President Jokowi Opens ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo: Calls for Unity and Economic Progress

President Jokowi Opens ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo: Calls for Unity and Economic Progress (photo: screenshot of YouTube Sekretariat Presiden)

On Wednesday, May 10, 2023, President Joko Widodo officially opened the 42nd ASEAN Summit, held in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.

In his opening remarks, President Jokowi greeted the ASEAN and Timor Leste leaders who were present at the Meruorah Hotel, and expressed his hopes that ASEAN would become the world’s economic center. He called on all ASEAN member states to demonstrate unity, saying “I hereby declare that the 42nd ASEAN Summit is officially open.”

The summit was attended by several leaders, including the Prime Minister of Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim, the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong, and the President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Also present were the Prime Minister of Vietnam Pham Minh Chinh, the Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of Laos Sonexay Siphandone, and the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam Hassanal Bolkiah.

The Prime Minister of Thailand Prayuth Chan O-Cha was unable to attend due to upcoming elections in his country. The military junta of Myanmar was not invited to the summit due to the ongoing conflict in their country.

Prior to the summit, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi announced that the event would be attended by eight leaders, the ASEAN Secretary-General, and the Prime Minister of Timor Leste.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2023, four heads of state, namely the Prime Ministers of Vietnam, Timor Leste, Laos, and Malaysia, held bilateral meetings with President Jokowi at the Meruorah Hotel in West Manggarai Regency, East Nusa Tenggara Province.

This year’s ASEAN Summit takes place amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has posed significant challenges to the region’s economy and public health.

In addition to discussing ways to overcome the pandemic, the leaders are expected to address other important issues, including trade, security, and environmental concerns.

The summit’s location in Labuan Bajo, a popular tourist destination known for its stunning natural beauty, is expected to promote Indonesia’s tourism industry.

It is also significant for East Nusa Tenggara, which is considered one of Indonesia’s least developed provinces and is home to several minority ethnic groups.

Overall, the ASEAN Summit is an important event for the region and the world, providing an opportunity for leaders to come together to discuss important issues and promote cooperation and unity.

As President Jokowi stated in his opening remarks, “Let us work together to build a strong and prosperous ASEAN, for the benefit of our people and the world.”