The IRC’s research activities were devoted to develop an understanding of the Asian and Southeast Asian regions. It therefore undertook work at three broad levels: as a research center specialized in the study of strategic and other sensitive issues related to the future stability of the region; as a policy-oriented institution that offered rational alternatives to decision-makers in governments and business; and as a human-resource center that is able to mobilize a broad network of experts in the region.
The research, training and networking activities of the IRC covered a wide range of policy-related issues. They focused on sensitive issues of national and international concern, which affected the evolution of the nations in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the future of the region as a whole. IRC helped social scientists and researchers, policy-makers, community organizations and others to gain access to information particularly in the fields of political and socio-economic affairs, as well as to establish trade links in the Asia Pacific region. (attachments)
Risk Assessments Service
Besides serving the academic and policy-making circles the IRC also offered to the business communities in and outside the region with country-risk assessments on individual Southeast Asian countries opening new prospects and opportunities. These assessments were prepared by expert analysts who were in a position to offer valuable advice on economic trends, business opportunities or risks. IRC also provided feasibility studies on various economic sectors.
IRC also organized field study missions to provide clients with direct access to relevant agencies in targeted countries as well as to match them with reliable local enterprises. In addition to these familiarization study tours the IRC also offered regular analyses, on a subscription basis, on the 6 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The ASEAN FORECAST was a monthly analysis and forecast of significant economic and political development in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand prepared by regional experts. The IRC FORUM was a regular tribune that carried the views and opinions of decision-makers in and outside the region. It was distributed on a complimentary basis to IRC clients. The IRC also published the MANILA REPORT, a quarterly assessment of significant political, military, economic and other developments in the Philippines. (attachments)
Conferences/Public Lectures Service
IRC has organized many academic and business conferences and meetings in many parts of Asia. Click this ((attachments) for details.
The IRC developed good relations with private and public sector companies, trade associations, academic institutions, policy experts, civil society, organizations and the government throughout its more than three decades of existence. The IRC has worked with many foundations and grant-giving institutions including:
The Canadian International Development Agency
The Smith Richardson Foundation of the US
The Hanns Seidel Stiftung of Germany
The Sasakawa Peace Foundation of Japan
The Nippon Foundation of Japan
UNESCO, amongst others (attachments)
The IRC had an active publishing program of monographs and periodicals which focused on strategic and prospective issues in the Asia-Pacific region and which captured academic attention. (attachments)
Training & Human Resource Development Service
IRC carried out various training programs for the development of humanresources in several countries in the region. These programs dealt withpractical issues of skills development and professional upgrading as well as problems related to environment, health protection, urbanization and community development. The training programs ranged from management seminars in Thailand for the parliamentary media corp and students of Thai universities to seminars on entrepreneurship in Vietnam.The courses offered were varied and reflected the needs of the times. (attachments)
IRC and Vietnam Program
Since its founding the IRC had always devoted a great deal of effort on Vietnam and undertaking research work on Indochina in general which had contributed to IRC’s credibility among academic and decision-making circles in the region. The IRC also launched 2 subscription-based publications for its clients – the Indochina Report which filled an important gap in the understanding of political, military and economic issues in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. This quarterly report was highly regarded in the international community as one of the most reliable field reports of trends and developments in the Indochinese countries. The Vietnam Commentary, a bi-monthly, provided valuable insights on contemporary political and economic developments in Vietnam. (attachments)
From the middle and late 1990s onwards IRC expended a great deal of time and effort in the non-ASEAN states of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. In 1990 the IRC initiated a path-breaking concept in the continuing evolution of Southeast Asian regionalism – the Interaction for Progress: ASEAN-Vietnam Project. This project constituted a series of multiple activities including meetings, exchanges and strategic dialogues. As a private entity IRC had facilitated the very first engagement between ASEAN citizens and Vietnamese officials and opened the path to dialogue between two adversaries. (attachments)
The first conference was held in August 1991 in Hanoi with the participation of decision-makers from Vietnam and ASEAN, produced a decisive impact on the new thinking of the Vietnamese Communist Party leadership. At the request of the Vietnamese leadership the symposium series was institutionalized as an annual event over the next 4 years. Three further large meetings were held in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Manila. An ASEAN-Vietnam Study Group was organized as part of the series. The Vietnamese leadership had recognized that this ASEAN-Vietnam engagement did contribute to the subsequent formulation of Vietnam’s policy towards ASEAN and which culminated in Vietnam’s membership in ASEAN. The results of this series are now available in English and Vietnamese under the title “One Southeast Asia: Shared Destiny, Shared Future”. (attachments)
IRC and Myanmar Program
Following this breakthrough with Vietnam IRC thereupon engaged Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos to expand ASEAN membership. The critical issue confronting these countries in the second half of the 1990s was how to develop, modernize and liberalize their economic and political system and to make them relevant and responsive without producing the kind of upheaval that were witnessed in the transition of the former socialist regimes of Eastern and Central Europe or in neighboring countries. IRC’s primary objective then was to contribute to Myanmar’s reintegration into its natural global environment.
