8th Liberalism Conference
The last few years have greatly affected Malaysians of all backgrounds, who have felt the impact of political instability, economic uncertainty, rising inequality and low wages. The recently concluded state elections further laid bare the faultlines that divide Malaysian society – race, religion, socio-economic status and locality – and revealed the echo chambers in which we inhabit. For Malaysia to move forward, there is a need to bridge these differences and genuinely try to understand each other. On the geopolitical front, Malaysia is caught between US-China rivalry and the escalating South China Sea dispute, both putting a strain on our economy and regional security.
To make sense of some of these challenges, IDEAS will host the 8th Liberalism Conference on 9th September 2023. This Conference is an annual exercise to deliberate on the overall progress towards “A Malaysia that upholds the principles of liberty and justice”, as espoused by Malaysia’s founding father, Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman.
Session 1: Impartiality of the State
Recent developments, such as a film featuring a Muslim character’s exploration of different viewpoints on the afterlife across religions, and the unfortunate cancellation of a youth interfaith program, have sparked discussions in the diverse and culturally rich Malaysian society. In our world of increasing interconnectivity and cultural diversity, finding the delicate equilibrium between acknowledging the significance of religion in national identity and upholding the individual’s right to express themselves is an ongoing challenge faced by governments globally.
Central to this challenge is the role of the state. How can the state effectively navigate these intricate waters? How can it ensure the unbiased protection of the vital role that religion plays in the fabric of Malaysian society, while concurrently safeguarding the freedoms? How does the state in other Muslim-majority countries deal with this question?
Islam and Liberty Network
Center For The Study Of Religion And Culture (CSRC)
UIN Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta, Indonesia
Dr Abdul Muqit Muhammad
Academy of Malay Studies
Session 2: Geopolitics and Economic Fragmentation
In recent years, the global order, propagated by international standards and founded on principles of the rule of law, democracy, and cooperation, seems to be increasingly illusory. Escalating political uncertainty and geopolitical fragmentation resulting from the Russia-Ukraine conflict and growing US-China rivalry are currently shaping and exerting influence on global politics. The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequential disruptions to supply chains has prompted countries to adopt a more protectionist and inward-looking stance.
In this context, how can a smaller, democratic country like Malaysia which is deeply ensconced within the global supply chain network, effectively manoeuvre these challenges while ensuring adherence to international best practices? Come and join us to explore the nuances of geopolitical tensions between the democracies and authoritarian-based economies. What is the impact of these tensions on economic opportunities for developing economies like Malaysia?
Dr Juita Mohamad
Director of Research
Dr Hoo Chiew-Ping
Strategic Studies and International Relations Program
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Foreign Policy and Security Studies
Prof Dr Evelyn Devadason
Faculty of Business and Economics