The Asia Foundation

The Asia Foundation
Addressing the Critical Issues Facing Asia - 60 Years
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The dramatic reforms taken place in Myanmar over the past two years have transformed this long isolated country into a more open society, one actively seeking to re-engage with the region and the world. Competitive elections, a lively parliament, a more vibrant media, and a growing civil society have allowed for debates on a range of issues concerning the nature of the state and the development agenda that were previously not possible. Read country overview.

Since 2007, Books for Asia has been providing up-to-date educational and cutting-edge research material to improve education levels, broaden public access to information, and inform stakeholder and public debate on key national development and reform issues.  Read more about Books for Asia in Myanmar.


Myanmar has transformed from an isolated country to a more open society seeking engagement with the international community. After an absence of more than five decades, we reopened our office here to support the transition process through building capacity for regional and global integration, strengthening institutions of democratic governance, and increasing access to information. Decentralization and state-local relations as mandated by the 2008 Constitution are critical issues for Myanmar's stability and development. They are also highly contested and complicated issues, given the country's history of centralized governance, long-running ethnic subnational conflicts, and ongoing disputes over the constitution. To inform policymakers, civil society organizations, the private sector, development partners, and other interested stakeholders about the new state and region structures, and their relationship to governance, peace, and decentralization, we partnered with the Center for Economic and Social Development of the Myanmar Development Resource Institute (MDRI) to carry out the first systematic mapping of state and region government in Myanmar. The report was well received as a contribution to the ongoing discourse in Myanmar on transparent, accountable, and effective governance. A follow-on discussion paper series on subnational governance will be published in 2014.

Asia Foundation President David D. Arnold Meets Myanmar President U Thein Sein

From October 22-26, 2012, The Asia Foundation President David D. Arnold led an official delegation to Myanmar. During this historic visit, President Arnold called on the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar U Thein Sein on October 23 in Nay Pyi Taw. At this official meeting held at the Presidential Palace, President Thein Sein and President Arnold conducted substantive discussions on assistance for the country's development and rule of law. Last month, President Thein Sein concluded a landmark official visit to the United States, the first by a Myanmar leader since 1966. Also present were Union Ministers in the President's Office U Soe Thein, U Aung Min, and U Tin Naing Thein. The Asia Foundation delegation included David Steinberg, former Asia Foundation Deputy Representative to Burma; Gordon Hein, Vice President of Programs; and Kim N. B. Ninh, Country Representative to Myanmar. Read more about the event or view a slideshow.

The Asia Foundation Hosts Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

On September 28, 2012, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Member of Parliament, Burma and Chairperson and General Secretary, National League of Democracy, made her first Bay Area public remarks at The Asia Foundation. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi spoke to an exclusive and invitation-only audience of Bay Area political, civic, and business leaders; her remarks immediately followed a private meeting with David D. Arnold, president of The Asia Foundation, and the organization's trustees.

In order to ensure that Myanmar's social, political, and economic reforms are durable, The Asia Foundation is undertaking an expanded program of development assistance. Added Arnold: "The Asia Foundation maintained an office in Myanmar from 1954 to 1962; and since 2007 we have donated more than 80,000 books valued at $3.2 million. Our staff of international and local development experts has worked with virtually every major Asian country that has undergone a democratic transition, such as Mongolia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Korea. The Asia Foundation is well positioned to make an important contribution to the reform agenda introduced by President Thein Sein, and we look forward to partnering with the country's emerging leadership."

Read more about the event or watch the full event video.

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