Saturday, November 01, 2003

Daoed Joesoef

At the beginning of the 1950’s, I served as an assistant to Professor Sumitro Djojohadikusumo in his endeavors to develop the study of economics at FEUI. I was responsible for the development of economics faculties at universities in the regions, including Makassar, where the university was originally established by the Dutch, and which later became the Hassanuddin University.

In fact, previously, I’d sent a letter to Prime Minister Hatta, after the recognition of sovereignty in 1949, to suggest that the school of economics at Makassar be dissolved. This was for reasons of efficiency, and also because the school was unsympathetic to the Republic. However, Sumitro insisted that we should overlook the past. I accepted the justice of those arguments, and served as a visiting lecturer. I also established schools for the study of economics in Palembang and Lampung. 

In 1956, the PRRI-Permesta rebellion broke out. One day, just after I’d flown into Makassar to teach, the airport was bombed by the rebels. I was trapped in Makassar. It was quite ironic, really, because Sumitro was actually one of the leaders of the rebellion.

Sumitro played a significant role in the establishment of FEUI. He introduced Keynesian economics to Indonesia and approached the Foundation for assistance in the development of FEUI’s teaching staff. He also facilitated the recruitment of teaching staff from the US. Prior to that, when FEUI had been under the influence of Dutch teachers, Keynesian economics was unknown. At the time, almost the entire collection of material in the library was in Dutch.

The Foundation assisted in sending Widjojo Nitisastro, Ali Wardhana, and various others to America. I didn’t go, because of my other duties. Also, my mother was unwell. As the oldest child, I felt particularly responsible for her after the death of my father.

At the time, I was also an active writer. I’d written an article criticizing Hatta’s assertion that it was not necessary to maintain gold reserves to guarantee the Indonesian currency. At the time, it was stipulated that gold reserves must equal 20 per cent of the value of currency in circulation. However, in the unstable political environment, the government paid its bills simply by printing money. Hatta had
suggested that the gold standard be eliminated. I argued this point through an article in Mimbar Indonesia. I took view that it was necessary to maintain the gold standard, but that its level should be determined with respect to the value of imports.

Not long later, I was invited to join the vice president’s group as he traveled through Tegal, Pekalongan, and the surrounding areas. We traveled by chartered train, with me in the same carriage as Hatta. 

Hatta engaged me in discussions throughout. While these did not result in decisive conclusions, I felt honored by the attention Hatta paid me.

By the end of the 1950s, I felt that economics as taught at FEUI did not prepare students to play a part in the public economy. In a work entitled Economic Development: Theory, History and Policy, Meier and Baldwin argue that issues related to development were far too important to be controlled by economists alone. This argument influenced FEUI to establish a new department, the Department of Public Economic Administration.

In order to achieve this, funding for experienced lecturers was required. The Foundation was prepared to fund the education of teaching staff. I decided that training should be conducted at the Sorbonne, because of the high quality of the education provided to their civil servants in post-graduate training programs at l’├ęcole d’administration.

Being a Francophile, I was the only one interested in studying at the Sorbonne. I am an enthusiastic painter, and I appreciate Paris as an artistic center. However, things didn’t go as smoothly as planned. Widjojo, the deputy dean of FEUI, refused to approve my departure to Paris, and the Foundation didn’t want to send an academic without the approval of his superiors.

I took this matter up with Representative Frank Miller. In the end, Miller agreed, on condition that the government approved. I visited the Minister for Education Syarif Thayeb, a military officer from Aceh. Syarif Thayeb was surprised to hear that Widjojo had refused to sign my letter, saying that the Sorbonne was even older than UC Berkeley.

I studied at the Sorbonne for eight years. When I returned, I found that my department had been dissolved. Widjojo and I held divergent views on the issue of economic development. I always felt that the economy was too important to be handled by economists alone. 

When I joined the Cabinet as minister of education and culture, I hoped that I would be able to promote my vision. However, Suharto told me that I should confine myself to issues directly related to education as he had other people who could handle the economy.

Celebrating Indonesia: 50 Years with the Ford Foundation 1953-2003

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