Undaunted by the mammoth tasks and challenges ahead of him, Jakarta’s Governor Joko Widodo is also determined to make his city “the Diplomatic Capital of ASEAN”, and “the Gateway to Indonesia”.

Also fondly known as “Pak Jokowi” to his supporters, the Governor is a firm believer in the value of the ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC) in his city, and the role of ASEC in connecting the ASEAN member States to this “Gateway to Indonesia”.

“We will do anything within our power to prove ourselves as an extraordinary host,” promised Pak Jokowi, when he met a team from ASEC, led by Ambassador Bagas Hapsoro, the former Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for Community & Corporate Affairs. Pak Bagas is accompanied by Mr Henry Gultom, Head of ASEC’s Administration, Ms Retno Utaira, Head of Finance and Budget Division of ASEC.

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The Governor’s team included Dr Irmansyah, Head of Bureau of the Gubernatorial and International Cooperation, and Mr Nur Awal, Acting Head of Bureau of Government Regulation.

Pak Jokowi and Pak Bagas agreed that ASEC’s presence in Jakarta is a plus for many diplomatic missions, embassies and the Jakarta Authority.

Tracing the achievements of ASEAN, and the outlook of the grouping as it approaches the Single Community in 2015, Pak Bagas convinced his hosts that the success of ASEAN, and the diplomatic presence of missions and other international organizations, had added to, and will continue to bring significant economic and political benefits to their host country.

“We should take a fresh look on how we can accommodate both ASEAN and non-ASEAN citizens who work to sustain the centrality of ASEAN”, said Pak Bagas, who further pointed out how the economy of Brussels is strongly benefiting from the European Union, while New York, Nairobi and Bangkok have drawn on the presence of the United Nations.

He added that to support the Indonesian Government’s mission to make Jakarta “the diplomatic capital city of the region”, there is an urgent need to expand the size of the ASEAN Secretariat’s premises.

Concerning the idea to expand the premise, Pak Jokowi said that he has no problem. “The sooner the better, because it will benefit Jakarta”, said Jokowi. He added that the discussion is waiting further deliberation from the Government of the Republic of Indonesia, citing that he met Coordinating Minister Hatta Rajasa and Minister of Foreign Affairs Marty Natalegawa. Pak Jokowi mentioned that his office will be happy to the utilization of the former South Jakarta mayor’s office for the ASEAN Secretariat. Both officials were in agreement that the establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015 requires a strengthened Secretariat, with better facilities to support its mission.