SINGAPORE -- Myanmar's opening to the world in 2011 left lingering questions about the impetus for its dramatic shift. Why did a harsh and secretive military regime spawn a quasi-civilian government, led by a mild-mannered retired general called Thein Sein? And why did it then lay the groundwork for the rise of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, a past target for vilification by the same generals who released her in late 2010 from years of house arrest.
In late 2015, Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy trounced Myanmar's military-backed ruling party in the first free and fair polls in decades. True to his promises, President Thein Sein handed power to the NLD government in early 2016.