Mr. Fix-It. Don't get fooled by his soft-spoken words; this guy hides his light under a bushel. Accomplish first, talk later on–here in economics we speak with data, fellas.
(photo by Sinartus Sosrodjojo)
My friend Miranti sat nervously right beside me when we were waiting for the vice-president elect Boediono to give his lecture to around 300 students, lecturers, and other economics academicians inside the University of Indonesia’s Faculty of Economics auditorium last month on September 14.
“I think he’s definitely the right man for the job. You know, both of my parents are big fans of him and during the presidential election my father continuously told me about how humble he is and how his overwhelming economics knowledge can bolster up Indonesia’s economy in the future,” she said.
At that time, the excitement of hearing his lecture live and seeing the vice-president elect in person was extremely high among us the economics students–so high that the auditorium seats had been fully booked three days before the lecture itself.
But in the end, Miranti’s massive excitement, as well as other 300 University of Indonesia academicians’, turned out to be a massive disappointment.
During his 2-hour lecture, Boediono presented us a tedious show as he resembled a professor who was more concerned to his textbook rather than the mood of his pupils. Despite the fact that the person who was giving the lecture up front was actually a vice-president elect, he fell short to the expectation and actually his lecture made no difference compared to few of my lecturers’ classes in FEUI to which I played truant frequently because of their monotonous teaching-style.
But as the lecture ended and many of my friends walked out with dissatisfaction and regretted their decision to attend his lecture, I still walked out with bliss since his performance on the stage was very much I had anticipated even before he took the floor: that Boediono is a dyed-on-the-wool technocrat who is renowned neither from his inspiring words nor how he performed on his speeches –it’s his accomplishment in bringing Indonesia’s economy to the highest level which raised him to prominence.
Notable for his terrific achievement of fixing Indonesia’s macroeconomic framework in the 2001 dream-team cabinet with Prof. Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Tjakti and nicknamed as ‘the man who get the job done’ while he is still working in the Indonesian treasury, as a technocrat Boediono learned that he was always judged by how he accomplish his job and not by his ability of gaining short recognition from his crowds with stirring words–where in politicians’ mind it is exactly the opposite.
“From a technocrat to a half-politician –it’s a completely unimaginable transformation for me,” he said at the beginning of his lecture.
In fact, technocrats were born to be working in the background and therefore they are accustomed in the habit of not talking too much. We can see that while today SBY’s cabinet is dominated with many politicians who fight over the ministerial seats for the interest of their own political party which they represent, Boediono’s fellow economics technocrats like Faisal Basri, Chatib Basri, and Raden Pardede are still waiting sedately in the wings to be appointed to the field of job where they are considered best.
One of the examples about the modesty of technocrats can also be seen when those technocrat friends of Boediono’s remain quiet even though deep inside their mind they are likely to laugh off SBY’s politicized decision to interview National Mandate Party’s (PAN) Hatta Radjasa as the coordinating minister for the economy –regardless by the fact that many people consider them to be more capable than Hatta as he possesses neither economic background nor any noteworthy experience previously in handling the economy.
In case of Boediono himself, I was very impressed when this 66-year old technocrat was always able to keep his head cool and still replying with his soft-speaking words when the likes of Prabowo Subianto and Wiranto violently criticized him in various issues during the vice-presidential debates in the previous election.
Let me tell you this Pak Prabowo and Pak Wiranto: In the next five years Indonesia’s future is yet to be defined; at this crucial moment we definitely don’t need smart alec people who are more competent in mouthing words but have no competence of implementing them into actions.
Pak Boed, despite your failure to live up to our expectations during the lecture, on behalf of the yellow jacket academicians I want to say thank you for your willingness to spare your busy time to lecture us and we all were grateful to experience such rare opportunity.
This is simply because we believe that actions speak louder than words: you may not be expert in doing speeches and inspiring people by your words, but getting tough tasks done and inspiring people by your hard-working attitude are the things that you are really excel at, aren’t they?
And yes we still support you wholeheartedly. As you are now officially elected as our vice-president and hold a more strategic role in the economy of Indonesia, we know that during the next five years of your term we can expect many great improvements in our economy to come from your economics aptitude–which we consider to be more important rather than just sweet niceties that were frequently uttered by your rivals during the last presidential election.
This article was published in The Jakarta Post on Thursday, October 22 2009