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The Strategic Information and Research Development Centre (SIRD) was founded in 2000 by Chong Ton Sin and friends. Over the past 15 years it has published a diverse range of books, focusing in particular on academic books with a critical perspective and progressive message, and covering all disciplines within the social sciences and humanities.
With topics ranging from economics to ecology, pop culture to pantun, SIRD is increasingly being recognised as a premier non-university book publisher in Malaysia, perhaps even surpassing university publishers. More recently, it is publishing in Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese. Malaysia has long been the focus of its publications, but SIRD is beginning to spread its wings to publish beyond its borders, having already co-published titles with counterparts in Japan, Thailand and Singapore. In the longer term, its ambition is to become an Asian publisher of some standing.
Publication, however, is not the only activity SIRD is engaged in. Since SIRD’s beginnings, it has provided local and international scholars with the opportunity to present their research to local audiences. It provides the space, the place and the platform to organise seminars, forums, workshops and discussions in a freer atmosphere. SIRD enables individuals to engage and exchange views, to voice opinions and to debate their positions in an open and rational way.
From its modest beginnings, SIRD has succeeded in building strong foundations and networks. SIRD, as of 2015, is moving into a new phase of its development, in which researchers will find a place to carry out the research they want, free from interference. In Malaysia, and Southeast Asia more broadly, independent research centres – unaffiliated to universities, unlinked to government – are rare to non-existent. SIRD hopes to provide an autonomous space for an in-house research programme including evidence-based research and policy as well as applied research.
In addition to conducting research that shines a light on social issues from diverse perspectives, SIRD will provide training and mentorship to the young who are seeking to expand their learning beyond the conventional and mainstream.
To get this research agenda off the ground, SIRD seeks financial support from donors, although our independence cannot be compromised by funding that comes with political strings attached.
Beginning with small projects, we will produce research of a consistently high standard, establishing SIRD as a leading player in the local, regional and global context. We look forward to forging links, exchanging ideas, cooperating and co-publishing with similar institutes across Southeast Asia and worldwide.
Radicalisation, Secularism and the Governance of Religion: Bringing together European and Asian Perspectives (GREASE)
GREASE is attempting to unravel the paradox of religious radicalization in light of growing secularization.The aim is to deepen our understanding of religious diversity governance, emphasising insights for countering radicalisation trends.
As Europe struggles to cope with the challenges of religious diversity and radicalisation, it may be useful to look at how other regions deal with these issues. In doing so the GREASE project hopes to deliver innovative academic thinking on secularisation and radicalisation and offer insights for governance of religious diversity, with a special focus on preventing radicalisation.