YAM Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin Tuanku Muhriz


Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin is Founding President of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs; a Trustee of Yayasan Chow Kit, Yayasan Munarah, the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation and the Genovasi Foundation; an Independent Non-Executive Director of two public listed companies; an advisor or patron to numerous educational and cultural organisations; a committee member of several societies; and a columnist in three newspapers.

He was educated at the Kuala Lumpur Alice Smith School, Marlborough College and the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he obtained his MSc in Comparative Politics in 2004.  He then worked in the UK Houses of Parliament before moving to Washington DC to join the World Bank as a Public Sector Consultant.  Upon returning to Malaysia in 2008, Tunku ‘Abidin worked at the United Nations Development Programme and the KRA Group before becoming a Research Fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

In 2006 he co-founded the Malaysia Think Tank which evolved into the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) in 2010.  Since 2008 he has maintained a newspaper column: firstly Abiding Times in theSun, then Roaming Beyond the Fence in the Star and Sin Chew, and now Conservatively Speaking Freely in the Malay Mail, Borneo Post and Oriental Daily.  From these articles three books have been compiled, the latest being nominated for the Popular Readers’ Choice Awards.  Tunku ‘Abidin also authored a coffee table book for the Installation of the Eleventh Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan and led a major project to revitalise the State Anthem.

An Eisenhower Fellow, he has been selected for various leadership programmes by the governments of Australia, France and the European Union.  He has been recognised with the Rotary Young Integrity Award in 2013 and a Top 10 Most Impactful Young Leaders Award in 2015.




Wan Saiful Wan Jan


Wan Saiful Wan Jan is Chief Executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs ( He is also Director of the Southeast Asia Network for Development ( and Chairman of the Istanbul Network for Liberty (

Additionally, he is also a member of the Advisory Board at Laureate International Malaysia; member of the Advisory Board of the University of Nottingham’s School of Politics, History and International Relations; a Governor at Rafflesia Education Group; and Chairman of IDEAS Academy, a not for profit learning centre for stateless and refugee children in Kuala Lumpur. In August 2015, he was appointed as a member of the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing, following the Prime Minister’s announcement to set up the group.

He lived in the United Kingdom between August 1993 and October 2009. There he served several organisations, including the think tank Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit, the British Conservative Party’s Research Department, and Social Enterprise London. He is now a columnist for The Star, a national newspaper in Malaysia.  He also writes for several other national and regional press.  His opinion has been quoted by various media, including the BBC, Reuters, Asian Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Al-Jazeera and The Economist.




Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Mohd Fuaad

Firdaus, Founding Director of IDEAS, was educated at SRK Sultan Ibrahim Satu Pasir Mas, SRK Sri Subang Jaya and Sek Men Agama Persekutuan Kajang. He then went on to read Law at the University of Nottingham and BPP School of Law. He was previously Special Officer to the Chief Minister of Johor, handling the corporate portfolio which includes Iskandar Regional Development Authority and Johor Corporation.

Currently he is Vice President at J.P. Morgan Chase Bank Malaysia.

He was a national delegate for Nottingham University to the National Union of Students (NUS), national executive member of Federation Of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), Chairman of Kesatuan Penuntut Undang Undang Malaysia UK & Eire (KPUM), and Chairman of UKEC (UK and Eire Council for Malaysian Students) from October 2005 to October 2007. As Chairman of UKEC, he established the first Malaysian Student Leaders Summit (MSLS), which has become a major national event. He is also founder of Young Corporate Malaysians and established the annual Young Corporate Malaysians Summit.




Dato’ Dr. R. Thillainathan


Dato’ Thillainathan sits on the Board of Directors of University Malaya, Genting Berhad and Allianz Malaysia Berhad.  He was previously, among others, a Board member of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (Bursa Malaysia), Petronas Dagangan Berhad and Genting Berhad.  He was also the COO of Genting Berhad from November 2002 to September 2006. He has served on the National Economic Panel, the Anti-Recession Task Force, the Task Force on Capital Market Development, the Investment Panel of Employees Provident Fund and was a member of the National Economic Consultative Council’s Working Group. Dato’ Dr. Thillainathan is also a former President of the Malaysian Economic Association and was a member of the Tax Review Panel of the Ministry of Finance.




Mr Christopher Leong


Christopher Leong is an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malaya of more than 25 years standing, and is the Managing Partner of Chooi & Company.

Christopher has extensive experience in the fields of corporate and commercial litigation, shareholders’ disputes, banking litigation and insolvency. Additionally, he practices in the area of constitutional and administrative law.

