Book Review of “Sumitro Djojohadikusumo Patriot, Economist, Teacher”

Book Review of “Sumitro Djojohadikusumo Patriot, Economist, Teacher”

On 11 March, the Resource and Learning Centre  (RLC) of the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Indonesia (PSB-FEBUI) in cooperation with the YAD held a book review for Sumitro Djojohadikusumo Patriot, Economist, Teacher   originally published by Sinar Harapan in 2000.

The occasion was attended by 135 people, including professors and lecturers from the UI Economics and Business Faculty, as well as students and other invited guests from outside the Faculty. One of the Faculty’s most prominent professors, former Minister of Mines and Energy of the New Order period (1966-98), Professor Subroto, was also able to attend this function.

Also in attendance were members of Professor Sumitro Djojohadikusumo’s wider family, including Pak Hashim and Ibu Anie Djojohadikusumo, Mariani D. Lemaistre, Bianti Djiwandono and Sudradjad Djiwandono.

The event was an occasion to express appreciation for Professor Sumitro’s struggle in the fields of education, economics and politics for the building and improvement of the Indonesian state. The event was to make Professor Sumitro’s zeal in the independence struggle and example better known amongst the successor generation, above all students of the Economics and Business Faculty which Sumitro had played a role in establishing.

The book review event was opened by the Deputy Dean of the Faculty, Dr Beta Yulianita Gitaharie, who was representing the Dean, and featured a number of addresses by individuals who had known Professor Sumitro well. These included Professor Dr. Mohamad Arsjad Anwar, Professor Mayling Oey-Gardiner PhD, Thomas A.M. Djiwandono M.A. (one of Professor Sumitro’s grandsons), and Dr. Komara Djaja, who acted as moderator.

The Dean of the Economics and Business Faculty, Prof.  Ari Kuncoro, who arrived shortly after the event began, reflected on his experiences of Professor Sumitro, who was known as a lecturer who was a disciplinarian and a fastidious and fashionable dresser. Sumitro, said Prof.  Ari, always stressed that economics was a multi-dimensional discipline, involving politics, sociology, law, culture, management, and entrepreneurship, even though the overall flag was that of economics, and this was particularly evident on the Depok Kampus.

Ari Kuncoro stated that in the book, Sumitro Djojohadikusumo Patriot, Economist, Teacher, Sumitro’s thinking as an economist was shown as quite comprehensive because economics could not be separated from other disciplines. With this book, his hope was that students would use it to once again investigate Government economic policies so that they did not become stale.

The book also dealt with Sumitro Djojohadikusumo’s struggles in the context of his family, education, diplomacy and the various economic crises he experienced in his lifetime. According to Professor Mayling, “The history of the Indonesian people in the early stages of the independence struggle is written up interestingly [in this book] with Professor Sumitro Djojohadikusumo in a central role. Readers, especially those from the older generation, will easily identify with the hero in this tale so it will be difficult for them to put this book down. The description of Sumitro’s struggles against the enemies of the people, are still relevant to this day, including the struggle against the greatest evil con-fronting the nation, namely corruption.”

Professor Mayling continued that “The Indonesian economy has not developed as Sumitro hoped, even though he was educated in a socialist and humanist intellectual environment with his own ideological tendency being market orientated and friendly towards the needs of the economic challenged and/or poorer sections of the population. Meanwhile the fact that the national economy had become increasingly dominated by large businessmen and a number of regime cronies was extremely disappointing for Sumitro. The economic realities in the second half of the New Order period were not in accord with the ideological convictions which he lived by: “a people-orientated [ideology] which was never extinguished. ”What he hoped for was the development of people’s cooperatives, but what were strengthened [under the late New Order] were conglo-merates mired in corruption which he said had become a way of life. This is the most intractable enemy up to the present”, he again reflected.

Thomas A.M. Djiwandono MA, one of Professor Sumitro’s grandsons, on the other hand, talked of Sumitro from the vantage point of his family, stating that there was hardly any difference in [the public and private persona] of what the public knew of Sumitro all these years. In brief, there were four aspects concerning Sumitro as a private person, which were important in Thomas’s eyes. The first, was that Sumitro was a man of discipline. Second, he was very rational, and this could be seen in the way that he treated each of his grandchildren differently, in accord with their individual character type and personality. In addition, there was his sense of humour and nationalism. As regards his sense of humour, Thomas referred to the occasion when the family were abroad and were invited to take tea with him: “Grandad [Sumitro] asked was here any Banyumas tea? The waiter shook his head. Sumitro then asked for coffee!” said Thomas. In fact, Sumitro was mad about coffee!

Thomas also referred to Sumitro as a teacher. On almost all matters relating to national and world developments he would ask his grandchildren’s views. This was the aspect of Sumitro’s personality which made Thomas see him as a teacher for his grandchildren.

Professor Subroto, one of the Economics Faculty professors and  former Minister of Mines and Energy in the Third and Fourth New Order Cabinets stated that Sumitro was courageous enough to state that a truth was a truth and that a lie was a lie. Every one of Sumitro’s sentences was of value.

Looking further afield, Professor Subroto stated that in order to develop Sumitro’s thoughts, the development of a country’s economy should not only be based on economic thinking, but should also take in a number of other vantage points including society, geography, and Indonesian philosophy. Subroto continued that Sumitro’s

thinking should be an example to the current younger generation.  Like Sumitro, the younger generation should have the courage to say what was true and what was not, as well as thinking rationally in accord with statistics gathered in the field and even more important should be informed by a spirit of patriotism.

At the age of 33, Sumitro had served as Ministry of Trade and Industry and helped in he established of the UI Economics Faculty. He earned a doctoral degree in the Nederlandse Economische Hogeschool (Netherlands Economics University) in Rotterdam, Holland, in 1943 with a thesis on Het Volkscredietwezen in de Depressie (The People’s Credit System during the Depression).

Sumitro earned a number of honours, both national and international during his lifetime: for example, the Star of the Most Excellent Son of the Country (Bintang Mahaputra Adipradana) Second Class, the Commander of the Order of the Maintainer of the State of the Kingdom of Malaysia, and the Grand Cross of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant First Class from the Kingdom of Thailand, the Grand Cross of the Crown from Belgium, as well as honours from Tunisia and France.

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