Headline / July 2019

Producing Quality Political Leaders

At the age of 90, the tycoon never stops promoting innovative ideas and doing good for his country. The man, widely acknowledged as a brilliant businessman, is also well known as a great proponent of education and quality health care for all. In early May this year, during the commemoration of National Education Day, Mochtar once more respectfully contributed to his alma mater, the University of Indonesia, which established a new facility named after him: the Mochtar Riady Social and Political Research Center.

The impressive new white building, which towers over the leafy campus in Depok, West Java, was inaugurated by Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Mohamad Nasir, accompanied by Mochtar Riady and university chancellor Muhammad Anis.

Also present were Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto; House of Representatives Speaker Bambang Soesatyo; Arie Setiabudi Soesilo, dean of the university’s social and political sciences faculty; and Saleh Husin, chairman of the university’s board of trustees.

The development of the 5,184-square-meter building started in 2016 and was completed in March, in time for the 2019/2020 academic year. Although it will also be used for lectures, the building will, as the name implies, primarily serve as a center for social and political science research.

In his speech at the event, Mochtar said political science continues to advance, in step with increasing globalization. He added that the country’s political development can serve as a benchmark of the importance of an excellent political education. This will increase demand on the education sector to produce political leaders who are not only gifted, but also reliable, polite and espouse integrity.

He urged the university, as the country’s leading center of higher learning, to continue raising the bar and develop facilities to expand its superior research programs, including social and political sciences.

“I initially felt uncomfortable with this building bearing my name. But I eventually concluded that this could be a positive thing. It might be possible to invite other entrepreneurs to also contribute to the advancement of education in Indonesia,” Mochtar said.

He expressed gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the community, especially in the field of education. This is only one of Mochtar’s many contributions to education and health care, and it should come as no surprise that he cares deeply about the former, especially in the context of his alma mater. In the mid-1960s, while working full time, Mochtar still managed to attend night school at the University of Indonesia, even though he had studied philosophy at the University of Nanking in China’s Jiangsu province. This is further proof of his strong determination to sharpen his intellect and deepen his knowledge and experience. It was here that Mochtar became acquainted with many of Indonesia’s top economic experts, including Emil Salim and Ali Wardhana.

“Only with the contribution of the entire community, Indonesia can continue to develop and advance,” said the man born in Malang, East Java, on May 12, 1929.

Inevitable Globalization

As a leader of dozens of chief executives, it is obvious that Mochtar has a vision that extends far into the future. His extensive knowledge and experience led him to make massive contributions to the world of education. He long ago realized that, in an era of rapid globalization, changes occur so fast that it also requires responsive human resources, especially in the fields of politics and economics.

Recalling a speech he made in mid-1995, Mochtar said the world is undergoing very rapid change.

“When we talk about globalization, we are actually pushed into an era that is even further away, namely an era of globalization plus liberalization without borders. All of this happens due to two factors: the information technology revolution and a currency revolution,” he said.

Mochtar said human history has seen several changes, such as in the way of life, because of discoveries in energy and technology. During the 1950s, especially in the United States, there were lifestyle changes when the industrial society turned into an information society. As a result, America moved its labor-intensive industries to other countries, such as West Germany and Japan.

Soon, Japan experienced the same, and moved its industries to Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. And when these countries become Asian tigers, they also experienced structural changes and in turn moved their industries to China and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

He said this movement of industry has led to cross-investment between nations and created what he termed the“Asia-Euro-Dollar.” This is globalization, he said, adding that it creates dependencies between nations. This enhances economic and trade relations, so regulations on international economic players are needed. This is when the world will enter the era of globalization without borders.

In his speech, chancellor Muhammad Anis thanked Mochtar for supporting the university’s development. With his support, the university previously also established among others, the Indonesian Medical Education and Research Institute and the Center for Science and Technology Research. “[The university is] now more complete with the addition of the social and political sciences research center,” the chancellor said.

Mochtar reiterated that education was the key that had made it possible for him to achieve his goals and serve the community. Similarly, he said the University of Indonesia plays a huge role in supporting the nation. And because education is crucial for a country such as Indonesia, he urged all parties to contribute to these initiatives.

“I invite other entrepreneurs to support the University of Indonesia and other universities in the country so our nation’s education will become more advanced and produce excellent human resources,” he said.

Mochtar, who was elected to chair the university’s board of trustees in 2002, has launched research programs on nanotechnology, genetics and information and communication technology. However, he said research in other fields was also appropriate and should be developed to keep up with the times.

Besides the inauguration, there was also the signing of a cooperation agreement between private universities and 10 state universities on the implementation of an online-based course program.

Minister Nasir thanked Mochtar for his contribution. “Globalization has influenced development in the fields of social and political studies. The role of the university remains central to spearhead this message to public,” he said.

Nasir expressed hope that the new building would help the University of Indonesia become one of the world’s top-200 leading universities soon. It is currently ranked in 292nd place.

This ranking puts the university above the country’s other top institutions, such as Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University, which is ranked 390th, and the Bandung Institute of Technology in West Java, which is in 340th place. The University of Indonesia’s social and political sciences faculty is currently a favorite among students, who not only come from Jakarta and Java, but the rest of the country, to enroll.

“As one of the country’s leading educational institutions, the University of Indonesia should continue to hone and possess the best facilities to develop superior research programs, which now also cover the fields of social and political science research,” the minister said.

He added that Indonesia has a huge target to ensure that 11 of its universities join the ranks of the world’s best by 2024. To encourage this, his ministry has proposed a budget of Rp 20 trillion ($1.4 billion) for next year.