Condolences pour in for Pitsuwan family

  • ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan answers a question during the joint press conference following the “ASEAN Road Show” informal AEM-METI consultations in Tokyo on April 28, 2012. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA / AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and several other prominent public figures as well as the Asean Secretariat expressed their condolences to the family of former foreign minister Surin Pitsuwan who died on Thursday (Nov 30) of acute heart failure.

The prime minister said that Surin’s death was a great loss of a highly capable and knowledgeable personnel for the country.

Former Democrat party leader Chuan Leekpai said he was shocked by the sudden departure of Surin, former deputy leader of the party, whom he praised for having done a lot for the good of the people in his capacity as a politician and for the country in his capacity as a representative of Thailand in the field of foreign affairs.

Mr Chuan said Surin was instrumental in boosting the international community’s confidence in Thailand and in lobbying support for Supachai Panitchpakdi to become the head of World Trade Organization.

As foreign minister of Thailand, the former Democrat leader said Surin played pivotal role in reducing conflicts in the region and in coordinating the deployment of peace-keeping forces in East Timor over a decade ago.

Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said Surin’s sudden death was a great loss not only for the party but for the country and the international community.

A statement of the Asean Secretariat said:  “We are deeply saddened to know that Dr Surin Pitsuwan former secretary-general of Asean, passed away today.  It is a big loss to the Asean Community.  We convey our condolences to his family.”

UNHCR also issued a statement saying “Dr Surin’s advocacy and support to refugees will always be in our heart. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Dr Surin’s family.”

Surin’s house in Nonthaburi was packed with relatives, friends, politicians, government officials and the media since yesterday.

Surin’s body will be buried at the Tha-it masjid in Nonthaburi at 2.45pm Friday (Dec 1) after a religious ceremony scheduled at his house in the morning.  The event is expected to be attended by a large number of prominent figures in political circle, foreign affairs and government bureaucracy.

His younger sister, Huwaidiyah Pitsuwan Useng, said the house is open the whole night last night to allow people to pay their last respect to the ex-foreign minister.

Huwaidiyah Pitsuwan Useng, Surin’s younger sister.

She disclosed that Surin, of late, complained of being tired, but routine medical checkups  found no health concerns.

She said Surin went to the family home in Nakhon Si Thammarat earlier this week to visit his mother and he just returned to Bangkok on Thursday morning (Nov 30). While he had lunch with his wife, he complained of chest pains and passed out.

An ambulance was fetched and medics administered CPR, but without success.  He was then rushed to the hospital where CPR was again applied for about two hours, but he did not recover and was pronounced dead at about 3.20pm.