Change comes from doing things, says Indonesia’s ex-foreign minister

Marty-NatalegawaKUALA LUMPUR: Indonesia’s former foreign minister Marty Natalegawa has urged Asia’s leaders to embrace change in order to address the issues affecting the region today.

Speaking at a press conference in conjunction with the Asia-Europe Conference 2017 at the Asia-Europe Institute, Universiti Malaya here today, Natalegawa said the region is facing 21st century problems including trust deficits and territorial disputes, but its institutions and mindsets were still of the 20th century.

“How do we break that type of straitjacket and way of looking at things? I think it requires leaders of practice,” he said.

“You can’t change by adopting declarations, statements of intent or treaties. It requires doing things and establishing practices.”

He said this was what Indonesia had been trying to do in many areas, including the fields of democratic governance and conflict resolution.

“Even at the risk of failure. The risk of failure is nothing compared to the risk of inaction.”

He said through all the current events involving geo-politics and geo-economics in the region, it was “good” to have Europe around in Asia’s endeavours. However, he expressed hope that in the future, the relationship would be more reciprocal in nature.

“It’s not only about Europe being in Asia, but Asia being in Europe. Are we following developments, for example, involving Ukraine? Brexit? Are we attending European meetings?

“There isn’t mutual interest involved. It seems the question is always about how Europe can help in Asia.

“Asia must also care and have interests in developments in Europe. This needs to be kickstarted from the Asian side as well as a readiness from Europe to open its doors.

“When we ask about developments in Ukraine, Europe should not brush us off and say ‘these are European affairs’.”