Language: English / Indonesian

Political and Economic View

Tan Goan-Po was a Social Democrat and a member of the Indonesian Socialist Party (Partai Sosialis Indonesia). His economic slant was Keynesian, emphasizing government involvement in a stagnating economy. Recognizing that Indonesia was within the sphere of capitalism, his views on economics had been pragmatic and practical. As part of economic decolonization, Tan was concerned that no development would be complete unless the position of the pribumi (indigenous) business community improved.

In a formal face to face debate on national economic policy (conducted during the Symposium on the Contemporary Problems in Transition Period in April 1952), former minister of Finance and governor of Bank Indonesia, Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, suggested that Tan Goan-Po was overly academic. However, this characterization is inaccurate in light of Tan's proactive involvement in the day-to-day operations of numerous practical business and economic concerns. Because of the scarcity of trained economists, no economist in the 1950s had the luxury of exclusively doing esoteric research. Most were thrown into the frying pan: they were involved in the building of business, finance, research, and educational institutions. In addition to his work as an academic economist, Tan helped found a commercial bank, managed several companies, and acted as an advisor to cabinet members.