Former ASEAN secretary-general to run for Bangkok governor

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Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) between 2008 and 2012 and also Thailand’s former foreign minister between 1997 and 2001, in an interview with the Bangkok Post said he was “ready to run in the Bangkok governor election” as soon as the current military regime gives the green light to a local elections for the post ahead of future general elections for which no date has been set yet.

Th 67-year old, Harvard educated academic, diplomat and intellectual told the paper that he has been approached by executives of the Democratic Party, with which he is affiliated, to run in the gubernatorial poll and warmed up to the idea, saying he expects the current governing body, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to allow Bangkok governor elections as a prequel to general elections in a signal that democracy is returning to the country.

Pitsuwan said that Bangkok was “an ideal place to start with” because its citizens were the “most democratically active” in the country, which could also be read as a hint that he could probably seek a higher political role in the Thai government at a later point of time.

Outlining for his programme, Pitsuwan said as governor he would play an active role in modernising the capital and turn it into an internationally-oriented smart city “with transparency and efficiency in management” and the assistance of its people, as well as into a place where people can participate in the political process and scrutinise it in a functioning checks-and-balances system which would contribute to national reform on a wider scale.

He also said he would invite entrepreneurs and – in a so far unheard and outright pioneering suggestion – even foreign expats to deliver ideas how to make Bangkok more modern, livable and prosperous, with an administration that would respond to the citizen’s needs.

Commentators reacted widely positive on Pitsuwan’s declaration, pointing at his numerous academic connections and his wide personal network. Among many other roles, he is professor emeritus at Bangkok’s Thammasat University, co-chair of the Commission on Human Security and honorary advisor under the King Prajadhipok Institute. He also serves the Future Innovative Thailand Institute as chairman, has been a Trustee of the Asia Foundation since 2003 and sits on the board of the Switzerland-based Center for Humanitarian Dialogue.

He was a member of the Thai parliament since 1986 and also served as deputy foreign affairs minister and assistant secretary to the minister of the interior in Thailand. Between 2004 and 2006, Surin was even touted as a possible successor to United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan but did not get support from the then-Thai government.

Pitsuwan has also been conferred numerous awards, including 13 honorary doctorate degrees from both Asian and Western universities.

Pitsuwan’s business activities include roles as the chairman of the board of Amata Corporation, an industrial estate developer and one of Thailand’s largest private companies, chairman of the board of listed building contractor Bangkok Dec-Con PLC, chairman of the board of Ingress Industrial Thailand Pcl, a branch of a Malaysian car parts manufacturer, and also chairman of the board of construction material company Stone One Pcl.

Pitsuwan originates from Nakhon Si Thammarat in Thailand’s south and is of Muslim faith. He wrote his Harvard PhD thesis about “Islam and Malay nationalism: A case study of the Malay-Muslims of Southern Thailand” in 1982.

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Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) between 2008 and 2012 and also Thailand's former foreign minister between 1997 and 2001, in an interview with the Bangkok Post said he was "ready to run in the Bangkok governor election" as soon as the current military regime gives the green light to a local elections for the post ahead of future general elections for which no date has been set yet. Th 67-year old, Harvard educated academic, diplomat and intellectual told the paper that he has been approached by executives of the Democratic Party, with which he...

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) between 2008 and 2012 and also Thailand’s former foreign minister between 1997 and 2001, in an interview with the Bangkok Post said he was “ready to run in the Bangkok governor election” as soon as the current military regime gives the green light to a local elections for the post ahead of future general elections for which no date has been set yet.

Th 67-year old, Harvard educated academic, diplomat and intellectual told the paper that he has been approached by executives of the Democratic Party, with which he is affiliated, to run in the gubernatorial poll and warmed up to the idea, saying he expects the current governing body, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to allow Bangkok governor elections as a prequel to general elections in a signal that democracy is returning to the country.

Pitsuwan said that Bangkok was “an ideal place to start with” because its citizens were the “most democratically active” in the country, which could also be read as a hint that he could probably seek a higher political role in the Thai government at a later point of time.

Outlining for his programme, Pitsuwan said as governor he would play an active role in modernising the capital and turn it into an internationally-oriented smart city “with transparency and efficiency in management” and the assistance of its people, as well as into a place where people can participate in the political process and scrutinise it in a functioning checks-and-balances system which would contribute to national reform on a wider scale.

He also said he would invite entrepreneurs and – in a so far unheard and outright pioneering suggestion – even foreign expats to deliver ideas how to make Bangkok more modern, livable and prosperous, with an administration that would respond to the citizen’s needs.

Commentators reacted widely positive on Pitsuwan’s declaration, pointing at his numerous academic connections and his wide personal network. Among many other roles, he is professor emeritus at Bangkok’s Thammasat University, co-chair of the Commission on Human Security and honorary advisor under the King Prajadhipok Institute. He also serves the Future Innovative Thailand Institute as chairman, has been a Trustee of the Asia Foundation since 2003 and sits on the board of the Switzerland-based Center for Humanitarian Dialogue.

He was a member of the Thai parliament since 1986 and also served as deputy foreign affairs minister and assistant secretary to the minister of the interior in Thailand. Between 2004 and 2006, Surin was even touted as a possible successor to United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan but did not get support from the then-Thai government.

Pitsuwan has also been conferred numerous awards, including 13 honorary doctorate degrees from both Asian and Western universities.

Pitsuwan’s business activities include roles as the chairman of the board of Amata Corporation, an industrial estate developer and one of Thailand’s largest private companies, chairman of the board of listed building contractor Bangkok Dec-Con PLC, chairman of the board of Ingress Industrial Thailand Pcl, a branch of a Malaysian car parts manufacturer, and also chairman of the board of construction material company Stone One Pcl.

Pitsuwan originates from Nakhon Si Thammarat in Thailand’s south and is of Muslim faith. He wrote his Harvard PhD thesis about “Islam and Malay nationalism: A case study of the Malay-Muslims of Southern Thailand” in 1982.

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