Former ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan dies at 68

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Surin Pitsuwan in 2012 © Arno Maierbrugger

Surin Pitsuwan, veteran Thai politician, diplomat and former secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), died in Bangkok on November 30 from an acute heart attack. He was 68 and is being survived by his wife and three children.

The Bangkok Post reported that Pitsuwan collapsed as he was preparing to speak at the Thailand Halal Assembly 2017 at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Center. He was rushed to hospital and later pronounced dead.

Pitsuwan served as ASEAN secretary general from 2008 to 2012 and was a main actor in pushing the bloc’s ten member states to integrate their economies as the ASEAN Economic Community. The common market came about in 2015.

In Thailand, ha was member of the Democratic Party and won a seat in the Lower House in 1986. He was appointed deputy foreign minister from 1992 to 1995 and foreign minister from 1997 to 2001.

He helped Thailand survive the Asian Financial Crisis, which struck in 1997, by gaining support from countries all over the world. He served as minister until Thaksin Shinawatra became prime minister. Between 2004 and 2006, Pitsuwan 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 was also cooperating with Investvine’s parent company Inside Investor and was a keynote speaker of the Inside Investor Forum Asia 2012 held in Doha.

After his term at ASEAN ended, he continued to be active as a sought-after conference speaker. He founded a liberal think-tank in Bangkok and aimed at a role in the Thai government, which, however, didn’t materialise. In June this year, he said he would run for Bangkok governor. He was also an outspoken critic of the Thai education system and called for change and transformation in the Thai political system and in society.

Pitsuwan, a native of southern Nakhon Si Thammarat province, earned his Master of Arts’ degree at Harvard University and did research at the American University in Cairo as a scholar of the Institute of Higher Council for Islamic Affairs of Egypt from 1975 until 1977 before returning to Harvard, where he received his doctorate in 1982.

Pitsuwan has also been conferred numerous awards, including 13 honorary doctorate degrees from both Asian and Western universities. Among many other roles, he was 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 was a Trustee of the Asia Foundation since 2003 and sat on the board of the Switzerland-based Center for Humanitarian Dialogue.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Surin Pitsuwan in 2012 © Arno Maierbrugger

Surin Pitsuwan, veteran Thai politician, diplomat and former secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), died in Bangkok on November 30 from an acute heart attack. He was 68 and is being survived by his wife and three children.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Surin Pitsuwan in 2012 © Arno Maierbrugger

Surin Pitsuwan, veteran Thai politician, diplomat and former secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), died in Bangkok on November 30 from an acute heart attack. He was 68 and is being survived by his wife and three children.

The Bangkok Post reported that Pitsuwan collapsed as he was preparing to speak at the Thailand Halal Assembly 2017 at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Center. He was rushed to hospital and later pronounced dead.

Pitsuwan served as ASEAN secretary general from 2008 to 2012 and was a main actor in pushing the bloc’s ten member states to integrate their economies as the ASEAN Economic Community. The common market came about in 2015.

In Thailand, ha was member of the Democratic Party and won a seat in the Lower House in 1986. He was appointed deputy foreign minister from 1992 to 1995 and foreign minister from 1997 to 2001.

He helped Thailand survive the Asian Financial Crisis, which struck in 1997, by gaining support from countries all over the world. He served as minister until Thaksin Shinawatra became prime minister. Between 2004 and 2006, Pitsuwan 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 was also cooperating with Investvine’s parent company Inside Investor and was a keynote speaker of the Inside Investor Forum Asia 2012 held in Doha.

After his term at ASEAN ended, he continued to be active as a sought-after conference speaker. He founded a liberal think-tank in Bangkok and aimed at a role in the Thai government, which, however, didn’t materialise. In June this year, he said he would run for Bangkok governor. He was also an outspoken critic of the Thai education system and called for change and transformation in the Thai political system and in society.

Pitsuwan, a native of southern Nakhon Si Thammarat province, earned his Master of Arts’ degree at Harvard University and did research at the American University in Cairo as a scholar of the Institute of Higher Council for Islamic Affairs of Egypt from 1975 until 1977 before returning to Harvard, where he received his doctorate in 1982.

Pitsuwan has also been conferred numerous awards, including 13 honorary doctorate degrees from both Asian and Western universities. Among many other roles, he was 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 was a Trustee of the Asia Foundation since 2003 and sat on the board of the Switzerland-based Center for Humanitarian Dialogue.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid