4 September 2015


PRESS STATEMENT: IDEAS announces new senior appointments

4 September 2015, Kuala Lumpur – The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) today announces four new appointments into its Council, and two new appointments into its Board of Directors.

New senior appointees


The new IDEAS Council members are:


  1. Tan Sri Rebecca Fatima Santa Maria

Tan Sri Rebecca is the Secretary General of Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). Prior to this appointment, she was the MITI Deputy Secretary General of Trade. In this capacity, she was involved in handling trade related matters of the Ministry, including administering Malaysia’s interests under bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), as well as Malaysia’s engagements in various international organisations such as ASEAN, APEC and WTO. She also served at various divisions in MITI.  Prior to her appointment to MITI she served as the Senior Project Coordinator at the Leadership Centre, National Institute of Public Administration (INTAN). She began her career in the Administrative and Diplomatic Service in 1981 and served in various capacities in the then Ministry of Trade and Industry. In 1988 she was seconded to the ASEAN Plant Quarantine and Training Centre as its Chief Administration and Procurement Officer


  1. Tan Sri Tony Fernandes

Tan Sri Tony Fernandes is the co-founder of AirAsia, and is currently Non-Independent Executive Director and Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia.  He also sits on the Board of, among others, Tune Insurance Holdings Berhad and AirAsia X Berhad.  He was the Financial Controller at Virgin Communications London (1987-1989) before moving on to be a Senior Financial Analyst at Warner Music International London (1989-1992), Managing Director at Warner Music Malaysia (1992-1996), Regional Managing Director, Asean (1996-1999) and Vice President, Asean at Warner Music South East Asia (1999-2001).  He was educated at The Alice Smith School in Kuala Lumpur, before moving on to Epsom College in England and then the London School of Economics.  He was admitted as an Associate Member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in 1991 and became a Fellow Member in 1996.


  1. Dr Anis Yusal Yusoff

Dr. Anis Yusal Yusoff is President of Malaysian Institute of Integrity.  Previously, he was a Principal Research Fellow at the Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), the National University of Malaysia (UKM).  He was also the founding Director of the Political Sector of the Malaysian Institute of Integrity (IIM) and served for over ten years at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as Assistant Resident Representative in Malaysia and as Programme Specialist for United Nations Volunteers in Bonn, Germany.  Dr. Anis served on a number of national advisory councils, including the Executive Committee for Transformation of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the National Consumer Advisory Council and the National Unity and Integration Training Institute.  Dr. Anis Yusal is currently one of seven Commissioners of the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission.


  1. Mr Khalid Jaafar

Khalid is Executive Director of Institut Kajian Dasar (Policy Studies Institute) and a member the Supreme Council of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).  He was previously Press Secretary to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (1988 – 1998).  He was one of the founders of PKR and has served as editor of the party’s newspaper, Berita Keadilan, and Information Chief until 2004.  In 2013 he contested for the parliamentary seat of Hulu Selangor.


The IDEAS Council acts as an advisory body to IDEAS Board of Directors and Senior Management Team.  The IDEAS Council is chaired by Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Haji Abdullah, consultant at the legal firm Skrine and former Chief Justice of Malaysia.  Other members of the IDEAS Council are Tan Sri Munir Abdul Majid, Dato’ Sri Nazir Razak, Datuk Seri Azman Ujang, Dato’ Anthony Cooper, Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah, Datuk Mujahid Yusuf Rawa, and Dr Ong Kian Ming.



The new members of IDEAS Board of Directors are:


  1. Professor 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.


  1. Mr Christopher Leong

Christopher is an advocate and solicitor of the High Court in Malaya for 25 years, and is the Managing Partner of Chooi & Company. Christopher is the 30th and immediate past President of the Malaysian Bar and the immediate past Chairman of the Bar Council of Malaysia, which is the governing body of the Malaysian Bar.  He is also Vice President of LAWASIA.  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 and public interest litigation.  Christopher has represented a broad array of clients, and is well-versed with issues that customarily arise in litigation with cross-border elements. He also acts as counsel in domestic and international arbitration, both in Malaysia and overseas.

IDEAS Board of Directors holds legal and fiduciary responsibility for the organisation, and provides strategic leadership and oversight on all aspects of IDEAS’ work.  Other members of the Board are Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin Tuanku Muhriz (Chairman), Wan Saiful Wan Jan and Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Mohd Fuaad.

Commenting on these appointments, IDEAS President Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin ibni Tuanku Muhriz says:  “We are grateful that these luminaries have accepted our invitation.  Their inclusion will significantly enhance the capacity and diversity of the Board and Council as we continue our mission to revitalise our nation with the principles of rule of law, free markets, limited government and individual liberty that embodied Merdeka and the promise of Malaysia.  We look forward to their contributions.”



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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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Media enquiries:

IDEAS (+60-3) 6201 8896/ 8897

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