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MFA Press Statement: Visit by Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan to Batam, Indonesia, 20 March 2018

20 March 2018

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan visited Batam on 20 March 2018 to officiate at the launch of the first three buildings in the Nongsa Digital Park, together with Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi.



The Nongsa Digital Park is a commercial project in Batam which will host IT companies and digital talents from Indonesia, Singapore and across the Southeast Asia region. The Nongsa Digital Park is a good example of how Indonesia and Singapore can work together through the private sector for mutual benefit. Singapore is keen to strengthen cooperation in the digital economy, and to work with Indonesia to develop Batam as a “digital bridge” between Singapore and other cities in Indonesia.



The full text of Minister Balakrishnan’s opening remarks at the launch is appended.


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20 MARCH 2018








HE Retno Marsudi

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Republic of Indonesia


HE Nurdin Basirun

Governor of KEPRI


HE Muhammad Rudi

Mayor of Batam


Kris Wiluan

Executive Chairman

Citramas Group


Mike Wiluan


Infinite Studios


Distinguished Guests


Ladies and Gentlemen




1        Izinkan saya menggunakan Bahasa Melayu. Inilah Bahasa yang digunakan di Singapura dan Bahasa yang digunakan di Kepulauan Riau. Saya sangat senang hati menghadiri perayaan ini. Sebenarnya, ini bukan kali pertama saya datang ke Nongsa. Saya ingat bahawa Pak Kris Wiluan menjemput saya berkunjung lebih dari sepuluh tahun dahulu. Pada masa itu, Infinite Studios hanya beroperasi kecil di bawah resort di Nongsa. Sekarang, operasinya sudah lebih besar. Saya ingin mengucapkan tahniah kepada Kris dan Mike atas kejayaan ini. Kami berharap projek ini akan mencapai kejayaan yang cemerlang di masa depan.



[Unofficial Translation in English: Please allow me to use Malay (in my remarks), the language used in Singapore and in the Riau Islands. I am happy to be present at this celebration. This is not my first time in Nongsa. I recall that Pak Kris Wiluan invited me here more than ten years ago. At that time, the operations at Infinite Studios were small, and located at the basement of the resort in Nongsa. This time around, the operations have increased and I would like to congratulate Kris and Mike on their success. We hope that they will achieve (more) success and excellence in the future.]



2        Pak Nurdin, kami tahu masa depan akan berubah. Kami tahu masa ini adalah masa revolusi digital. Soalan yang pertama dari warganegara adalah mengenai kepeluangan kerja. Inilah sebabnya Nongsa Digital Park sangat penting. Nongsa Digital Park boleh melahirkan dan menghasilkan pekerjaan untuk masa depan; pekerjaan yang baik dan pekerjaan yang berpeluang luas. Tetapi, untuk mencapai ini, terutamanya adalah “education” atau pendidikan untuk menaikkan taraf (“skills”). Jikalau warganegara mempunyai “skills” yang sesuai, tentu peluang kerja akan datang.]



[Unofficial Translation in English: Pak Nurdin, (in response to an earlier point you made) we know that the future will change and we know that the digital revolution has arrived. The first question that a citizen will therefore ask is “Where are the jobs?”. This is the reason why the Nongsa Digital Park (NDP) is important. The NDP can help create jobs for the future – jobs that are good and jobs that can provide broad opportunities. However, to achieve this, the first step is to raise the level of skills through education and training. If the citizens possess the requisite skills, then the job opportunities will come.



3        Friends, I am very happy to be here. As I said in my Malay speech, this is not my first time to be here.



Singapore and KEPRI


4        Batam is our closest neighbour. I remember being here more than ten years ago when Citramas Group Executive Chairman Kris Wiluan said he wished to show me a development in Batam, and I remember seeing the beginning of the Infinite Studios in the basement of the resort. It makes very happy and proud to see the way the development has grown. Both Kris and Infinite Studios CEO Mike Wiluan have a lot to be proud of.



5        Singapore remains the largest cumulative investor in KEPRI. In fact, the total stock of Singapore’s investment in Batam itself amounts to US$1.2 billion. If we include Batam, Bintan and Karimun, Singapore’s stock investment is almost US$2 billion. Singapore companies have been investing for a long time and continue to be interested in investing in Batam and the broader KEPRI region. The point is that the scope for cooperation is very broad.



Nongsa Digital Park


6        The NDP is another good example of how Indonesia and Singapore can work together, and work together with the private sector to create a win-win outcome for mutual benefit for all sides. That is what Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ibu Retno Marsudi had stressed in her speech earlier. The NDP will help Batam’s digital sector. More broadly, the NDP will support Indonesia’s plan, which President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) had announced to create 1,000 new digital start-ups worth US$10 billion by 2020. That is in two years’ time, and a very ambitious target. These plans will also complement us in Singapore to expand our Info-communications and Technology (ICT).



7        During the Leaders’ Retreat held in Singapore in September 2017, both our Leaders, President Jokowi and Prime Minister Lee, had discussed the importance of strengthening bilateral cooperation in the digital economy, and particularly, in boosting Batam’s economy. What we hope is that this project will help develop Batam as a “digital bridge” – a “digital bridge” that connects Singapore and many of the fast-growing digital communities not only in Batam, but also in Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Bali and many other cities throughout the Indonesian archipelago. This is entirely in keeping with President Jokowi’s vision, which he expressed at the 2017 Singapore-Indonesia Leaders’ Retreat.



Supporting Batam’s Digital Economy


8        In addition to the NDP, we have also been supporting the growth of Batam’s digital economy through skills training. For instance, our polytechnics (of which their representatives are present today) have been conducting train-the-trainers programmes so that Indonesian IT lecturers will have the necessary skills and tools in turn to train the Indonesian workforce for the many opportunities of the future. Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore has completed two phases of training for Batam Polytechnic’s IT lecturers in March and July 2017. We signed a MOU at the 2017 Leaders’ Retreat between Singapore Polytechnic and Indonesia’s Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education. Singapore Polytechnic is currently conducting a three-week training course at the NDP itself for 65 IT lecturers who come from a variety of institutions in Indonesia. I would also like to add that these training programmes are funded by Temasek Foundation International.



9        EDB, whose Chairman Dr Beh Swan Gin is with us today, has been working with Indonesian partners such as the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore and the Batam State Polytechnic. I remember they organised a RISING50 Coding Competition in Batam in May 2017. I saw some of the innovative ideas from the coding competition, and these ideas were showcased to President Jokowi and PM Lee during the Leaders’ Retreat last year.



Closing Remarks


10      We are happy to encourage more mutually-beneficial projects with Batam. A thriving, confident, creative digital hub in Batam will be good for Indonesia, good for Singapore, and good for our region.



11      Since we are in Batam, I should end my speech with a pantun.


Kita bersama memancing ketam

Dimasak pedas, kuahnya kental

Dekatnya jarak Singapur – Batam

Bersama sambut ekonomi digital


[Unofficial translation:


We caught crabs together,

Cooked them spicily in thick gravy,

Singapore and Batam are close in distance,

Together welcoming the digital economy.]



12      On that note, let me wish this project the greatest of success, and reassure all of you of the support from the central governments of the Republic of Indonesia and the Republic of Singapore. Terima kasih, thank you.


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