What we do


The context

The economic growth and social transformation achieved across Asia in recent decades are a testament to the resilience of peoples who, in the preceding century, experienced colonialism, dictatorship, and tumultuous nation-building processes. 

While this history remains part of life in the countries where we focus our work – Indonesia and Malaysia – both have made progress towards more accountable and responsive governments and empowered people. 

However, inequality and corruption, and restrictions on civic space and expression, all remain. In the past decade, powerful interests have weaponised technology, and social and political life across the region has been shaped significantly by social media and both misinformation and disinformation.

Our strategic focus

We have operated in Asia since 2009, supporting activism and social movements. We are focused on helping to build more inclusive and less polarised societies, where civic space and dissent are protected and supported.

Our current priorities

Increasing inclusion and representation

We support organisations and programmes working to create a more inclusive society in Malaysia. By strengthening those involved in this work and partnering on specific programmes, we aim to help grow public support for the full participation of underrepresented groups in civic and political life.

Protecting civic space and strengthening civil society

Across Indonesia and Malaysia, we are focused on protecting civic space and working to advance foundational rights such as the right to free expression and information. We are taking an ecosystem building approach, investing to foster effective, resilient, and well-connected civil society by enhancing their capacity, supporting civic movement building, and protecting civil society actors from repression.

Tackling misinformation and disinformation

Across the region, we are focused on efforts to counter mis- and disinformation, particularly online. We support research, campaigns, and civil society mobilisation efforts that shine a light on the harms caused by online hate speech and manipulation. And we provide support to those working to find solutions to this growing problem.


Empowering youth in Malaysia

In 2021, the voting age in Malaysia was lowered to 18, giving an estimated 1.2 million more citizens the right to vote. Research firm Merdeka Center is carrying out a three-year programme to empower and educate this new population of voters. This project is centred on increasing inclusion and representation in the region. The initiative will include youth from marginalised groups, training them to become future leaders of entrepreneurial ventures and social activism, as well as organisers in the community.

Safeguarding against digital rights violations

It’s critical to protect civic space and ensure basic rights online, but digital rights violations such as internet shutdowns, defamation, and digital attacks have increased in recent years in Indonesia. Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) is committed to defending digital rights in the region. The organisation is establishing a systematic approach to monitoring and countering digital rights violations. The partnership aims to improve SAFEnet’s capacity to track violations and support victims.

Promoting freedom of expression in Malaysia

East-West Management Institute (EWMI)’s mentoring and capacity-building programme supports a cluster of organisations working to advance freedom of expression in Malaysia. The programme aims to strengthen the capacity of each organisation and develop their collective ability to coordinate and collaborate more effectively. Our work with EWMI in Malaysia is an example of our ecosystem building approach in Asia, with the broader goal of fostering a vibrant and thriving civil society.