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Who is this for and how to register?

We welcome everyone to attend this conference. Fees start at RM 100.00 for adults and RM 50.00 for students to register please click here (


Check out our 2015 conference about what to expect!

Liberalism in Malaysia

Referred to as either Libertarianism in the United States or Classical Liberalism in the United Kingdom, the term Liberalism has become increasingly misunderstood in Malaysia. 

Liberalism has in fact been part and parcel of Malaysia’s genesis. On 31 August 1957, Tunku Abdul Rahmad read out the Proclamation of Independence which included the words (that the Federation) “shall 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…“. Our Rukun Negara which came about after the tragedy of 13 May 1969 held that Malaysia aspires to achieve unity amongst its people by “ensuring a liberal approach to her rich and diverse cultural traditions“. Vision 2020 also holds that one day Malaysians will live in a society “that is democratic, liberal and tolerant, caring, economically just and equitable, progressive and prosperous.” 

Liberalism forms an important part of our nation’s birth, it was referred to during our greatest moment of crisis and it is one of our greatest aspirations for our future. So what does liberalism have to say about the challenges faced by our country today?  How can liberal ideas be used to formulate a solution?  Can liberalism save Malaysia? 

This conference will explore the big issues, to spark a debate about the role of liberal ideas in our country today.


What is the Conference about?

The conference explores the relevance of liberalism today in Malaysia. We begin with a discussion on Malaysia’s future in an increasingly illiberal environment by Dr Razeen Sally, former Chair of IDEAS’ Political Economy and Governance Programme and world class international trade expert. This is followed by a panel discussion on how liberalism can help avoid billion ringgit scandals involving Government linked companies including the infamous 1MDB Sovereign Wealth Fund. The conference then delves deeper into the concept of multiculturalism and the importance of liberalism in Malaysia – which neither forces assimilation nor restricts personal freedoms in the guise of achieving national harmony.  Finally the conference looks into how Malaysia can move beyond race and religion in politics – and how liberalism may provide an answer to this dilemma. 


Featured Speaker

Razeen Sally is IDEAS’ Chair in Political Economy and Governance and is an Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He is Chairman of the Institute of Policy Studies, a think tank in his native Sri Lanka which advises the Sri Lankan government on economic policies. In 2006 he co-founded European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) and was awarded the Hayek Medal by the Hayek Society in Germany.

Edmund Terence Gomez is Professor of Political Economy at the Faculty of Economics & Administration, University of Malaya. Recently, he was appointed as the Senior Fellow at IDEAS.  He specializes in state-market relations and the linkages between politics, policies and business development. His international publications include Malaysia’s Political Economy: Politics, Patronage and Profits (Cambridge University Press, 1997), Political Business in East Asia (Routledge, 2002),The Politics of Resource Extraction: Indigenous Peoples, Multinational Corporations and the State (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2012) and Government-Linked Companies and Sustainable, Equitable Development (Routledge, 2015).


Jayant Menon is the Lead Economist (Trade and Regional Cooperation), Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department in Asian Development Bank. He works on trade, international investment and development issues, and leads ADB’s Trade Team. He holds adjunct appointments with the Australian National University, University of Nottingham, UK and Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, and serves on the Advisory Board of the University of Nottingham Campus in Malaysia. Prior to joining ADB, Mr. Menon worked as an academic in Australia for more than a decade, mainly at the Centre of Policy Studies at Monash University in Melbourne.

YB Tony Pua is a Malaysian politician, currently the Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara and was the former Malaysian CEO of Cyber Village Sdn Bhd, a SESDAQ (SGX secondary board)-listed company. He graduated from Keble College, Oxford with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics under a scholarship from the MTC Foundation in 1994.

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Suri Kempe (Libcon)Suri Kempe
is the Programme Manager for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment for the United Nations Development Programme for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. She is responsible for the development and implementation of gender thematic programmes and integrating a gender perspective into the design and implementation of UNDP’s initiatives as well as strengthening the agenda on inclusion, resilience and sustainability.

Patricia Tan

Patricia Tan is the co-founder of NexGen Impact and is an alumni of the National Unity Youth Fellowship. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Masters in Public Policy and Management from Melbourne University, Australia.

Hazlin_007Dr. Hazlin Chong graduated with a BSc (Hons) and PhD in Biotechnology and Microbiology from the University of New South Wales, Australia. She is currently working as an academic and microbiologist in one of the public universities in Selangor. Additionally, she is an active ISMA member since 2008, and her focus is on the development of young Malaysian Muslim adults studying locally and overseas.


Datuk Ruhanie Ahmad is an Ahli Dewan Tertinggi of Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (PERKASA). He is also a former MP at Parit Sulong, Johor as well as the former President of Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA). Additionally, he formally served as the secretary of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). 

Associate Prof. Dr Faisal S. Hazis is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), National University of Malaysia. He is also the Head of Centre for Asian Studies at the Institute. His research interests include electoral politics, democratisation and rural informatics. He is also a life member of ALIRAN, a reform movement dedicated to justice, freedom and solidarity. Apart from that, Faisal is also a life member of the Malaysian Social Science Association.

Khalid Jaafar is  Executive Director of the Institut Kajian Dasar and was one of the founders of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and served as editor of the party newspaper, the News Kedilan, and party information chief.

Gan Ping Sieu is a former Vice President for Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) as well as the former Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Ministry. Additionally, he is also appointed as Special Officer to the Chief Minister of Johor State Government from 2008 to 2010. Previously, Gan practiced as an advocate & solicitor of the High Court of Malaya. 

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