31/05/12 - Aung San Suu Kyi, General Secretary of the National League for Democracy in Myanmar and Nobel Peace Prize winner, visited Unilever Thailand’s Minburi factory.
A historic moment for Unilever
31 May 2012: Unilever marked a significant moment in its history on 30 May when pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi visited Unilever Thailand’s Minburi factory as part of her first overseas visit in 24 years. After arriving in Bangkok to attend the World Economic Forum East Asia, she was keen to speak to her Chairman of Thailand and Indochina to welcome her to Unilever.
“Aung San Suu Kyi showed deep commitment to sustainable development and we took the opportunity of the visit to present the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan to her along with our sustainability agenda for the region. She was very supportive of our plans,” says Harish.
Echoing these words, Bauke said, “It is a tremendous endorsement for Unilever’s sustainability agenda to have Aung San Suu Kyi, accept our invitation to visit the Minburi factory on her first trip overseas in 24 years.”
Future plans in Myanmar
Unilever resumed its distribution operation in Myanmar in 2010, and has set up a representative office. There are also plans to also establish a local company this year.
Given the challenges of development in Myanmar, especially in the area of health and hygiene, the company will kick-start its local operations by partnering with UNICEF on a handwash and oral hygiene campaign.
Following the meeting, Aung San Suu Kyi took a tour of the Minburi factory which is not only a global sourcing unit but also rated as one of the top five best manufacturing sites in Unilever.
The culmination of the visit was her ‘town hall’ with Unilever’s Myanmar workers. In her conversation with them, she stressed the need for creating local livelihoods in Myanmar, so that the talent pool of overseas Myanmar workers could go back and contribute to the much-needed development of their country.
Creating a real sense of excitement, one of the workers summed up the feeling very well at the end: “I had to cry out loud and feel so touched seeing her here. She is my hope for Myanmar.”