Monday, July 28, 2008

Sjahrir, the political path of a political economist

I am saddened to read an article on The Jakarta Post today is entitled,” Economist and 1974 student leader Syahrir dies.”

I know Pak Ciil (as he frequently called) more through his writings and his TV show and few of his seminars that I attended. Actually my mother know him much better, his wife is my mother’s classmate, and frequently mentioned about him even before I entered FEUI.

I never took his class at FEUI. He decided to stop teaching the Indonesian Economy course at 1998 after the crisis and he said he couldn’t continue teaching the same things after so many things change

As far as I know he never teach in undergrad FEUI again afterward. He published some books (I have almost all of them) and increased political activity that culminated in establishment of New Indonesia Party (PIB).

Even though he had the name recognition as a popular economist frequently quoted in newspaper and appear on TV but his political party suffer the fate of his namesake Sjahrir with PSI (Indonesia Socialist Party); filled with intellectuals but apparently not appealing the masses and gather little vote. His last formal position is advisor to president SBY, economist till the end.

He is best known on his part of student leader in 1974 where the New Order jailed him for three years. Released from jail, he managed to get scholarship until PhD in Harvard University with dissertation entitled Political Economy of Food. Quite a prescient topic that still very relevant today.

I met him just last month, where we both speakers for a seminar in UNAS. He is still the exuberant and energetic self, even though he mentioned that he is on short leashes from his doctors but it doesn’t show a bit. He started his speech by expressing, boomingly, his regret and apology for the police violence on UNAS and then go on to analyzed globalization’s impact to Indonesia.

His departure is a loss for today’s and future economist. He has shown that economist needs to uphold a value despite the risk and to be able to communicate it to the common people.

Good bye Pak Ciil.

Friday, July 18, 2008

On competition

From Greg Mankiw's Blog, I couldn't agree more. Competition will benefited to consumers. It also encourage the business to be efficient, to some extent.

When I talked about competition, some people will speak behind me very softly, "Well, you are really do not care with other people business. Competition will kill those people's business".

Anyway, I will speak softly as well and said "I will not be a hypocrite by saying that I do not like cheap price. And I will definitely support any business that could offer me more. The rest is only about my budget and willingness."

Thursday, July 03, 2008

FEUI Economists and Nationalism

This is an unusual post which prompted by an extra-ordinary article written by first year FEUI student in Jakarta Post (click here).

FEUI, where all contributors of this blog get our bachelor degree, economists are getting more than our proportionate share of being called less than fully nationalist. Even accused by some of selling out .

The media played significant part to perpetuate bifurcation between the use of market power for the benefit of the people and to apply free market principled at all cost.

The first is usually FEUI economists' position and the second is what the public judge us to be.

One of the class by Prof Dorodjatun that still clearly stamped in my mind was when he stated that FEUI economist must always be ready to be summon to serve the nation and Indonesian people.

Putera wrote in his article that"The economics that I study at FEUI is not the science of greed; it is knowledge that can be applied to solve important social problems that Indonesia is dealing with at the moment"
....and that's why we (want to) become economist!