SINGAPORE: Singapore and Indonesia on Thursday (Sept 7) signed a slew of agreements on education as well as disaster relief, as both nations commemorated five decades of diplomatic relations. The signing of the Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) were witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, after they held talks at the Istana. Both leaders also unveiled a joint stamp issue featuring corals found in both countries. Mr Widodo is in Singapore for a two-day visit which began on Wednesday to attend the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders’ Retreat. One of the MOUs signed is on disaster risk management between the Singapore Civil Defence Force and the Indonesian National Disaster Management Authority, with both sides agreeing to step up exchange of knowledge and expertise, among others. On the education front, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture on Thursday inked an MOU to strengthen education cooperation. A third MOU will see the MOE and the Indonesian Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education collaborate on higher education, while the MOE also inked a deal with the Indonesian Ministry of Industry to collaborate on vocational education and training. The signing of the MOUs and the unveiling of the joint stamp issue were part of activities to commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between both countries, who share a close and warm relationship with collaborations in many sectors. Earlier on Thursday morning, Mr Lee and Mr Widodo planted a Sunda Oak tree that is native to both countries in the Learning Forest at Singapore Botanic Gardens. Indonesian First Lady Iriana Joko Widodo and Madam Ho Ching Mr Lee’s wife — were also present at the event. Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Indonesia, and both countries have adopted a tagline of Rising50 to celebrate the milestone.
The tagline is an amalgamation of “RI” for the Republic of Indonesia, “Sing” for Singapore, and 50 for the anniversary. A statement from Singapore Post (SingPost) said the joint stamp issue featured coral reefs as the “myriad interdependencies within these delicate eco-systems reflect the many ways in which Singapore and Indonesia are working together”. This is the second collaboration between SingPost and its Indonesian counterpart, Pos Indonesia. The first, in 2009, featured tourist attractions of both countries. Coral reefs are one of the most biologically diverse marine eco-systems, providing food and shelter to at least a quarter of all marine species, despite occupying less than 0.1 per cent of the world’s ocean surface. The joint-issue stamps are valued at S$1.30 each.
Miniature Sheets with both stamps are sold at S$2.75 each. Pre-cancelled First Day Covers affixed with both stamps or with a Miniature Sheet are available at S$3.50 each. The stamps and Miniature Sheets will go on sale from Thursday at all post offices, the Philatelic Store @ GPO and the Singapore Philatelic Museum. First Day Covers and Presentation Packs will be available only at General Post Office, the Philatelic Store @ GPO, Tanjong Pagar Post Office, Ion Orchard Post Office, Jurong Point Post Office and Woodlands Post Office. All products may also be purchased online at shop.singpost.com. On Thursday afternoon, Mr Lee and Mr Widodo will witness a joint fly-past by the Republic of Singapore Air Force and the Indonesian Air Force, as well as a combined military band performance, at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore. In a packed day of official programmes, the leaders will also attend the Singapore-Indonesia Investment Forum and meet members of the Indonesia-Singapore Business Council, which was established on July 28 last year following discussions between Mr Lee and Mr Widodo at their first retreat in Indonesia.