Thee Kian Wie, one of Indonesia’s most respected economists, died at PGI Cikini Hospital in Jakarta on Saturday following complications from a fall at his house. He was 79.
Prominent Indonesians including Vice President Boediono and political analyst Dewi Fortuna Anwar paid their respects at the hospital’s funeral home on Saturday.
Finance Minister Chatib Basri said that Thee “was the most dedicated scholar I have ever known, as he remained a pure academic for his whole life, while other economists quit to become consultants or enter public institutions.”
Chatib said he remembered having Thee as a lecturer in 1989 at the University of Indonesia’s (UI) Faculty of Economics.
They last met last year, one day before the government increased the price of fuel.
“We had dinner at that time and talked about the country’s economy as well as the impact of the fuel price hike,” the minister said.
One of Thee’s juniors at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences’ (LIPI) Center for Economic Research, Teddy Lesmana, said that Thee was a rare type of person as he dedicated his life to economic research.
Thee, he said, always encouraged junior academic at LIPI to continue their studies and to strive for excellence.
“Although he was a great master of economics, he was a very humble man who loved joking and sharing his knowledge with his juniors. He was a genuine researcher,” Teddy told The Jakarta Post.
He said the Chinese-Indonesian economic expert still visited LIPI headquarters on Jl. Gatot Subroto, Central Jakarta, even though he had retired from the institution more than a decade earlier.
In addition, a senior economist at the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (INDEF) Bustanul Arifin said Thee’s passing was a great loss for the nation.
Thee was born in Jakarta on April 20, 1935, and received a bachelor’s degree from UI in economics and a master’s degree and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin in the US.
He received the Sarwono Prawirohardjo Award in 2008, the Habibie Award in 2006 and an honorary doctorate from Australian National University in 2004.
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