The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) working in collaboration with project partners, Sekolah Pemikir Jalanan and Kelas Pencerahan, hosted a series of Masterclasses on Liberalism in the state of Kedah and the Klang Valley region to promote classical liberalism amongst youth in Malaysia.
About Sekolah Pemikir Jalanan and Kelas Pencerahan
Launched in February 2013, Sekolah Pemikir Jalanan is a youth organization based in Kangar, Perlis that aims to cultivate a culture of thinking and a love of knowledge amongst youth.
Kelas Pencerahan was founded in September 2013, and is a free movement led by a group of youth from diverse backgrounds. Its mission is to promote discourse and build capacity on various issues ranging from religion and culture to public policies without the interference of external organisations.
Liberalism Masterclass in Kuala Lumpur and Kedah
The Liberalism Masterclass in Kuala Lumpur was organized in collaboration with Kelas Pencerahan. There were 25 attendees for the Liberalism Masterclass in Kuala Lumpur. The scope of the Masterclass conference covered Classic Liberalism, Islam & Liberalism in the modern democratic nation context. Khalid Jaafar from Institut Kajian Dasar started things off with his interpretation and thoughts on classical liberalism. He explained the history of liberalism and the divergences in ideologies with regards to liberalism. Wan Saiful, IDEAS CEO spoke on grounding liberalism in Malaysia where he made mention of the practicalities and ideas revolving around liberalism in Malaysia. He spoke on Islam and liberalism in the modern democratic state and how Malaysia fits in with this ideological framework.
In Kedah, the series was run by Sekolah Pemikir Jalanan. These classes were attended by 30 participants. Author Al-Mustaqeem Mahmod Radhi gave an introduction to classical liberal thought and the history of the liberal philosophy. Wan Saiful led a discussion on the political economy and the applications of liberalism in Malaysia. Wan Saiful pointed out flaws in the Malaysian governments economic policies and then went on to offer suggestions to overcome these issues, in line with the liberal philosophy.
The final class for this project was organised in October 2016 by Kelas Pencerahan. Founded in September 2013.
Attended by more than 30 participants, the class centered around issues and challenges related to the role and development of the political economy within the context of the governance of a country. Both speakers were from IDEAS, Mr. Yohannan Nair, Research Executive and Wan Saiful Wan Jan, CEO. The discussions started off with the historical context of the political economy and its philosophical foundations, particularly linkages to the liberal school of thought. Debates and heated arguments shaped the discourse surrounding the theory of relevant policies, their implementation and practice in present-day Malaysia.
Feedback from this session was that such safe spaces and platforms for such discussions were extremely rare, despite being much needed to help young people understand what was going in the Malaysian political and economic environment. It was also important to increase access to such discourses by diversifying the language used for such classes, particularly using the national language Bahasa Malaysia.
The general feedback and response from attendees have been that these classes met a critical need and bridged a critical knowledge gap among young scholars and liberal champions in the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia. The demand for such courses to discuss current issues was felt to be high as it provided guidance, feedback and confidence among participants to engage on policy level discussions.