Asia Think Tank Shark Tank 2019 contestants announced from New Zealand, Indonesia, New Delhi


Atlas Network is excited to announce the finalists of this year’s Think Tank Shark Tank — Asia competition, which is sponsored by the Smith Family Foundation and will be held during Asia Liberty Forum on Feb. 28-1 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Three think tank professionals will compete in a showcase of the region’s most exciting new projects. The winner, chosen by a panel of judges comprised of thought leaders in the industry, will receive a $10,000 prize in project seed-funding. The finalists are Louis Houlbrook, Anthea Haryoko, and Nitesh Anand.

Louis Houlbrook, Communications Officer, New Zealand Taxpayers Union

Project: Fat Cat Freeloader

The New Zealand Taxpayers' Union will establish and implement an easily-replicable response to instances of businesses receiving taxpayer funds, or 'corporate welfare'. The Taxpayers' Union has a strong record of focusing local and national media attention on politicians and bureaucrats that misuse taxpayer money. The Fat Cat Freeloader campaign will direct similar attention to those private businesses doing the same. When the Union identifies or exposes an instance of corporate welfare, it will declare the company a ‘Fat Cat’, mobilize local supporters to deliver the 'award', and produce short videos highlighting the misuse of taxpayer funds. Where appropriate, this will be accompanied by petitions demanding the return of the funds. This campaign is inspired by the successful tactics of the activist left and the environmentalist movement, who actively seek to harm the reputations of businesses that misbehave. This tactic of 'making an example' of a handful of businesses will force others to permanently reconsider applying for taxpayer-funded grants, as they see the threat to their public reputation. A $10,000 budget will cover the cost of establishing the replicable campaign model and implementing the first three awards. This includes dedicated branding and design templates, travel for staff members, video production, social media promotion, and the physical manufacture of the awards themselves. Campaign materials and intellectual property will be made available to taxpayer groups across the world, so that they may launch similar campaigns in their own countries.

"Libertarians are losing the argument against corporate welfare. We need to change our tactics, even if it means learning from the activist Left and the environmental movement. We need to frame corporate welfare as an issue of moral outrage, and directly target businesses that take taxpayer funds, just as Greenpeace targets businesses that use palm oil or pollute the atmosphere."

Louis Houlbrookeis is the Communications Officer at the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union and is working to further the Union’s mission of lower taxes, less waste, and more transparency via national and local media. Louis previously worked in the New Zealand Parliament as a press secretary to ACT Leader David Seymour. His academic background is in journalism.

Anthea Haryoko, Head of External Relations, Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (Jakarta)

Project: Fighting Forces of Illiberalism in Indonesia

CIPS is proposing a study that serves as a crucial component in fighting against a nation-wide alcohol ban. The attempt to ban alcohol has been part of efforts by hardline religious conservative groups who have been pushing to gain greater influence over policy-making and would send Indonesia down a road of greater illiberalism. For the past 3 years, CIPS has been there to thwart their efforts, but a new push by illiberal individuals soon after Indonesia’s presidential elections is expected. The study with updated findings and evidence will bring new strength for CIPS’ ongoing advocacy to fight back.

“The Think Tank Shark Tank grant to support our study on the devastating effects of banning alcohol towards public health and safety gives us renewed strength in CIPS’ efforts to defend individual freedom in Indonesia. The push to ban alcohol in the country has been used as a tool for hardline religious conservatives to gain more influence over policy-making and the erosion of freedom. Our advocacy and findings from the study that will reinforce these efforts are so important to safeguard and ensure the liberty and prosperity of every Indonesian.”

Anthea Haryoko is the head of external relations at the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS). She joined CIPS when it was founded in 2015.

Nitesh Anand, Senior Associate, Centre for Civil Society (New Delhi)

Project: Parents Forum for School Education (PFSE)

Recognizing the critical significance of parental voice in steering policy decisions in education, and their marginal influence in the extant policy-making process in India, the Parents Forum for School Education has been conceptualized as a national platform to bring together the parents of students in private schools to advocate for systemic reforms in education. The proposed forum will be constituted as the fundamental voice of parents accessing private schools in the country, enabling them to raise their concerns, seek redressal of grievances and mobilize for effective action.

Nitesh Anand is a Senior Advocacy Associate at the Centre for Civil Society in New Delhi. He has been passionately involved in governance, democracy, and actions promoting liberal values. Nitesh is also one of the founder members of Udaipur Film Society for Cinema of Resistance.