Difficult for Indonesia to take over flight information region

Antara 17 Mar 16;

Tanjungpinang, Riu Islands (ANTARA News) - Indonesia is likely to encounter difficulties if it intends to take over the control of the flight information region (FIR) over the Riau Islands Province from Singapore, Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore Ngurah Swajaya stated.

In a dialog with Riau Islands Governor HM Sani here on Thursday, the ambassador noted that Singapore controls the FIR over the Riau Islands based on a decision by the Regional Air Navigation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1993.

"In order to take over the FIR, Indonesia should become a member of the ICAO Council. With the ICAO, Indonesia must be able to lobby to take over the FIR," the ambassador emphasized.

He expressed hope that Indonesia would become a member of the ICAO Council in October 2016. After all, Singapore has no intention to control the airspace over Indonesian sovereign territory.

However, the Singapore government has no authority to hand over the FIR to Indonesia.

"The decision has to be made by the ICAO and will be implemented by Singapore," he pointed out.

Currently, Singapore is taking advantage of the FIR for security interests such as security matters in the Riau Islands region, which concerns its interests.

Singapore uses the FIR over the Riau Islands as it faces a problem in obtaining a permit to overcome problems in the Indonesian waters.

Based on President Joko Widodos directives regarding the FIR issue, the relevant ministries must cooperate in preparing infrastructure and human resources. The readiness of infrastructure and human resources is very important for operating the FIR.

"Bilateral talks with Singapore are still ongoing. We have a clear target, which is based on the message of the Constitution," he affirmed.

Ngurah explained that the FIR is linked to Indonesian sovereignty. The country has two FIR regions in Makassar and Jakarta, which also exceed the Indonesian sovereign territory.

"We have to be careful and wise in tackling this issue. We should not become emotional," the ambassador emphasized.

Governor Sani expressed hope that Indonesia would be able to take over the FIR over the Riau Islands, an Indonesian province sharing its maritime borders with Singapore.

"This is an old issue that should be settled soon as it concerns the Indonesian sovereignty," he added.(*)

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