Community Papers

Former MLA Barry Penner moving to Myanmar

Barry Penner and his wife, Daris, and daughter, Fintry, in Myanmar in early 2014. - submitted
Barry Penner and his wife, Daris, and daughter, Fintry, in Myanmar in early 2014.
— image credit: submitted

"I called to say goodbye."

The family was in the car. The movers were in his Chilliwack home.

Barry Penner was making his farewell calls to some local media.

The former Chilliwack MLA and his family were preparing to board a plane and take up residence far away from Chilliwack in Southeast Asia.

"I wouldn't be making this move without the enthusiastic support of my wife, Daris and what we hope will be support from our three-year-old daughter, Fintry," Penner writes on his Facebook page.

"We will miss B.C. very much, but expect to be back to visit. If you happen to be in Myanmar, please look us up. I'm sure we will be eager for news from Canada."

This week they were boarding a plane and heading to Myanmar, as in formerly known as Burma, where Penner will be working in his field in an atmosphere he described as a "frontier market."

They were going to Bangkok, Thailand first en route to Yangon, Myanmar.

"However, we were in Myanmar in January and visited certain parts of the country, including Bagan (see in the online photo attached).

Penner's first visit to the area was in 2004, shortly after the tragic Asian tsunami.

"As for the work I will be doing, I hope to be able to assist in Myanmar's transformation into a more open society and economy. There is enormous untapped potential but poverty is widespread.

"Compared to Thailand and some other southeast Asian countries, Myanmar has missed out on the benefits of an economic boom that started more than 15 years ago.

He will be working with Mynamar Legal Services to assist in managing their increasingly busy office, as investment flows into theĀ  developing country. He worked as a Law Co-op student in Thailand 23 years ago, and the firm Chandler & Thong-ek is associated with the new firm in Myanmar.

He kept in touch and it led to an opportunity.

"It's obviously a big step for my family and I, and it is not without some trepidation that we are embarking on what will undoubtedly be an interesting personal and career adventure."

Penner's political contributions from his time in Chilliwack include his fight against the SE2 power plant, and for supporting run-of-the-river and other green energy projects. He held the portfolios like Attorney General of British Columbia, Deputy House Leader, Minister of Environment and Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.

Penner was first elected as a Chilliwack MLA in 1996 and re-elected in 2001 and 2005 (Chilliwack-Kent) with some of the highest margins in the province. He was re-elected in the 2009.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

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