About IDEAS 2021-02-02T08:31:07+08:00

The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) is a nonprofit research institute based in Malaysia dedicated to promoting solutions to public policy challenges. IDEAS’ vision is:

“A Malaysia that upholds the principles of liberty and justice”

Our mission at IDEAS 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. Our work is independent of vested interests and partisan influences. We have also expanded our work into new areas focussing on our three overarching missions – advancing a competitive economy, ensuring trust in institutions and promoting an inclusive Malaysia. We act as an intellectual centre creating space for cross partisan principles-centric and results-oriented dialogue.

We achieve this by:

  • Publishing cutting-edge research work
  • Initiating dialogues with government, lawmakers, businesses and civil society
  • Providing thought leadership
  • Facilitating networking between like-minded individuals
  • Organising educational programmes


It all started with an idea.

The idea to establish an institute to promote free market ideas 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 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).

The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS)

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.

Read the story in The Star.


IDEAS’ logo is the wau bulan that flies freely in the sky – hence its name “Wau Bebas” or the Kite of Freedom. 

The traditional Wau Bebas motif symbolises IDEAS’ belief that the principles of Rule of Law (Kedaulatan Undang-Undang), Limited Government (Kerajaan Terhad), Free Markets (Pasaran Bebas), and Free Individuals (Individu Merdeka), are deeply rooted in our nation’s tradition and heritage.

Our task is to rediscover these truly Malaysian values and to represent them to contemporary Malaysian society so that our heritage will help us prosper in a globalised world. A wau is only complete and functional when it is rooted to the ground via a string, depicting our call for abidance to the rule of law within a small, limited state.