RI loses critical economist
in the passing Sjahrir:

Prominent Indonesian economist Sjahrir died in Singapore at 8:50 a.m. on Monday (7:50 a.m in Jakarta) after being treated at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore almost two weeks for lung cancer.

He was 63.

Born in Kudus in Central Java, Sjahrir had been a member of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's advisory council on the economy since April 11, 2007.

His remains are laid in state at his residence on Jl. Sukabumi in Menteng, Central Jakarta.

Syahrir's cousin, Hanafi, said Sjahrir would be buried at Tanah Kusir public cemetery in South Jakarta on Tuesday morning.

The President expressed his condolences on the death of his adviser, whom he visited while in the hospital in Singapore.

"We will miss Dr. Sjahrir, who passed away after suffering from an illness," Yudhoyono said after a meeting with Nobel Peace laureate Muhammad Yunus in Jimbaran, Bali, on Monday.

The President recounted Sjahrir as a senior economist who was critical in expressing his ideas and that nation's problems.

"In the development of our economic policy, Sjahrir was very helpful to me," he said.

President Yudhoyono and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono paid their last homage to Sjahrir later in the day.

State Secretary Hatta Radjasa said that among the last suggestions conveyed by Sjahrir concerned the recent fuel prices increase.

"He strongly supported the government's policy to increase the fuel price, saying it was unavoidable," said Hatta.

Sjahrir was highly recognized as an economist and a politician. As a student at the University of Indonesia's School of Economics (FEUI), Sjahrir became an activist in 1974, bringing him to the political world.

In 2002, he established the New Alliance Indonesia Party (PIB) in a bid to contest the presidential election. The party failed to meet the electoral threshold, ending his hopes of running for the presidency.

However, Yudhoyono, who won the 2004 presidential election, then appointed Sjahrir one of his staffers.

Sjahrir, whose father was a civil servant during the Dutch administration in Indonesia and whose mother worked in the education ministry, went to a public elementary school in Jakarta after moving from his previous school, Dalton Elementary School in Amsterdam.

He fell in love with economics when he studied at Canisius College high school. He then applied to FEUI for his undergraduate degree.

Other than studying, Sjahrir was involved in a student organization, Djakarta Student Union. He was elected chairman of the Indonesian Student Act Union and the secretary-general of the student senate at FEUI.

Sjahrir was jailed for six-and-a-half years due to his involvement in an anti-Japan rally popularly known as the Malari incident. After spending four years of his jail term, he was given a scholarship to pursue his postgraduate degree at Harvard University.

Ford Foundation then gave him a chance to study at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Sjahrir graduated in 1983, majoring in political economics and government.

Sjahrir then returned to Indonesia to teach at FEUI. He also established the Institute for Economic and Financial Research, whose members included Mari Elka Pangestu, now Indonesia's trade minister.

Sjahrir wrote several books, including Transisi Menuju Indonesia Baru (Transition to New Indonesia), Building a New Indonesia, Refleksi Pembangunan Ekonomi Indonesia 1968-1992 (Reflection of Indonesia's Economic Development 1968-1992) and Kebijaksanaan Negara (State Wisdom).

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