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Tribute to Hadi Soesastro: CSIS’ best mind

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In Brief

On July 17, 2009, the Canberra-based Australian National University (ANU) conferred a Doctor Honoris Causa degree in economics on Hadi Soesastro. He is the third Indonesian to receive such a degree, following the conferrals many years ago to Dr. Masri Singarimbun, a demographer, and Dr. Thee Kian Wie, an economic historian.

Dr. Singarimbun was honored for his achievements in the field of demography, and for paving the way for Indonesian students to study at the ANU. Dr. Thee was honored for his long standing and extensive cooperation with the university.

The ANU honored Hadi for his achievements in promoting the idea of regionalism in East Asia and the Asia Pacific. He has tirelessly developed the idea and given it a conceptual framework through various Track Two processes since it was first proposed in the 1970s. He has been instrumental in developing the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) into what it is today, and for the establishment of the Economic Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA). In addition, he is appreciated for his contribution to Indonesian-Australia relations, especially in economics.


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Hadi is one of the most prominent scholars in ASEAN whose thoughts and contributions help shape some of the Track Two activities. A case in point is the ASEAN People’s Assembly (APA), which he developed together with another notable ASEAN scholar — Dr. Carolina G. Hernandez, from the Philippines. Through the network of the ASEAN Institutes of Strategic and International Studies (ASEAN ISIS), the APA started convening in 2000 with the goal of bridging civil society organizations with the governments of ASEAN countries.

Hadi is an advisor to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank, too, often turns to him for advice. Since the foundation of the CSIS in 1971, he has been advising the Indonesian government, especially the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Defense, Trade, and Finance. He is also currently a member of the Indonesian Sherpa for the G20 meeting.

Hadi was trained as an aeronautical engineer in Aachen, Germany, returning to Indonesia to join the recently founded CSIS in 1971, and became one of its founders. In 1974 he went to study economics at the Rand Graduate Institute in Santa Monica, California, US, under the tutelage of Charles Wolf, Jr, who has since become his mentor.

His dissertation is on Indonesia’s Five-Year Plan program, which was useful for the government in formulating the Second Five-Year Plan. He finished his PhD in Policy Studies in three and a half years. Hadi taught at the ANU and Columbia University, New York, US, where he was a popular professor among students.

At CSIS, he is our best mind, always lucid, quick, and open to discuss not only economics, where he mostly excels, but other fields too. He may be the best strategist we ever had, able to combine various disciplines into one idea or concept in his problem-solving efforts. We are lucky and proud to have him at CSIS, where he has dedicated most of his professional services and contributions to the development of the institute, including serving several times as the Executive Director.

He currently has the ongoing task of assisting the institute he helped build to train the younger generation of scholars. In addition to his busy schedules, he dedicates much of his time and energy to improving the institute’s journal, The Indonesian Quarterly. The journal finally has the respectable editor it deserves, and we at CSIS are really proud of it.

As a person, Hadi is humble, unassuming and unflappable, and his demeanor is always excellent. His greatest achievement is in building and sustaining the CSIS as a real think tank for Indonesia, and nurturing young scholars to be able to continue the work of the institute for the generations to come.

I congratulate Hadi and his family for the honor bestowed by the ANU. I believe there will be more honors and accolades to come in the future.

And, on behalf of CSIS I just would like to say that Hadi’s latest accolade is well-deserved, and it is an honor for CSIS, too.

This article was first published on 22 June in the Jakarta Post.

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