New Myanmar Foundation (NMF) was established by a group of concerned citizens in January 2008 to “contribute into the development of Myanmar by strengthening the capacity of citizens and promoting democratic governance”. For the first two years, NMF primarily focused humanitarian aids (especially in Cyclone Nargis) and education programs in orphanage schools.
In 2010 transitional period of Myanmar, NMF explicitly focused on strengthening democracy and governance by participating with MYNFREL in the election observation mission, getting technical supports from ANFREL.
In 2011, NMF supported to found the BAYDA Institute by providing financial support as well as human resource for nearly one year. During that time, NMF was continuing its capacity building activities in Yangon. At the end of 2011, NMF reduced its ties to BAYDA Institute (while maintaining cordial relations) and positioned itself as a neutral and non-partisan organization supporting the democratic process rather than a particular party, and willing to provide trainings to any political party and CSOs.
When the 2012 bi-election was announced, NMF developed election training programs for domestic observers, journalists, political party agents and ethnic groups. In January 2012, NMF tried to organize and develop an observation network for the bi-election observation mission. NMF facilitated the provision of international technical assistance to the observer network, which was provided by the Asia Foundation and the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL). NMF also coordinated and facilitated visits to Myanmar and meetings in-country for numerous delegation from the Asia Foundation, ANFREL and EU.
From early 2013, NMF started to participate in national level discussions with the Union Election Commission (UEC) and also contributed its volunteer services as the focal point for all the stakeholders meetings organized by European Electoral Support Team (EU-EST). Then, NMF initiated to develop Domestic Election Observation Network (DEON) through Election Education and Observation Partners (EEOPs) which was intended for 2015 general election. During 2013, NMF upgraded its capacity and also participated in Training And Parliamentary Education (TAPE) program organized by ANFREL.
In 2014, NMF observed Voter Registration Pilot Project (VRPP) by the accreditation of Union Election Commission (UEC) and published VRPP Observation Report. NMF also published Voter Education Manual (VEM) Series 1. At the end of 2014, NMF observed Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) Election, which was the first YCDC election over 60 years, with the objectives of promoting for the emergence of the elected local government and testing the quality of the observers for the upcoming 2015 general election.
Since 2011, NMF members studied election specialization courses in EU countries. They also worked as the international observers and participated in election study trips to Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Nepal, Bhutan and other countries. In addition, they joined the election conferences and democracy forums in various countries. NMF contributed these knowledge and international experiences to the society by adapting with the local contents.
In the past five years, NMF has conducted more than one hundred trainings for thousands of participants, has helped expand the political space in Myanmar for democracy promotion, and had a significant impact in ensuring the recent bi-elections were fair and credible. To date NMF activities have been entirely funded by its members’ dues.