FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
7 July 2015

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PRESS STATEMENT: Malaysia is ready for a liberal political party

7 July 2015, Kuala Lumpur – Liberalism is embedded in Malaysia’s foundation, one of the five pillars of the Perikatan coalition led by Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra. This was the message delivered by speakers at a well-attended public forum organised by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), on Saturday 4 July 2015.

The forum titled, “Is Malaysia ready for a liberal political party?” featured Dr Juli Minoves, President of Liberal International, a coalition of over 115 liberal and progressive political parties, whose members are both in government and opposition from around the world. Commenting on the Malaysian discourse on liberalism, Dr Minoves said,” It has shocked me that liberalism is a controversial topic in Malaysia. It should not be viewed as against any religion. There is no incompatibility between religion and democracy.” He added “Liberal means freedom, why would you be against freedom?”

Another speaker at the forum, Dr Dzulkefy Ahmad, former Chief Executive of PAS Reseach Centre pointed that Vision 2020 calls for a liberal society, saying, “The word liberalism in this country is seen in a bad light and that is unfortunate. There is this implied understanding that the word means going against Islamic principles. If the word is synonymous to reasoning and being tolerant then it would be different.”

The forum also featured Khalid Jaafar, Executive Director of Institut Kajian Dasar (IKD) who said “ When liberalism is misrepresented, we need a conscious discussion on what constitutes liberalism”. He also noted that the demand for discussions on liberalism in Malaysia is a sign of cultural maturity.

When asked if Malaysia is ready for a liberal political party, Dr Minoves answered, “I think Malaysia is ready for a liberal political party. Any democratic nation is ready for a liberal political party”.

Commenting on the event, IDEAS Chief Executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said, “The discussion on liberalism is very weak in Malaysia, and through events like these, we at IDEAS hope to revive the understanding of what liberalism really means, and emphasise that it is not a dirty word. In fact, we will be organising a Liberalism Conference on 19 September this year to discuss this in greater depth.”

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About IDEAS
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 http://ideas.org.my/

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Media enquiries:
IDEAS (+60-3) 6201 8896/ 8897
Fareeza Ibrahim, fareeza@ideas.org.my

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