Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs

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Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs
Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Logo).jpg
Formation8 February 2010
FoundersWan Saiful Wan Jan, Tunku 'Abidin Muhriz, and Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Mohd Fuaad
Founded atLondon, United Kingdom
TypeNon-profit organisation Public policy think tank
Legal statusInstitute
HeadquartersBukit Tunku, Kuala Lumpur
Region served

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 on 8 February 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 (or classical liberal) ideas to Malaysians in a more strategic and organised fashion.[1] The think tank's founding 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: 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...

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), reflecting the founders' operations in London 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 all operations would be fully moved from London to Malaysia, after given that sufficient groundwork had been laid. Wan Saiful Wan Jan was appointed as the Chief Executive in 1 October of the same year. After a comprehensive situational review on 14 December, the Executive Board decided to relaunch the organisation as the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), a new name that clearly reflects the areas of their work. IDEAS is currently partnered with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Washington, D.C.[2] and receives grants from the International Policy Network and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.[1]

In 2010, a joint University of PennsylvaniaUnited Nations University index called the 2010 Global Go-To Think Tank Report ranked IDEAS as the 18th best new think tank in the world and the second best new think tank in Asia.[3]


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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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.


  1. ^ a b Yong, Teresa (21 August 2010). "Cultivating minds with fresh ideas". New Straits Times. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
  2. ^ "Ideas First in Southeast Asia". Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
  3. ^ "2010 Global Go-To Think Tank Report" (PDF). University of Pennsylvania. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011.

External links[edit]