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HTEIN LIN LECTURE SERIES: Responsible Business in a Developing Country – Burma Case Study

Presented in partnership with SUNY Buffalo State Education Coordinator Win M. Thant and the Grant Allocation Committee (GAC)

Thursday, April 11, 2019, 12 pm

Myanmar is currently emerging from decades of military dictatorship. Though the transformation is still in its infancy, the new quasi-civilian government has embarked on an impressive reform agenda to transform the country into a democratic nation with a market driven economy.

Despite a significant economic downturn last year, government officials and business people alike have expressed positivity for the country’s economy in 2019, particularly foreign investment and the local business environment.

However, the country still has many challenges to face. The unsolved crisis in Rakhine State, weak strategies in the tourism sector and policies that do not favor local investors are just a few obstacles that must be tackled. 

Vicky Bowman will discuss what ‘responsible business’ is, and how the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business are promoting it in Burma.  Bowman and artist Htein Lin, will also discuss the current Burma political climate and what the international community and the USA can do to help. 

Bowman has been the director of Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB) since July 2013. Prior to that, she led global mining company Rio Tinto's policy approach to transparency, human rights and resource nationalism/resource curse issues from 2011. She was director of Global & Economic Issues and G8 sous-Sherpa for the United Kingdom from 2008-2011 and head of the Southern Africa Department in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK Government from 2006-2007.

She served as ambassador of the UK to Myanmar from 2002-2006 and as second secretary in the Embassy from 1990-1993. She has also worked in Brussels as Member of Cabinet of European Commissioner Chris Patten (1999-2002) and as press spokeswoman for the UK representation to the EU (1996-1999).

Bowman has an MA in Natural Sciences (Pathology) from University of Cambridge, is an Honorary Fellow of Pembroke College and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of University of Bradford (Division of Peace Studies and International Development). She speaks Burmese and is married to Myanmar artist Htein Lin.

Presented in partnership with SUNY Buffalo State Education Coordinator Win M. Thant and the Grant Allocation Committee (GAC) 

 Free with museum admission 

About Htein Lin 

Lin’s A Show of Hands multimedia installation is currently on view at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. It includes hundreds of plaster sculptures cast from the hands of former political prisoners from Myanmar, each accompanied by a card bearing information about the circumstances of the individual’s imprisonment.

Born in 1966 in Ingapu, Ayeyarwady Division, he was active in the 1988 student movement at Rangoon University where he studied law.  Going underground after the military takeover, he spent almost four years in a refugee camp on the Indian border, where he studied art with Mandalay artist Sitt Nyein Aye, and in an ABSDF (Northern Branch) student rebel camp at Pajau on the Chinese border. In Pajau, he and other students were detained for around 9 months from 1991-1992 and suffered physical abuse at the hands of other students in the most notorious episode of the opposition group’s history.

Escaping and returning to Yangon in May 1992, he finished a law degree in 1995 before taking up work as a film actor.  He held two solo shows in 1996 and 1997.  Arrested in 1998 and jailed on spurious accusations of opposition activity, he spent almost seven years in jail (1998-2004).  During this time he developed his artistic practice, using items available to him like bowls and cigarette lighters in the absence of brushes to make paintings and monoprints on the cotton prison uniform.

Lin pioneered performance art in Burma in 1996 and continued to perform for fellow inmates while in prison. Following his release, his Rangoon street performance ‘Mobile Art Gallery/Mobile Market’ in May 2005 led to 5 more days of interrogation.  During the period 2006-2011 he also performed in the UK and Thailand, at the US Library of Congress (2009) and at festivals and events in Finland, France, Philippines, Japan, Malaysia, and Bangladesh.  Many of his performances are intended to raise awareness of the political situation in Burma.

Since leaving Burma for the first time in 2006, Lin regularly participates in exhibitions and art festivals globally, as well as events and projects to promote freedom of speech, particularly in Burma. He is a founding member of the Burmese language arts website to which he contributes poetry, prose, and artistic criticism.  In 2010 curated the first Burmese Arts Festival in London.  In recent years he has expanded his practice to include 3D work and video.