Indonesia’s Vice-President returns to UWA for prestigious award

Indonesia’s Vice-President returns to UWA for prestigious award


Chancellor, it is my privilege to present to you
for conferral of the honorary degree of Doctor of Economics, Professor Doctor Boediono. On behalf of this University I confer the honorary
degree of Doctor of Economics upon Boediono. It is now my pleasure to invite Professor Doctor
Boediono to respond to the Chancellor. Thankyou Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Honorable Ministers,
Members of the Senate, Deans of the Faculties, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Allow me to thank the Chancellor and the Vice
Chancellor, for their generous introduction and their kind words. I feel extremely proud
and at the same time very much humbled to stand before you today to receive the great
honour bestowed upon me by my alma mater, the University of Western Australia. It is
the more so as it happens to coincide with the centenary of this great university. Returning to this campus after so many years
rekindles old memories. I first came to Perth around this time of the year in 1963, forty
eight years ago, together with another Indonesian student, Abdillah Toha, joining six other
Indonesian students who had come to Perth one or two years earlier. Abdillah, my ex-roommate
and now long – time friend is present among us today. We were under the Australian GovernmentÕs
Colombo Plan scholarships, a programme that in my view has had enduring benefits for the
relations between Australia and Indonesia. Let me say that my four-year stay at this
great institution as an undergraduate has had a profound mark on my thinking. For some
time after my arrival at the university I felt like somebody coming from a totally different
world, unprepared for the tasks ahead. I understand they now call it a cultural shock. But when
you were young, when you were at the impressionable age, you would somehow manage to adjust yourself
to what were around you, and even absorb them. Fortunately, I found everyone – the lecturers,
fellow students, the student counsellor and I must also mention my first time landlady
– to be completely helpful. So the adjustments went reasonably well. Looking back I believe
I had got most out of my UWA years. If someone asked me, what was the greatest
influence that this institution has had on me personally, I would say that it was its
contribution to the formation of my attitude towards people and towards society. Yes, the
basic building block of my subsequent view of the world. I had my first serious exposure
to economics, the toolkits of my subsequent real life works, here at this university,
guided by outstanding teachers. But looking back it was the indirect benefits that have
profoundly influenced my journey in life. Almost every aspect of university life here
was then new to me. But what impressed me most was the ambience of intellectual integrity
and honesty prevalent in each lecture class, each tutorial class and each discussion group
that I attended — a hallmark of a first-rate learning institution. With my UWA experience, and credentials, new
doors of opportunity suddenly opened up for me. With a short interlude in the private
sector, I moved on to do further academic works in a number of universities. However,
circumstances have subsequently drawn me into government jobs ever since. It has now been
over four decades since I left the UWA. But there is no doubt in my mind that it was in
this university that my intellectual foundation was laid.
Let me remind the audience that during most of the period of my study at the university
the political relation between Australia and Indonesia was not cordial at all, and in fact
it grew increasingly tense as time passed. It was the time of Indonesia’s confrontation
with Malaysia, and Australia was openly on the side of Malaysia. Yet to my recollection
there was no single incidence in which we, the Indonesian students in Perth, were treated
unkindly by anybody. Later on, during my further years of stay
in other parts of Australia I came to realise that such attitude was a manifestation of
a broader value that many Australians cherished, namely that of fairness and fair play, as
you would say it in Strine, it is all and always fair dinkum. I must also mention here
that even during the height of the confrontation, our personal relation with Malaysian students
was always good, even when at times we had heated debates on politics. So much for a trip down memory lane. Allow
me now to look forward. I will use the next few minutes to share with you my thoughts
on the relations between our two nations. It is not an exaggeration to say that no two
close neighbors are as different from each other as Australia and Indonesia, historically,
culturally and politically. It is, therefore, not too surprising that our bilateral relations
have been marked by ups and downs, caused among others by ideological differences, different
strategic orientations, mutual misunderstandings and misperceptions as well as a host of other
bilateral irritants. Yet in recent years relations between Jakarta and Canberra have become ever
