The need for a think tank to the Sabah state government was proposed to the State Cabinet in April 1985. The State Cabinet approved its formation on 29th May 1985. It was originally known as the Institute for Public Policy Analysis which began its operations in October 1985. It changed its name to the Institute for Development Studies (Sabah) (IDS) and incorporated as a company limited by guarantee on 1st April 1986. Since its establishment, the focus of IDS has always been assisting the Federal and State governments through independent research and development issues.

While pursuing its mission to be a world-class policy and research institute on development issues the institute is committed in maintaining integrity and professionalism whilst still representing the cultural identity in Sabah. It is important that IDS must not lose focus of its core objectives and functions as a research-based organisation and a think tank to the Sabah state government. I also regard it as a second opinion provider to the state government.

In May 2018 Malaysia has experienced a historic electoral result that has brought the country’s first democratic change of government since the country’s independence. The peaceful political transition demonstrates the maturity of the country and perhaps a more positive tilt towards democracy under the leadership of a respected leader Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the Prime Minister and Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Shafie Apdal as the Chief Minister of Sabah.

I reported for duty as Chairman on 2nd August 2018. Since then IDS has organised no less than a dozen forums, seminars, and roundtable discussions covering social, economic and political issues. By the end of 2019, I expect a total of about 17 such activities would have been organised. Through such gatherings, IDS would be able to gauge the pulse of how Sabahans feel about performance of their government in the various fields. It is therefore my sincere hope that the government pays due attention to the various recommendations derived from such gatherings, and as the Sabah State Government think tank, IDS will continue its mission to assist the government in meeting the needs and aspirations of the people through research and analysis of development issues based on integrity, professionalism and excellence.

We have always understood that in the globally ever-changing development trends, much more focus is on sustainable resources and adaptable governance. IDS must therefore endeavour to upgrade and improve their efficiency on a continuous basis through appropriate training and exposure both internally and externally. The research methods must be at par with the best there is available. To IDS, their best is never good enough. IDS is always open to explore new research areas and adopt modern methodology to keep up with changes within the research and development industry, such as adaptability to technological advancements and identifying the current development trends in order to propose the best possible development strategies to the government, in particular Sabah. By being adaptable and modern within the context of research and development, IDS will be able to identify state issues affecting the state and recommend solutions to be implemented by the government in socio-economic matters such as poverty, youth unemployment, gender, indigenous rights, land matters and others.

IDS’s ability to deliver the goods depends on the quality of its human resources. Being a local research institute, IDS staff comprises of local Sabahans. This brings an advantage to the institute as we are able to identify and diagnose local issues better being part of the local society. As it is, we pride ourselves in the quality of our research findings that have always put forward the most feasible recommendations for the State government to implement with the aim of bringing overall benefits to the people of Sabah.