For Immediate Release

18 March 2015


18th March 2015, Kuala Lumpur – Liberalisation is good for small business according to Chairman of ASEAN Business Advisory Council Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid and Secretary General of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry Datuk Rebecca Sta Maria, who were guest speakers at a workshop organized by the Southeast Asia Network for Development (SEANET) in collaboration with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) this morning at Doubletree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur.  The workshop was attended by representatives from 30 NGOs.

The Asean Economic Community (AEC) aspires to create a single market and production base with a free flow of goods, services, investments and skilled labour across ASEAN. There still appears to be widespread concern within the region however, over the expected implications and the long term effects of the AEC. Questions over the extent to which certain groups will reap benefits and bear the adjustment costs that are associated with economic liberalisation has spawned a spectrum of emotions from the NGOs, from eager anticipation to pessimistic concern.

SEANET, which is a project of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), organised the workshop to raise awareness about the AEC among civil society organisations.

Datuk Rebecca in her speech stated that “Economic liberalisation and integration is needed to catalyse growth. Malaysia has unilaterally liberalised in many areas and we need push further so that we become integrated in the wider regional and international economy.  The forces of liberalisation will ultimately lead to a more prosperous and inclusive ASEAN and this is why we must make sure the AEC is successful post 2015.”

Tan Sri Munir in his speech added that “Greater economic liberalization via the AEC would have positive impacts on the common man as well as the micro, small and medium size enterprises (MSMEs). The AEC would aid and magnify economic the rewards of free enterprise for everyone. There is a need for greater engagement between the business sector and NGOs in Malaysia and in ASEAN”.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan, chief executive of IDEAS and Director of SEANET further adds that “With the backdrop of Malaysia serving as chair for ASEAN this year, we hope to help bridge civil society, business and governments.  There is a need to boost the overall understanding and appreciation of the importance of liberalisation and economic integration so that there will be more support for it.”

Wan Saiful Wan Jan

Chief Executive





The Southeast Asia Network for Development (SEANET) is a regional research and advocacy centre that promotes policy ideas to make ASEAN’s growth more inclusive and sustainable. SEANET believes in three key principles: inclusive development, property rights and free movement of people and goods. SEANET conducts research and advocacy to catalyse the adoption of market-friendly principles, particularly by inviting opinion-shapers to analyse evidence of how free trade can speed up national and regional growth. SEANET is a project of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), headquartered in Kuala Lumpur. IDEAS is Malaysia’s first think tank dedicated to promoting market-based solutions to public policy challenges in the country. Since its launch on 8 February 2010, IDEAS has been ranked as the best new think tank in Asia by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tank and Civil Society Programme.


IDEAS is Malaysia’s first think-tank dedicated to promoting market-based solutions to public policy challenges. We are an independent not-for-profit organisation. As a cross-partisan think tank, we work across the political spectrum. Our purpose is to advance market-based principles, and we are not bound by party politics, race or religion. Our mission 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 free individuals. For more information, please visit

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