29th October 2002:
Losing a day because he flew across the International Date Line, the President arrived back at Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport where he was welcomed, among others, by Vice President JB Sumarlin and Chairman of the DPR Matori Abdul Djalil.
Among those also welcoming the President back was Minister of Home Affairs Harsudiono Hartas. Harsudiono was walking with State Secretary Edi Sudrajat when the press began asking questions about what was the President’s response to Chairwoman of the PKPB Tutut Soeharto’s comment earlier in the day that “leadership is needed when there is an international crisis such as that in Montenegro”.
“Well whatever stance the President takes we all know the Chairwoman of the PKPB will just declare she is for the exact opposite”, replied Harsudiono.
During his turn to speak Edi explained that the President will fly out again next week to Cambodia for the ASEAN Summit.
30th October 2002:
At the Presidential Palace, the President chaired a meeting attended by Sumarlin and the cabinet ministers. The meeting went on for sometime before Minister of Foreign Affairs Ginandjar Kartasasmita and Minister of Economics and National Development Planning Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti came out for a joint press conference.
Dorodjatun said that the cabinet discussed and agreed to the proposal which the President intends to present at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia next week for the resumption of AFTA. He explained of the potential benefits of resuming AFTA and said that pending agreement by the ASEAN Summit, the government will announce steps to prepare businesses and farmers and various participants for the economy for AFTA so that AFTA would not do harm to them.
Ginandjar spoke next and focused on the geopolitics behind the resumption of AFTA. And around Southeast Asia, many would notice the “L” word being used for the first time in relation to Indonesia and its policies in an official statement.
“The resumption of AFTA is a long overdue business for ASEAN”, explained Ginandjar “And Indonesia intends to exercise leadership on this matter for the benefit of not only Indonesia itself but for all members of ASEAN.”
31st October 2002:
To cheers, the President made an appearance at the Kramat Jati Main Market in East Jakarta. Accompanied by Minister of Trade Anthony Salim, Minister of Agriculture Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, Head of Bulog Adang Ruchiatna, and Governor of Jakarta Sutiyoso, the President inspected the market to check on the prices of various goods ahead of the Ramadan fasting month. He was pleased to hear that the prices of fruits and vegetables were more stable than in previous years where there would be spikes in prices near and in the fasting month. He was even more pleased that the markets, at least in Java, were getting more produce from the regions via the toll roads which had been opened and which had better connected the cities with the regions.
The increase in the price of meat was something which all the officials noted. The bad news was that the supply of beef was still being outpaced by the demand. The good news was that living standards had increased again in 2002 and that means more people can include meat in their diet.
As he walked around the market, the President’s eyes were piqued by developments from Montenegro overnight. The vote count of the Montenegrin Presidential Election had been completed and points to the re-election of President of Montenegro Milo Dukanovic. The news highlighted how President of the United States John McCain and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair
“We’re keeping an eye on developments”, said the President to the press corps following his visit when they asked.
1st November 2002:
State Minister of Urban Development Ridwan Hisjam, State Minister of Rural Development Feisal Tamin, and Chairman of the BP-7 Agus Widjojo came out of a meeting with the President. The three officials reported to the President, and received his approval, of an agreement they had signed together to provide P-4 Training to the urban poor and to the rural unemployed. Agus Widjojo said that there is a need to "root out" the extreme right and that a good place to start is by extending P-4 Training to some of the more "vulnerable sections" of society.
Sumarlin was the President's post-Friday Prayer Lunch Buddy today. He was seen joining the President for a meal. When he came out, Sumarlin found himself crowded by the press who asked him what was discussed. Walking to his car, Sumarlin said that the President and himself discussed the President's trip over the last few weeks including to the G-15, APEC, and the United States. In particular, Sumarlin highlighted the debt moratorium officially becoming "untouched" and officially being stated as having no strings attached as the significant achievement of the President's trip over the last few weeks.
4th November 2002:
Unlike the G-15 and APEC Summits, the Indonesian Delegation organized its arrival to the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for the day of the summit itself rather than evening prior to the summit. There was added drama, at least from the press corps’ perspective, stemming from the fact that the Indonesian Delegation was the last one to arrive.
The cameras snapped as Try shook hands with Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen before the summit got underway. Everyone made their pro-forma opening speech then went for a short break and then returned for the second session where Hun Sen said that ASEAN will discuss the proposal to resume AFTA with the said proposal to be delivered by the President of the Republic of Indonesia.