In 2003 the IRC, as part of its sustained dialogue process and going beyond ASEAN’s “constructive engagement”, convened a study group to make recommendations to the contending factions in Myanmar to transcend their differences to produce a Myanmar solution that was based on national reconciliation and concord. The report, Quality of Partnership: Myanmar, ASEAN and the World, with a Burmese translation was submitted to the Myanmar leaders, both government and non-government, and the ASEAN officials. (attachments)
In cooperation with the government the IRC had also implemented several training workshops on skills and leadership development, and to enhance their understanding of ASEAN processes. A number of large conferences on Myanmar were also organized. A major project was “Training the Trainers of the Myanmar Civil Service”.
In 2006 the IRC implemented a three-year “Capacity Building of the Myanmar Civil Service” program with the Civil Service Selection and Training Board (CSSTB) of Myanmar. The Board is the ministerial body in charge of the civil servants and responsible for their training and deployment. The principal objective of the training project was to empower and upgrade the skills and knowledge of the trainers of civil service training institutions and to enhance the capacity of the training institutions of the CSSTB. The program involved the 3 major training civil service institutions – the University for the Development of National Races of the Union, the Central Institute of Civil Service (Upper Myanmar), and the Central Institute of Civil Service (Phaunggyi). Each training program involved 30 trainers and lasted for a month. (attachments)
The program instituted 4 components of institution and capacity building: to upgrade the skills and knowledge of the trainees, exposing the administrators of the training institutions to new ideas of training, building a team of persons who can prepare policy papers for the CSSTB and national leaders, preparing librarians of the civil service training institutions in modern management of information systems.
The IRC also organized a one week training workshop on research and report writing for civil servants was also carried out by experts in ASEAN in February 2006. (attachments)
Leadership Development: BABA Retreats Program
In 2006 the IRC was engaged by the Nippon Foundation of Japan to develop a leadership training program that would bring together a select group of young Asians from different cultural heritages for the purpose of developing their leadership skills, exchange views, and to encourage the formation of new networks amongst them. The program was called “Building a Better Asia: Young Leaders Retreat”, better known by its acronym BABA Retreat.
IRC’s partners included: Peking University in Beijing, China; The Nippon Foundation; Sasakawa Peace Foundation of Japan; the Tokyo Foundation; and The Ocean Policy Research Foundation of Japan.
An academic committee comprising scholars and experts from various Asian countries was formed to supervise this program. The ADS implemented the program.
Between September 2006 when the first retreat was hosted in Peking University and 2011, a total of 9 retreats were held in four different cultural environments –China (Peking), India (Goa and Orissa), Japan (Nara) and ASEAN (Thailand). The participants from various Asian countries (between the ages of 28-40) spent a week interacting with one another and were given opportunities to meet well-known scholars, political, cultural and business leaders. There were also out-of- classroom activities. The discussions were aimed at deepening the participants’ knowledge of a set of emerging issues in Asia and to foster the art of leadership in problem solving. A key objective was to deepen their knowledge and understanding of their Asian neighbors. In addition, group work for the purpose of enhancing long-lasting relationships among the participants was encouraged. (attachments)