One of Indonesia’s best
minds, Hadi Soesastro,
dies at 65


Hadi Soesastro, one of Indonesia’s foremost economists and the former executive director of the Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), passed away on Tuesday morning.

He died at Pondok Indah Hospital in South Jakarta, 10 days after being admitted for a brain hemorrhage. He was 65 years old. He is survived by his wife Janti Solihin and his two sons, Haryadi Iskandar and Daryadi Iskandar.

Hadi, or Minky as he was affectionately called by friends, was known for his active participation in the creation of regional architectures to establish free trade communities in Asia and the Pacific since the 1980s.

In his professional life, Hadi advised the Indonesian government on many issues related to foreign affairs, defense, trade and finance. He was a member of the National Economic Council, an advisory council to late former president Abdurrahman Wahid.

Hadi was an advisor to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as well as the World Bank. He was also a member of the international advisory boards of various international institutions, including the Asia Society (based in New York) and a member of the Indonesian Sherpa for the G20 meeting.

“Indonesia has lost an intellectual who was not only brilliant but also humble and a humanist. Hadi’s trail of thought can be found in all processes and ideas on architectures of regional cooperation such as ASEAN and APEC, and many other multilateral forums,” Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu told The Jakarta Post.

Mari said that although Hadi was an internationalist, no one could doubt that he was “200 percent
red and white”, the color of Indonesia’s flag.

Mari, who knew Hadi not only professionally, said he was a person who rarely complained and was always willing to help. “One thing I always remember is that he helped me by becoming the head administrator for my wedding,” she said.

With his demise, Mari said, she had lost a friend and an icon to look to for inspiration and ideas.

Within the academic circle, Hadi was well regarded both nationally and internationally. He studied
aeronautics in Aachen, Germany, and returned to Indonesia in 1971, where he later became one of the founders of CSIS. In 1974, he went on to study economics at the Rand Graduate Institute in Santa Monica, California, under the tutelage of Charles Wolf, Jr, who became his mentor.

He was an adjunct professor at the Research School of Pacific Asian Studies (RSPAS) at the Australian National University. In addition to lecturing at national universities, he has taught at Columbia University in New York, where he was popular among students.

“At CSIS, he was our best mind, always lucid, quick and open to discuss not only economics, where he mostly excelled, but other fields too. He may be the best strategist we ever had,” Jusuf Wanandi, the vice chairman for CSIS’ board of trustees, said.

As a person, Jusuf said, Hadi was humble, unassuming and unflappable, and his demeanor was always excellent.

“His greatest achievement was building and sustaining the CSIS as a real think tank for Indonesia,”
he said.

Hadi’s student, Chatib Basri, currently a special advisor to the finance minister, recalled inspirational moments he shared with his former tutor and friend, who, he said, apart from being a respected economist, was also a good cook.

“What I admired about him was that he was not too technical, you wouldn’t expect to perform econometric calculations with him, but he had a strong stance on policy making. If not for Hadi, I may not have taken up an interest in regionalism,” he said.

Chatib said Hadi was among a rare group of internationally renowned Indonesian economists. “He was very well known internationally. In that respect, I think he’s second to none. [His passing] is such a big loss,” Chatib said.

His body will lie in state at the old CSIS building on Jl. Tanah Abang III in Jakarta on Tuesday and Wednesday. A requiem mass will be held on Wednesday at the CSIS building.

He will be cremated in Bitung in nearby Tangerang on Thursday.

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