August 30, 2018 Print

A screengrab from Vincent Ricardo's video on food security.

The Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) has partnered with Indonesian YouTube celebrity Vincent Ricardo to publish the first in a series of videos aiming to educate the public about the reasons for high food prices in Indonesia and to encourage public action. This video calls for President Joko Widodo to lessen trade restrictions so that the price of food will be lowered in Indonesia. The video includes the petition “Makan Murah adalah Hak Kita!” which asks the Indonesian President to implement real changes that will promote competition and lower food prices. The video was posted on August 13 and has already been viewed over 53,000 times.

Ricardo is a student at the University of Indonesia studying international trade law and has represented the school in international trade law moot court competitions. Throughout his time at school Ricardo has become very well-known for his videos on campus and has been very involved with the Students for Liberty network in Indonesia. Because of his internet popularity and relationships in Students for Liberty, CIPS—which is always looking for new, exciting ways to promote freer markets in Indonesia—decided to partner with Ricardo to produce this and future videos.

One of the latest videos in CIPS' work to increase food scurity in Indonesia.

“Ricardo is really well-known for his videos,” said Rainer Heufers, founder and executive director of CIPS. “They can get up to several hundred thousand views. Hiring him, therefore, had the additional benefit of a much larger outreach than any of our own CIPS videos.”

Ricardo begins the video by describing how much more food can be bought in Singapore than in Indonesia for the same amount of money. How can that be?

“The short answer is international trade,” explains Ricardo in the video. “The expensive prices of food in Indonesia are the result of government policies which tend to avoid international trade. Using the household index [a study compiled by CIPS], if the prices of food in Indonesia [were] as cheap as prices of foods in other countries… every family [could] save IDR 580k each month [around 40 USD].”

Throughout the video Ricardo makes the case that Indonesia's history of protectionist policies has not only been detrimental to its reputation in the international community, but more importantly, those policies have hurt the poorest members of Indonesian society.

Ricardo closes the video with a plea to viewers to sign the petition “Makan Murah adalah Hak Kita!” (Cheap Eating is Our Right!) on asking President Widodo to change the goal of food policies in Indonesia to focus on food security rather than on self-sufficiency. The petition was created by CIPS and the title makes a play on words in the Indonesian language Malay.

“Hak Makmur means ‘The Right to Prosperity’ but we made a pun and use it as an acronym Hak Mak Mur, which stands for Hakan Makan Murah, which translates as ‘The Right to Cheap Food,’” elaborated Heufers. “In essence the campaign says that the “Right to Prosperity” requires the “Right to Cheap Food” and it calls on President Joko Widodo (nicknamed ‘Jokowi’ in Indonesia) to lower food prices through more open trade.”

Since 2018 is an election year in Indonesia this petition, video and future videos in the series could play a vital role in steering the political narrative towards a discussion about the harms of protectionist policies.

“There is no other group that makes these prices a political issue,” concluded Heufers. The Center for Indonesian Policy Studies is a great example of how organizations in the liberty movement from all over the world are rebranding their ideas to show that free markets are not about valuing businesses over individuals; they’re about empowering and unleashing the individual. Atlas Network proudly partners with more than 480 organizations promoting these classical liberal ideals in 90 countries across the globe.

This video series comes as CIPS celebrates it's third anniversary. In that short period of time the think tank has been able to not only research good policies for Indonesia but successfully promote those policies as well.