Former US Ambassador to Myanmar on Thein Sein's 'Totally Different Course'

Burton Levin, who from 1987 to 1990 served at the U.S. Ambassador to Burma (now known as Myanmar), said Myanmar President Thein Sein has started "a totally different course" for the country. Levin, addressing Asia Society in Hong Kong on September 20, said Sein's unprecedented and rapid reforms could change a country that for decades was "a land of misery and suffering for its own people."

He said American policy had previously been based on a "vague hope" that someone in the Burmese military government would pursue reforms. He noted that Myanmar still faces a number of economic and political challenges that could derail continued progress, but the reform movement "has strong momentum” for now.

Sein will speak at Asia Society in New York on Thursday, September 27 at 5 p.m. local time in what will be his first public remarks in the United States as president. The event will be viewable globally via live webcast at on September 27 at 5:00 p.m. ET. After the event, the video will also be available on-demand at Do you have a question for President Sein? If so, post it here. Your question may be asked during the program.

Sein's Asia Society visit comes on the heels of Aung San Suu Kyi's September 18 Asia Society talk in Washington, D.C.

About the Author

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Liz Flora is a contributor to Asia Blog. She has a master's degree in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University.