Biography project


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Biography project

  1. 1. BiographyThe beginningMy name is Sam Suharto and I was born on May 10, 1940 in a small town called Kediri in theeastern part of the island of Java in Indonesia. Java is one of the main islands of Indonesia. Thecountry has more than 17,000 islands but there are five main islands in the country; these areSumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Western Papua. When I was born, Indonesia was notyet established as a country as we know it today; the archipelago had been colonized by theDutch since about the year of 1600.Early years (1940 to 1949)Soon after I was born, the Second World War affected Indonesia. The Japanese then occupiedIndonesia from 1941 until 1945. Because of the war my parents had to move to a village on theoutskirt of the town of Kediri. I am the second child of ten children. I have a sister, SriMoempoeni, who is two years older, and six sisters and two brothers younger than I. When myolder sister started to go to school in 1945, I insisted that I also wanted to go to school. Everymorning, when my mother and I walked my sister to school, I did not want to go home andwould cry outside of my sister’s classroom. Because I annoyed everyone, finally the teacher letme sit in the back of the class as long as I would be quite. When I started to go school in thisvillage school, I was five years old.Under the Japanese occupation, every morning all the kids in this elementary school had to docalisthenics in the school yard before they began their studies in the classrooms. The exerciseswere led by someone who was standing on a platform in front of the rows and rows of studentsso that everyone could see him. The leader had to follow a set of exercises which were the sameevery morning in accordance with the counts in Japanese from the loudspeakers. Fortunately,the Japanese occupation did not last very long after that. The Japanese Empire acceptedunconditional surrender to the allied forces on 14 August 1945, following two atomic bombsdropped by the American forces one on Hiroshima and another on Nagasaki. Indonesia declaredits independence on 17th of August 1945.While we thought that the war was over, the Dutch came back and tried to resume their rule ofthe country. That was when our lives were again disrupted by the war for independence againstthe Dutch. Our family became refugees and moved from place to place to avoid the fighting.My parents joined the resistance movement with many of the able young Indonesian adults atthat time. My father and some colleagues formed a unit to manufacture ammunitions such asgrenades and other type of ammunitions to support the Indonesian troops fighting against muchmore organized and better armed Dutch troops. During this time our family had to moveconstantly in accordance with the war situation, since we could not be too far away from thefront line. During this movement only three children were taken along by my parents, myselfand my two younger sisters: Hartati1 who was about 3 years old and Sundari who was a baby.After the war was finally over the entire family returned to the town of Kediri. My father and his1 Aidan Brooke’s grand mother 1
  2. 2. colleagues were incorporated into the civilian staff for the East Java Office of the Ministry ofDefense and the children resumed their schooling.Growing up (1949 to 1958)I did not have too many close friends until I was nine years old. We had not celebrated birthdaysor any other events until then. When I returned to school again at third grade I had to work hardbecause I had not been studying at all. But, at least, our lives returned to normal, I began to havefriends and enjoying playing with them. However, we did not have many toys or equipment toplay with. Even simple balls were not easy to buy at that time. We enjoyed playing withmarbles and soccer with improvised balls in the yard. Four or five of us often went to a nearbypublic pool to swim, and afterwards we would go to sugar-cane fields to get some canes to eat.I graduated from elementary school in 1952 and from secondary school in 1955. At that timethere was only one public high school in Kediri. There were some private high schools, such asthose run by the Catholic Church, but they were not free. Therefore, everyone wanted to go tothe public high school. Luckily, I was accepted into the Kediri Public High School. I graduatedfrom this high school when I was 18 years old.College years (1958 to 1961)My parents were not wealthy, so when I graduated from high school I only applied to schoolsthat would provide scholarship and at that time there were not that many. First, I applied to theIndonesian Naval Academy which provided free tuition, rooms and board as well as a smallstipend. If I were accepted, this academy would be ideal for me and my family. I was called togo to a different town in East Java, Malang, about 10 hours away by train from Kediri. Thisplace was where the screening of hundreds of applicants was to take place; everyone had to gothrough an interview (psycho test), written examination and physical test. After a few daysstaying there I passed the