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Myanmar Publisher Chosen as Asia Foundation Chang-lin Tien Fellow, Honored with International Publishing Award

Dr. Thant Thaw Kaung

Dr. Thant Thaw Kaung (right). Photo by Wendy Rockett.

San Francisco, May 27, 2014 — Dr. Thant Thaw Kaung, a prominent publisher and library advocate in Myanmar, has been awarded an Asia Foundation Chang-lin Tien Visiting Fellowship. In a program designed to share knowledge and perspectives between peers across the Pacific, Dr. Kaung will engage with leaders in the U.S. publishing, library, and NGO fields during a three-week study tour.

While in the U.S., Dr. Kaung will receive the prestigious 2014 Jeri Laber International Freedom to Publish Award for his leading role in keeping books and literary life alive in Myanmar during decades of isolation. Given annually by the Association of American Publishers, the award recognizes a book publisher outside of the U.S. who has demonstrated courage and fortitude in the face of restrictions on freedom of expression. It will be presented to him at BookExpo America, the annual book publishing convention held in New York City.

“I am very honored to accept the prestigious Chang-lin Tien Fellowship and the Jeri Laber International Freedom to Publish Award,” expressed Dr. Kaung. “They provide us with a lot of strength to carry on with our current work of literary promotion and library development in Myanmar.”

Dr. Kaung is an entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the founder and CEO of the Myanmar Book Center, the country’s leading book importer, distributor, and publisher of educational materials. He also directs several nonprofits dedicated to library development, youth empowerment, and the preservation of Myanmar’s rich artistic and cultural heritage. An organization he founded, the Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation, has donated over 800,000 books to over 800 libraries. He is also the Project Director for the mobile library project of the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, a charitable organization chaired by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and named after her late mother.

“We are proud to support Dr. Kaung as a Chang-lin Tien Fellow,” said David D. Arnold, president of The Asia Foundation. “Since 1954, the Foundation has nurtured inspiring Asian change-makers like Dr. Kaung. In his unassuming way, Dr. Kaung ensured that avenues to information remained open even during Myanmar’s deepest isolation. As the country embarks on growing change and reform, responding to the Myanmar people’s great thirst for knowledge becomes critically important.”

The Asia Foundation Chang-lin Tien Fellowship Program was established to foster exchanges for Asian leaders to meet and interact with their counterparts in the U.S. The fellowship honors the late Dr. Chang-lin Tien, former Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, for his many accomplishments in science, higher education, and community affairs.

Read more about the Chang-lin Tien Fellowship Program here.

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