Calling it “the great unfinished business of our region”, Try outlined his proposal for the resumption of AFTA:
*The original 15-year deadline for the establishment of a free trade area in Southeast Asia will be restored instead of the 10-year deadline.
*The delay in implementation of AFTA was initiated at the 1998 ASEAN Summit and took effect on 1st January 1999. This meant that the region had spent 6 years moving towards AFTA, leaving 9 more years for the region to move towards AFTA if the 15-year deadline is agreed.
*If the summit agrees to the resumption of AFTA, the target date for the resumption of AFTA will be set on 1st January 2004. The target date for a free trade area to be already established in Southeast Asia will be 1st January 2013.
“Let it be known that the Republic of Indonesia does not attach conditions to this proposal. Nations in the region that want to lower their tariffs at a quicker rate may do so; nations in the region that want to enter into and observe the conditions of other free trade agreements may do so; nor does agreement to what is being proposed mean that nations in the region must adopt a certain foreign policy stance though it is the hope of the Republic of Indonesia that the nations in the region keep the regional interest in mind when considering matters of strategic significance”, continued Try.
There was a break for lunch and then the leaders returned for the third section when all the other ASEAN Nations would express
Those who attended the summit would say later that the event was something of an anticlimax. Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra, President of the Philippines Joseph Estrada, Prime Minister of Laos Bounnhang Vorachit, and Prime Minister of Vietnam Phan Van Khai strongly expressed their support for Try and their agreement at his proposals but this was to be expected given that they were part of what was nicknamed “The Jakarta Bloc”.
There was applause from the delegations of the Jakarta Bloc nations when Prime Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong and Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah also expressed their agreement to Try’s proposal. The two nations acknowledged Indonesia’s “economic leadership” though they were mute on whether Indonesia exercised leadership in other areas.
Hun Sen declared Cambodia’s support. A desire to achieve something significant while being the chair and host of the ASEAN Summit as well as wanting to make AFTA a non-issue in Cambodia’s upcoming election in July 2003, FUNCINPEC’s Norodom Ranariddh having scored a lot of points by claiming that Hun Sen does not care about Cambodia’s economic interest, pushed Hun Sen to agree.
Trying to remain poker-faced, Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak also agreed with Try’s proposal. Though the “H” word did not come out of his mouth, Najib latched to Singapore and Brunei’s formula of saying that Indonesia exercised economic leadership without saying whether Indonesia exercised leadership in any other areas. Najib said that Malaysia will “make sure” Indonesia fulfills the promise it just made of respecting the foreign policies of ASEAN nations even if “it did not accord with Indonesia’s own stance and interests”.
Chairman of the SPDC Khin Nyunt left the summit and flew back to Myanmar. He made the decision to leave when he saw that Hun Sen and Najib were “buckling”. To the press he would say that the starting point of any discussion between Myanmar and Indonesia is the return of Lt. Gen. Shwe Mann, his followers, and their families back to Myanmar.
A banquet was held for the ASEAN Leaders that night at the Royal Palace by King Norodom Sihanouk. The whispers around the Phochani Pavilion where the banquet was held said that it was banquet not so much for the leaders as it was for Indonesia on the occasion of its assumption of regional leadership.
5th November 2002:
The second day of the summit went smoothly. Singapore nominated the appointment of Heng Swee Keat as Secretary General of ASEAN. Former Principal Private Secretary to Singaporean Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and current Permanent Secretary of Singapore’s Department of Trade of Industry. The rationale for this nomination was because the next Secretary General of ASEAN must oversee the implementation of the resumption of AFTA. The Summit agreed unanimously to the appointment.
There was an ASEAN+2 Summit with China and Japan attending, South Korea having decided not to attend as a signal that its interests converged with that of Indonesia. Try himself once again did not attend the ASEAN+2 Summit and delegated to Ginandjar to attend that mini-event on his behalf.
But even though he did not attend ASEAN+2, Try found himself accepting a request to meet from an unexpected source. Though reluctant, Try was convinced by Ginandjar and Edi to accept the meeting.
“Ah, the man of the moment”, said President of China Jiang Zemin as Try walked into the room. Jiang was not by himself and was accompanied by Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Tang Jiaxuan.
Try and Jiang sat down. They discussed the developing situation in Montenegro where Dukanovic, in response to President of Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic’s non-recognition of his victory, claimed that he had a mandate to hold an independence in referendum. Jiang said that though his sympathies was with Milosevic, he had told the Kremlin that whatever happens next they must not join the military escalation which “The White House and 10 Downing Street were fishing for”. Jiang said, and Try agreed, that what “nations like them need” was peace so that they could focus on economic development.