interview and the written test, but I failed the physical test because myweight was about one half kilogram short of the required weight. I knew that I was small andskinny and that my weight might be less than what they required. In the hope of increasing myweight, during the several days I stayed on this Naval Academy campus, I ate continuously asmuch as I could, since the food was free in their dining hall, until I was feeling sick.Nevertheless, I could not gain the necessary weight; the Naval Academy gave me a dischargedletter, and I rode the train back to Kediri.One day I saw an advertisement in the newspaper about the opening of the new Academy ofStatistics in Jakarta. The announcement said that applicants must pass an entry examination andthose accepted would be provided a generous scholarship with the condition that after graduationthe students must work for the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Government of Indonesia, forat least three years. I went to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, for the first time in my life.Jakarta was a very big city compared to my small town of Kediri. I passed the entry examinationand I moved to Jakarta and began my course at the United Nations-funded Academy of Statistics.I graduated Cum Laude and received a Bachelor of Statistics degree from the Academy ofStatistics in 1961 and began to work for the CBS. 2
  3. 3. More education and career development (1961 to 1981)In 1963, when I was 23 years old and working at the CBS, I was awarded a fellowship by theUnited Nations to continue my study of statistics in the United States of America. I left Jakartaon 30th December 1963 to go by an airplane for the first time to New York, with an overnightstop in Hong Kong. I celebrated the New Year’s Day of 1964 on the BOAC (British OverseasAviation Corporation) plane over the Pacific Ocean. I visited the United Nations Building inNew York to meet the UN fellowship Officer, and then I was sent to Texas A&M University inCollege Station, Texas. I obtained my Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree in 1966 and Doctor ofPhilosophy (Ph.D.) degree in 1968, both in Statistics. I returned to Jakarta and continued mywork at the CBS, Government of Indonesia.Starting a family (1967 to 1981)While I was studying statistics in Texas, I met a beautiful student, LeNelle Beegle, who thenbecame my wife. We were married in Texas on September 23, 1967. We have three children,Timothy (born in 1968), Darlene (born in 1968) and Thomas (born in 1981). In 1976, I receiveda Senior Research Fellowship Award from the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Myfamily and I lived in Hawaii during the 1976/1977 academic year. Based on this research,several of my colleagues and I published a book, The Population Growth of Indonesia, in 1980.International work (1981 to 2000)In October 1981, the United Nations Headquarters in New York offered me a position to becomea UN Technical Advisor on Population Census and Demographic Statistics attached to theUnited Nations Statistical Office. We moved to New York and started our new life in a newcountry. During the 19 years I worked at the UN I traveled to more than 60 countries in allcontinents. In 1997, I was promoted to become the Chief of the Demographic and SocialStatistics Branch of the U.N. Statistics Division. I retired from the United Nations in May 2000.Retirement (2000 to now)After my retirement, I have been busy with many activities that I did not have time to do while Iwas still working. I joined the Audubon Society, a grass root organization to promote theprotection of life and habitat for birds. I became the Vice President of the local Chapter of thisorganization in the Bronx River and Sound Shore area of Westchester County in New YorkState. I also joined the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA). United Nations Association is a world-wide organization to promote peace on earth andhuman rights in the world; I became the Membership Chair of this Organization’s Chapter inWestchester County, New York.To keep abreast with the development of my areas of expertise, I have been active in writingtechnical papers in statistics, participating and presenting technical papers in the InternationalStatistical Institute (ISI) world congress (Sydney in 2005 and Durban in 2009). I am currentlyorganizing a session at the upcoming ISI world congress in Dublin, Ireland in August 2011. 3
  4. 4. In addition, I have been requested by several Governments and International and RegionalOrganizations to carryout work as a consultant on population censuses and demographicstatistics. I carried out consultancies for the United Nations (2003), the Caribbean Commission(2006-2007), the Governments of Oman (2007), Sri Lanka (2008), and Indonesia (2007, 2008and 2009).I also have many hobbies which I enjoy doing when I have time, which include genealogy(tracing our family ancestry), carpentry and do-it your-self works at home, hiking and other out-door activities, travelling, reading histories and novels, etc. Unfortunately, even though I amretired I still do not have enough time to do many of the things that I love to do. 4