Jakarta (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) admitted to having closely monitored the construction of the new building of the ASEAN Secretariat he had inaugurated on Thursday.
"Since the start, I have had a personal attachment with this building. Hence, I always monitor this building construction closely," Jokowi remarked while inaugurating the new building located in southern Jakarta.
He recalled that seven years ago, while holding the position of Jakarta's governor, he had held discussions with the ASEAN deputy secretary general highlighting the need to have a larger building for the ASEAN Secretariat in order to support its future missions.
The new ASEAN Secretariat building comprises two 16-storey towers connected by a 41.3 meter-long overpass.
Related news: President Jokowi inaugurates new building of ASEAN Secretariat
The president symbolically handed over the building's key to ASEAN Secretariat General Lim Jock Hoi to mark the inauguration of the new building.
"Indonesia has endeavored to facilitate the ASEAN to work in a fast, solid, effective, and efficient manner. Based on that thought, we construct this building," Jokowi remarked in his inauguration speech at the main hall of the new ASEAN Secretariat building.
Jokowi remarked that the new ASEAN Secretariat building mirrors the new spirit of the ASEAN while echoing his aspirations of it facilitating the regional group to work efficiently.
"I hope that most ASEAN activities would be conducted in this building. It can cut travel spending, and the fund can be utilized for other activities," the president added.
Jokowi arrived at the main hall of the ASEAN Secretariat at 7 a.m. local time in the company of Foreign Minister Retno L. P. Marsudi and Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung.
Related news: ASEAN Secretariat calls for nominations for ASEAN Prize 2019
ASEAN members comprise Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia.
The Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had opened its own building for the first time in 1981, almost 14 years after the establishment of the regional group on August 8, 1967.
Thanks to the Indonesian government’s gesture, the ASEAN Secretariat’s staff had finally moved to the new eight-storey building, located on Jalan Sisingamangaraja, Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, after earlier being housed in temporary offices at Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry compound on Jalan Taman Pejambon.
The then president Soeharto officially inaugurated the first ASEAN Secretariat building on May 9, 1981, in the presence of the foreign ministers of ASEAN member countries and the signatories of the Bangkok Declaration that marked the birth of the ASEAN.
In a joint communiqué issued during the 14th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Manila, June 1981, ASEAN foreign ministers stated that the inauguration of the new ASEAN Secretariat building symbolized a new chapter in ASEAN unity and cooperation.
Related news: Indonesia backs Timor Leste for membership in ASEAN
Related news: Indonesia's bargaining position on ASEAN, G20 forums