From Dunedin meatworker to Myanmar Govt

  • 02/04/2016
Myanmar's new Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi (C) and Myanmar vice president Henry Van Thio (R) (AAP)
Myanmar's new Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi (C) and Myanmar vice president Henry Van Thio (R) (AAP)

A former Dunedin freezing worker has gone from the killing floor to the halls of power in Myanmar.

Henry Van Thio, 57, was this week sworn in as a second vice-president as part of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, which last year won the country's first openly contested elections in a quarter of a century.

Mr Van Thio is the first ethnic Chin to take up such a high government position after winning the vote in Chin State, an impoverished and isolated region on the border with India, according to reports from Myanmar.

The former army officer and civil servant returned home last year after spending four years in Dunedin when his wife won a scholarship to study a PhD in theology.

To help support his wife and their three children, he worked at Silver Fern Farms freezing works plant in Balclutha. He also spent time working at the Talley's plant in Nelson, the Otago Daily Times reports.

The Myanmar community in Dunedin - about 20 to 25 people - was shocked but pleased with his appointment, Htin Lin Aung, an Otago University postdoctoral fellow, told the paper.

"We are very proud of his achievements and we know that he is the right person for the job. He's a very honest man and really hard working."

NZN