The Jakarta Post
The United Kingdom on Thursday officially opened its new embassy building in Jakarta, an occasion marked by the attendance of UK Prince Andrew.
The new embassy, which is located on Jl. Patra Kuningan Raya, South Jakarta, replaces the former embassy on Jl. MH Thamrin in Central Jakarta. The new embassy has been in operation since the end of July and the old building is currently vacant but still owned by the UK government.
The old embassy, which was located near the golden triangle and the main road connecting Jl. Sudirman and Jl. MH Thamrin, had increasingly become the target of protesters, often from hard-line groups.
In 2004, the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) knocked down the building's gate and pelted it with rotten eggs. The FPI had been protesting the UK's backing of Israel in the conflict between Israel and the Islamic-state of Palestine.
To avoid any further damage and to ensure its staff were safe from attacks from protesters or extremist groups, the British government installed roadblocks at its two main access points, a move that was met with contempt from local residents.
As a result of security issues the UK decided to seek a more suitable building in Kuningan.
'[The old embassy] served us well. It held many memories, but it's time to move on. And so now, after many years in the making, we have a magnificent new building,' said UK Ambassador to Indonesia, ASEAN and Timor Leste Mark Canning during the opening ceremony.
Unlike the old embassy, the new building has a spacious multifunction grass field close to its main gate. It is double the size of the old embassy and is located close to local housing.
Prince Andrew said in his opening remarks that the larger embassy reflected the developed interests of both the UK and Indonesia with the latter advancing its role globally.
He also hinted that the new embassy would likely be expanded.
'I am slightly concerned that this embassy is too small, but just because you built it, does not mean that you do not need to expand it very soon. Because this country is going be one of the most important countries in Asia, in the future, it is coming soon ['¦] ,' he said.
On Wednesday, Prince Andrew met with Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa to discuss trade and investment between the two countries.
As a result, the two countries committed to boosting cooperation in the areas of trade, with a target of Â£4.4 billion (US$7 billion) trade value in the next two years, a big jump from the total trade value last year of Â£2.2 billion. Hatta said Prince Andrew's visit had injected momentum in to the process of improved cooperation between Indonesia and the UK, in addition to strengthening the two countries' relations. (koi)