Until recently, the concepts of economic freedom and free trade were virtually unknown in eastern Indonesia. Ever since the Suharto government implemented a centralized development plan 32 years ago, half of the country has been the victim of policy enacted by an authoritarian regime. As such, eastern Indonesia has been left out of conversations about economic welfare and freedom. Until now.
In the eastern Indonesian province of North Sulawesi, SuaraKebebasan.org is proud to have facilitated a discourse of economic freedom by hosting its first discussion series on May 6. In an attempt to spread awareness of the danger of central planning and authoritarian regimes, SuaraKebebasan.org, in connection with Mises Club Indonesia, conducted “Ngopi Sore untuk Kebebasan,” or simply “Ngopsor” (roughly translated to “Afternoon Coffee for Freedom”). This first Ngopsor was a four-hour discussion themed “Conditions of Our Freedom,” featuring SuaraKebebasan.org managing editor Rofi Uddarojat and Amato Assegaf from the Literature Studio in Manado (the capital city of North Sulawesi). The roughly 30 participants included civil society activists as well as students from Mises Club Indonesia, an economic studies club seeking to introduce the idea of free market economy to the Manado public and its surroundings.
Uddarojat began the discussion quoting Adam Smith. He spoke of the importance of allowing humans to find their own entrepreneurial potential through the same principles of self-interest and free trade that were present at the foundation of Indonesia.
“Our civilization, including Indonesia, was formed through the interactions of free trade in Southeast Asia, from the 14th to 16th centuries. We cannot imagine our current situation if freedom in Southeast Asia was restricted by the state. We could not enjoy our life by living with technology created by free and brilliant humans in the past,” stated Uddarojat.
Assegaf then spoke about the concept of freedom and its relevance in debates. In order to strengthen the claim for freedom, he said, eastern Indonesians must focus on both philosophical and practical arguments. The participants appeared to take Assegaf’s words to heart, discussing concrete obstacles to economic freedom and questioning the exact amount of government presence necessary for market efficiency.
Last but not least, at the end of the Ngopsor was the inauguration of the Indo-Libertarian Manado network, which will conduct discussions and produce regular articles on the ideas of economic freedom. Thanks to SuaraKebebasan.org and Mises Club Indonesia, freedom discourse is on the table for eastern Indonesia for the first time in 32 years.