The Council of Charles Darwin University (CDU) honoured a courageous leader for his outstanding service to Indonesia, to democracy and to developing harmonious relations with Australia, particularly with Northern Australia.
The 6th President of the Republic of Indonesia, Professor Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono AC, received a Doctor of Economics honoris causa during a special ceremony on CDU’s Casuarina campus led by the Chancellor of CDU, Mr Neil Balnaves AO.
Dr Yudhoyono was President of Indonesia from 2004 to 2014 during which time he oversaw the acceleration of the country’s economic growth while addressing corruption and terrorism, and strengthening human rights.
Mr Balnaves AO presented the honorary degree on behalf of the Council of the university and before a gathering of CDU senior executives, academics, government and business leaders, and representatives of the Indonesian community.
The Vice-Chancellor of CDU, Professor Simon Maddocks, read the citation outlining Dr Yudhoyono’s challenges and accomplishments, particularly during his two terms as President.
“He faced many challenges including the aftermath of the greatest natural disaster to befall Indonesia in more than a century, when the Boxing Day tsunami struck in 2004 killing more than 130,000 people,” Professor Maddocks said.
Despite that disaster and the 2008 global financial crisis, Dr Yudhoyono achieved significant improvements to Indonesia’s economy and he was returned to office for a second term in 2009.
“During his two terms as President, his government’s policies resulted in Indonesia experiencing high economic growth, second only to China, an almost 400 per cent increase in annual income and a 17 per cent decline in poverty,” Professor Maddocks said.
As a young man in the 1970s, Dr Yudhoyono embarked on a military career, which included time in the United States, Panama, Belgium, West Germany and Malaysia, before he became Indonesia’s Chief Military Observer on the UN Peacekeeping Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995.
After leaving the military, he entered politics and held high profile Cabinet positions in the governments of Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri.
“In 2000, Dr Yudhoyono became the Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs, where he worked to separate the Indonesian Army from politics in line with his reformist ideas on the future of the Indonesia military as primarily a defence force,” Professor Maddocks said.
“While he was a Minister under President Megawati, Dr Yudhoyono oversaw the search for and arrest of those responsible for the October 2002 Bali bombing. It was at this time that he gained a reputation in Indonesia and internationally as a serious supporter of the War on Terrorism.”
Dr Yudhoyono holds a Master of Business Administration from Webster University in the US, and a PhD in Economics from Indonesia’s Bogor Agricultural University.
He has been awarded numerous medals, stars and honours, both in Indonesia and internationally, including the Star of the Republic of Indonesia, an award of the highest order made to those who have given extraordinary service to the integrity, viability and greatness of Indonesia.