by Indonesia in the extradition treaty.
"Singapore is like Switzerland, a country which manages `hot money` from countries in Africa, Latin America, Hong Kong, China and Indonesia," Juwono said.
By bowing to Indonesian demands in the extradition treaty, Singapore would unwittingly admit that it harbored fugitives who stole money from the country, the defense minister said.
"This will dent the country`s image as a clean country."
Juwono`s statements will likely fuel domestic opposition to the DCA.
Lawmakers and observers have expressed concern that by making too many concessions to Singapore in the defense pact, Indonesia risks ceding its sovereignty to the city-state.
Critics of the DCA have expressed concern the absence of detailed arrangements concerning Bravo area would not only allow Singapore to do whatever it wished in the area, but also would lead to environmental damage.
Many lawmakers have stated their opposition to the DCA and have threatened to block the agreement.
Singapore has said the extradition treaty and defense pact with Indonesia, which have been signed by both countries, cannot be changed without risking the whole package falling apart.
Juwono said Indonesia would continue to promote diplomacy in an attempt to have both agreements implemented and benefit both countries.
Indonesia has given Singapore until the end of the year to consider its version of the agreement.
The extradition treaty, the DCA and its four associated implementation agreement were agreed by the Indonesian and the Singaporean governments on April 27 in Bali, in the presence of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Singapore`s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Source: www.thejakartapost.com (5 Juli 2007)