This is a remarkable book written by one of my dearest friends Marty Natalegawa – Indonesian diplomat who, for many years, served his great Country with full dedication and amazing success. It happened that both of us came back to Jakarta in 2002. He was returning to his native country from a diplomatic mission and I arrived back to Indonesia as Ambassador, where I started in 1970 my first diplomatic mission abroad as Attaché in this beautiful country.
For the first three years of my term of duty in Jakarta (2002-2006), Marty Natalegawa consecutively served as the Chief of Staff of the Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and as Director General for ASEAN Cooperation in the Department of Foreign Affairs. While serving in the aforementioned posts, he concurrently served the position of Spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
I have met him and had interesting and productive discussions with him between 2002 and 2005. Our last meeting was at the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, where I had the honour to be invited as President of IRSEA. He was then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia. In 2009 he succeeded Hassan Wirajuda - another close friend of mine, an excellent diplomat and a very fine Indonesian politician who was the Foreign Minister of Indonesia from 2001 to 2009.
It was a pleasure to meet and talk with BAPAK Wirajuda. He is a very gentle man with a very fine diplomatic approach to any kind of matter of interest, be it a sensible or just a normal one. I recall with great pleasure, admiration and gratitude my official call on him to present and support the essential reason and advantages to admit Romania in Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM), starting with the very day of becoming full member of the European Union. I remained with the impression that one of the most favourable points in my presentation was the fact that Romania was among the very few countries in Europe that recognized ASEAN as a genuine regional economic cooperation organization and not a military block, as this was at that initial time the most frequent opinion on ASEAN.
In the context of the very good bilateral relations between Romania and Indonesia, Minister Wirajuda visited Bucharest in 2003 as an important member of the delegation of H.E. Ibu Megawati Soekarnoputri (one of the daughters of the most famous Head of State Soekarno- the leader that declared and supported afterwards the Independence of Indonesia) also paid a state visit to Romania.
In a later meeting in Jakarta, in my position as President of the Romanian Institute for Europe-Asia Studies, Minister Wirajuda (still active as Minister of Foreign Affairs) congratulated my efforts to create the Institute and appreciated its aims and targets.
I have the pleasure of trying to convince you about the remarkable importance of the book by quoting the review of an illustrious diplomat of Singapore and Honorary Member of IRSEA, Ambassador Ong Keng Yong:
„This is a rare book on ASEAN by a brilliant mind of Indonesia. Marty Natalegawa brought us into many closed quarters of ASEAN decision-making and inner workings. His crisp and incisive writing reveals how several critical episodes in recent ASEAN diplomacy were handled, and possible ruptures in the ASEAN family averted. Some of the information has never been publicly shared before. Not all ASEAN colleagues will agree entirely with Marty's ideas articulated. Yet, they cannot disagree that the book is a masterpiece by an ASEAN insider whose speeches and writings have always been thought-provoking and forward-looking. Students of ASEAN and the interested observers will find Marty's book easy to digest and and yet profound."
Ambassador Ong Keng Young was the Secretary General of ASEAN during my mandate as Ambassador to Indonesia. He had important positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore and several missions abroad as Ambassador. Nowadays he assumed the position of Executive Deputy Chairman of the S. Rajartnam School of International Studies – an important partner of IRSEA.
By accessing this link, https://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg/publication/2332, you will have the privilege to see several other books on ASEAN as well as plenty of analyses and research studies on the ASEAN and South East Asia”.
Former Ambassador Gheorghe Săvuică,
President of IRSEA