The idea to establish an institute to promote libertarian ideals was first mooted by 3 friends – Wan Saiful Wan Jan, Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz, and Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Mohd Fuaad – in early 2006, having realised the need to promote libertarian (classical liberal) ideas to Malaysians in a more strategic and organised fashion.

In October 2006 the organisation was registered as a non-profit company limited by guarantee in England and Wales. The working name of the organisation was Malaysia Think Tank London (MTTL). It was established in London because all three founders were residing in England at the time. Activities in Malaysia were run under the name Malaysia Think Tank (MTT).

In May 2009 the Executive Board decided that sufficient groundwork had been laid and that it was time to take the next step, with all operations moved fully to Malaysia. It was decided that Wan Saiful Wan Jan would be employed as full time Chief Executive from 1 October 2009. The company in London wound up.

After a comprehensive situational review, on 14 December 2009, the Executive Board decided to relaunch the organisation with a new name that clearly reflected the areas of our work – Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS).

We submitted an application to register IDEAS as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee to the Registrar of Companies on 15 January 2010. IDEAS was then officially launched on Monday 8 February 2010, in conjunction with the birthday of the man who inspired us – Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra – the first Prime Minister of Malaysia. The event was held at Memorial Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Kuala Lumpur, graced by the attendance of three generations of Tunku’s families. The Tunku’s close friend and former Finance Minister of Malaysia, YBM Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, delivered the launch speech.

On 15 April 2011, after waiting for 15 months, the RoC formally approved the registration of the “Institute for Democracy & Economic Affairs Berhad” with the company registration number 940689-W.