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ASEAN important for Jakarta’s interests: Survey

Most Indonesians consider the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) grouping important for the country’s interests, despite earlier signs that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo may be more focused on domestic issues at the expense of multilateral diplomacy.

ASEAN important for Jakarta’s interests: Survey

It has become more difficult for member states of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) to reach consensus on issues, and it is important for them to continue to strike a balance between national and regional interests, said Ambassador at Large Bilahari Kausikan. Photo: AP

Most Indonesians consider the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) grouping important for the country’s interests, despite earlier signs that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo may be more focused on domestic issues at the expense of multilateral diplomacy.

An Indonesia National Survey Project commissioned by the Iseas–Yusof Ishak Institute found that 83 per cent of the 1,620 respondents considered Asean to be important to Indonesia. “This response is surprisingly high, given that Indonesian businesses as well as government officials are widely perceived to be having waning commitment towards Asean,” noted the authors of the survey.

In the initial stages of Mr Widodo’s presidency after he assumed office in October 2014, Jakarta’s emphasis on “pro-people diplomacy”, as evident in the increased attention to the rights of migrant workers, had prompted analysts to question whether the country was taking a step back from its international roles.

But in February this year, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi stated during a visit to Singapore that Indonesia’s foreign policy under Mr Widodo has been one of activism despite some observers suggesting when he first took power that the leader would be more inward looking. ALBERT WAI

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