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2020 has been a year of great change and instability for countries all around the world. The COVID-19 crisis has posed tremendous challenges for all communities, putting immense stress on governments, economies and institutions. The pandemic has also posed an important question for policymakers striking the right balance between public health and civil liberties.

Malaysia has been no exception to these trends and has indeed grappled with weighing these demands, but has been doubly challenged by a political crisis that began in February 2020 and has continued for over 8 months. We are crippled by uncertainty over political leadership and an unstable government, yet needing to manage COVID-19 and its economic fallout. The Budget 2021 will be tabled on 6 November 2020, expected to be the most controversial yet important budget in recent history.

IDEAS will be hosting the 5th Annual Liberalism Conference on 7 November 2020. This Conference is an annual exercise to deliberate on the overall progress towards “A Malaysia that upholds the principles of liberty and justice”, according to the vision pronounced by the country’s first Prime Minister, Al-Marhum Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj.

Given the backdrop of Malaysia’s unique political, economic and public health conditions, what is the future of liberalism? Are economic stimulus packages anti-competitive, and how will Budget 2021 address the current economic recession? How can the government provide adequate social protection for the most vulnerable communities? Are authoritarian states better at managing pandemics than democratic ones, and what are the lessons for democratic consolidation? What have Malaysia’s 2020’s political developments taught us about democracy and authoritarian practices?

The conference tracks progress and developments in Malaysia alongside the parameters of the rule of law, competitive markets, limited government and individual liberty and responsibility.

Full agenda of the event downloaded here