Henry Van Thio, who lived in Dunedin from 2011 until last year, has been sworn in as second vice-president in a historic moment for Myanmar (Burma).Only two years before his swearing in, he was working at Silver Fern Farms’ Finegand freezing works, while his wife Anna Sui studied towards a PhD at the University of Otago.
Van Thio, a Christian, is part of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy which recently won landmark elections in the country.
He is the first non-Buddhist to hold the office of vice president.
His faith has been the subject of controversy as after his appointment nationalist monks protested saying that only Buddhists should hold political positions.
The choice of having a minority ethnic person as a vice president is a symbolic gesture by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party to assist national reconciliation efforts, say observers.