closer, helped in part by IndonesiaÕs democratisation which has narrowed the political gap between
our two countries. At the same time the convergence of our common interests in a growing number
of transnational, regional and global issues have made cooperation between our two countries
both necessary and inevitable. Let me cite some of them. Indonesia and Australia share common concerns
about the threat posed by terrorism. The first Bali bombing in 2002 killed over two hundred
innocent victims, the majority of whom were Australians. The problems of people smuggling
and drug trafficking are also major issues in our bilateral relations which call for
closer cooperation and coordination of policies. In 2005 the leaders of Indonesia and Australia
signed the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership that elevated the bilateral relations
Between Indonesia and Australia to a new level. Currently Indonesia-Australia relations are
at their best ever. Bilateral cooperation covers almost all fields of interests. In
2006 Indonesia and Australia signed a framework agreement on security co-operation, better
known as the Lombok Treaty. It should be noted that Indonesia has not signed such a treaty
with any other country. There are many forums and processes in which representatives of
our two governments meet regularly to tackle common problems. The economic relations between
Indonesia and Australia have continued to grow, albeit not as fast as we would have
liked. Indonesia now only ranks 12th among AustraliaÕs trading partners. With the talks
currently ongoing to finalise Indonesia – Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership
Agreement, we hope to see acceleration of trade and investment between our two countries. Australia has been a generous friend to Indonesia.
At a time of adversity, such as when Indonesia was hit by a giant tsunami in late 2004, Australia
was one of the first countries that came to IndonesiaÕs assistance. AustraliaÕs aid
programmes to Indonesia throughout the years have been significant. People-to-people relations have also grown
steadily over the years. Over the past fifty years more than 11000 Indonesian students
have obtained scholarships to study in Australia. Currently around 18000 Indonesian students
are studying in Australia, the 8th largest pool of international students in Australia. Notwithstanding the close relations between
our two countries we can see that there is still much room for improvement. The volatility
in our bilateral relations over the decades remains a concern. At certain periods it was
rather like a roller coaster with its slow rise and rapid fall, sometimes over quite
trivial issues. Clearly we need to develop more ballast in our bilateral relations that
can cushion the occasional shocks that may come unexpectedly from various sources. After
all, the differences between our two societies remain great, and we should accept it as a
fact. I am aware that, as a recent survey revealed,
many in Australia still look at Indonesia with varying degrees of suspicion, mostly
due to historical legacy but partly also because of a general lack of information about Indonesia.
I have the sense that at least the lay public here may not have been too well informed of
the fundamental transformations that have taken place in Indonesia, which has made Indonesia
into the world third largest democracy, where Islam, democracy and modernity go hand in
hand. It is true that democracy is still in the process of consolidation and inevitably
there are glitches in its working. But by any measures it has been taking roots quite
rapidly. Australia is the home of the largest number
of world-renowned scholars on Indonesia, which also help to attract Indonesian students to
study in Australia. Efforts to improve understandings such as through the BRIDGE programme (Building
Relationships through Intercultural Dialogue and Growing Engagement) are commendable and
need to be supported. Yet the number of Australians studying in Indonesia and learn more about
Indonesian language and culture has remained very small, only around 100 a year, and mostly
for short periods. Frequent travel advisories have also hampered Australians coming to Indonesia
to study or do research. I have also heard that a number of schools
and universities in Australia are closing down their Indonesian language programmes.
If this is true it is quite regrettable. It is my view that only by developing closer
people-to-people interactions at all level, with genuine efforts to understand each other,
can we develop the necessary ballast in our bilateral relations to ensure a deeper and
more sustainable long-term relationship. With these thoughts in mind, I consider the
honour bestowed upon me today to be also a tribute to the unfailing spirit of our peoples
to build a durable bridge of goodwill between our two nations. The works have started in
earnest from both ends, and the work should continue. Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Members of the
Senate, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I accept the Honorary Degree with pride and
appreciation. Thank you.

Danny Hutson

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