U Thant

U Thant (Third UNSG)


  • Daj Hammerjold, the second United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) perished in an air crash during a UN mission.
  • In trying to find a successor to Hammerjold, the two super powers USA and USSR could not agree.
  • USSR refused to accept USA’s candidate.
  • USA refused to accept USSR’s proposal of Troika.
  • As a compromise, they agreed to have U Thant (who hailed from Burma, a co-founder of the Non-Aligned Movement) as the Interim UNSG. The General Assembly later ratified him as the third UNSG.


At the Centennial Birthday Celebration for U Thant held a few years back in the San Francisco Bay Area a few years back, I was a guest speaker.

Ah Pho Gyi

  • Ko Tin Maung Thant (“Ah Pho Gyi”, U Thant’s son) was my sister’s classmate at the Private Primary Boundary Road School (PPBRS).
  • He left the school to join his father (then Permanent Secretary of the Burmese Delegation to the United Nations).
  • Sadly, he passed away unexpectedly during his visit to Burma in 1962.
  • His funeral service was grander than that of Commodore Than Pe (Minister of Health and Education), the first member of the 17-man Revolutionary Council to pass away.

Brief history

  • U Thant won essay and translation competitions in his youth.
  • He had excellent communication skills (reading, writing, speaking).
  • U Thant was requested by his mother to study only for two years at the University of Rangoon and then return and work.
  • He became a Saya at the Pantanaw National School.
  • For accreditation requirements of the school, he asked U Nu to be the Principal.
  • Later, U Nu (leader of AFPFL and Prime Minister) asked U Thant to help the party and the government in various capacities.
  • U Thant succeeded Mr. James Barrington (ICS, RUBC Gold) as the Permanent Secretary of the Burmese Delegation to the United Nations.
  • U Thant was elected as UNSG.
  • U Thant wanted to return to Burma after his retirement, but he had health problems. He could not finish his book.
  • U Thant passed away.
    Details are present in the book about “U Thant Ah Yay Ah Khin“.
    U Khin Maung Zaw (KMZ, EC76) bought the book in Yangon and mailed it to me from Seattle, Washington.

Dark Moment

  • Sad for Burma, only U Aung Tun, Deputy Minister of Education, was at the Mingaladon airport to pay respect to U Thant’s body. He was dismissed.
  • What followed is another Dark Moment in the History of Burma.

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