Ambassador Ngurah Swajaya caps his tenure as Indonesia’s top diplomat in Singapore by launching his biography that pays tribute to the many milestones achieved by Indonesia and Singapore as well as valuable insights as an insider to the workings and future of ASEAN
THREE years ago, when H.E. I Gede Ngurah Swajaya presented his credentials to the President of Singapore, it also marked the start of a sterling period of service in the island city-state. He played a key part in many diplomatic and economic milestones and moments in the history of Indonesia and Singapore relations. Chief among this was RISING 50 the commemoration of many events, initiatives and activities that celebrated 50 years of diplomatic ties between both nations. It capped a more than 33-year diplomatic career and is part of the title of his new biography published in March 2020: RISING 50 Then & Beyond A Diplomat’s Journey.
The slim 92-page book takes readers on Ambassador Swajaya Ngurah’s journey as a diplomat. From his journey, he shares personal insights, anecdotes and lesser known facts spanning three decades of his career, right from the time Indonesia began growing international stature, to the difficult period when Indonesians faced post financial and multi-dimensional crisis, to the current democratic Indonesia embracing international norms.
Insights on ASEAN
He is also ideally placed to share insights on ASEAN. Before his posting to Singapore he served as Indonesia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to ASEAN (from 2010 to 2013). Touching upon the Transformation of ASEAN, rise in people-to-people diplomacy, the need for digital diplomacy and the 50 years of bilateral relations between Singapore and Indonesia, he not only provides glimpses of the changing diplomatic scene in the region but also highlights technology and people as the game changers of the future.
H.E. Retno L.P. Marsudi Minister for Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia shares: “His writings and observations will be valuable in understanding the transformative mindset needed by every diplomat in performing his or her duties in the constantly changing environment. I therefore commend Ngurah’s willingness to share his priceless experiences in this book.”
He is also well respected by his peers and his stature is also based on solid educational credentials. He holds a Law Degree from Udayana in Bali and a Master of Arts from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy from Tuffts University, Boston (USA).
Prof. DR. Hasjim Djalal, M.A., a former Indonesian Ambassador to Germany, Canada, and the United Nations and also Senior Advisor to the Indonesian Minister for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and Indonesian Naval Chief of Staff, also shares his confidence on the capability of the Ambassador: “Ambassador Swajaya is one of the good Indonesian diplomats who has passed through proper education, and has had various levels of experience in diplomacy, and therefore I am confident that he is now in a position to achieve what Indonesia would like its diplomats to achieve.”
The book is not just a review of His Excellency’s experiences of past events but also as the ‘Beyond’ in the title implies, what are the factors and issues needed to overcome the challenges that lie ahead to continue with the success achieved in the last few years in both the bilateral and ASEAN contexts.
Students of diplomacy and career diplomats will appreciate a special feature of the book. Almost every chapter is accompanied by an accompanying “My Perspectives” section where he speaks directly from his heart and mind presenting as unvarnished as possible views, insights and analyses on the major periods undergone by Indonesia in the world of diplomacy, how he was involved and what was the outcome. For example, he was there as part of the team helping in the drafting of the ASEAN Charter, where he first met Prof Tommy Koh (and Walter Woon), members of Singapore’s representatives in the High Level Taskforce in charge of drafting the ASEAN Charter.
Prof Koh, Singapore’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations; presently Ambassador-at-Large at Singaore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also the Chairman of the Centre for International Law of National University of Singapore (NUS), Special Advisor of the Institute of Policy Studies and Chairman of the National Heritage Board said: “I regard Ambassador Ngurah Swajaya as one of Indonesia’s finest diplomats. I had the great pleasure of working with him on two occasions. The first was in drafting the ASEAN Charter. The second was in organising the celebration of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Singapore. Ambassador Ngurah Swajaya did an outstanding job on both occasions. I am one of his many admirers.”
The book which is published by Sun Media Pte Ltd, saw the Ambassador working very closely with Publisher Ms Nomita Dhar and book editor Ms Prionka Ray. Along with the Ambassador they reviewed and culled materials from his past postings. The core work in editing (and re-editing) the drafts as well meetings with the ambassador to clarify factual details (during his free time) took an intensive three-month period before handing it over to layout and design. The result said Ms Nomita is a compact ‘primer’ that gleans the highlights of a diplomatic career that starts from Bali, to Europe, the US, the ASEAN Secretariat right up to Singapore. The Ambassador shares his thoughts and approach to various diplomatic issues. “It was never meant to be a scholastic tome but offers insights that could be of use to those thinking of diplomacy as a career and ‘behind-the-scenes’ peek for seasoned diplomats and readers who can read some of the background to some momentous moments in ASEAN – and even Singapore’s – history.”
[In a related posting, to read a selection of the messages sent to IndoConnect on Ambassador Ngurah Swajaya’s leaving click here.]
The book is published by Sun Media Pte Ltd. For book purchases in Singapore you can also contact Ms Swati email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call tel: +65 6735 2972