Batam is one of the islands in the cluster of Riau Islands and is among 329 islands located between the Straits of Malacca and Singapore which, as a whole, form the region of Batam. The written records of Batam are scarce, with only one document that mentions Batam’s name, namely the Treaty of London which regulated the division of the territory between the Netherlands and England. However, according to travelers from China, this island has been inhabited since 231 AD, when Singapore was still called Ujung Island.
Prior to receiving special attention from the central government, Batam was an empty island covered by wilderness that was almost devoid of life. However, there were several groups of indegeneous people inhabiting the island. They were living as fishermen and farmers. They were not much involved with changing the physical form of the island.
In the 1970s, Batam began to be developed as a logistical and operational base for the oil and gas industry by Pertamina (State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation). Then, based on the Presidential Decree Number 41 of 1973, the development of Batam was placed under the control of the government institution referred to as the Batam Island Industrial Development Authority and is currently known as the Batam Indonesia Free Zone Authority (BP Batam).
In order to carry out the vision and mission to develop Batam, various modern infrastructures with international standards were built, as well as various other facilities, enabling Batam to compete with similar regions in the Asia Pacific.
“In recent years, the Batam, Bintan, and Karimun (BBK) Free Trade Zone (FTZ) was implemented in accordance with Law Number 36 regarding Free Trade and Free Port Zone and has been amended several times through Government Regulations in lieu of Law, so that it was promulgated into Law Number 44 of 2007. There is also Law Number 36 of 2000 regarding the Stipulation of the Government Regulations in Lieu of Law No. 1 of 2000 regarding Free Trade Zone and Free Ports to be Law, and many other laws and regulations related to the Batam FTZ. Then, at the end of the term of office for members of the Parliament of the Republic of Indonesia in 2009, together with the Central Government, the Law on Special Economic Zone (SEZ) had been discussed as the umbrella law for the establishment of SEZs in the Batam areas and other regions in Indonesia.
Various progresses have been achieved so far, such as the availability of various business fields that are able to accommodate a workforce which comes from most areas of the country. Likewise, the number of regional and central revenues continue to increase. This is the result of the increasing number of industrial activities, trade, transfer of ships, and tourism. However, as a rapidly growing area, Batam is not problem free. For this reason, improvements are being made to the development of Batam Island in order to correct existing shortcomings.