On BRICI, Jiang said that Roseana Sarney’s victory in the Brazilian Presidential Election the previous week meant that there will be a BRICI meeting/summit next year. Jiang urged Try to join and Try found himself agreeing with Jiang saying that emerging economic powers should not have policies dictated to it.
Try reiterated support for a One China Policy and that Hong Kong, Macau, and Tibet are part of China. Jiang responded by congratulating Indonesia for settling “the dispute” with East Timor once for all and underlining it by restoring diplomatic relations with Portugal. He joked that China and Indonesia had worked together to end Portuguese imperialism by “taking” East Timor and Macau.
“See, Mr. President, we agree on a lot of things and have a lot in common”, said Jiang “Where did it all go wrong?”
The answer was in regional politics. When Jiang said that China’s intention is to be a friend to Southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia when others in the world have turned their backs. Try did not buy this.
“There’s 10 of us and you’ve gotten yourselves three seats at the table so of course Indonesia’s uncomfortable, Mr. President”, said Try “If China is trying to draw ASEAN countries into its orbit, this has the potential of disturbing regional stability and if this spills over into Indonesia’s own national stability then Indonesia has to take action”.
Jiang laughed as he wiped his glasses with a handkerchief and then puts it back on again.
“China is not Indonesia’s security threat”, said Jiang “Indonesia’s real security threat is the one you are turning your back on so you can concentrate on us.”
A vein bulged in Try’s forehead and Jiang picked up on that.
“Well, Indonesia and Australia’s relationship has its ups and downs…” started Try.
“Did I mention that it was they who came to us to offer us their coal?” asked Jiang “And now what’s this I’m hearing, they were the ones to whisper in Washington’s ear that it would not be a good idea to let you have F-16s?”
Try wanted to say something but Jiang kept hammering at him.
“Indonesia and China…we’re a case of being in each other’s way, Mr. President” said Jiang “China is a big nation and becoming more powerful and wanting to extend its influence everywhere including in Southeast Asia, Indonesia wants to be the most powerful in Southeast Asia…we’re in each other’s way, that’s true, but there’s nothing here that can’t be fixed by sitting down together.”
Try nodded as though having no choice but to agree.
“But Indonesia and Australia, Mr. President…” continued Jiang “It seems that there’s a lot of emotion there, would you not agree? I don't think you got this heated when we decided to recognize Gen. Khin Nyunt's government in Rangoon.”
“You are correct, Mr. President”, said Try.
“Then why such a state of affairs between our two countries?” asked Jiang.
Try looked over at Edi and then at Ginandjar as though asking permission to say what he was about to say and then he looked back at Jiang.
“That sea does not belong to China”, replied Try “No matter how many dash lines you want to put on it.”
And for the first time in that meeting, Jiang stopped smiling.
And ASEAN agrees unanimously (if you don’t count Myanmar) on the resumption of AFTA after being divided on the issue of the Myanmar Coup earlier in the year. Lots of provisos about Indonesia only exercising “economic leadership” by the neutrals and by Malaysia but basically everyone agreed with what Indonesia proposed.
The timeline here of AFTA being suspended at the 1998 ASEAN Summit is a retcon. If you look at the 1998 ASEAN Summit ITTL (15th-16th December 1998), you'll find Try being praised for being successful in handling the Asian Financial Crisis in Indonesia but nothing at all on AFTA. Why is that the case? In the earlier part of this TL's journey I, believe it or not, didn't think that foreign policy would become a pretty big element of the TL. I naively thought the butterflies would not spill over the Indonesian border. The resumption of AFTA, the 2002 Myanmarian Coup and Shwe Mann's evacuation to Indonesia, much less ITTL Indonesia and China's relationship simply did not exist back then.
So if you notice during the earlier ITTL years, I was always a bit vague about what happens in other countries and "deepening ties" is as in-depth as they come when Try meets a foreign leader at a summit or a state visit. Story-wise, I will attribute this to Try not being interested in foreign policy because he was busy with trying to get Indonesia out of the economic crisis and that such events as AFTA being temporarily ceased either happened off-screen or was not of sufficient importance to him.
Thank you @focus9912
for your nominations and second of this TL in the Turtledoves and of course to all those who have been following this TL.