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October 2021
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To Singapore's immediate south, Indonesia's Riau Islands has a population of 2 million and a land area of 8,200 sq kilometres scattered across some 2,000 islands. The better-known islands include: Batam, the province's economic motor; Bintan, the area's cultural heartland and site of the provincial capital, Tanjungpinang; and Karimun, a ship-building hub strategically located near the Straits of Malacca. Leveraging on its proximity to Singapore, the Riau Islands—and particularly Batam—have been a key part of Indonesia's strategy to develop its manufacturing sector since the 1990s. In addition to generating a large number of formal sector jobs and earning foreign exchange, this reorientation opened the way for a number of far-reaching political and social developments. Key among them has been: large-scale migration from other parts of the country; the secession of the Riau Islands from the larger Riau Province; and the creation of a new provincial government. Building on earlier work by the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute on the SIJORI Cross-Border Region, spanning Singapore, the Malaysian state of Johor, and the Riau Islands, and a second volume looking specifically at Johor, the third volume in this series explores the key challenges facing this fledgling Indonesian province. Adopting a multidisciplinary framework, this book explores three issues: what have been the social, political, and environmental effects of the rapid economic change set in motion in the Riau Islands; to what extent can or should the province seek to reconfigure its manufacturing-based economy; and how have the decentralization reforms implemented across Indonesia affected the Riau Islands.

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