The origins of Strategic Asia can be traced to the Asian Crisis and the ensuing collapse of the New Order government. The suddenness and severity of the economic crisis on the one hand and the systemic political implosion on the other created a challenging and strategic problem: how to manage systemic transitions in the midst of acute economic distress. One response to this in Indonesia was the establishment of a high-level policy advisory service funded by the United Nations Development Program which focused on a wide range of unfolding policy issues ranging from currency to agriculture, from the restructuring of government to the reform of conglomerates. Several members of this programme came together during this effort to form Strategic Asia.
This United Nations policy group contained a host of prominent policy managers and opinion makers: from Mr. Ali Alatas to Mr. Emil Salim, from Mr. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto to Mr. Marzuki Darusman and from Mr. Agus Widjojo to Mr. Adrianus Mooy. The policy group experience showed that identifying and managing the major structural changes which accompany rapid economic growth requires strategic analysis and lateral thinking. Such structural changes are still underway throughout Asia. Their successful management will be the key to what degree this century is indeed the Asian Century.