The Jakarta Post
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti has made waves since the beginning of her assignment as a no-nonsense leader by fearlessly enforcing tough measures in order to protect Indonesia’s waters.
Susi recently spoke with The Jakarta Post about staying authentic while forging a career in a male-dominated environment.
Question: Bu Susi, you're a minister in a field dominated by men. Have you ever been underestimated for being a woman?
Answer: I don't think I ever feel underestimated. I don't think men would [be] brave enough to underestimate me.
Q: What are your favorite books?
Books, so many nice books, so many good books. I love everything.
The Kartini book is one of the books I like because of her way of thinking through time, beyond the time that she was living in.
I also like Simone de Beauvoir. I also like the Mahabrata. I also like Kho Ping Hoo. So I like all books.
I like Adam Smith. I like Thomas Paine. I like so many nice books. I can't say one.
So many good books.
Q: Can you name the women who inspire you?
My mother, Theresa [May], [Angela] Merkel, Margaret Thatcher, and even Michelle Obama is full of inspiration.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti. (JP/Seto Wardhana)
Q: How do you manage to stay healthy amid all your activities?
Juggling time. And trying to be happy all the time. Even if sometimes I hate it, like these questions.
Q: Do you have any plans to quit smoking?
Always, actually. Because I think smoking is not healthy and the doctor says my skin will be wrinkled more but I never [beat] that.
So, I sometimes try to give up but I can't, so I give up trying.
But I will try again some time.
Q: Do you have any dreams or ambitions that you haven't achieved yet?
To be always with my children at all times. And I think I will never have that opportunity.
So, I try to do my best. Spend most of my time with them.
But, I’ve never been, but, I try to enjoy it.
I take them sometimes on my job.
Q: What's behind your bravery and courage in doing your work as a minister?
Professionalism. And I just want things done.
That's the keyword and drive for me.
I ride the road that's called “work has to be done”.
Done is done.
Q: At what events do you choose to wear a kebaya?
A kebaya is sometimes not practical.
It looks good on me, though. I think.
But it's just sometimes so impractical.
Read also: Susi beats Sandiaga in Lake Sunter showdown
Q: Do you google yourself?
A: Once in a while. When people send me some message, it’s funny.
And sometimes I'm surprised at what actually Google knows about me.
Sometimes I don't even realize I know myself as Google knows [me].
Q: Where do you get your news?
Newspapers, online, Yahoo News, Google News.
TV, movies, I don't go, I don't watch.
So, mostly from articles.
And from what people send to my phone.
Because my phone has been publicized by the President. So, many people send me news.
And I don't think I read 50 percent of it.
Q: Can you recommend five destinations for marine tourism?
Raja Ampat is nice. The Banda area is very nice.
Fakfak, I’ve just seen it also, nice place.
And Karimunjawa is a nice place.
And Sumatra. Mentawai, Simalungun, are nice places.
Q: Do you have any message for all Indonesian women out there?
Liberate your mind.
Stop thinking you are a woman all the time.
Have some restrictions and limitations.
Because once you liberate your mind, you can move forward and be freer to go to work to do anything you like.
And you will do better, once you feel better. (liz/mut)