Secretary Clinton's 4th of July MessageAbout the Author: Ted Osius serves as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Arriving in Indonesia a week ago, I’m here in time for our National Day celebrations. Jakarta is booming, with gleaming malls and lots of traffic, and I am busy settling in to my new house, new city and new position at the U.S. Embassy Jakarta.
Sam, our Labrador retriever, just emerged from quarantine and is happy in his new home. My sister Meg’s visit began this week. Meg and I will accompany the Ambassador to Independence Day events here in Jakarta and later in Surabaya (East Java) and Medan (Sumatra).
For a U.S. diplomat, Independence Day overseas is more formal than it is at home. Instead of doing what most Americans do to commemorate the Fourth of July, at embassies worldwide the celebration of our nation’s birth is held inside a large hotel ballroom, without a hot dog, sparkler or beer can in sight.
Often it takes place on a different day than the Fourth. In Jakarta, we held it last night, the 2nd. Embassy staff, foreign dignitaries and VIPs from the host country mingled, while the ambassador spoke about the nature of the bilateral relationship.
Ambassador Hume’s remarks were brief, yet they hit all the right notes. Saying he was humbled by the opportunity to strengthen relations between the world’s second and third largest democracies, he spoke about some of the values Americans and Indonesian share: respect for diversity, religious freedom, and free and fair elections. In fact, Indonesians will exercise their civic duty by voting in their Presidential elections next week.
As the Ambassador welcomed on stage a children’s choir from President Barack Obama’s former elementary school in Jakarta, our guests shared a moment of hometown pride in our new president, who grew up just down the street from my new house in Menteng. My neighbors love the fact that President Obama enjoys eating nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice) just as much as he does Five Guys’ hamburgers.
Secretary Clinton, visiting Jakarta in February, underscored the U.S. commitment to Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Since then, we’ve seen swift progress in building a comprehensive partnership with Indonesia.
In April, the U.S. Export-Import Bank approved over $1 billion in financing for Indonesian airlines to upgrade passenger fleets, improve aviation safety and increase their business. In May, the United States sent a large delegation of top scientists, technology experts, as well as officials to the World Ocean Conference (WOC) in Manado. In early June, Secretary Clinton announced $10 million for higher education funding for Indonesia, including projects for English language teaching and encouraging U.S.-Indonesia educational links.
And just this week, our governments agreed to redirect $30 million dollars of debt to protect Sumatra’s tropical forests. These are the kinds of projects which reflect the strong partnership our two countries are building.
Although I’ve just arrived here, it’s clear that U.S.-Indonesian relations are surging, and I’m happy to be here to help catch the wave.