Welcome to Jakarta, diplomatic capital
As we are approaching the final lap toward the formation of the ASEAN Community in 2015, the host city of the ASEAN secretariat, Jakarta, is becoming even more strategic.
It is a city, which hosts not only its 12 million-and-growing population, but also has the indisputable charisma of a regional hub attracting guests and temporary international residents.
Jakarta enjoys proximity to other international hubs, being only one hour and 20 minutes from Singapore, six hours from Syndey, seven hours from Tokyo, eight hours from Beijing and eight hours from New Delhi.
Transforming Jakarta into a diplomatic capital is neither a wish nor a dream, but an inevitable consequence of the role Indonesia is playing as the largest economy in the region. With its renewed commitment to leading ASEAN and its strategic position as a G-20 member, Indonesia is becoming a hub of power and opportunities.
Based on statistics published by the ASEAN secretariat, in 2009 alone, about 20 international organizations spent around US$100 million in Jakarta and employed approximately 7,000 staff members, including 4,000 Indonesians. The trend is rising, the numbers are growing and the city will need extra capacity to cater for them and supply the required space and services.
The presence of international organizations and the expanding of ASEAN creates immense opportunities and intangible benefits for Jakarta. The manifestation of Indonesia’s active foreign policy is blended with thriving investment opportunities and has created a charisma and vibe that is refreshing and very valuable at this point in time.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in his speech to ASEAN underlined the importance of the ASEAN secretariat over the years in the evolution of the association. He was also very clear about how this has contributed to what ASEAN has become today: one of world’s most successful regional organizations.
As the world is going through the hangover of the global crisis, one can sit in a commercial office or embassy in Jakarta, or stroll along stretches of restaurants and shops such as in Kemang and Thamrin and feel the optimism and positive energy.
Reputable rating agencies will put Indonesia into investment grade hopefully by the end of the year, which in turn creates a positive pulse of direct investment. GDP is estimated to reach approximately $1.3 trillion by 2015; this will make Indonesia the 16th largest economy in the G-20 with GDP per capita of around $5,000.
The 2010 report Globalization and World Cities Study Group, by Loughborough University UK has ranked Jakarta as an Alpha City together with Amsterdam, Beijing, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Frankfurt, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, Madrid, Mexico City, Milan, Moscow, Mumbai, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Toronto and Washington. This means Jakarta has strategic positioning and influence in global interaction.
The premise of being an Alpha city among key cities in the world does not excuse Jakarta from its shortcomings. Challenges such as the poor availability of public transportation and Mass Rapid Transit and the need to improve its urban infrastructure and services, not to mention continuous efforts to become a greener city are the key issues for any governor of Jakarta.
Jakarta is still one of Asia’s best kept secrets to any expatriates living here. The quality of commercial, retail and residential property for expatriates is at all time high, with a still growing supply. Buzzing and vibrant shopping complexes, family entertainment and international as well as local restaurants are what is shaping Jakarta today.
The ASEAN secretariat is a great potential asset in this vibrant mix. Many cities in the world have gone through the process and enjoyed the benefits of hosting international bodies. Just look at other cities that host similar bodies, Nairobi, with more than 3,000 staff and related spending of approximately $350 million annually in the local economy. New York, 35,000 staff, spending $2.5 billion. Geneva, 27,000 staff with ¤2.9 billion and Vienna, 4,800 staff with ¤1.7 billion into the economy.
It’s high time for Jakarta to show her pride as host to the region and to the world. The capital city of diplomatic activities in the region is just a reaffirmation of the global influence of Batavia. Let us welcome our guests and reveal to the world Jakarta’s secrets and wonders.
Bernardus Djonoputro, Jakarta Post | Sat, 12/10/2011 11:48 AM