Emil Salim describes lessons learned from his long career in Indonesia’s government. He describes his efforts to institute procedures to set priorities for budgeting and implementation, to build capacity, to educate leaders (particularly from the military) about economics, to reform civil service, and to facilitate interministerial communications. He defines major challenges he faced in creating communications and systems of local governance for a nation of over 17,000 islands. He gives his views on the transition from a centrally planned economy dominated by the military to an increasingly market-driven, more democratic country and reports on his efforts to enhance civil society. He offers suggestions about how to combat loyalty to agency rather than loyalty to government and the nation.
At the time of this interview, Emil Salim was on the faculty of the University of Indonesia in Jakarta. He graduated from the university's Faculty of Economics in 1959. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1964. In 1966, he was a member of a team of economic advisers to President Suharto. In 1967 and 1968, he was an adviser to the Ministry of Manpower. From 1967 to 1969, he was chairman of the technical team for the Council for Economic Stability and was a member of Parliament. He was vice chairman of the National Development Planning Agency in 1969. In 1971 was minister of state for the improvement of the state apparatus. During the 1970s, he was minister of communications, of development supervision and of environment.