Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs
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|Formation||February 8, 2010|
|Type||Public policy think tank|
|Headquarters||Bukit Tunku, KL|
The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) is a Malaysian libertarian think tank dedicated to promoting market-based solutions to public policy challenges. It was founded in February 8, 2010. IDEAS is headquartered at Bukit Tunku, Kuala Lumpur.
The idea to establish an institute to promote libertarian ideals was first mooted by Wan Saiful Wan Jan, Tunku 'Abidin Muhriz, and Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Mohd Fuaad in early 2006, who thought there was a need to promote libertarian (classical liberal) ideas to Malaysians in a more strategic and organised fashion.
In October 2006 the organisation was registered as a non-profit company limited by guarantee in England and Wales. The ‘working name’ of the organisation was Malaysia Think Tank London (MTTL). It was established in London because all three founders were residing in England at that time. However, when organising activities in Malaysia, they dropped the word 'London' and used just Malaysia Think Tank (MTT).
In May 2009 the Executive Board decided that sufficient groundwork had been laid and that it was time to take the next step, with all operations moved fully to Malaysia. It was decided that Wan Saiful Wan Jan will be the Chief Executive from 1 October 2009. The company in London was wound up.
After a comprehensive situational review, on 14 December 2009, the Executive Board decided to relaunch the organisation with a new name that clearly reflects the areas of their work — Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS). IDEAS is currently partnered with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Washington, D.C. and receives grants from the International Policy Network and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.
In the 2010 Global Go-To Think Tank Report, a joint University of Pennsylvania–United Nations University index, IDEAS is ranked as the 18th best new think tank in the world. In Asia, it is the 2nd best new think tank.
IDEAS is inspired by the vision of Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, who stated in the 1957 Proclamation of Independence that Malaysia should:
be for ever a sovereign democratic and independent State founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people and the maintenance of a just peace among all nations
The mission of IDEAS is to improve the level of understanding and acceptance of public policies based on the principles of rule of law, limited government, free markets and individual liberty.
They achieve this mission through:
- Publication of reports and books
- Seminars, discussions and short courses
- Briefings for federal and state politicians and policy-makers
- Media engagements
Wau Bebas Logo
IDEAS’ logo is the wau bulan that flies freely in the sky – hence its name “Wau Bebas” or the Kite of Freedom. The traditional Wau Bebas motif symbolises IDEAS’ belief that the principles of Rule of Law (Kedaulatan Undang-Undang), Limited Government (Kerajaan Terhad), Free Markets (Pasaran Bebas), and Free Individuals (Individu Merdeka), are deeply rooted in Malaysia’s tradition and heritage.
Their task is to rediscover these truly Malaysian values and to re-present them to contemporary Malaysian society so that their heritage will help Malaysia to prosper in a globalised world. A wau is only complete and functional when it is rooted to the ground via a string, depicting our call for abidance to the rule of law within a small, limited state.
Rule of Law
Rule of Law: Those who are ruling the society and those in positions of power are not the ultimate source of authority. They too are subject and accountable to the law. As libertarians IDEAS call for everyone to be subjected to the same set of rules and laws, with no one being above the law. IDEAS believe a system of government in which all persons, including those in positions of power, are accountable under the law is the best safeguard against dictatorship and totalitarianism.
Limited Government: The government is an institution to which citizens delegate the authority to rule. It is that delegation that gives government its power. But the government is a powerful institution and it can easily become a dangerous one, especially when it coerces citizens into obedience, subverting the very people who bestowed upon them the authority to rule. To prevent such coercion, the powers of the government must be limited, usually through a written constitution that both enumerates and limits executive power with checks and balances.
Free Market: is a summary term for an array of exchanges that take place in society which respects and enforces private property rights. Each exchange is undertaken as a voluntary agreement between two people or between groups of people and/or their agents. All parties undertake the exchange because each expects to gain from it. Also, each will repeat the exchange next time (or refuse to) because his expectation has proved correct (or incorrect) in the recent past. Trade, or voluntary exchange, is engaged in precisely because both parties benefit; if they did not expect to gain, they would not agree to the exchange. Government intervention only makes exchanges involuntary and the market unfree.
Individual Liberty: Society or ‘the collective’ is in reality a collection of individuals. Each individual must respect the dignity of other individuals regardless of race, religion or gender. This means respecting the differences between people and not trying to impose uniformity. It also implies that individuals have both rights and responsibilities, such as the right to be respected by others, and the responsibility to respect others.