by Mollie Kirk
NEW YORK, September 22, 2010 - Indonesia’s Foreign Minister H.E. Dr. R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa said his country “must show leadership, [in the] shaping and forming of ASEAN as it proceeds ahead.”
He spoke with Asia Society Associate Fellow Anne Marie Murphy about his vision for Indonesia's upcoming chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which begins in 2011.
Natalegawa, who is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, said Indonesia's chairmanship points to its growing importance in Asia, as well as, globally. He said that as chair, Indonesia will promote “dynamic equilibrium” between the association's member states.
“Most of the world’s problems are the types that defy national solutions,” said Natalegawa, “and they demand cooperation beyond regional solutions, as well."
He suggested that there are lessons to be learned from ASEAN’s successful emergence from the Asian financial crisis of 1998, and said that while Indonesia experienced a recent economic slowdown, overall the nation emerged relatively unscathed from the recent financial crisis.
He attributed his country’s ability to weather the crisis to more prudent fiscal policies and the democratization of the government. In 1998 the collapse of the Indonesian rupiah led to widespread unrest, and culminated in the resignation of President Suharto.
Asked whether Indonesia and ASEAN would take a position in reforming the world’s financial institutions, Natalegawa responded, “based on our experience of how we got it wrong in 1998 and 1999, and how we got it relatively right this time, I think we have earned ourselves a seat at the table."
“Indonesia had to be rescued in 1999, and now we are member of the G20,” he said. “We invested in democracy and we now reap the dividends.”
Natalegawa spoke as part of the Asia Society's UNGA coverage.