Yangon’s new chief minister spent about 15 years in prison for activism

Myanmar’s new National League for Democracy-led government is packed with former political prisoners and activists.

Phyo Min Thein, the man chosen to be the chief minister of our fair city, is no exception.

According to a profile circulating online, Phyo Min Thein played an active role in the 1988 student uprising while in his second year studying Physics at Yangon University.

He was arrested in 1991 and sentenced to 7 years in prison. He received two additional sentences between then and 2005, spending approximately 15 years total behind bars. His father died the year before he was released.

In 2009 he got married, and three years later, in 2012, he was elected as a Lower House MP in Yangon under the banner of Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD. He became a central committee member in 2013 and was elected to regional parliament in November’s general election.

The parliament voted him in as chief minister on Monday.

Yangon Heritage Trust was enthusiastic about the choice.

“I’m delighted that Ko Phyo Min Thein will be Yangon’s new chief minister. I am confident he will be a strong supporter of proper urban planning and conservation,” YHT’s executive director Thant Myint-U said in a statement.

“The new administration will be taking office at a pivotal moment for Myanmar’s biggest city. There are pressing issues of jobs, basic infrastructure, housing, transport, and public health as well as heritage protection that need to be urgently considered.”

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