Former Asean sec-gen Surin Pitsuwan dies of heart attack

Mr Surin Pitsuwan collapsed as he was preparing to speak at the Thailand Halal Assembly 2017 in Bangkok on Nov 30, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK - Thailand's former foreign minister and secretary-general of Asean Surin Pitsuwan died of heart failure in hospital on Thursday (Nov 30), Thai media reported.

He was 68 and is survived by his wife and three children, The Nation reported.

According to the Bangkok Post, Dr Surin collapsed as he was preparing to speak at the Thailand Halal Assembly 2017 at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre.

He was rushed to Ramkhamhaeng Hospital and later pronounced dead.

The Thai Foreign Ministry expressed its sincere condolences to Dr Surin and praised him for playing a key role in Thailand's foreign policy, the Bangkok Post reported.

Responding to the news, the 10-member Asean grouping wrote on its official Twitter account: "We are deeply saddened to know that Dr Surin Pitsuwan, former Secretary-General of Asean passed away today. It is a big loss to Thailand and the Asean Community. We convey our sincere condolences to his family."

Dr Surin, a native of Nakhon Si Thammarat province, was a fellow of The Rockefeller Fellowship Programme, The Rockefeller Foundation, Harvard University and American University, Cairo.

He 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.

In Thailand, he was known as a veteran politician and won the vote in his hometown on several occasions.

He served as deputy foreign minister from 1992-1995 and as foreign minister from 1997 to 2001. He was named Secretary General of Asean Secretariat on January 1, 2008.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.