The General Electric (GE) Foundation, the philanthropic organisation of General Electric, engaged LKY School to develop and provide a senior management programme on “Infrastructure Development and Competitiveness in Myanmar”. The course took place in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw from 13–17 January 2014.
This is the second time the GE Foundation has engaged LKY School in their support of the Myanmar government’s political and socio-economic reforms. In October 2013, LKY School delivered the “ASEAN Policy and Leadership Forum” (APLF) in Singapore for officials from Myanmar.
Around 50 senior officials attended the five-day senior management programme this January, representing a broad spectrum of ministries that included the Presidents’ Office; Energy, Power and Electrics; Healthcare; Education; Finance and Revenue; Transportation; Construction; Commerce; National Planning and Economic Development; Mines; Immigration and Population; and the Yangon and Mandalay City Development Committees.
At the opening ceremony, His Excellency U Soe Thane, Union Minister, Office of the President of Myanmar acknowledged GE and LKY School, “We are very appreciative of this pioneering and significant collaboration with GE Foundation and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy which will provide senior government officials the opportunity to learn vital lessons from the region and apply them to Myanmar’s further development.”
Also at the event, Mr Kovit Kantapasara, President and CEO of GE Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, stated GE’s commitment to support Myanmar in developing its human resource capacity and strengthening leadership at both local and national levels, in addition to initiatives in healthcare.
Representing LKY School, Assistant Professor Eduardo Araral, who designed the programme in collaboration with the GE Foundation, shared that “Myanmar is in a good position — it does not need to reinvent the wheel as it can learn from its neighbouring countries’ experiences and avoid repeating the same mistakes.”
The executive programme focused on a variety of subjects, such as energy and economic development, infrastructure project risk analysis, project appraisal and finance, anti-corruption and transparency, public private partnership, leadership and public management, and the purchasing power agreement (PPA), which the Union Government is currently trying to finalise with various ministries.
Dr Kan Zaw, Union Minister of National Planning and Economic Development; U Win Shein, Union Minister of Finance; and U Aung Than Oo, Deputy Union Minister of Electric Power, attended some of the sessions.
During the sessions, participants actively debated the various challenges, such as difficult timeframes and shortages of skilled workers and resources in implementing the strategies prioritised by the President of Union of Myanmar. These strategies relate to promoting the rule of law, people’s rights and transparency, and to pave the way to a new democratic and harmonious society. Other discussions were held on the development of the energy sector, raising awareness on the challenges and opportunities of globalisation, and on ways to close the income gap.
One common concern was the rush towards market economy and prosperity, which might threaten traditional life values in Myanmar. U Linn Aung, Deputy Director in the President’s Office shed light on this during a discussion on the political and cultural differences between Singapore and Myanmar. He described how mindsets and values differ in the two countries: “We do not strive to become competitive overnight. We will reach our goals in a steady pace but on the people-focused development path that our country has chosen.”
All participants agreed on one point: the country is looking forward to chairing ASEAN successfully in 2014. A positive and ambitious desire to contribute to improved governance, to strengthen human capital and to achieve the goal of becoming a competitive and dynamic member of ASEAN was evident throughout the programme.