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Foreword

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 October 2021

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Summary

In 2012, the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute embarked on an ambitious research project to understand the cross-border regions of Southeast Asia. Aptly designated “Floating Frontiers”, the project focused not on the land borders, but the maritime areas. It has long been recognized that the countries of maritime Southeast Asia—Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines—share a history of rich connectivity in centuries past through movements of its seafaring peoples and development of strong networks of economic, cultural and social ties.

There have been three attempts in maritime Southeast Asia to create subregional projects. SIJORI (Singapore-Johor-Riau Islands) is the first and the most developed. BIMP-EAGA (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area) is the second, and the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) the third.

Regarding SIJORI, in the 1970s and 1980s, Singapore and Malaysia saw deep and mutually beneficial engagement in cross-border investment and trade. The contemporary interest of Singapore in the Riau Islands began later in the late 1980s with Batam. That soon gained momentum, moving beyond Batam to Bintan and Karimun. Since the governments of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia decided to promote SIJORI, the growth triangle has seen the three territories register population and palpable economic growth.

This research project has produced its first fruit, a SIJORI trilogy. The SIJORI Cross-Border Region: Transnational Politics, Economics, and Culture was the first volume. Then came Johor: Abode of Development? The third book The Riau Islands: Setting Sail is the final volume in the trilogy. Together, the three volumes provide a textured and qualitative understanding of subregional architectures and the resulting dynamics. We hope the analyses, the body of knowledge and data can be of use by highlighting the necessary refinements and adjustments that officials and investors may wish to make to the existing framework in light of changing developments.

The Riau Islands documents and analyses what is happening on the ground and the potential of the islands. It covers a large area and the spillover of dynamism arising from its location at the fortuitous nexus of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. In the thirty years since SIJORI was launched, the Riau Islands has emerged as the richest province in Indonesia, second only to Jakarta.

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The Riau Islands , pp. xvi - xvii
Publisher: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
Print publication year: 2021

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