To whom it may concern,
IDEAS Open Letter on Funding Sources and independence
I wanted to write following recent media reports to address the concerns raised over funding that IDEAS has received from the tobacco industry. IDEAS’ goal is to be an independent think tank, substantively contributing to the policy debate in Malaysia. We have no endowment or central support from government and since our founding, we have relied on the generosity of our donors and grant-making organisations to pursue our research. We receive grants from a variety of different sources, including foundations and the private sector, based here in Malaysia and overseas. Our decision about whether to accept these grants is always taken on the basis of whether or not we feel confident that our independence will be respected and whether the focus of the research is in line with our mission of promoting liberty and justice in Malaysia. Our research is always conducted on the basis of the evidence available to us and guided by our four founding principles: rule of law, free markets, limited governments and individual liberty.
We have been transparent about our funding, providing detailed information in our audit reports which are available on our website. This includes names of all grant-making organisations, which has in the past included tobacco companies. This is never something we have actively sought to conceal and it is this publicly available information which is the basis for the recent reports in the media. In all our grant agreements we include a clause on editorial independence to ensure that our freedom to say what we truly think is protected. This has been the basis on which we have accepted research grants from any and all organisations, including tobacco companies.
However, we recognise the concerns that have been raised over receiving support from the tobacco industry and – although we have always acted transparently and with independence – we have also shared some of these concerns ourselves. Indeed, this has been a subject of disagreement within the IDEAS team. But, we are all agreed that we do not want this issue to distract from our priorities of developing a competitive economy in Malaysia, ensuring trust in Malaysia’s institutions and promoting inclusive social development. As a result, we decided at the meeting of the IDEAS Board in December in 2018 that we would no longer accept grants from tobacco companies.
We hope that this explains the decisions we have taken in the past and provides reassurance about our direction moving forward.
Chief Executive Officer, IDEAS
30th January 2019
PDF version can be downloaded here