FEDN Member Rainer Heufers joined the network in 2017 because he believes, as an internationalist, that we have much to learn from one another.
“This is all interconnected, and a network like FEDN gives us the opportunity to meet and to exchange ideas and share experiences; therefore, I was happy to join.”
Heufers specializes in Asia where he has developed his career as the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) in Jakarta, among many other pursuits. He has studied Chinese and done extensive research and policy work in China as well.
He values the work he has done to make an impact on communities. While in China, he contributed to a project on informal finance and convinced the government to allow more competition in the rural financial sector. He says his efforts were essential in persuading the Chinese government to keep the sector competitive, despite trends to monopolize it.
In addition, he takes pride in the work that led to CIPS winning the Templeton Freedom Award in 2020. “We won this with our entire work dedicated to allowing for more free trade, and in order to bring down food prices for consumers,” Heufers said. “We were able to show that all the work we’ve done has lowered food prices, and Indonesians were able to save $1.9 billion USD over a couple of years because of that.”
As an independent, non-profit and non-partisan think tank, CIPS’s policy perspectives are based on the belief that only civil, political, and economic freedom allows Indonesians to achieve greater prosperity. Amidst a wave of challenges to democratic resilience, CIPS continues to advocate for practical policy reforms informed by evidence-based policy research and analysis. “We had a rise in democracy after the Second World War in the face of the atrocities and horror,” Heufers said. “I’m afraid that WWII has faded away with all its memories and people take certain things for granted and our democratic institutions are starting to erode.” People are searching for radical solutions on both sides but are forgetting to maintain the democratic pillars that guarantee a free and open society in the process.
He finds that in order to solve this issue, we need to “stay active and try to remind people of the importance of democracy and the importance of private enterprise. We need to stay on top of the game and be as active as we can … so I totally trust humankind to solve this.”
Heufers emphasized that it is important to bring democracy and politics back together again. For this to succeed, the private sector needs to be strong and competitive, and resources need to be accessible and universally shared.
“We have learned, unfortunately, that democracy cannot survive without market economy, and market economy cannot survive without democracy, but ideally they are combined, and we are hoping that this is the most sustainable solution,” he said.