Bali, Indonesia, 19 November 2011

As ASEAN gains new roles and functions since its inception in 1967, its structure also grew more complex. With more staff and players taking station in Jakarta, it is inevitable that everyone feels cramped. Despite efforts to rationalise space, space constraints became a critical issue. But help is on the way.

Some 30 years after donating the current Secretariat building at Jalan Sisingamangaraja, the Indonesian government has handed over another extension to the ASEAN Secretariat, to help ease the space crunch.

Signalling Indonesia’s commitment to ASEAN, Indonesian Foreign Minister Dr Marty Natalegawa, handed over the keys of the additional office blocks, to Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN. Witnessed by more than a thousand delegates, as well as the local and international media gathered at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre, the two leaders expressed the hope that the new extension will not only facilitate the Secretariat – but also the entire ASEAN – to the next level of regional and international relevance.

“The provision of the extended premise reflects the importance the Government of Indonesia attaches to the role of the ASEAN Secretariat in enhancing the cooperation within ASEAN, and between ASEAN and external partners. It also emphasises the continued commitment of the Government of Indonesia to make Jakarta a diplomatic capital of the region,” said Dr Marty. He added that it was a gesture of Indonesia’s commitment to the regional grouping.

Located just next to the ASEAN Secretariat, the new extension sits on a land area of 13,200 square meters, or slightly smaller than two soccer fields. Consisting of two buildings – four floors at the front, and eight floors at the back – the total build-up area is more than 21,000 square meters. The premises were previously occupied by the office of the Mayor of South Jakarta.

“As ASEAN gains importance, it also creates a lot of work for the Secretariat. It is the nerve centre which helps to co-ordinate the functions of all its parts. We have faced the space crunch for son many years, and we are delighted that the Indonesian government has come to our rescue,” said Dr Surin.

ASEAN boasts of five members when it was founded in 1967. But as other Southeast Asian countries saw the potential and synergy of the regional group, others applied to join, and the ASEAN family grew in size. That growth also saw ASEAN maturing in importance, and it attracted Dialogue Partners, who felt they too had a stake at the grouping’s development.

Since its establishment in February 1976, the ASEAN Secretariat had operated out of Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry. The ASEAN Secretariat moved into its current premises in 1981. It was officially inaugurated by Indonesia’s former President Suharto on 9 May 1981.