12 Feb 2007

Indonesia bans sand to Singapore

George Yeo is apparently surprised that this action might be 'politically' motivated. Imagine politics interfering in a business deal - my God. Next the foreign media will be telling George that Temasek is actually being run by the Singapore government and that it has upset the Thai authorities and led to a military coup.

George also argues that these rather drawn out negotiations have not been easy. It can be rather difficult to string a conversation out while behind his back your accomplice is robbing their home.

As the article by Michael Backman asserts
The authorities have found out and you're facing arrest. You need somewhere to go where authorities can't touch you. So where do you go? The answer is Singapore. Why? Because it is a half-hour flight from Jakarta, or 45 minutes by ferry from the Indonesian island of Batam, and, most importantly, it does not have an extradition treaty with Indonesia.

It is largely ethnically Chinese, just like many of Indonesia's white-collar criminals, if only because Indonesians of Chinese ancestry dominate that country's business sector.

Singapore finally agreed to negotiate an extradition treaty last year after years of Indonesia begging for one. The process has been ridiculously drawn out. At least six rounds of talks have been held. Indonesia is angry and feels that Singapore is being obstructionist. But why should Singapore be slow? Probably because it is a haven for Indonesian crooks on the run, and they bring their money with them. Billions of dollars in corruptly obtained funds have flowed into Singapore's property market and its banks.

So we all know how 'difficult' such negotiations can be. But for anyone to claim that any descision amongst these politicians, is some how a 'political matter' other than a mere business arrangement, well that is just down right unreasonable.

From the BBC
Singapore is to fix the price of sand used in the construction industry after Indonesia banned all exports to its city-state neighbour.

Officially Indonesia has said the ban is due to environmental concerns, but some believe it is politically driven.

A Singapore newspaper reported that it had been told that the ban was due to a difference over an extradition treaty.

Singapore is one of the largest importers of Indonesian sand, which is used to make concrete.


Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo has said that, if true, Indonesia's suggestion that the ban was in protest over delays to an extradition treaty, was "unfortunate and counter-productive".

The two countries are separated by the Strait of Singapore

The comments were reported to have been made by an Indonesian official.

Mr Yeo added that negotiating the first extradition treaty between the two nations was not easy.

Indonesia has been pushing Singapore for an extradition treaty which Jakarta says is vital in its fight against corruption.

The Indonesian government alleges that many suspects wanted in Indonesia on corruption charges have simple fled to Singapore.

Jakarta has previously banned the export of sea sand to Singapore, which is used in land reclamation.

Singapore is now fixing the price of sand to curb any inflationary pressures as importers have to switch to alternative sources.

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