From the Deputy Head of Mission
Dear followers of the Dutch embassy in Jakarta,
‘I hope this message finds you well.’ This is the way in which I start most of my emails these days. And I am not just referring to being well in a physical sense, but also doing well mentally. As the COVID19 crisis takes longer than many of us expected and it is still unclear whether and when things may go back to normal, staying sane may be as much a challenge as avoiding infection.
The continuation of physical distancing measures impacts the well being of many of us. Not being able to visit family and friends, being limited in places to go to for recreation or holidays, the long hours spent at (temporary and therefore not always very comfortable) home(s), hours spent in video calls: they all make us appreciate much more what it means to be free to move around.
Freedom in a general sense is what Dutch people celebrated on 5 May – freedom from occupation but also other dimensions of freedom that we have come to enjoy over the 75 years after World War II during which we (re)built our society: the freedom to develop your potential for both men and women regardless of socio-economic class, the freedom to be who you are, regardless of your sexual of religious orientation, freedom of expression. In his impressive speech on 4 May, when we remembered the victims not just of WWI, but victims of war in general, our King stressed how we cannot take these freedoms for granted and how we all have a responsibility in sustaining these freedoms.
The 4th of May was commemorated in Indonesia as well. Our ambassador laid a wreath at Menteng Pulo war cemetery in Jakarta; wreaths were also laid on behalf of the Dutch Minister of Defence, the Veteranen Platform, DNC, DNB and OGS. A similar sober commemoration was held at the war cemetery in Surabaya.
Sadly, we had to forego this year this other important celebration that involves our King- Kingsday. I hope you enjoyed as much as I did how King Willem-Alexander and his family made a great effort to connect with Dutch people, making video calls with people all over the country, showing a genuine interest in how people are coping. I nevertheless hope that next year we will again be able to celebrate the way we are used to – we have to keep up our reputation of throwing one of the best national day parties in town.
Whilst some of our work has come to a standstill, the embassy team has kept quite busy – dealing with the aftermath and follow up of the state visit and the parallell economic mission, catching up with some backlog, providing consular services, preparing postings for our social media accounts, including relevant information for Dutch travelers and Dutch people residing in Indonesia, monitoring COVID19 related and general political and economic developments, promoting where possible Dutch trade and business interests.
Most of this work is still done by embassy colleagues from home, both in Jakarta and in the Netherlands. I have been amazed by the resilience of our team and the initiatives undertaken to stay connected and to keep up the good spirit, varying from a quiz, sports challenge, making music together, to virtual Friday afternoon drinks. I hope similar creativity has kept you and your team going!
An important project that we have just started as an embassy team is the preparation of a multi-annual country strategy. We intend to consult with our partners in Indonesia, in the private sector, civil society, and academia, to obtain their inputs in how best to strengthen the bilateral relation between Indonesia and the Netherlands over the next four years. We hope you are ready to share your thoughts and insights, if called upon!
And do call upon us, if beyond what we are already doing, you feel the embassy can assist you getting through these challenging times.
Happy reading of this edition of Happenings! Stay safe, healthy and sane!
Deputy Head of Mission