Soros set to invest in Myanmar reforms

By Eleven Media Group | Source: ANN
Hedge-fund manager and philanthropist George Soros will provide assistance to the former student activists known as the 88 Generation Students Group through his New York-based Open Society Foundations, a leader of the group told Eleven Media.

Ko Ko Gyi said Soros made the offer during a meeting with him and other members of the group on Monday. Ko Ko Gyi did not specify what kind or how much assistance the former student activists would receive from Soros’ nimble and influential foundation, which has spent more than US$8 billion on its programs – which span social justice, political accountability, education, public health and the rule of law – and on grants for other NGOs during the past three decades.

Ko Ko Gyi noted that the foundation invests in the social infrastructure that enables countries to shift from authoritarian to open societies and said Soros had taken great interest in Myanmar. His foundation has provided financial support to Myanmar dissidents in the past, according to its website.

Ko Ko Gyi said that during their meeting, Soros had asked members of his group about the root causes of the deadly riots in central Myanmar last month as well as possible steps to restore peace, stability and the rule of law in riot-hit Meikhtila as well as Rakhine State, where communal violence sparked deadly rioting and arson attacks last year.

Soros was most interested in discussing the riots and Myanmar’s peace process with the former student leaders, Ko Ko Gyi said.

Soros has also met with President Thein Sein and Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi since arriving in Myanmar last week for his third visit to the country since late last year.

His first visit began last December 26 and lasted eight days. He held discussions with Thein Sein and Suu Kyi during this visit. He returned during the second week of January, expanding his meetings to include former student activists and leaders of ethnic groups.

The 88 Generation Students Group, which takes its name from the student-led uprising against General Ne Win in 1988, announced it was setting up the 88 Generation Open Society Group earlier this year. Ko Ko Gyi said the name was chosen because it reflected the group’s ideas.