Remarks by Ambassador Blake at Tjong A Fie Mansion, Medan

Bapak Dzulmi Eldin – Medan city Mayor
Bapak Fon Prawira – Tjong A Fie Institute
Ibu Meutia Hatta – Member of Presidential Advisory Committee
Honorable guests, ladies and gentlemen

It is a great pleasure for me to be back again in Medan and Sumatra.   This is a region of great economic, environmental and strategic importance to the United States and I always appreciate the warm welcome we receive.

You have always known Medan to have a U.S. Consulate, but within the State Department, it operated as an American Presence Post with more limited roles.

I am pleased that we have now converted Medan to full Consulate status so we can best focus on the potential of this great island that is bigger in size and population than many countries.  The Consulate is ably led by Principal Office Robert Ewing and Deputy Principal Officer Trevor Olson.

Today we are celebrating another important part of U.S.-Indonesian cooperation and that is cultural preservation.  As part of our cultural program, I am especially proud that since 2001 the United States has helped to protect cultural and traditions around the world including at several projects in Indonesia through our “Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation” grants.

U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world nominate worthy projects in a highly competitive process.

We delighted today to formally announce the result and conclusion of the 2013 Competition.  The Ambassador’s Fund, through the U.S. Consulate in Medan, provided a grant to help restore the Tjong A Fie Mansion that we stand in here today.

The Mansion used this money to rebuild major portions of the roof of the building, which allowed larger spaces including the left wing of the second floor to be opened for the public.

This was one of the largest grants provided by the AFCP for preservation projects in Indonesia and the first grant even given to preserve this fabulous structure.

And it is a fabulous structure.  The Mansion remains a beautiful early 19thCentury example of Peranakan architecture.

The mansion is a reminder of the history of Medan and still shows what Medan can be most proud of – cultural diversity and tolerance.  For hundreds of years, people of various cultures have lived side by side in harmony.

At today’s ceremony, I am honored to have this opportunity to meet a wide range of cultural figures from North Sumatra and beyond, in a celebration of harmony and cultural partnerships.

I hope our grant can serve as a catalyst for other donations from both the private and public sectors.  Public-private partnerships are a strong and sustainable method to preserve important cultural monuments such as the mansion.

Again, it’s an honor to be here in this great city that is moving forward quickly, but also making the effort to celebrate and remember its past.