IDEAS Malaysia CEO Wan Saiful Wan Jan Goes to Manila

A few weeks ago, I got a chance to meet Wan Saiful Wan Jan who is the CEO of IDEAS Malaysia, one of the leading libertarian think tanks in Malaysia and in the world. He gave a talk on The State of Democracy & Economy in Malaysia.

I first heard of their organization through Kevin Duewel of Students for Liberty when he visited Manila (see On Meeting Kevin Duewel of Students for Liberty). And I quote myself:
Kevin also reported the success of IDEAS in Malaysia and the significance and role of organizations like Atlas Network or Cato Institute in defending liberty worldwide. It is very encouraging to know that although we are very few here in the Philippines, there are many organizations in other parts of the world that are growing and getting results when it comes to promoting libertarianism and changing public perceptions.
IDEAS Malaysia has come to a lot of success when it comes to influencing public policy and getting politicians to listen to them. It is an inspiration as libertarian ideas and policies tend to be marginalized and even misinterpreted in the mainstream.

Like their Facebook page here:
Or follow them on Twitter: @IDEASMalaysia

He talked about how leadership and politicians in Malaysia, like any in the world, tend to compromise principles in order to gain popularity (as this is what gets you elected) but at the same time also mentioned that there will always be compromises to be made if you want to get politicians or the public to listen to you.

Also, it surprised me when he discussed several unique challenges that the liberty movement face in Malaysia like legislated discrimination based on ethno-religious claims. Discrimination based on what race you're born into or what religion you practice seems primitive but it's a legitimate challenge they face in Malaysia.

Here's his full slideshow for a more details on his presentation:

Another surprise was legislated prohibition of oral sex. It might seem petty and I don't know exactly how they implement this prohibition or how they prove people to be guilty but the principle why we must be against this is that we must be mindful of what the State can impose on our self-ownership, power of consent, and privacy.

On the slideshow above, he discussed the plans and platforms of the current administration and opposition in Malaysia, both seemingly adhering simply to what the electorate want to hear. Some even as ridiculous as to subsidizing new tires for taxi drivers. Politics as usual.

All in all, I learned a lot from his talk and I would like to thank and congratulate Wan Saiful Wan Jan and IDEAS Malaysia and wish them more power and success. And there's optimism in me that we hopefully get the same kind of success here in the Philippines, especially now that there's a lot of buzz about government spending and taxation due to the recent pork barrel scandals.

I tend to get randomly invited to these kinds of events and I'm always encouraged to bring friends but it seems there's only very few who are interested. It's such a shame since it was a very good talk. If you're interested to join me in future talks or events I get invited to, just let me know.

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