In the field of dispute resolution, Christopher has been named as a Leading Individual/Lawyer in Malaysia by Asia Pacific Legal 500 since 2004, Chambers Asia since 2009, by The Asialaw Leading Lawyer since 2008, and is a Recommended Individual in the 2015 edition of Asialaw Profiles. He is also named in the 2014 edition of Benchmark Asia Pacific as a Local Disputes Star, and is listed as one of the World’s Leading Litigation and Product Liability Lawyers in the Expert Guides, 2012 edition.

Christopher is the 30th President, and the immediate past President, of the Malaysian Bar and the immediate past Chairman of the Bar Council of Malaysia. He is also the Vice President of LAWASIA, the Law Association for Asia and the Pacific, and a member of the editorial advisory board of All Malaysia Commercial Reports published by Sweet & Maxwell Asia.

Christopher graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in economics and philosophy in 1984 from Monash University, Australia, and completed reading law at the University of Nottingham in 1988. He was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1989 and was admitted as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malaya in 1990




Professor Edmund Terence Gomez

Edmund Terence Gomez is Professor of Political Economy at the Faculty of Economics & Administration, University of Malaya. He specializes in state-market relations and the linkages between politics, policies and capital development. He has held appointments at the Universities of Leeds (UK), Murdoch (Australia), Kobe (Japan), Michigan (Ann Arbor) and California (San Diego) (USA). Between 2005 and 2008, he served as Research Coordinator at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), in Geneva, Switzerland.

His international publications include Malaysia’s Political Economy: Politics, Patronage and Profits (Cambridge University Press, 1997), Chinese Business in Malaysia: Accumulation, Ascendance, Accommodation (University of Hawaii Press, 1999), Political Business in East Asia (Routledge, 2002), The State of Malaysia: Ethnicity, Equity and Reform (Routledge, 2004), The State, Development and Identity in Multi-ethnic Countries: Ethnicity, Equity and the Nation (Routledge, 2008), The Chinese in Britain, 1800-Present: Economy, Transnationalism and Identity (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2008), The Politics of Resource Extraction: Indigenous Peoples, Multinational Corporations and the State (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2012), Affirmative Action, Ethnicity and Conflict (Routledge, 2013) and Government-Linked Companies and Sustainable, Equitable Development (Routledge, 2015).


Dr Carmelo Ferlito

Carmelo Ferlito (Verona, Italy, 1978) is a Senior Fellow at IDEAS. He is the Commercial Director Southeast Asia at Petersime NV (Belgium) and is also Adjunct Professor at INTI International College Subang, where he teaches “History of Economic Thought” and “Microeconomic Theory and Policy” for the University of Wollongong Programme. He is the founder of the university group “Friedrich A. von Hayek Institute Malaysia”.

Ferlito holds a Ph.D. in Economic History from the University of Verona (Italy) and a M.Sc. in Economics from the same institution. His research activity is devoted to developing the Austrian School of Economics paradigm, with particular focus on business cycles and capital theory. His latest book “Hermeneutics of Capital. A Post-Austrian Theory for a Kaledic World” (New York, Nova Science, 2016), analyses the extreme consequences of the radical subjectivist and hermeneutical perspective on capital initiated by Ludwig Lachmann. On business cycles he developed the theory of the so-called “Natural Cycle” as explained in a homonym paper in 2014 and previously outlined in “Phoenix Economics” (New York, Nova Science, 2013). In the field of Economic History he published important contributions on banking and price history, with particular reference to the Republic of Venice in the 18th century.

In total, Dr Ferlito has published five books, around thirty scientific papers and 200 articles on magazines and newspapers. The full list of his publications is available at





Wan Saiful Wan Jan , Founding Chief Executive


Email: wansaiful[at]




Tricia Yeoh, Chief Operating Officer

 Email: tricia[at]

Tricia Yeoh is Chief Operating Officer of IDEAS (Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs). She was formerly Research Officer to the Selangor Menteri Besar at the Selangor State Government and Director of the Centre for Public Policy Studies, ASLI. She is a regular columnist at theSun.

She is qualified in Econometrics and Marketing from Monash University, and holds a MSc. in Research Methods in Psychology from the University of Warwick. She sits on the Monash University Business School Advisory Board. She is co-editor of the “The Spirit of Merdeka”, editor of “The Road to Reform: Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor” and author of “States of Reform: Governing Selangor and Penang”. Her documentary, “The Rights of the Dead”, about political aide Teoh Beng Hock who died in 2009 under the MACC’s watch, won the Justin Louis Award at the FreedomFilmFest 2012 and was selected for screening at the 2013 Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival. She is recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal, conferred by the Selangor Sultan in 2011 (Pingat Jasa Kebaktian, PJK).

