Liberalism In Malaysia
Perception Towards Liberalism in Malaysia

IDEAS Webtalk: Perceptions Towards Liberalism in Malaysia
© Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS)

On 15 April 2021, IDEAS held a webtalk entitled “Perception Towards Liberalism in Malaysia”. The webtalk was to discuss the findings of Merdeka Center’s “Perceptions Towards Liberalism in Malaysia” survey done in 2020.

Salsabila Abdul Manan of IDEAS moderated the session and joined by Tan Seng Keat, Senior Research Manager of Merdeka Center. The discussants were Tricia Yeoh, CEO of IDEAS; YB Amin Ahmad, MP of Kangar and Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz, President of ABIM.

Tan Seng Keat kick-ed off the discussion by first presenting the findings of the survey. The survey, aimed as a tracking survey about the understanding of Liberalism in Malaysia, was done since 2016. The survey’s key takeaways were low understanding of liberalism among Malaysians; divided view along the religious line and Malaysians generally prefer subsidy by the government and a protected economy.

Tricia Yeoh felt that it is crucial to track trends and changes for a long time as it provides a baseline understanding of a particular issue. She also noted that politicians have been using the term liberalism with negative connotations. She defined liberalism as an intellectual ability to think of things as individuals. According to her, incongruencies in the survey showed that Malaysians need more education on understanding liberalism.

YB Amin Ahmad remarked that the survey showed not so much change in the trend. There was also a lack of understanding of liberalism. He felt that the language barrier is a factor for the lack of access to liberalism among the Malay-Muslim community. He also suggested that liberalism be propagated more in Bahasa Melayu.

Faisal Aziz commented that one of the contributing factors to the rejection of liberalism among the Malays was the proponents’ failure to define the ideology. Liberalism was also brought in a combative manner instead of harmonizing approach. Consequently, society views liberalism in the same basket as other Western ideologies.

Watch the discussion down below: 

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This article first published on IDEAS website.