More DW Blogs DW.COM

Women Talk Online

A forum for women to talk to women

A “crazy” woman is needed for a breakthrough


Copyright: Getty Images/ Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images.

What is the number one criteria that makes a person suitable to be a minister? Does he or she have to have a university degree or any formal education in the field entrusted upon them by the president and the nation? If your answer is no, you might like the minister of marine affairs and fisheries in the new Indonesian cabinet.
Her name is Susi Pudjiastuti. She has never studied at a university. She hasn’t even finish high school, but she is a remarkable woman. She has gained knowledge about fishery from working in the field.

It all began with selling fish

Susi Pudjiastuti always knew. She started high school but decided to leave at the age of 17 after which she began selling clothes and bed covers. Riding on a motorcycle, she sold her merchandise all over Pangandaran, the city where she was born, located on the southern coast of Java. Later, she realized that fishery has the biggest potential for business.

In 1983 she bought a big basket for selling fish. Every morning she bought fresh fish caught by fishermen and sold them at the market. Her business went well so she wanted to expand it and sell fish to Jakarta. She started renting a truck and later bought one that she drove herself. She left Pangandaran at around 3 pm, and arrived in Jakarta at midnight. After selling the fish she drove back to Pangandaran.

Her former husband, who is an aviation engineer, gave her the idea to buy a plane to save more time to transport fish and lobsters to Jakarta. Since they did not have enough money, she tried to borrow money from the bank in 2000. The bank rejected and called her crazy. Finally, another bank approved her proposal in November 2004.

A month later, on December 26, 2004 a Tsunami hit Aceh and the west coast of Sumatra. It caused destruction in almost all parts of the Aceh province. Susi sent her plane to bring food and tents for those who survived. Her plane was the first to reach Meulaboh in Aceh two days after the Tsunami.

Later several non-governmental organizations asked her if they could rent her plane to bring donations to Aceh. From that time on, she began letting out her plane. It became a business and is now called Susi Air. Susi has 49 planes and 180 pilots who work for her. Only five of them are Indonesians.

A “crazy” person is needed

Susi has won many rewards for all of her achievements. She is also known for her readiness to help those in need, but there are also people who criticize her. Some do not accept her as a minister because she does not have any degree. Moreover she smokes, she has been married twice and divorced twice and she has a big tattoo on her leg. Many people do not like this behavior, which is against cultural norms in Indonesia.

She is undoubtedly controversial. But because of that she can offer the nation a new perspective, new ways, and new spirit. She really knows what it means to work hard, and she has proven that by working hard you can really achieve a lot. It is the most important thing for a country.

She did not understand why Joko Widodo chose her to be a minister. “Do you know that people sometimes say I’m a bit crazy?” The president answered, “Yes, I need a ‘crazy’ person to make a breakthrough.” Godspeed, Susi Pudjiastuti!

Author: Marjory Linardy

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan


18.11.2014 | 12:49