Asia

Tree planting, nasi lemak and flypast mark S'pore-Indonesia Golden Jubilee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesian President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo witnessing a flypast, featuring 10 F-16s from the Republic of Singapore Air Force and 10 F-16s from the Indonesian Air Force, which soared over Marina Bay in 'Arrowhead' and '50' formations. Photo: Jason Quah
President Joko Widodo, Ms Iriana Joko Widodo, PM Lee and his wife Ho Ching during the tree planting ceremony at the Learning Forest of the Botanic Gardens yesterday. Photo: Najeer Yusof
Published: 4:00 AM, September 8, 2017
Updated: 7:37 AM, September 8, 2017

SINGAPORE — It was a packed agenda in the official programme for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as they held a Leaders’ Retreat yesterday, but in the words of Mr Lee, it “cannot be all work and no play”.

So both leaders also took some time off to “jalan-jalan” and have breakfast together with their families at the Singapore Botanic Gardens and did “some catching up”.

Together with their spouses, Ms Ho Ching and First Lady Iriana Joko Widodo, the leaders started the day bright and early by planting a Sunda Oak tree — dubbed the “RISING tree” — in the Learning Forest at the Gardens, as part of the celebrations to mark 50 years of bilateral ties.

Mr Lee and Mr Widodo also unveiled a plaque before they and their entourage took a short walk through the Keppel Discovery Wetlands.

Later in his speech during a toast at the official lunch in the Istana hosted in honour of Mr Widodo, Mr Lee revealed that the Sunda Oak tree was specially chosen because it is a hard and sturdy tree with deep roots, “reflecting the strong foundations of our relationship”.

“It is still a sapling although it is already taller than us. It has lots of potential to grow and flourish over the years, and to provide shade and benefit to future generations,” he said.

Noting that Mr Widodo’s son Kaesang would be familiar with most of the food places in Singapore as he had studied here, Mr Lee said he decided to serve the Indonesian president “nasi lemak with a modern twist” at The Halia restaurant in Singapore Botanic Gardens.

TODAY understands the “modern twist” in the nasi lemak featured braised Wagyu masala beef as a meat component instead of the usual fried chicken or fish.

A dish of poached egg with spicy crab meat was also on the menu.

“We went for a little jalan-jalan and breakfast with our families at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, one of my favourite places to jalan-jalan,” added Mr Lee in his speech.

Later in the afternoon, dressed in batik shirts and accompanied by their wives, Mr Lee and Mr Widodo watched a combined military band performance at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore. They then witnessed a flypast, featuring 10 F-16s from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and 10 F-16s from the Indonesian Air Force, which soared over Marina Bay in “Arrowhead” and “50” formations, following which five RSAF F-15SGs executed a bomb-burst manoeuvre as a salute to both countries and the Leaders.

Under clear blue skies, both leaders and the other dignitaries engaged in friendly banter as they waited expectantly to see the flypast.

As the planes flew overhead, Mr Widodo sketched out the number 50 in the air using his fingers.

PM Lee snapped pictures of the formation on his mobile phone to capture the historic moment.