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An Evening with the Technocrats

One night in March 2003, while US President George W. Bush's plan to attack Iraq filled the airwaves, a unique meeting took place at a hotel in Jakarta. Five journalists interviewed nine senior Indonesian economists. Widjojo Nitisastro came with some of his colleagues from FEUI, who in the past studied economics in the United States as part of the cooperative program between FEUI and UC Berkeley. This program was supported by the Ford Foundation.

There were Suhadi Mangkusuwondo, Subroto, Julius E. Ismael, and Mohammad Sadli. Widjojo sat between Saleh Afiff and Subroto, while Ali Wardhana, Djunaedi Hadisumarto and Sri Hadi sat further back.

Over the years these people occupied key positions in the planning agency, in the finance industry, trade, mining, and transportation departments, as well as Indonesia's representative at the IMF. Widjojo introduced his colleagues, who replied with jokes. "He was called our village headman," Sadli said.

During the evening these men described their experiences. After studying in the US in the 1950s and 1960s, they served as lecturers at FEUI. Later on they served in government assisting President Suharto in managing the Indonesian economy.

The Berkeley Mafia

Widjojo: Luck always plays a role in history. FEUI has been lucky to have Prof. Sumitro Djojohadikusumo. We were also lucky that in the early 1950s Suhadi Mangkusuwondo led the student senate. When Prof. Sunario Kolopaking (FEUI's first dean) resigned as dean, the student senate took the initiative and sought out a new dean. They chose Dr. Sumitro. If it were not for Suhadi and Prof. Sumitro, nothing would have been achieved by FEUI. The course of events would have been completely different.

Suhadi: Prof. Sumitro was the only economist with a doctorate in economics. The other came from legal or social science backgrounds. There were also others with doctorates, such as Dr. Saroso, but he was not really well known as an economist.

Widjojo: Prof. Sumitro headed FEUI where most of the teachers were Dutch. Then, tension grew between Indonesian and the Netherlands, as a result of the Papua issue. The Dutch were planning to leave. Prof. Sumitro took the initiative to find other professors to replace them, and he thought about the United States. He considered that the continental and the Anglo-Saxon systems each had its advantages and disadvantages. Prof. Sumitro then contacted the Ford Foundation to get assistance to finance the plan.

Luckily, the Foundation's Representative in Jakarta, Mr. Michael Harris, had a good relationship with Prof. Sumitro. They agreed that Ford would find an educational institution in the US to act as counterpart of FEUI and would finance the cooperative program. Prof. Sumitro did not nominate a university, but left that up to Ford. Ford selected UC Berkeley.

UC Berkeley sent two senior academics, Prof. Paul Taylor, chair of the Department of Economics, and Dr. Thomas Blaisdell, professor of political science. In the US, Prof. Frank Kidner organized the administrative side, including the selection of academics to be sent to Indonesia, and the selection of students here.

The academics selected to come to Indonesia included associate and full professors and younger staff. They began coming in 1965. I remember that their chairman was Prof. Leonard Doyle, who often argued with Prof. Sumitro. So things didn't always go smoothly. The second man was Prof. Leon E. Mears, who became an outstanding figure because, together with Saleh Afiff, he wrote a book on rice marketing in Indonesia. Another was Hans Schmitt, who was quite young. He had a close working relationship with Ali Wardhana, because both had an interest in fiscal and monetary studies.

Prof. Sumitro and the faculty secretary, Prof. Tan Goan Po, were responsible for selecting those who were to study in the US. There was an intake each year. Suhadi, Julius Ismael, I and other colleagues left in 1957. We were the first batch. In 1958 Ali Wardhana, J.B. Soemarlin and others followed. In 1959 Emil Salim, Saleh Afiff, Batara Simatupang and others went. After that, a number of other students followed, going to different universities.

After Prof. Doyle, Prof. Malcom Davisson held the position of chair. He came from a background in public finance. Later came Prof. Bruce Glassburner, who stayed longer and had a wide network of contacts.

As to the question what about Prof. Andreas Papandreou who taught at Berkeley during that time and later became the socialist prime minister of Greece, it can be told that he became the chair of the Department of Economics at Berkeley after Prof. Paul Taylor. At Berkeley, Prof. Papandreou taught a course in mathematical economics. I took this course. At that time he did not show an inclination to become involved in politics.

Choosing A Field

Widjojo: The students had different interests. For example, Ali Wardhana was particularly interested in fiscal and monetary studies.

Afiff: At FEUI I began my studies in the business economics department. At the time the department was involved in research on the marketing of rice. Prof. Mears was looking for an assistant and I was selected. When I went to Berkeley, I attended the School of Business Administration.

Widjojo: The choice of a field of study was decided before departure. Berkeley looked for suitable universities. They didn't make the decision for a candidate, but offered a number of choices.

What was crucial for FEUI at that time was not just those who were sent abroad, but also those who organized the program in Indonesia. In 1957 Prof. Sumitro left because of the rebellion in Sumatra and Sulawesi. Prof. Djokosutono, Dean of the Faculty of Law, doubled as dean of FEUI. At the practical day-to-day level, two people from FEUI who had returned from studies in the US — Subroto, the secretary of FEUI, and Mohammad Sadli, director of the

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