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Jakarta Post

Sri Mulyani recalls meeting furniture maker Jokowi during 1998 crisis

  • Budi Sutrisno

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, August 14, 2020   /   05:22 pm
Sri Mulyani recalls meeting furniture maker Jokowi during 1998 crisis President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (second right) and Vice President Ma'ruf Amin (right) converse with Finance Minister Sri Mulyani (second left) and Cooperatives and SME Minister Teten Masduki (left) before a limited Cabinet meeting on downstream industrial development at the President's Office in Jakarta on June 2. (Antara/Hafidz Mubarak A)

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati shared a throwback post on social media of her meeting with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo when he was a furniture maker in Surakarta, Central Java, during the 1998 Asian financial crisis.

After recalling how Jokowi overcame and advanced his business during the economic crisis 22 years ago, Sri Mulyani encouraged the Indonesian people to work and study harder for a better future in 22 years to come.

A photo collage that Sri Mulyani posted on her Instagram account, @smindrawati, on Thursday showed a black and white poster revealing her and businessman Jaya Suprana as speakers at an event, also a picture of young Jokowi giving a speech.

On Aug. 14, 1998, Sri Mulyani said, she had been invited by Jokowi to speak at a seminar in Surakarta, in her capacity as an economist from the University of Indonesia, to explain why the financial crisis occurred and how Indonesia could save the economy.

She said the seminar had been sponsored by Jokowi, who was at that time a businessman exporting furniture.

She said Jokowi had been “tremendously blessed” during the crisis, because export revenue in US dollars jumped more than sixfold at the time.


A post shared by Sri Mulyani Indrawati (@smindrawati) on

Indonesia’s economic growth, she recalled, had fallen sharply to minus 13.7 percent, while the exchange rate of the rupiah against the US dollar dropped from Rp 2,350 to Rp 16,000 per US dollar, causing many companies and banks to go bankrupt.

“Pak Jokowi used the ‘windfall profit’ wisely by increasing production capacity, taking advantage of the crisis to develop his business,” she said.

Twenty-two years later, after Jokowi took the Presidential seat and asked her to become his finance minister, another crisis struck, she added.

“Under the leadership of President Jokowi, we are overcoming it,” she said.

In facing the current difficult times, Sri Mulyani said the government had encouraged economic recovery programs to help people, revive small and medium enterprises as well as to regrow economic activities.

“Twenty-two years from now, what can you become?” she asks her followers at the end of the post.

“[Build] your future by continuously learning, working hard, being honest and being resourceful. Have a steel mentality; don’t give up when facing trials and tests. Always pray,” she added.