Thousands Arrive in Jakarta, Bandung for WEF, Asian-African Conferences

APRIL 19, 2015

The Asian-African Conference got underway in Jakarta on April 19, 2015. On the same day, the three-day World Economic Forum on East Asia commences. (Antara Photo/Yudhi Mahatma)

Jakarta. As the world’s top businesspeople began the World Economic Forum in Jakarta on Sunday, the 60th commemoration of the Asian-African Conference kicked off in the Indonesian capital on the same day, a testament to Indonesia’s rising clout at the global level.

“I officially open the Exhibition of South-South and Triangular Cooperation and the 60th Asian-African Conference,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi said at the Jakarta Convention Center on Sunday, amid high hopes of boosting cooperation among countries of the Global South.

Retno said she was pleased countries around the world had placed their trust in Indonesia to enhance South-South cooperation in the political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and technical domains.

According to Retno, Indonesia had already launched some 400 programs, involving at least 4,400 people from 99 countries across Asia, the Pacific, Africa and Latin America, to stimulate cooperation.

“We need to go further, that’s why we need to strengthen it [cooperation],” she said.

The minister also called on donor countries and multilateral organizations to facilitate South-South initiatives through the provision of funding, training and managerial and technological support, often referred to as triangular cooperation.

“Indonesia is very committed to developing that form of cooperation … One day, this cooperation will not only narrow the gap between countries but also contribute to growth and peace,” Retno said.

Jakarta military commander Maj. Gen. Agus Sutomo, meanwhile, said around 3,000 soldiers would be on standby to help secure the high-level conference, which will last through Friday and also features sessions in Bandung, the capital of West Java province.

“The army is 100 percent ready to protect the Asian-African Conference,” Agus said. “Let’s all work together to make the event a success.”

Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama stressed that the city, too, was ready to host the conference.

“We were asked to ensure that the city’s traffic is in order,” said Basuki.

Jakarta generally is regarded as the city with the worst traffic congestion in the world, with its notorious traffic jams causing hours of delays every day for most commuters.

The city administration suspended the weekly Car-Free Day in the center on Sunday and throughout the week traffic will be redirected at several key locations to make sure conference participants will not be hindered on their trips to and from venues.

The Jakarta Police, meanwhile, called on potential protesters to suspend any plans to hit the streets during the six-day conference.

“I urge the public to not hold rallies because this will create traffic jams,” Insp. Gen. Unggung Cahyono, the chief of the Jakarta Police, told the state-run news agency Antara on Sunday.

Unggung added that people should help keep the order in the capital to boost the country’s image.

President Joko Widodo’s chief of staff, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, who is overseeing the organization of the Asian-African Conference, said that this year’s conference would also focus on human rights, tolerance and strategies to deal with the rise of the radical Islamic State jihadist group waging war in the Middle East.

“There have been hundreds of thousands of people dying in Syria,” Luhut said. Leonard Cahyoputra