Ms. Mazrina Binti Arifin, , Finance Director

Email: mazrina[at]

Ms. Mazrina Binti Arifin served as Managing Director at Under6’ers from 1999 to 2006. Ms. Arifin founded Under6’ers. She served as Finance Director at Springboard4 Asia Sdn Bhd. Ms. Arifin was attached with Arthur Andersen HRM (Tax Services) Sdn. Bhd. from 1995 to 1998 and served as a Senior Tax Consultant prior to her leaving Hup Seng Industries Bhd. She has been an Independent Non-Executive Director of Hup Seng Industries Bhd since June 27, 2000, and serves as its Senior Independent Non-Executive Director. She served as Director at Paddy Schubert Consultants since 2005. Ms. Arifin obtained a Bachelor of Science majoring in Accounting from the University of Hull, United Kingdom in 1991. She is qualified as a Certified Chartered Accountant from the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants in England since 1993.



Azrul Mohd Khalib, Manager, External Relations

 Email: azrul[at]

Azrul Mohd Khalib has worked as a professional in the non-profit development sector for more than 16 years. He has extensive experience in development programmes and communicating on issues related to social welfare, gender and reproductive health issues such as HIV, gender based violence, and humanitarian assistance. He has previously been with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Azrul has worked in the humanitarian sector with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). He is currently a writer and columnist with two Malaysian media publications, the Malay Mail Online and the China Press.


Sanne Jansen, Development Manager

 Email: sanne[at]

Sanne Jansen works as a Development Manager for IDEAS, IDEAS Academy and IDEAS Autism Centre. She worked several years for the Infrastructure Department of the government in the Netherlands. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies from Leiden University and a Master of Arts in Media and Journalism from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.



Yohannan Nair, Executive, Research Division



Aira Azhari, Executive, Research Division

 Email: aira[at]

Aira Azhari is an executive at IDEAS Research and Publication Division. Aira just completed her Masters in Public International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has always been drawn to work in the non-profit sector, having previously interned with a prominent women’s rights organization in Malaysia. Working with IDEAS has made her realise that there was always a libertarian inside her, and she hopes to learn as much as possible during her time in the Research Unit. In her free time, Aira enjoys cooking, feeding people and watching documentaries.



Amir Ridzuan Jamaludin, Senior Executive, Events Unit, External Relations Division 

 Email: amir[at]

Amir Ridzuan Jamaludin is the Senior Executive at IDEAS’ Outreach and SEANET Unit. A radical decentralist at heart, each group be it cultural, political or religious should be given the space to experiment with their ideals. In other words, bring to competitive pressure to areas of governance.



Shaza Onn, Senior Executive, Communications Unit, External Relations Division

Email: shaza[at]

Shaza Scherazade Alauddin Onn is a Senior Executive in Communications, External Relations at IDEAS. She was formerly an executive at Bursa Malaysia under Strategy and Transformation and was a Perdana Fellow under the Minister of Finance II, Dato’ Seri Husni Hanadzlah. In 2012 she graduated with a degree in Political Science from Binghamton University. Her honors thesis was entitled, “Constitutional Amendments, Elite Preference and Insufficient Constraints: The Strategic Use of Formal Amendments in Malaysia” which discussed the nature of constitutional change in Malaysia. A budding libertarian, she spends her free time wondering why parties like the Tea Party came into existence.




Sheefa Ahmad, Senior Executive, Administration Unit, Operations Division

Email: sheefa[at]

Sheefa Ahmad is a Sr Executive, Operations. She is also the Liaison Officer for IDEAS Founding President YAM Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz & IDEAS Chief Executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan. She handles operations, administration and HR matters at IDEAS and IDEAS Autism Centre. Sheefa graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University, UK with a BSc Computing in System Analysis & Design. She is also a certified Translator from the Malaysian National Institute of Translation (ITNM). Prior to IDEAS, Sheefa worked with Motorola (M) Sdn Bhd as a Systems Engineer.



Ahmad Bashier Muhammad Afifi, Executive, Finance Unit, Operations Division

 Email: bashier[at]

Bashier graduated with Bachelor in Accountancy (Hons) from University of Malaya (UM). Before joining IDEAS he worked as an Audit Associate at Khairuddin, Hasyudeen & Razi (KHR) and currently sitting for his Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).




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